The Witch's Tales

The Witch's Tales was an American pulp magazine edited by Tom Chadburn which published two issues in November and December 1936. It was a companion to a radio program, called The Witch's Tale, which had begun broadcasting in May 1931. With the exception of the lead story in each issue, all the stories were reprints from the American edition of Pearson's Magazine. Alonzo Deen Cole, who wrote the radio series, contributed one lead story, and provided the plot for the other. The authors of the reprint stories included George Daulton, Wardon Allan Curtis, William Hamilton Osborne, and John C. Haywood.

The Witch's Tales November 1936
The November 1936 issue; cover art by Elmer Stoner.

Publication history and contents

The Witch's Tales December 1936
The December 1936 issue; cover art by Elmer Stoner

The Witch's Tale was a radio program that began on American radio in May 1931. A weekly anthology show, it was the first radio horror program, and soon became quite popular.[1][2][note 1] In 1936, the magazine The Witch's Tales appeared as a companion to it, perhaps inspired by The Shadow, a successful pulp magazine which had also been launched as the companion of a radio program of the same name. The Witch's Tales was published by The Carwood Publishing Co., a small and relatively inexperienced firm. The named editor of the magazine was Alonzo Deen Cole, who wrote the radio episodes, but the editorial work was actually done by Tom Chadburn.[4] Having both a pulp magazine and radio show act as vehicles for Cole's work is an early example of the 21st century's media industry's approach, with content tied together across more than one media platform,[5] but although Street & Smith demonstrated that this could be done successfully for The Shadow, Carwood did little to promote the radio show in the magazine, probably because of their inexperience.[6] Only one more issue appeared, the following month; it is unlikely that the publisher could have received sales data on the first issue by that time, so there may have been reasons other than poor sales for the magazine's short run,[4] perhaps including weak financing and distribution.[6]

The first issue, dated November 1936, led with "The Madman", a story by Cole about a mad scientist.[6] Cole's work also appeared in the second issue with "Mrs. Hawker's Will". Originally an episode Cole had written for the radio show, it was adapted from the script for the magazine by Laurence D. Smith.[4] All the other stories, from both issues, were reprinted from the American edition of Pearson's Magazine.[7] These included "The Monster of Lake LaMetrie", by Wardon Allan Curtis, from 1899; "The Fountain of Youth", by William Hamilton Osborne, and "Phantom of the Links",[note 2] by John C. Haywood, both from 1906; and "The Death-Trap", by George Daulton, which had originally appeared in 1908. The reprints were good stories, in the opinion of Mike Ashley, and they often had science fiction themes: Curtis's story involved the transplant of a man's brain into the body of a prehistoric monster. Despite the relatively high quality of the material, the stories were not action-oriented enough to have pleased a typical pulp magazine reader of the era.[4]

Bibliographic details

The magazine's two issues were dated November and December 1936, and numbered as a single volume of two issues. The publisher was The Carwood Publishing Co., of New York, and the editor was Tom Chadburn. The magazine was in bedsheet format, with 48 pages, and was priced at 15 cents.[4]

Notes

  1. ^ In a survey of over 3,000 children of both sexes in grades 5 through 8 in 1936, 25% of the children named The Witch's Tale as the radio program that kept them up at night.[3]
  2. ^ Originally published under the title "The Gray People".[4]

References

  1. ^ Hand (2006), chapter 4.
  2. ^ Killmeier (2012), p. 61.
  3. ^ Welch (2008), p. 134.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Ashley & Parnell (1985), pp. 742–743.
  5. ^ Killmeier (2012), p. 64.
  6. ^ a b c Ashley (2000), pp. 104–105.
  7. ^ Ashley (1997), p. 612.

Sources

  • Ashley, Mike (1997). "Magazines". In Clute, John; Grant, John. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc. pp. 611–615. ISBN 978-0-312-15897-2.
  • Ashley, Mike (2000). The Time Machines:The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the beginning to 1950. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. ISBN 978-0-85323-865-2.
  • Ashley, Mike; Parnell, Frank H. (1985). "The Witch's Tales". In Tymn, Marshall B.; Ashley, Mike. Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines. Westport CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 742–743. ISBN 978-0-313-21221-5.
  • Hand, Richard J. (2006). Terror on the Air!: Horror Radio in America, 1931–1952. McFarland. ISBN 978-0786469192.
  • Killmeier, Matthew A. (15 May 2012). "Aural Atavism: The Witch's Tale and Gothic Horror Radio". Journal of Radio & Audio Media. 19 (1): 61–82. doi:10.1080/19376529.2012.667021.
  • Welch, Cindy C. (2008). Broadcasting the Profession: The American Library Association and the National Children's Radio Hour. Urbana Champaign IL: ProQuest LLC.
Argosy (magazine)

Argosy, later titled The Argosy and Argosy All-Story Weekly, was an American pulp magazine from 1882 through 1978, published by Frank Munsey. It is the first American pulp magazine. The magazine began as a children's weekly story–paper entitled The Golden Argosy.

