Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Health Knowledge Genre Magazines Part Three: Magazine of Horror

by Peter Enfantino

The first two parts of this overview of the Health Knowledge genre digests edited by Robert A. W. Lowndes, covered Magazine of Horror 1-12 and 13-24.

No. 25 January 1969
130 pages, 50 cents
cover: Virgil Finlay

(2) There Shall Be No Darkness – James Blish
(17,000 words; From Thrilling Wonder Stories, April 1950)
(5) The Phantom Ship – Captain Frederick Marrayat
(3500 words; from New Monthly Magazine, 1837)
(4) When Dead Gods Wake – Victor Rousseau
(9000 words; from Strange Tales, November 1931)
(3) *The Writings of Elwin Adams – Larry Eugene Meredith (4750 words)
(1) The Colossus of Ylourgne – Clark Ashton Smith
(16,250 words; from Weird Tales, June 1934)

Notes: RAWL writes “September 1, 1930 fell on a Wednesday; that was the day the new issue of Wonder Stories was due to go on sale, but there was always the hope that I might see it a day or two before, so I started to haunt the local newsstands Monday.” The editor writes of a certain time and a certain pulp but substitute your time and particular obsession and it’s a universal story amongst collectors. My drug was Famous Monsters of Filmland and I can remember calling my local comic store constantly (the owner probably thought my calls about the next issue began the day after I was in to pick up the current number!). But back to MOH- RAWL writes in his Editor’s Page about discovering Clark Ashton Smith in that issue of Wonder Stories and becoming a fast fan of the author. (When Dead Gods Wake” is illustrated but not credited. “The Colossus of Ylourgne” has an illustration signed by Clark Ashton Smith. RAWL reviews And Flights of Angels, a biography of artist Hannes Bok by Emil Petaja and “divers hands.” In It Is Written, Mrs. David H. Keller writes in, replying to the letter from Robert Madle about Keller’s “The Abyss,” which appeared in MOH 22. Also writing in are Mike Ashley and Eddy C. Bertin, a German writer best known for his Lovecraftian short stories.

No. 26 March 1969
130 pages, 50 cents
cover: Virgil Finlay

(1) The Devil’s Bride (Part 1 of 3) – Seabury Quinn
(29,500 words; from Weird Tales, February and March 1932)
(2) *The Oak Tree – David H. Keller, M. D. (5000 words)
(5) The Milk Carts – Violet A. Methley
(2750 words; from Weird Tales, March 1932)
(3) *Cliffs That Laughed – R. A. Lafferty (5500 words)
(t-4) Flight – James W. Bennett & Soong Kwen-Ling
(2750 words; from Weird Tales, March, 1932)
(t-4) The White Dog – Feodor Sologub
(2500 words;from Weird Tales, February 1926)

Notes: At long last, RAWL gets to run his beloved “The Devil’s Bride,” a Jules de Grandin novel that he’d been talking up cautiously for quite a while. Lowndes wasn’t sure readers would want such a long story, one that would have to be split into three parts (it originally ran in six consecutive issues of Weird Tales). Readers let him know they were ready and he obliged. This is also the first issue to feature an installment in David H. Keller’s “Tales of Cornwall” series. When Keller died, he left several unpublished “Cornwall” stories and RAWL was more than happy to rectify that, as well as publishing several of the chapters that had already seen print in Weird Tales. Lowndes’ editorial comments this issue are on the history and chronology of the “Cornwall” series. “The Devil’s Bride” is illustrated by Joe Doolin. Writing in is August Derleth (on Arkham House’s publishing schedule). The first issue of Health Knowledge’s latest digest, Thrilling Western Magazine, is advertised on the back cover.

