Building a Weird Tales Library: Part 4

Sunday , 1, May 2016 4 Comments

Another source for Weird Tales reprints are the fiction reprint magazines. Thirty years ago, you could find some of them for modest amounts of money.

avon_fantasy_reader_1952_n18I mentioned The Avon Fantasy Reader paperbacks. The original magazine was digest sized, published by the paperback publisher Avon, and edited by the great Donald A. Wollheim.

There were 18 issues from 1947 to 1952 priced at $.35. There were on average three Weird Tales reprints per issue. Sometimes there was only one story reprinted, other issues would have up to four Weird Tales stories. Wollheim reprinted Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, C. L. Moore, August Derleth, and Donald Wandrei.

The Avon Fantasy Reader also reprinted earlier writers such as William Hope Hodgson and Robert W. Chambers. Wollheim also reprinted a fair amount of science fiction from the pulp magazines of the 1930s. It is a good place to find P. Schuyler Miller, one of the better but forgotten writers of the period.

Donald Wollheim did some retitling of stories that are hilarious today. Frank Belknap Long’s “The Body Masters” became “The Love-Slave and the Scientist,” Robert E. Howard’s “The Voice of El-Lil” transformed into “Temptress of the Tower of Torture and Sin.” He renamed Robert E. Howard’s “The House of Arabu” to “The Witch From Hell’s Kitchen” which does have a certain panache.

I lucked out in finding nine issues for $.50 a piece at a garage sale back in 1984. The Avon Fantasy Reader used to be a less expensive start of entering the world of pulp collecting. Copies are no doubt more expensive these days but bargains might still be found at pulp magazine shows.

The Magazine of Horror was the result of the horror recrudescence of the late 50s-early 60s. Former Futurian, Robert A. W. Lowndes, edited the magazine on a shoe string magazine_of_horror_1967fal_n17budget. There were 36 issues from 1963 to 1971 when the publisher Health Knowledge Magazines collapsed. Issues sold for $.50. The magazine was digest sized and saddle stapled instead of being perfect bound. The paper has a tendency to turn yellow or brown, just like the old pulp magazines. The schedule was varied between quarterly to bimonthly through its history.

The average issue had two Weird Tales reprints. Lowndes seeded the issues with some new fiction by Edward D. Hoch, Ramsey Campbell, and J. Vernon Shea. His big program was reprinting all the fiction from Strange Tales. If you collected The Magazine of Horror and companion magazines, you eventually had a run of Strange Tales.

Lowndes also was a market for Glenn Lord to place unpublished Robert E. Howard stories. Issues with Howard stories can go for ridiculous amounts on E-bay if a couple of bidders get caught up in the heat of the moment.

The Magazine of Horror must have done well enough to warrant some companion magazines. Startling Mystery Stories had a total of 18 issues, digest sized, saddle stapled, quarterly schedule, and cost $.50 from 1966 to 1971. Startling Mystery Stories is probably most famous for publishing Stephen King’s first two stories. Good luck finding those issues.


Weird Terror Tales, another of Health Knowledge’s reprint fiction magazines, lasted for three issues 1969-1970. They are rich in Weird Tales and Strange Tales reprints. The last issue for example has six stories, three from Weird Tales and two from Strange Tales.

bizarre_fantasy_tales_1970fal_n1Bizarre Fantasy Tales appears to have been the replacement title for Weird Tales as the first issue was dated Fall 1970. This magazine lasted for only two issues. There is a reprint from Strange Tales (Henry S. Whitehead) and Lovecraft’s “Doom That Came to Sarnath.” The second issue had two Weird Tales reprints including Clark Ashton Smith’s “The Holiness of Azedarac.”

The Magazine of Horror issues were years ago a cheap way to pick up weird fiction. You could find issues at used bookstores that also carried comics and magazines. I have noticed prices have crept up at dealer’s tables at pulp shows.

The first attempt to reanimate Weird Tales was in 1973. The magazine was an actual pulp magazine that sold for $.75. The paper is thinner and more like that used for digest magazines but the dimensions are pulp sized. There were four issues edited by Sam Moskowitz. The magazine was more of a reprint of public domain material than a living publication.

The first issue from Summer, 1973 did have three reprints from Weird Tales by Ray Bradbury, Robert E. Howard, and Pearl Norton Swet (?). Moskowitz had two WT story reprints in the second issue, one in the third issue, and one by Clark Ashton Smith in the last issue. Items from The startling_mystery_stories_1967sumBlack Cat, Blue Book, Ainslee’s, Lippincott’s, and Harper’s from the 1890s to 1910s were reprinted as cost saving measures. There was a new Carl Jacobi story in one issue and a great sword and sorcery story by E. C. Tubb in the second issue.

David C. Smith told me he submitted a story to Moskowitz which he liked but did not have the money to pay for.

weird_tales_1973sumThis was an attempt doomed by a lack of capital to really make it a success. I found all four issues in 1983 under a table covered by comic book boxes at the indespensible Eide’s on the north side of Pittsburgh. You do see issues at pulp shows if you are hell bent on tracking down issues. It is an interesting oddity if nothing else.

One last magazine that did some Weird Tales reprints was The Man From UNCLE magazine. From 1966 to 1968, the magazine ran a Weird Tales reprint for most issues. Robert Heinlein’s “Our Fair City,” Fritz Leiber’s “The Dead Man,” C. L. Moore’s “Hellsgarde,” and Ray Bradbury’s “The Night” were among the reprinted stories.
So, it was not only the paperback books where stories from Weird Tales was being reprinted.


  • Gary Morris says:

    Great summary of the WT reprint venues. I had no idea the Man from Uncle magazine reprinted Weird Tales stories. Strange.

  • Cro-Magnon Man says:

    Its sobering to think that the Lowndes mags, which were once seen as a cheap way of accruing old WT material, are now collectable enough in their own right as to be going into facsimile editions themselves. I wonder if these retain the original hilarious ads for certain, er, inflatable products? Poor old RAWL was so strapped for cash he couldn’t afford to turn down any advertising revenue could he, no matter how inappropriate.

    Apart from King didn’t SMS also publish F Paul Wilson’s first story?

  • cirsova says:

    The digest mags can be usually found for a couple bucks a pop if and when you come across them. Antique malls/giant flea markets are the best place to find them. F&SF from the 50s & 60s tend to be more common than the reprint collections, as are Astounding/Analog from that period. Still, when they’re there, they’re typically between $2-$5, and, unlike the full-size magazines, digest prices don’t vary as widely based on the featured/cover author (where a Brackett or Bradbury cover can cost 5 times as much as an immediately subsequent or previous issue).

    I haven’t seen any Bizarre Fantasy or Weird Terror, but I have seen scattered issues of the others about. I only passed on them because of the mountain of other pulps I’m trying to get to.

  • Kayo says:

    This is the perfect way to break down this inoormatifn.

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