Bedsheet

The bedsheet format (also known as large pulp) was the size of many magazines published in the United States in the first quarter of the 20th century. Magazines in bedsheet format were roughly the size of Life but with square spines. While the bedsheet size varied slightly from magazine to magazine, a standard bedsheet size is usually 9¾" x 12".Dick Eney's Fancyclopedia II gives the following entry:

Bedsheet: A prozine size; 9x12. At various times Amazing, Wonder, Fantastic Adventures, ASF and Unknown Worlds attempted this size. The two latter, at least, were cut down by wartime paper shortage, and possibly by the keening of collectors who found these dimensions accident-prone.The first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, was published in a bedsheet format. Later, most magazines changed to the pulp magazine format, roughly the size of comic books or National Geographic but again with a square spine. Now, many magazines are published in digest format, roughly the size of Reader's Digest, although a few are in the standard roughly 8.5" x 11" size, and often have stapled spines, rather than glued square spines. Knowledge of these formats is an asset when locating magazines in libraries and collections where magazines are usually shelved according to size.

Sometimes the description "bedsheet" has been applied to magazines of the bedsheet size but with stapled rather than square spines.

George Kelley Paperback and Pulp Fiction Collection

The George Kelley Paperback and Pulp Fiction Collection is a collection of over 25,000 pulp magazine and fiction works that is housed in the Special Collections unit, in the University at Buffalo Libraries at State University of New York at Buffalo. Noted as one of the best preserved collections of pulp material in modern times, it was donated to UB Libraries in 1994 by Dr. George Kelley, a professor at Erie Community College in Buffalo, New York.The collection spans genres from adventure, crime and horror to Westerns, fantasy and science fiction, including books, pulp magazines, fanzines and other literature. According to UB Libraries, there are hundreds of paperbacks from the 1940s, thousands from the 1950s and 1960s and more from the 1970s and 1980s. Many of these are paperback originals which have never appeared in hardcover editions.

History of US science fiction and fantasy magazines to 1950

Science fiction and fantasy magazines began to be published in the United States in the 1920s. Stories with science fiction themes had been appearing for decades in pulp magazines such as Argosy, but there were no magazines that specialized in a single genre until 1915, when Street & Smith, one of the major pulp publishers, brought out Detective Story Magazine. The first magazine to focus solely on fantasy and horror was Weird Tales, which was launched in 1923, and established itself as the leading weird fiction magazine over the next two decades; writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard became regular contributors. In 1926 Weird Tales was joined by Amazing Stories, published by Hugo Gernsback; Amazing printed only science fiction, and no fantasy. Gernsback included a letter column in Amazing Stories, and this led to the creation of organized science fiction fandom, as fans contacted each other using the addresses published with the letters. Gernsback wanted the fiction he printed to be scientifically accurate, and educational, as well as entertaining, but found it difficult to obtain stories that met his goals; he printed "The Moon Pool" by Abraham Merritt in 1927, despite it being completely unscientific. Gernsback lost control of Amazing Stories in 1929, but quickly started several new magazines. Wonder Stories, one of Gernsback's titles, was edited by David Lasser, who worked to improve the quality of the fiction he received. Another early competitor was Astounding Stories of Super-Science, which appeared in 1930, edited by Harry Bates, but Bates printed only the most basic adventure stories with minimal scientific content, and little of the material from his era is now remembered.

In 1933 Astounding was acquired by Street & Smith, and it soon became the leading magazine in the new genre, publishing early classics such as Murray Leinster's "Sidewise in Time" in 1934. A couple of competitors to Weird Tales for fantasy and weird fiction appeared, but none lasted, and the 1930s is regarded as Weird Tales' heyday. Between 1939 and 1941 there was a boom in science fiction and fantasy magazines: several publishers entered the field, including Standard Magazines, with Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories (a retitling of Wonder Stories); Popular Publications, with Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories; and Fiction House, with Planet Stories, which focused on melodramatic tales of interplanetary adventure. Ziff-Davis launched Fantastic Adventures, a fantasy companion to Amazing. Astounding extended its pre-eminence in the field during the boom: the editor, John W. Campbell, developed a stable of young writers that included Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and A.E. van Vogt. The period starting in 1938, when Campbell took control of Astounding, is often referred to as the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Well-known stories from this era include Slan, by van Vogt, and "Nightfall", by Asimov. Campbell also launched Unknown, a fantasy companion to Astounding, in 1939; this was the first serious competitor for Weird Tales. Although wartime paper shortages forced Unknown's cancellation in 1943, it is now regarded as one of the most influential pulp magazines.