No. 27 May 1969
130 pages, 50 cents
Cover: Virgil Finlay

(t-4) Spawn of Inferno – Hugh B. Cave
(8000 words; from Weird Tales, October 1932)
(3) *The Sword and the Eagle – David H. Keller (4750 words)
(t-4)*The Horror Out of Lovecraft – Donald A. Wollheim (3000 words)
(1) *The Last Work of Pietro of Apono – Steffan B. Aletti (4000 words)
(5) *At the End of Days – Robert Silverberg (1500 words)
(2) The Devil’s Bride (Pt. 2 of 3) – Seabury Quinn
(26,000 words; from Weird Tales, April and May 1932)

Notes: RAWL recounts for a letter writer how he came to weite the story, “Leapers,” which appeared in MOH 23. “Spawn of Inferno” is illustrated by Wyatt Nelson. “The Sword and the Eagle” is the second in the series of Tales from Cornwall (found in the author’s manuscripts after his death). Lowndes reviews Heinlein in Dimension by Alexi Panshin. “The Devil’s Bride” is illustrated by Joe Doolin (2 pieces). “The Horror Out of Lovecraft” is an HPL spoof. In It Is Written, J. C. Henneberger, the original publisher of Weird Tales tells the story of how “Imprisoned with the Pharoahs,” a story attributed to Harry Houdini but actually ghost-written by Lovecraft, came to be published in the May 1924 WT. Future science fiction/fantasy bibliographer Mark Owings and William M. Danner, publisher of the fanzine Stefantasy also contribute.

No. 28 July 1969
130 pages, 50 cents
cover: Robert Schmand

(3) The Nameless Mummy – Arlton Eadie
(6500 words; from Weird Tales, May 1932)
(2) *Raymond the Golden – David H. Keller (6000 words)
(4) The Phantom Drug – A. W. Kapfer
(3500 words; April 1926)
(5) *The Rope – Robert Greth (3250 words)
(6) A Revolt of the Gods – Ambrose Bierce
(1200 words; uncredited source)
(1) The Devil’s Bride (Conclusion) – Seabury Quinn
(26,500 words; from Weird Tales, June and July 1932)
*Not Only in Death They Die (verse) – Robert E. Howard

Notes: “Raymond the Golden” is the third in the series of “Tales from Cornwall” stories. The Howard verse is another of those found by Glen Lord in an attic or suitcase somewhere. In an expanded Inquisitions column, Lowndes reviews Nightmares and Daydreams by Nelson Bond, Index to the Weird Fiction Magazines by T.G.L. Cockcroft, and H. P. Lovecraft: A Portrait by W. Paul Cook. For the first time, RAWL also reviews fanzines; Science Fiction Review by Richard E. Geis, Speculation by Peter R. Weston, and the granddaddy of all sf “fanzines,” LOCUS (RAWL reviews Issue #16!) before it became a prozine. In It Is Written, L. Sprague decamp answers a letter from a previous column.

No. 29 September 1969
130 pages, 50 cents
Cover: Virgil Finlay

(2) The Case of the Sinister Shape – Gordon MacCreagh
(10,000 words; from Strange Tales, March 1932)
(3) The Thirty and One – David H. Keller, M.D.
(5000 words, from Marvel Science Stories, November 1938)
(4) *Portraits by Jacob Pitt – Steven Lott (4000 words)
(5) The Red Sail – Charles Hilan Craig
(2500 words; from Weird Tales, October 1931)
(1) Guatemozin the Visitant – Arthur J. Burks
(27,000 words; from Weird Tales, November 1931)

Notes: At this time, the offices of Health Knowledge moved from 119 Fifth Avenue to 140 Fifth Avenue (both in New York City). In his essay on “The Health Knowledge Years” for Outworlds 28/29 (1976), Lowndes says the new office was “just across the street (from the old office). Whether the stars or the numbers would have suggested this was an unwise move, I know not; I do know that things began to run downhill shortly afterward.” In a much-expanded Editor’s Page, Lowndes discusses the subject of Edgar Rice Burroughs and racism in the Tarzan novels (in connection with RAWL’s review of Richard Lupoff’s biography of ERB in Inquisitions). “Sinister Shape” is illustrated by Amos Sewell. “The Thirty and One” is the first reprinting of a Tale from Cornwall. When Lowndes got the rights to run all these stories, he decided to run them chronologically story-wise rather than in the order they first appeared. Keller would write stories all over his timeline rather than as one cohesive whole. Lowndes also presents a Cornwall timeline in each issue.

