Weird Tales/Volume 28/Issue 2/The Eyrie
You, the readers of Weird Tales, will notice that this issue is dated August-September, instead of merely August. The change in dating is made in accordance with the current trend in magazine dating, so that Weird Tales will be on sale during the month preceding the date printed on the cover. Our next issue (October) will appear on the stands the first of September; so there will be no break in continuity. All subscriptions will be automatically extended one month.
Death of Robert E. Howard
As this issue goes to press, we are saddened by the news of the sudden death of Robert E. Howard at Cross Plains, Texas. Mr. Howard for years has been one of the most popular magazine authors in the country. He was master of a vivid literary style and possessed an inexhaustible imagination. His poems were works of sheer genius. His fictional characters—the dour Puritan adventurer and redresser of wrongs, Solomon Kane; the ancient battle-chief King Kull from the shadowy kingdoms of the dawn of history; the doughty barbarian soldier of fortune, Conan—were so convincingly and vividly drawn that they seemed to step out from the printed page and grip the sympathies of the readers. It was in Weird Tales that the cream of his writing appeared. Mr. Howard was one of our literary discoveries. He made his literary debut in Weird Tales of July, 1925, while he was still a student in the University of Texas. Since then sixty works from his hand have appeared in this magazine. Prolific though he was, his genius shone through everything he wrote, and he did not lower his high literary standard for the sake of mere volume. Red Nails, his current serial in Weird Tales, is the last of the stories about Conan, though several of Mr. Howard's stories with other heroes will appear in this magazine. His loss will be keenly felt.
An Ace Issue
Robert A. Madle, of Philadelphia, writes: "The June Weird Tales was another ace issue. Everything composing it was good. The cover was the weirdest Margaret Brundage ever did. The Count looks as weird and uncanny as Dracula himself. Loot of the Vampire was an excellent piece of fantastic fiction. Thorp McClusky surely has 'what it takes.' His first story ranks as my favorite in the current issue. Hugh Davidson's House of the Evil Eye closely follows Mr. McClusky's yarn. I recognized Doctor Dale as one of the chief characters of The Vampire-Master, published a few years back. The other stories were all good, especially Black Canaan."
Wilfred Wright, of Toronto, writes: "All stories in the current issue show the usual fine literary style, although this issue is markedly lacking in weirdness. I await with keen interest your readers' comment on Seabury Quinn's Strange Interval—a splendid horror story of unrefined brutality; but remembering this author's de Grandin yarns one must forgive the lapse from weirdness. While I enjoyed it immensely, and would unhesitatingly give it first place, it automatically disqualifies itself, and Burks' The Room of Shadows gets the call, followed closely by Hamilton's Child of the Winds. The Graveyard Rats by Kuttner was the most gruesome weird tale this year. Generally WT progresses splendidly over the many years I have been a reader, and I wish you continued success."
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Miss Hemken's Comments
Gertrude Hemken, of Chicago, writes: "June comments as follows, to wit: Thorp McClusky is a new author to me, but his Loot of the Vampire promises something very, very interesting. The fact that a detective detail is involved should bring no unfavorable comment, inasmuch as it is a vampire story. I feel that it shows an example of the modern police system against something far more ancient and deep than any form of public protection. It is truly a spine-freezing tale. Another new note in vampire tales—the Count, if he is the vampire, resorts to robbery. I never knew them to do that. Aaaahh! Black Canaan was also perfect, the kind one reads with eyes popping and mouth agape. Is this a form of voodoo one reads so much of, or is it something more ancient? And then I learned something more, of which I had only a smattering knowledge—that of the evil eye. Somehow I had believed the evil eye was used only on such persons as the possessor wished to harm. So—you are proving educational to me as well. It seems I have not been fair in not including comments on the poetry in my monthly letter, inasmuch as I am a lover of poetry. This Ballad of the Wolf I found pleasant reading. There was a rhythmic swing to it, and although it spoke of olden days, I found no obsolete words. I have no objections to such words in prose, but they seem to jar the rhythm of poetry. Invariably I don't know what they mean, I'm not sure of my pronunciation, and that kinda spoils it. I think Henry Kuttner is a pretty good rimester. I hope to see more of his work. The Ruler of Fate ended to my satisfaction. Narsty Aru was killed dead and lovely Athonee was left to control her machine of destiny with kindliness to the man of Earth. And I s'pose the hero and heroine were married and lived happily ever afterward. I found The Harbor of Ghosts very interesting. Somehow it was different from what I had been reading, and when the young sailor entered the harbor of ghost ships, I had the impression of the fabled elephants' graveyard. There was a similarity in that the lost ship sought a final resting-place with others of its kind. The reprint, The Brain in the Jar, surprized me. I had figured it to be a brain wielding malignant power and cruel devastating horror. However, it was a very nice brain and sought only to destroy the man who had tortured the man of whom the disembodied brain was once a part. I wouldn't call that operation weird surgery—merely cold-blooded unfeeling science. Nuff sed—will greet you again next month. Mayhap you will have some real chillers, which will be doubly welcome, if I know Chicago's summers."
