Weird Tales

by MaggiePowell

History of the Pulp Magazine Weird Tales, HP Lovecraft, August Derleth, Robert E Howard, and others wrote shockingly weird stories.....

Once upon a time I was weird.

Well... let me phrase that better. I love to read. Have always loved to read. As a teen, I would rather read than anything else. Losing myself in fantastic stories like Weird Tales was my escape (keep in mind.. I'm a girl and it was the late 70's early 80's... other girls loved Madonna and Duran Duran.... I knew what a D20 was for**) . In Weird Tales I found stories that tickled the dark corners of your brain...stories about Cthulu, Conan, and Shadowy Worlds. They chilled, they excited, they shocked, they frightened, and the cover art certainly provoked my mother!

Starting in 1923, the pulp magazine Weird Tales, published stories of fantasy, science fiction and horror from some of the strongest writers of the time.... HP Lovecraft, Robert E Howard and Theodore Sturgeon and Robert Bloch. My copies were all anthologies of the pulp magazine that I'd find in dusty old used book stores. In the dim light of my ancient pilfered lamp, I'd go to far off places and imaginary lands, or I'd get totally freaked out.

Weird Tales has been in and out of publication over the years, in 1988 it hit the newsstands again as a magazine, and has recently found new life online. I wonder how many other geeky teens are out there reading the stories found between the covers of Weird Tales.

Today, out of habit, I still dig through the boxes and bins in thrift stores and old book shops, searching for the lurid covers and excellent stories that you find in Weird Tales.

Order Your Copy of The Weird Tales Story Here!

**D20- A 20 sided die, used for rolling percentages in Dungeons and Dragons and other RPGs.

Weird Tales
Weird Tales

The process of delving into the black abyss is to me the keenest form of fascination.
H. P. Lovecraft

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The Weird Tales Story

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What are Weird Tales

Weird Fiction Defined

According to HP Lovecraft, "The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain--a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space."

In other words... we're talking about stories that aren't merely about ghosties and goblins.

Take a horror story... add a bit of mythology, maybe stir in some fantasy, or a bit of science fiction. Starting in 1923, Weird Tales published the stories that mainstream magazine and book publishers wouldn't touch. These were too scary, lurid, sensational, frightening for most... so these authors found a home in the pulp magazine until 1954.

In the early 1970s, Weird Tales made a comeback... but only lasted a few issues. Finally in 1988, Weird Tales went back into magazine production, and with a few changes, continues to print the stories that don't quite fit into the mainstream.

Today, the Pulp Magazine has gone digital. I imagine the great authors of the 20s and 30s would be fascinated to see their words online, sent out to millions.

quote taken from "Notes on Writing Weird Fiction" by HP Lovecraft

Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places.
H. P. Lovecraft

The Best of Weird Tales

Early Weird Tales... Go Back to the Beginning
The Best of Weird Tales: 1923

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What Is a Pulp Magazine

Mostly, it's About the Paper

From the late 1800s to the mid-1950s "pulp magazines" were quite popular. The name Pulp came about because of the cheap pulp paper used to print these thick magazines, which were smaller than the glossy magazines.

Pulp Magazines were known for their sensational stories and lurid covers... but as "cheap" as they were, the stories within were often written by great authors, authors who couldn't get published by the mainstream. (Can you believe Ray Bradbury and Tennessee Williams got their start writing for Weird Tales?) These stories were often horror, detective or hero fiction, and of course, weird. Characters like Conan the Barbarian, Doc Savage and John Carter of Mars came to life between the rough-cut covers.

After WW2, paper got more expensive, and the pulps got smaller in size (think Reader's Digest size). Weird Tales stopped publishing in 1954, but other pulps like Amazing Stories and Analog Science Fiction carried on.

Comic Books, and their pulp newsprint, carry on the pulp tradition.

Guide to Other Pulps

Adventure House Guide to the Pulps

Penzler Pick, November 2000: I'm a sucker for good reference books about mystery fiction and this one is pretty good, if extremely limited to those who remember the great era of...

Only $29.92

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Weird Tales Anthologies are Available on Ebay

"He was writing non-fiction...."