No. 30 December 1969
130 pages, 50 cents
cover: Richard Schmand

(1) Satan’s Servant’s – Robert Bloch
(11,000 words; from Something About Cats)
(2) Cross of Fire – Lester del Rey
(3500 words; from Weird Tales, May 1939)
(3) The Battle of the Toads - David H. Keller, M.D.
(5000 words; from Weird Tales, October 1929)
(5) *Harry Protagonist, Undersec for Overpop – Richard Wilson (1100 words)
Slumber (verse) – Robert E, Howard
(4) Speak for Yourself, John Quincy – Theodore Roscoe
(22,750 words; from Argosy, November 16, 1940)

Notes: I’m surprised that this is only Robert Bloch’s second (and last) appearance in MOH. Seems he’d be a natural for this zine, but it may have been a matter of budget. On The Editor’s Page (which should be titled, by this time, “Many Pages for the Editor”), RAWL asks “just what is the ‘New Thing in Science Fiction?’” The Bloch story has an introduction by the author and notes and commentary by Lovecraft. Though “The Battle of the Toads” is the fifth “Cornwall” tale, it was actually the first one to be published. “John Quincy” has an uncredited illustration. In It Is Written, Lowndes pays respect to Boris Karloff, who had died the previous February. An index to Volumes four and five are included. The Reckoning did not appear this issue.

No. 31 February 1970
130 pages, 50 cents
cover: Virgil Finlay

(3) *The Noseless Horror – Robert E. Howard (6500 words)
(4) The Tailed Man of Cornwall – David H. Keller, M.D.
(5500 words; from Weird Tales November 1929)
(1) The Duel of the Sorcerers (Pt. 1 of 2) – Paul Ernst
(16,000 words; from Strange Tales, March 1932)
(2) *For Services Rendered – Stephen Goldin (5000 words)
(5) The Roc Raid – George B. Tuttle
(16,250 words; from Weird Tales, November 1929)

Notes: This issue is mistakenly labeled Vol. 6 No. 2 even though it’s actually Vol. 6 No. 1. Lucky for us collectors, they were thoughtful enough to give the zine a whole number. Imagine all the years we’d be trying to hunt down a non-existent V6N1? On The Editor’s Page, RAWL writes about his early days in fandom and his introduction to Weird Tales. Is “The Noseless Horror” one of the silliest titles for a story run in a “Magazine of Horror?” Couldn’t Glen Lord have “accidentally” lost the title page when he found this buried in REH’s backyard in a trunk under his favorite cherry tree? In the Inquisitions column, Lowndes reviews The Man Who Calls Himself Poe, edited by Sam Moskowitz.

No. 32 May 1970
130 pages, 60 cents
cover: Robert Clewell

The Hunters from Beyond – Clark Ashton Smith
(8500 words; from Strange Tales, October 1932)
No Other Man – David H. Keller, M.D.
(5500 words, from Weird Tales, December 1929)
*Materialist – Janet Fox (2500 words)
The Moon-Dial – Henry S. Whitehead
(12,000 words; from Strange Tales, January 1932)
The Duel of the Sorcerers (Conclusion) – Paul Ernst
(19,500 words; from Strange Tales, March 1932)

