The editors of this April 1948 edition (presumably the Canadian one, which appears to be the same as the U.S. one) may not have had the spectacular luck they would come to have in October, but they still did well, beginning with the cool cover painting above by Earle Bergey.
(Aside: is anyone here old enough to remember flashcubes? Those little shiny plastic disposable cubes you could attach to your camera to generate flashes for home photography? That’s what these weirdos cubic helmets immediately reminded me of.)
Ever-available Virgil Finlay was available for the promoted cover story, “The Faceless Men,” itself penned by the tireless pulp producer Arthur Leo Zagat (1896-1949).
Another Virgil Finlay illustration for another canny acquisition by the editors of the October 1948 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. Their tagline gives a pretty good sense of what is going on. “When a stranger visited Peterville on an atomic holiday, every blessed molecule in the place went amiably insane.” The author of the story is William F. Temple (1914-1989), whom some of you might remember as the author of the woman-duplication story The Four-Sided Triangle, which was made into a 1953 movie by Hammer Studios which I reviewed way back in the early days of Erotic Mad Science. (I also blogged a French-language post for the movie here.)
Don’t worry about our nymph, by the way. In the world of the story she was always a statue, it’s just previously she was draped and now she has suddenly and mysteriously become undraped. And so now our scandalized townspeople are preparing to drape her in the flag, which I personally find very funny.
Another of the sharp acquisitions made by the editors of the October 1948 issue of Thrilling Wonders Stories was the story “Yesterday’s Doors” by Arthur J. Burks (1898-1974), who was something of a legend in pulp writing, a “million words a year man,” (although one pulp scholar estimates that his output was closer to two million words in many years)*. In addition to all his writing, he found time to serve as an officer in the United States Marine Corps in both world wars, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Virgil Finlay, as he often was, contributed the story art.
The art budget for Thrilling Wonder Stories had obviously swelled considerably in the post-war era, and the consequences thereof can be seen right on this cover painted by Earle Bergey. There was substantial interior art as well, such as these two fine pieces by Virgil Finlay for “The Moon that Vanished” by the Queen of Space Opera, Leigh Brackett (1915-1978). There is this:
Virgil Finlay was busy on this the April 1938 issue of Weird Tales The cover painting appears to illustrate Clark Ashton Smith’s “The Garden of Adompha,” one I had not previously read and which my attention was drawn by twitter user Perry Ruh:
You can read the story in the Internet Archive’s copy of the issue or, if the yellowed woodpulp is too much of a strain on the eyes, you can also read the transcribed version at Wikisourse.
Finlay was also busy on this this issue with interior illustrations, like this one for Seabury Quinn’s story “The Temple Dancer.”
It was a heck of an issue, containing not just these stories but others by Robert Bloch, Jack Williamson, Max Brod and Nathaniel Hawthorne (the last two reprints, obviously) and poems by both H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard! It is available to read and download at the Internet Archive.
Lucy rides the tiger with diamonds and there’s a zombie, or something. Lawrence Sterne Stevens painted this cover for the October 1949 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries. Always worth it is an interior illustration by Virgil Finlay for “The Starkenden Quest” by Gilbert Collins (1890-1960).
This woman and her weird brassiere were painted by Lawrence Sterne Stevens for the April 1949 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries, apparently in illustration of Edison Marshall’s (1894-1967) story “Dian of the Lost Land.” Ever-present Virgil Finlay presented his own idea of the same character in interior art.
Beauty preserved in ice is a classic mad-sciencey theme, here illustrated on the cover of Famous Fantastic Mysteries (October 1950) by Rafael DeSoto (1904-1992). An American artist born in Puerto Rico, he was originally educated to be a priest but instead became an artist because “I liked girls too much!” (And, in case you might have been wondering, he was indeed a descendant of the famous conquistador of the same surname.) The cover apparently illustrates Arthur Stringer’s (1874-1950) story “The Woman Who Couldn’t Die,” as does interior art by the prolific Virgil Finlay.
Another Margaret Brundage cover for Weird Tales, this one all light and air for Henry Kuttner’s story “Beyond the Phoneix.” It appeared in October 1938. Kuttner’s story itself had some unusual art by Jim Mooney (1919-2018), who would later make it big in comics, being one of the principal artists behind Supergirl and also working as an inker on Spiderman.
Perhaps there was an unusual tang in the air that autumn, because the Weird Tales editors seem to have been willing to go a touch more erotic than usual in their choice of illustrations. Right inside the front cover we find this somewhat atypical creation by Virgil Finlay:
The dame holding the gun on Harold W. McCauley’s cover for the July 1943 Amazing Stories is more suggestive of crime pulp than science fiction…until we notice what looks surprisingly like a tube girl in the background, suggestive of rather more exotic goings-on.
Virgil Finlay’s interior art is featured in this number, with an appropriately surreal illustration for Alexander Blade’s story “Carbon-Copy Killer.”