"A Punch in the Nose"
William L. Ebelein, of Baltimore, writes: "My seven favorite authors in order are Quinn, Moore, Kline, Williamson, Davidson, Hamilton and Howard. The Jules de Grandin stories by Quinn are very good. Please try your best to make Quinn write more de Grandin stories. It has been nearly six months since you published the last one. I have noticed, with very much regret, that during the past three years Quinn has given us only about ten de Grandin stories. A few years ago I remember Quinn wrote about six or seven de Grandin stories per year. Make him produce or I will feel like giving him a good punch in the nose. I think it about time for Kline to give us one of his fantastic novels about Mars, Venus, or any other planet very soon. What say?" [A superb story about Jules de Grandin, entitled Witch-House, will be published soon.—The Editor.]
Weirder Than Ever
Nils Helmer Frome, of East Orange, New Jersey, writes: "I halted as I sped past a magazine stand—I always do that—magazines have a fascination for me. Weird Tales wasn't the only one I looked at, but it held my gaze the longest. I lingered and languished—my purse wasn't exactly blooded. I bought it. That is the synopsis on the repeating incident that is among the most important in my years. Weird Tales has become weird again—or else my appreciation has risen. The covers of the last two issues were wonderfully weird. Great credit due to Brundage—she's really quite competent when she gets started—if she would only quit those nothing-on dames—she has no idea what a female figure looks like, even if she is a woman herself. Although I am far from an authority in that line myself, I know that a figure true to life is far from what can be effected by even a skilled guesser. And that external sadness in those eyebrows lifted in between the temples gets me with its monotony; why not a pointed pair of eyelashes, such meaning a mischievous nature; an arching pair—or a pair that swing in a curve from the temples and drop back; anything but those poor, fluttery lines Brundage favors always. Brundage must have such eyebrows—and the general contour of the faces of her bright-eyed heroines—for almost invariably an artist favors his or her type to depict. And why not put more life and horror into the faces—a shrinking type—a staring type—a fascinated type—a shadowed full-face type—a fainting type with half-closed eyes. The hands might be bettered, too. Advise her, Editor, to watch people's hands and catch their personality—their grace."
The Two Ranking Authors
H. W. Morlan, of Fort Knox, Kentucky, writes: "I feel a bit timid, since this is my first letter to the readers' forum. I have followed the magazine since its inception and have at last worked up courage enough to write. Since you ask your readers' opinions on the stories appearing in our magazine, let me say that the two ranking authors, in my opinion, are H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. Lovecraft has no equal for horror build-up. His climaxes hit you like Schmeling's right-hand punch. Howard's creations, Kull and Conan, are superb. Your other authors are too numerous to enumerate, but the majority turn in the high quality of work typical of our magazine.... Whether or not this is printed I remain an enthusiastic booster of the best magazine on the market."
Is This Sarcasm?
Marshall Lemer, of New York City, writes: "Occasionally, in the tumult and the shouting over the latest exquisite little tale featuring Jules de Grandin, one still comes upon a reader that feels impelled to bring up the subject of nudes on the covers, a question that I thought had been settled long ago. De gustibus non est ditsputandum; thus one young man writes that he 'didn't expect the stories to match the covers', while another earnest critic sadly notes that 'a reader is ashamed to buy a copy (because of the cover) on the news stands.' But let the discussion turn out as it will, I must say that I admire the artistic sense that prompts Brundage to select invariably what is frequently the one nude in the entire issue for the cover illustration. Indubitably she adopts this policy in order to attract new lovers of the weird and unusual to our ever-widening circle of readers. And to add to the confusion of the old guard, when they finally persuade Brundage to cover her naked women, she does so in such a manner that more readers write in to ask that such indecent pictures be stopped, And so, when I say that I like nudes, since they seem to arouse a certain eery thrill (in admiration of the weird elements that Brundage portrays so well, of course), I seem to be concurring with the general opinion. True, occasionally I receive a curious glance from the gentleman that presides over the local news stand when I ask for Weird Tales, and once I received a copy of Spice and Ginger Stories in pardonable error, but I am no Milquetoast, and can bear the bitter with the sweet as well as the rest."
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He Wants Lovecraft's Stories
Ivan Funderburgh, R. R. 5, Huntington, Indiana, writes: "The best story of the May issue is The Faceless God. That is one of the best stories I have ever read. I intend to re-read it many times. The history of Nyarlarhotep is interesting. Bloch is approaching Lovecraft. Finlay's illustration is wonderful. I enjoyed Strange Interval, but the shark incident isn't enough to make it weird fiction.... If this should get into the Eyrie, would any reader be willing to sell me Lovecraft's works at a reasonable price? If so, will he please send me a price list?"