Notes: Cover price increases from 50 to 60 cents. By this time, both Famous Science Fiction and World Wide Adventures are dead. RAWL discusses Norman Spinrad’s controversial novel, Bug Jack Barron in The Editor’s Page. Since Famous Science Fiction is no more, RAWL chooses to run C.A. Smith’s “The Hunters” in MOH despite the fact that it’s the third story in a trilogy of “Philip Hastane” stories (the first two were reprinted in FamSF). There’s an illustration accompanying the story but it’s uncredited. Harry Warner, Jr.’s look at Science Fiction fandom in the 1940s, All Our Yesterdays, is reviewed in Inquisitions. "No Other Man" is the seventh “Cornwall” tale (but third in the chronology—confused yet?). That timeline gets longer every issue, now taking up most of a full page. Janet Fox became the go-to girl for the small press in the late 80s and early 90s, publishing her Scavenger’s Newsletter monthly in a time when we didn’t have the internet to find out what was coming out when (and now that we do have the internet there’s not much of a small press, is there?) Janet would run addresses, writer’s guidelines and “want lists” of publishers looking for new talent. She became a very important asset for The Scream Factory in our early days. Sadly, Janet Fox passed away last year. “The Duel” is illustrated by H. W. Wesso. Muriel C. Eddy and Richard Lupoff contribute to It Is Written. Health Knowledge’s latest addition to the stable, Weird Terror Tales gets its first ad on the back cover.

No. 33 Summer 1970
130 pages, 60 cents
cover: Virgil Finlay

(5) *Camera Obscura – Ted H. Straus (7000 words)
(4) The Bride Well - David H. Keller, M.D.
(5500 words; from Weird Tales, October 1930)
(3) Ligeia – Edgar Allen Poe
(8000 words; uncredited source)
(1) The Nameless Offspring – Clark Ashton Smith
(9750 words; from Strange Tales, June 1932)
(6) Back Before the Moon – S. Omar Barker
(4500 words; from Strange Tales, March 1932)
(2) The Road to Nowhere – Robert A. W. Lowndes
(12,500 words; from Science Fiction Quarterly, Fall 1942)

Notes: RAWL argues, in The Editor’s Page, that science fiction writing has gotten better since the 1930s. “The Bride Well” is Cornwall #8 (no timeline published this issue). An expanded Inquisitions has reviews of Tolkien: A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings by Lin Carter and Two Dozen Dragon Eggs by Donald A. Wollheim. There are also reviews of the fanzines An Annotated Checklist of Science Fiction Bibliographical Works by Fred Lemer and A Reader’s Guide to the Cthulhu Mythos by Robert Weinberg. “The Nameless Offspring” is illustrated by pulp legend Rafael De Soto. S. Omar Barker was well known for the “cowboy poetry” he wrote and saw published in many of the western pulps. “The Road to Nowhere” originally appeared in a shorter version under the title “Highway.” In a long, rambling introduction to It Is Written, RAWL relates a lunch he had with author Stefan Aletti and the question that came up: “What sort of story that we have been publishing in MOH has been most consistently popular with you, the active reader?” The discussion veers from “Is it the gore?” to “Is it the good writing?’ RAWL lists all the stories that have placed first in The Reckoning, then lists the stories that might have been #1 had the “polls been open longer.” As I say, long and rambling but then that’s what made the presence of RAWL so rewarding. Aletti also contributes a letter to It Is Written.

No. 34 Fall 1970
130 pages, 60 cents
cover: Virgil Finlay

(1) The Headless Miller of Kobold’s Keep – Irvin Ashkenazy
(10,500 words; from Weird Tales, January 1937)
(4) *Bride of the Wind – Stephen Goldin (5000 words)
*A Song of Defeat (verse) – Robert E. Howard
(2) The Emergency Call – Marion Brandon
(6500 words; from Strange Tales, June 1932)
(5) *Feminine Magic – David H. Keller, M.D. (6000 words)
(3) The Whistling Corpse – G. G. Pendarves
(17,750 words; from Weird Tales, July 1937)

Notes: RAWL shares his “reminiscences of Seabury Quinn” in The Editor’s Page(s). Health Knowledge’s final digest, Bizarre Fantasy Tales, is announced on the back cover. “Feminine Magic” is a never-before-published Cornwall tale (#9 in the series for those keeping score). Inquisitions sees reviews of The Moon of Skulls by Robert E. Howard and The Little Monsters, edited by Vic Ghidalia and Roger Elwood. In It Is Written, a long letter of nostalgia by California comic book fanzine publisher Richard Kyle (who is attributed with coining the phrase “graphic novel” in one of his zines in 1964. “Bride of the Wind” is the second in a series of stories known as “The Shop.”