Howard Philip Lovecraft

The Father of Cthulhu Mythos

HP LovecraftHP Lovecraft was the father of the modern horror story. He started the concept of Cosmic Horror, the idea that the universe is hostile to humans. Firmly believing that people couldn't know everything that was happening around them , he began writing the Cthulhu Mythos.  These stories were based around the idea that the "Great Ones", beings from another world, had landed on earth to cause all sorts of problems. Most of his stories seem to involve a plunge into insanity. His writing became more influential after his death in 1937. Great modern horror writers like Stephen King were greatly influenced by Lovecraft's work.

His parents died when he was young (his father from Syphilis), so Lovecraft was raised by indulgent aunts, and grew up to become a sickly man because they coddled him and fed him candy to keep him happy. The house he grew up in was dirty and filled with cobwebs... more like a haunted mansion than a regular home. Before he was fifteen, he had already suffered a nervous breakdown. It is no wonder that his works are so dark. Oddly, he never graduated High School, but you'd never know reading his works. The language is rich and the prose pulls you in. You can feel the fear and the madness that his characters feel.

HP Lovecraft developed a following, and others began writing the stories for the Cthulu Mythos. He was a great letter writer, he corresponded regularly with August Derleth, Robert E Howard, and Robert Bloch. They would write for Weird Tales magazine as well, and even contribute to the Cthulu Mythos.

HP Lovecraft's Grave in Swan Cemetery, Providence, Rhode Island

I Had the Opportunity to Pay My Respects Recently....
Small Worn Marker
Small Worn Marker

The Phillips/ Lovecraft Plot

HP is Small and Behind the Others
The Obelisk Shadows the Markers
The Obelisk Shadows the Markers

August Derleth

Arkham House and Cthulu Mythos

August Dereleth was a writer and a publisherAugust Derleth known for starting the publishing company, Arkham House, the first publishing company that would print Horror Fiction in the US. His first story for Weird Tales was "Bat's Belfry", but he went on to publish many more stories.. for Weird Tales and other pulp magazines. Derleth published HP Lovecraft's stories, and wrote stories of his own to further the Cthulu Mythos. He and Lovecraft corresponded for years, from the time he was a teenager, until Lovecraft's death.

Despite being such an important writer and publisher in Weird Fiction, Derleth also wrote poetry, historical fiction and biographies. He was a teacher, the PTA president, and a parole officer. A native of Wisconsin, he wrote many books and stories about his native state.

In his lifetime, August Derleth wrote over 100 books and 150 short stories.... only a fraction of them were Weird...

Missing a Few Issues Of Weird Tales?

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Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.
Robert E. Howard

Robert E Howard

Conan the Barbarian

Robert E HowardRobert E Howard all but invented the sword and sorcery genre with his Conan the Barbarian Stories. Before his suicide at 30, Howard's Conan stories could only be found in Weird Tales.... seems no one else wanted to publish him. He was a bit of an eccentric, possibly mentally ill, and living in a small Texas town with his mother. A movie, called "The Whole Wide World" starring Vincent D'Onofrio and Renee Zellwiger, based on his life, especially centering on his relationship with schoolteacher, Novalyn Price, was made in 1996.

Conan the Barbarian stories are set in an imagined historical setting, called the Hyborian Age. Conan wanders his world performing heroic feats with a sword. His adventures bring encounters with monsters and wizards... and a few girls along the way, just to spice things up. As Conan ages, he amasses followers, and eventually becomes a king himself.

After Howard's death, his stories, both finished and unfinished were edited and revised, and it became difficult to find the original stories. The edited versions were considered diluted, and not what Howard originally had in mind for Conan. Fortunately, in 2003 Wandering Star in England, and Ballentine Books in the United States restored his original manuscripts and published them in a 3 Volume Set- Conan of Cimmeria, so you can read the stories, as they were meant to be read.

Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E Howard

Read More About Robert E Howard
Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard

Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan, King Kull, and others that defined heroic fantasy, lived and died in the small town of Cross Plains, Texas. While his books remain in print, ...

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The Whole Wide World

Would You Rather See the Movie About Robert E Howard?
The Whole Wide World

In Texas in the 1930s, young school teacher Novalyne Price meets a handsome, eccentric and interesting young man named Robert Howard. He's a successful writer of the pulp storie...