Robert W. Lowndes, of Canaan, Connecticut, writes: "It is almost with trepidation that one picks up the June issue; the April and May numbers were so excellent in every respect, a let-down seems almost inevitable. If the illustrations are in any way indicative of the stories themselves, then one's fears can be laid; they are splendid. There is one complaint, though: the lettering on the cover. Is the billboard effect necessary? Of course, all the cheap magazines do it, but that is why it seems so utterly out of place in WT. Moreover, I had expected to see you adopt permanently the block picture style you had on the May issue. It is so eminently superior to the others, so completely distinctive and unique, one wonders why you ever left it. Of course, it is admitted that it does cut down a bit on the cover picture. But the May cover did not suffer in any respect because the figures were not complete; you had this style of cover in 1931, I recall; why not effect a joyful return? Think also of the many readers who save WT covers; what a boon a picture, neatly blocked off, devoid of all lettering, is to them! They must either take the cover, besprinkled with ads which do not in any way add to the languorous charms of Mrs. Brundage's beauties, as is, or must cut out the figures. And the lettering below the picture on the May cover is conspicuous enough, yea, even more than the mass effect on the June cover. Again, there is the script heading, 'The Unique Magazine,' truly a parr of WT's personality. Can we not have that, at least? One hopes that sufficient letters pour in from other readers similarly minded to show that there is a real majority of feeling on this score. Allow me to pan Mr. Paul Ernst, before going any farther, for his remarkable sub-villain, Girse. Of course, it is not uncommon for WT characters to die several times before making their final exit, but this one had a truly unique demise, He was utterly consumed in The Consuming Flame (quite appropriately) and Satan vowed vengeance. The doctor must have found enough remnants of his departed henchman to revive him, because Girse is well and healthy in Horror Insured until Keane again sends him to a fiery doom. And again Doctor Satan vows vengeance; I looked for Girse to appear in The Devil's Double but evidently Satan decided that Girse was too vulnerable for further resurrections. Perhaps Bostiff, now dead for the first time, can outdo Girse's record. Outside of this one amusing boner, the series have been fine."
Comments on the June Issue
Charles H. Bert, of Philadelphia, writes: "I liked the June issue. For the first time in months you have a real weird cover. Count Woerz, who holds the fragile morsel of humanity in his hands, is certainly evil-looking and would raise the hair on a bald spot. M. Brundage has just the right mixture of the pastel crayons, green and yellow, on the Count's face, giving the expression of a dead-alive corpse. The cover is commendable and in the spirit of the magazine. I have not read Loot of the Vampire, but I am sure it will come up to expectations. Without a doubt the best story in the issue is Black Canaan by Robert E. Howard. He shows a knowledge of the southern Cajuns and displays it pridefully. If I may say so, I consider Black Canaan superior to The Hour of the Dragon, and weirder. The Conan stories are generally spoiled by excessive slaughter. I cannot be weirdly thrilled month after month, year after year, in which the hero is always slaughtering his enemies with a two-fisted sword. The first few tales were splendid with a primitive power and fired the imagination. But the ones that followed consist of practically the same thing with not much variation in plots. The main thing in those stories was the excessive slaughter. 'Red battles' and 'mighty deeds' don't inspire one with a weird feeling; perhaps to others they do, but not to me. Here's hoping Red Nails, the new Conan serial, pleases me. The description sounds good. I like Hugh Davidson's House of the Evil Eye very much, although I know that Davidson is the nom de plume of Edmond Hamilton. You see, the style of writing betrays him. Hamilton is turning out some very good yarns lately, and I rate House of the Evil Eye among his best. The story's not as impossible as it sounds. I have a clipping somewhere in my file of strange facts which states that the eye emanates a ray which affects certain forms of vegetable growths. Incredible, but true. It was a recent discovery of modern science. Hamilton is very good when he turns out stories like Child of the Winds, In the World's Dusk, and Murder in the Grave, and quite otherwise when he turns out such junk as The Six Sleepers, with its warped misguided future civilization, and The Great Brain of Kaldar with its lifeless stock characters, impossible happenings, and brainless entities. I was surprized to find The Brain In the Jar as a reprint. I gave up hope years ago of ever seeing that splendid story once more in Weird Tales. If I remember correctly, the story was requested by a reader in 1929. I enjoyed it very much and it still stands out as one of the 'eye of prophecy' stories; one of those stories upon which the fame of the magazine was built. It is still unique and different. I don't consider the story impossible. A few months ago Russian scientists discovered a means of preserving living human blood for three months, and you know how complex blood is. Those admirable Russians are going ahead with the human tissues, and who knows in another year or so, may find the means of preserving living parts of the human anatomy? Doctor A. Carrel, you know, has kept the heart of a chicken alive for twenty-five years. So you see, in the light of modern science, the impossible sounds possible after all. The Telephone in the Library by August W. Derleth was fine. His tales are told with a prosaic naturalness carrying the illusion of reality and never disappoint one. I have never read a poor yarn by him. The Grinning Ghoul by Robert Bloch is the best thing he has ever done. It seems to me that Bloch continues to become better in each succeeding tale. The English atmosphere in The Druidic Doom wasn't convincing to me. More than half of the story was taken up by tedious descriptions of the legend which formed the background of the story. I found the same fault with the African desert scene of The Faceless God. Bloch is on familiar ground in his latest concoction and is no slouch with the pen. The Ruler of Fate by Jack Williamson comes to a satisfactory conclusion. His characters are human beings and not like the dummies I have read in stories in other magazines. Athonee appeals to me very much, even if she wasn't a human being. Aru is a despicable person and I would be delighted with the job of choking him. Golden Blood still remains as Williamson's most outstanding story. The best of the short stories was The Harbor of Ghosts by Bardine. Lethe was a very good yarn, and Mordecai's Pipe will delight the hearts of pipe connoisseurs."