No. 35 February 1971
130 pages, 75 cents
cover: Ricardo Rivera

The Altar of Melek Taos – G. G. Pendarves
(15,500 words; from Weird Tales, September 1932
*The Chenoo – Stephen Goldin (6500 words)
Old City of Jade – Thomas H. Knight
(8000 words; from Weird Tales, October 1931)
A Rendezvous in Averoigne – Clark Ashton Smith
(6500 words; from Weird Tales, April-May 1931)
The Mystery in Acatlan – Rachael Marshall & Maverick Terrell
(5500 words; from Weird Tales, November 1928)
In the Lair of the Space Monsters – Frank Belknap Long
(10,000 words; from Strange Tales, October 1932)

Notes: According to RAWL’s essay in Outworlds, Acme News, the corporation that owned the Health Knowledge line, went bankrupt in the Summer of 1970 and Country Wide Publications (owned by notorious publisher, Myron Fass) took over. Only four titles survived the chaos: MOH, Startling Mystery Tales, Bizarre Fantasy Tales, and Acme’s UFO/Bigfoot/paranormal digest, Exploring the Unknown. Incredibly, Weird Terror was axed because Countrywide already published comics with the words Weird and Terror in them and this would cause too much confusion for the company’s bookkeepers! Those comics were among the infamous Eerie Publications (Weird, Witches’ Tales, Tales of Voodoo, etc.), black and white magazines that took pre-code horror comics and added new, gorier panels to the existing art. There’s a new book on the market, The Weird World of Eerie Publications by Mike Howlett that goes into the entire history of the line including its brief association with the Health Knowledge titles. There’s a fascinating bit on how Fass convinced Lowndes to pick out several public domain stories from his digests to run in the comic magazines. Right afterwards, Fass pulled the plug on Health Knowledge and Lowndes was out on the street. I’ll be covering the Howlett book more in-depth in the future. The cover for MOH 35 came from a Countrywide magazine, the short-lived Strange Unknown, ironically a competitor of Exploring the Unknown. The illo is very much reminiscent of the kind of gruesome art that ran in the Eerie zines and must have had MOH readers pitching a fit.

In The Editor’s Page, RAWL discusses “relevance in fantastic fiction.” “The Altar” is illustrated by T. Wyatt Nelson. “The Chenoo” is the third in “The Shop” stories (well, that was what Lowndes called them; Goldin preferred to call it the “Angel in Black” series). This was the last of the series published in MOH but Goldin would write two more “Shop/Angel” stories: “In the Land of Angra Mainyu” (for Gerald Page’s anthology, Nameless Places) and “The Masai Witch” (in Stuart David Schiff’s Whispers #19/20). Goldin collected all five stories in an e-book, appropriately entitled Angel in Black. “In the Lair” is illustrated by Amos Sewell. Kenneth Faig, who would later go on to write several books on Lovecraft writes in to It Is Written.

No. 36 April 1971
130 pages, 75 cents
cover: uncredited
Dread Exile – Paul Ernst
(6750 words; from Strange Tales, June 1932)
The Testament of Athammaus – Clark Ashton Smith
(8000 words; from Weird Tales, October 1932)
*The Vespers Service – William R. Bauer (3500 words)
The Artist of Tao – Arthur Styron
(3500 words; from Strange Tales, October 1932)
The Key to Cornwall – David H. Keller
(5000 words; from Stirring Science Stories, February 1941)
*The Executioner – Rachel Cosgrove Payes (2600 words)
The Settlement of Dryden vs. Shard – W. O. Inglis
(2000 words; from Harper’s Magazine, September 1902)
The Grisly Horror – Robert E. Howard
(12,000 words; from Weird Tales, February 1935)