Only eight science fiction and fantasy magazines survived World War II. All were still in pulp magazine format except for Astounding, which had switched to a digest format in 1943. Astounding continued to publish popular stories, including "Vintage Season" by C. L. Moore, and "With Folded Hands ..." by Jack Williamson. The quality of the fiction in the other magazines improved over the decade: Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder in particular published some excellent material and challenged Astounding for the leadership of the field. A few more pulps were launched in the late 1940s, but almost all were intended as vehicles to reprint old classics. One exception, Out of This World Adventures, was an experiment by Avon, combining fiction with some pages of comics. It was a failure and lasted only two issues. Magazines in digest format began to appear towards the end of the decade, including Other Worlds, edited by Raymond Palmer. In 1949, the first issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction appeared, followed in October 1950 by the first issue of Galaxy Science Fiction; both were digests, and between them soon dominated the field. Very few science fiction or fantasy pulps were launched after this date; the 1950s was the beginning of the era of digest magazines, though the leading pulps continued until the mid-1950s, and authors began selling to mainstream magazines and large book publishers.

The War of the Worlds (radio drama)

"The War of the Worlds" is an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles as an adaptation of H. G. Wells's novel The War of the Worlds (1898). It was performed and broadcast live as a Halloween episode at 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 30, 1938 over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. The episode became famous for causing panic among its listening audience, but the scale of that panic is disputed, as the program had relatively few listeners.The one-hour program began with the theme music for the Mercury Theatre on the Air and an announcement that the evening's show was an adaption of The War of the Worlds. This was followed by a prologue read by Orson Welles which was closely based on the opening of H.G. Wells' novel but updated to state the story events were taking place in 1939. The next half hour of the broadcast was presented as typical evening of radio programming which was interrupted by a series of news bulletins. The first few bulletins interrupt a program of dance music and describe a series of odd explosions observed on Mars. This is followed by a seemingly unrelated report of an unusual object falling on a farm in Grover's Mill, New Jersey. Another brief musical interlude is interrupted by a live report from Grover's Mill, where police officials and a crowd of curious onlookers have surrounded the strange cylindrical object which has fallen from the sky. The situation quickly escalates when Martians emerge from the cylinder and attack using a heat-ray, abruptly cutting off the panicked reporter at the scene. This is followed by a rapid series of increasingly alarming news updates detailing a devastating alien invasion taking place around the world and the futile efforts of the U.S. military to stop it. This portion of the show climaxes with another live report describing giant Martian war machines releasing clouds of poisonous smoke in New York City, after which the program took its first break. During the second half of the show, the program shifts to a more conventional radio drama format and follows a survivor dealing with the aftermath of the invasion and Martian occupation of Earth. As in the original novel, the story ends with the discovery that the Martians have been defeated by microbes rather than by humans.

The illusion of realism was furthered because the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a sustaining show without commercial interruptions, and the first break in the program came almost 30 minutes after the introduction. Popular legend holds that some of the radio audience may have been listening to The Chase and Sanborn Hour with Edgar Bergen and tuned in to "The War of the Worlds" during a musical interlude, thereby missing the clear introduction that the show was a drama; however, contemporary research suggests that this happened only in rare instances.In the days after the adaptation, widespread outrage was expressed in the media. The program's news-bulletin format was described as deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the broadcasters and calls for regulation by the Federal Communications Commission. Nevertheless, the episode secured Welles's fame as a dramatist.

The Witch's Tale

The Witch's Tale was a horror-fantasy radio series which aired from May 21, 1931, to June 13, 1938, on WOR, the Mutual Radio Network, and in syndication. The program was created, written, and directed by Alonzo Deen Cole (February 22, 1897, St. Paul, Minnesota - April 7, 1971).