|ISLE OF THE UNDEAD|
|By Lloyd Arthur Eshbach|
|Many readers like to read shuddery stories that send icy thrills of horripilation up their spines and tickle the roots of their hair. This powerful tale is just what they want. for it is a goose-flesh tale of stark horror.|
|The guests at Clifford Darrell's yachting party were enjoying themselves with dancing and love-making, when suddenly a grisly horror from out of the past swept in from the sea in an ancient galley, and claimed them for its own. The frightful fate that seized them on the dreadful island of living dead men and women makes a story that will hold your fascinated attention to the last word. This gripping novelette will be published complete|
|in the October issue of|
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Paul M. Guignon, of Philadelphia, writes: "I am quite a reader of Weird Tales. I like the way it is distinguished from other magazines of its kind. Of all the stories you have published, I enjoyed particularly The Thing in the Fog, by Seabury Quinn, in the March issue of 1933. That story, I am sure, is a masterpiece of weird fiction."
Edmond Hamilton writes from his home in Pennsylvania: "I think your June number has a more arresting cover get-up than any yet. I mean the vertical story-list on the cover seems a swell idea to me, and I hope you keep it up."
Mrs. H. H. Hughes, of Lawton, Oklahoma, writes: "Beginning with the first issue of Weird Tales, in 1923, why not take the best story in each issue as a reprint? I like the reprints, as I haven't all the copies and would have missed a lot of good stories."
John V. Baltadonis, of Philadelphia, writes: "No wonder the characters in Thorp McClusky's Loot of the Vampire considered the Count an eery monster! He certainly looks it, at least in Mrs. Brundage's picturization of that fiendish monster. I was disappointed that Loot of the Vampire turned out to be a serial. Think of it, I'll have to wait a few issues before I can read the rest of the story."
Alan Chesselet, of Bandon, Oregon, writes: "I have been reading your magazine for about three years and look forward to reading it for a long while yet. As long as I can remember, my mother has bought it and read it, and she talks and praises it so much that she has me reading it."
Doctor Satan's Secret
Beverly G. Grocke, of Arlington, New Jersey, writes: "What about Paul Ernst letting us in on his secret? Who is Doctor Satan? And why isn't he ever caught with his mask off? Can't he die? The Rajah's Gift, your April reprint, was very good.... Give us something like C. L. Moore's Yvala again; it was a honey. Yours for better weird tales."
Against the Covers
E. M. Stubbs, of Detroit, writes: "I am well satisfied with your stories, but I do not like your covers. Brundage has deteriorated, greatly, since she began illustrating in 1933. Her covers are not weird; and after seeing practically the same woman on the cover, month after month, it grows tiresome, to say the least. The best artists you have ever had are St. John and C. C. Senf. I suggest that you let them each do at least one cover. Give them a trial, and see how your readers like them."
Books of Weird Tales
Jesse Mackay, of Tacoma, writes: "I have been reading your magazine for three years now, and I'd like to make a suggestion. Why couldn't you publish your stories in book form, with illustrations taken from the cover designs? Of course, go on printing the magazine, but have these for the ones that would really like to keep the stories. I've been saving the magazine, but it is hard to keep them in good condition. My favorite for the June issue is Black Canaan, by Robert E. Howard.
Most Popular Story
Readers, what is your favorite story in this issue? Write us a letter expressing your preferences, or fill out the vote coupon below and send it to the Eyrie, in care of Weird Tales. Two stories are in an exact tie, as this issue goes to press, for favorite story in the June number. These are Robert E. Howard's story of a terrible retribution, Black Canaan, and part one of Thorp McClusky's two-part serial, Loot of the Vampire.
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