Notes: RAWL didn’t know this would be the last issue (he had doubts that the Health Knowledge line would last very much longer but there was no verbal warning) so there’s no fond farewell on The Editor’s Page. There is, instead, a typically long discussion of Lovecraft’s views on horror fiction. The lineup for MOH #37 (had it been produced) would have included “From the Dark Halls of Hell” by G. G. Pendarves (from Weird Tales, January 1932), “Once on Aranea” by R. A. Lafferty (an original story that would finally appear in the 1972 Lafferty collection, Strange Doings), and "Murgunstrumm" by Hugh Cave (this was to be serialized in two parts in 37 and, ostensibly, 38; the story originally appeared in Strange Tales, June 1933; it became the title story in the massive Carcosa collection in 1977). “Testament,” “Tao” and “The Grisly Horror” all have uncredited illustrations. “Vespers” and “The Executioner” were originally slated for Weird Terror Tales #4 but shifted over to MOH when WTT was axed. Lowndes' intro to the latter story: "Rachel Cosgrove Payes would also have been present in that never-never issue of Weird Terror Tales. She was one of the very last writers to contribute to the OZ series, originated by L. Frank Baum. Since then, she has written numbers of more or less mundane novels for the now-discontinued Avalon hardcover series, as well as several science fiction novels for Avalon, these latter under the name of L. E. Arch.” Mundane? “Gee, thanks RAWL. I’ll put that in my C.V.!” Years later, Payes was writing historical sex novels for Playboy Press (Moment of Desire, Bride of Fury, The Coach to Hell, Satan’s Mistress). “The Key” is the tenth (and final) Cornwall tale. R. E. Howard’s original title for “The Grisly Horror” was “The Moon of Zambebwei.” In a jumbo-sized Inquisitions, RAWL reviews Under the Moons of Mars, edited by Sam Moskowitz, Beware the Beasts, edited by Ghidalia and Elwood, The Wood Beyond the World by William Morris, The Double Bill Symposium by Lloyd Biggle, Jr., and The Conan Swordbook, edited by L. Sprague decamp and George H. Scithers. In It Is Written, RAWL lets us behind the scenes on all the calamities that have befallen him and Health Knowledge lately. Interesting stuff. The Reckoning is caught up on (it had been omitted the last few issues), though not quite enough as MOH 32’s results are not included. Stuart David Schiff writes in. There is an Index to Volume Six.

Next up: Startling Mystery Tales Part One


Walker Martin said...

Another great article on Magazine of Horror. I liked the story of how Lowndes would haunt the newstands for Wonder Stories and you would call the comic store about the new issue of Famous Monsters.

With me it was the SF digests in 1956, but I wouldn't call the store because I didn't believe the owner saying the new issues were not in yet. I had to go myself each day and see with my own eyes. I was especially addicted to GALAXY, though I also loved ASTOUNDING and F&SF.

Over 50 years later I still go to my local Barnes & Noble to check out the new issues of F&SF, ANALOG, and ASIMOV SF. I won't subscribe because the post office rips the covers and I can't stand the address stickers. Collecting magazines is a lifelong addiction.

Will Errickson said...

I didn't know about these! That purple one with the woman's throat being slit... yikes.

Peter Enfantino said...

Yikes indeed! I would imagine that cover and the rotting face on #35 had regular readers of MOH storming the castle walls.

Todd Mason said...

And, Janet Foc's "Materialist" was the first of an occasional series of horror stories by Fox which concretized cliched metaphors..."You can't take it with you" in this case, and rather more self-explanatorily "Screaming to Get Out" (which I read in one of Gerald Page's YEAR'S BEST HORROR STORIES annuals, published by Wollheim's DAW Books)...I believe Fox published at least one more story thus. Fox published a poem by me in SCAV...and she was a very insufficiently appreaciated writer.

I'll need to read more closely when I have more time.

Maldoror said...

Hello !

I have been looking for "The Case of the Sinister Shape" by Gordon MacCreagh for a long time.

I think that you have got this story.

Would you be so kind to scan "Sinister Shape" for me ?

I'd be very grateful for your attention