Today, we’re looking a few of the highlights from the letters section of the Spring 1945 issue of Planet Stories. One thing that virtually every Vizigraph I’ve read has had in common is an overwhelming dissatisfaction with Parkhurst’s cover art. And I can’t say I blame them. While Parkhurst has some fantastic covers to his name (several of which can be viewed here), he frequently failed to bring his A-game to the covers of Planet.
But what did women have to say about the dames on Planet’s cover? Well, I won’t say she speaks for all of them, but Virginia L. Shawl weighs in:
So your Vizi-fanners do not like undraped females? Heh, heh, heh, she laughed wickedly. Are you men or robots? What I dislike is striking one goshawful cover out of every three. The type of cover that you have to buy a newspaper to cover it up with until you get home. The exterior on the Winter issue is a good example. The heroine was completely out of proportion to the monster holding her. And the hero looked as tho he had been drained of fifty percent of his IQ.
Virginia had a point, too. Parkhurst had lousy composition in many of his pieces, and the cover in question is an egregious example. As Chad Oliver concurs—“do you look at those cover, or just clap ‘em on quick to spare the eyes? Or didn’t you honestly think Parkhurst’s current effort was amusing?”
Tom Pace also has some things to say about the art:
…the first Planet I ever saw was the Fall, ’43ish. It had a cover on it that is one of the best I have ever seen…. Rozen’s, of course…next issue, the Winter one, had a Gross, a step down from Rozen, but still pretty good. Especially the dame. Then came Ingels, and I frowned a trifle. But annudder sweet damsel…dams…damse…tomato.
And now, Parkurst, and a step down from the Summer cover. Please, what yarn did it illustrate? And boiled lobster, yet…”
On the other hand, Loretta Adele Beasley thinks
The cover BEMS were swell this time, better than average. So was the girl. I’m glad to see she had some meat on her bones.
Augustus Elliott Kinkade disapproves of the choice of other magazines to go “military”, and clamors for more Brackett:
“I’m glad P.S. has not gone “military”, like a certain one-time competitor—stories, reader letters and illustrations all by military personnel. Also, I’m delighted that P.S. shows no sign of picking authors because they have small (pin?) heads and very large feet (micrencephalia and macropodia), as the editor of the militarized competitor avows that he does. [That a “Rap”, eh?]
One criticism: Neither issue has a Brackett tale. I’ve seen our Leigh’s picture, so know she is not afflicted with micrencephalia or macropodia—besides she’s not a WAC—hence can not have been “Kidnapped” by this alleged, militarized competitor. Her last P.S. tale Terror out of Space was fine; but her Jewel of Bas was an epic.
Not quite the smoking gun of an editor correcting someone on Brackett’s gender, but more proof that it was no secret, certainly.
Also, not everyone was buying what Damon Knight had been selling; Everett Marshall dumps on one of Damon’s circle:
I’m laughing, my friend. Not at you, nor again at Planet Stories, but at one yclept Damon the Demon, who has a letter in the Vizigraph. Now I don’t expect you to recall one letter out of the junk heap, so I’ll elucidate: it seems that this Damon has a friend by the name of Fleming, who sold you a story. Damon has been watching Planet, looking for aforementioned opus, and in the course picked up the Summer Issue, read it, and shipped you a letter of critique theron.
And what sayeth our Knight? Well, in reference to a certain tale called “Warriors of Two Worlds,” by a certain Wellman, he pens: “If anything I’ve read ever justifies the name of “hack” this is it. Reading the thing, I could almost feel Wellman’s mighty mechanical brain whirring effortlessly along…the style is smooth, like a thick coating of gelatin over the rough, ugly shape of plot and background.” And so on.
I’m laughing, pard, because I’ve just read that story by Stuart Fleming in the new issue. And the paragraph quoted above is as good a criticism of “Doorway to Kal-Jmar” as anyone could write.
Lastly, Bob Lambert’s remarks are why we need Alt-Furry:
“[Basil Wells’] The Hairy Ones” stinks. How could any hero in his right mind go for a dame that was covered with fur? I’d skin ‘er and make a rug for my den.( Some rug that would be, according to the picture.) I’m just a vicious character, I guess.