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Weird Tales Cover Art

The More Controversial, the Better

Want to pull people in to buy your magazine? Stick a Warrior, Hero or Monster on the cover... better yet! Add a half-naked woman, and you have a winner.

Pulp magazines like Weird Tales were notorious for having covers that were sexy or controversial. Covers sold the magazine, the stories kept people coming back.

Like the writers who found their home between the covers of Weird Tales for 1 or 2 cents a word, fantasy artists got their start doing the cover art for $90 a cover. Margaret Brundage was one of the most prolific artists of the early Weird Tales magazines. She was responsible for 39 covers. Since she signed M Brundage, no one realized she was a woman. When word got out that a woman was painting those half-nude women in distress, serious controversy erupted... and magazine sales jumped. (Sadly, after her work with Weird Tales, Margaret Brundage seldom found work. She ended up living in poverty, and would turn up at Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions to sell her art to fans.)

Other Weird Tales artists include Virgil Findlay and J Allen St.John.

Decorate Your Room with Weird Tales Posters

Weird Tales 410312 11 by 17 Pulp Magazine Poster Style E

11-Inch by 17-Inch high quality poster by Pop Culture Graphics, suitable for framing.

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Find Weird Tales Poster Art on Ebay

Seabury Quinn

Jules de Grandin Stories

Seabury QuinnAlthough a lawyer specializing in Mortuary Law (makes you wonder where his stories came from), Seabury Quinn was better known for his Jules de Grandin stories that were published in Weird Tales from 1925 to 1938. Jules de Grandin was an occult detective, who with his assistant Dr Towbridge would uncover the mystery, usually an insane or evil person, behind the mysterious werewolves and hauntings. (Think of a very scary, realistic, well written Scooby Doo episode with naked women) (OK, that's lightening things up too much...) Seabury Quinn wrote over 90 chilling Jules de Grandin stories of the supernatural, filled with violence and blood.

The most prolific writer published in Weird Tales.... Jules de Grandin was published by the magazine 160 times.

The most merciful thing in the world... is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.
H. P. Lovecraft

Even Harry Houdini Wrote for Weird Tales

The Spirit Lover
Historic Print (M): Weird tales, the unique magazine, the Spirit lover by Houdini, an astounding ...

This is a museum quality, reproduction print on premium paper with archival/UV resistant inks. Date: [1924?]Subject: Notes: Samo Kruty Slide Co., Chicago, Ill. McManus-Young Col...

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"Despite my ghoulish reputation, I really have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk,"
Robert Bloch (not Stephen King)

Robert Bloch

Supernatural Stories for Weird Tales

Robert BlochAlthough he is best known for writing the novel, Psycho, which was turned into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Bloch was a rather prolific writer who was published over 100 short stories and several novels. Another worshiper of HP Lovecraft, Bloch started out writing supernatural stories, but later, after Lovecraft's death, his writing evolved to be more about the evil found in the human psyche. His first story for Weird Tales was called, "The Feast in the Abbey", but he went on to contribute many more stories.

Updated: 07/30/2014, MaggiePowell
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Do You Read Weird Tales?

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AnomalousArtist on 05/19/2013

Love Weird Tales, thanks for the info! The covers always freaked me out but I couldn't resist them anyway :)

Tolovaj on 05/16/2013

Not anymore due to my lack of time... I am familiar with most of authors from this list and in my opinion some of them are really good. Sturgeon, for instance, was first class author which can be compared with the top league of so called mainstream. Some of pulp magazines actually paved the road to success for writers who just needed some space and experimenting to find the right voice.
Anybody interested in history of literature should read Weird Tales and similar magazines. This is the place where many important things started.

katiem2 on 05/13/2013

Great summer reading list or year round for that matter. I agree the art is amazing and the thrill of adventure and suspense makes for a interesting and weird book adventure.

EliasZanetti on 05/12/2013

Great article! The cover art is simply amazing as well as the stories. Very nice presentation also.

belinda342 on 05/10/2013

Absolutely! I've even submitted a few stories to them over the years. Sadly none chosen. Yet.

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