Unknown (magazine)

Unknown (also known as Unknown Worlds) was an American pulp fantasy fiction magazine, published from 1939 to 1943 by Street & Smith, and edited by John W. Campbell. Unknown was a companion to Street & Smith's science fiction pulp, Astounding Science Fiction, which was also edited by Campbell at the time; many authors and illustrators contributed to both magazines. The leading fantasy magazine in the 1930s was Weird Tales, which focused on shock and horror. Campbell wanted to publish a fantasy magazine with more finesse and humor than Weird Tales, and put his plans into action when Eric Frank Russell sent him the manuscript of his novel Sinister Barrier, about aliens who own the human race. Unknown's first issue appeared in March 1939; in addition to Sinister Barrier, it included H. L. Gold's "Trouble With Water", a humorous fantasy about a New Yorker who meets a water gnome. Gold's story was the first of many in Unknown to combine commonplace reality with the fantastic.

Campbell required his authors to avoid simplistic horror fiction and insisted that the fantasy elements in a story be developed logically: for example, Jack Williamson's "Darker Than You Think" describes a world in which there is a scientific explanation for the existence of werewolves. Similarly, L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt's Harold Shea series, about a modern American who finds himself in the worlds of various mythologies, depicts a system of magic based on mathematical logic. Other notable stories included several well-received novels by L. Ron Hubbard and short stories such as Manly Wade Wellman's "When It Was Moonlight" and Fritz Leiber's "Two Sought Adventure", the first in his Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series.

Unknown was forced to a bimonthly schedule in 1941 by poor sales, and cancelled in 1943 when wartime paper shortages became so acute that Campbell had to choose between turning Astounding into a bimonthly or ending Unknown. The magazine is generally regarded as the finest fantasy fiction magazine ever published, despite the fact that it was not commercially successful, and in the opinion of science fiction historian Mike Ashley it was responsible for the creation of the modern fantasy publishing genre.

Weird Tales

Weird Tales is an American fantasy and horror fiction pulp magazine founded by J. C. Henneberger and J. M. Lansinger in late 1922. The first issue, dated March 1923, appeared on newsstands February 18th. The first editor, Edwin Baird, printed early work by H. P. Lovecraft, Seabury Quinn, and Clark Ashton Smith, all of whom would go on to be popular writers, but within a year the magazine was in financial trouble. Henneberger sold his interest in the publisher, Rural Publishing Corporation, to Lansinger and refinanced Weird Tales, with Farnsworth Wright as the new editor. The first issue under Wright's control was dated November 1924. The magazine was more successful under Wright, and despite occasional financial setbacks it prospered over the next fifteen years. Under Wright's control the magazine lived up to its subtitle, "The Unique Magazine", and published a wide range of unusual fiction.

Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos stories first appeared in Weird Tales, starting with "The Call of Cthulhu" in 1928. These were well-received, and a group of writers associated with Lovecraft wrote other stories set in the same milieu. Robert E. Howard was a regular contributor, and published several of his Conan the Barbarian stories in the magazine, and Seabury Quinn's series of stories about Jules de Grandin, a detective who specialized in cases involving the supernatural, was very popular with the readers. Other well-liked authors included Nictzin Dyalhis, E. Hoffmann Price, Robert Bloch, and H. Warner Munn. Wright published some science fiction, along with the fantasy and horror, partly because when Weird Tales was launched there were no magazines specializing in science fiction, but he continued this policy even after the launch of magazines such as Amazing Stories in 1926. Edmond Hamilton wrote a good deal of science fiction for Weird Tales, though after a few years he used the magazine for his more fantastic stories, and submitted his space operas elsewhere.

In 1938 the magazine was sold to William Delaney, the publisher of Short Stories, and within two years Wright, who was ill, was replaced by Dorothy McIlwraith as editor. Although some successful new authors and artists, such as Ray Bradbury and Hannes Bok, continued to appear, the magazine is considered by critics to have declined under McIlwraith from its heyday in the 1930s. Weird Tales ceased publication in 1954, but since then numerous attempts have been made to relaunch the magazine, starting in 1973. The longest-lasting version began in 1988 and ran with an occasional hiatus for over 20 years under an assortment of publishers. In the mid-1990s the title was changed to Worlds of Fantasy & Horror because of licensing issues, with the original title returning in 1998. As of 2018, the most recent published issue was dated Spring 2014.

The magazine is regarded by historians of fantasy and science fiction as a legend in the field, with Robert Weinberg, author of a history of the magazine, considering it "the most important and influential of all fantasy magazines". Weinberg's fellow historian, Mike Ashley, is more cautious, describing it as "second only to Unknown in significance and influence", adding that "somewhere in the imagination reservoir of all U.S. (and many non-U.S.) genre-fantasy and horror writers is part of the spirit of Weird Tales".

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