Potrzebie
Thursday, June 28, 2012
  Mad Style Guide #4: Angelo Torres
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As requested long ago, here are more pages from the very rare Mad Style Guide, which I edited in 1994 with Joe Orlando, then the associate publisher of Mad. Needed were images that could be used on T-shirts and other merchandising. I walked uptown to a T-shirt shop at Sixth Avenue and 57th Street with a copy of Mad and had the cover imprinted on a T-shirt to show a prototype to the DC Licensing Department. Joe came up with the idea of having Angelo Torres do b/w ink copies of past Mad cover paintings. The Mad #58 cover is by Kelly Freas, and Mad #238 is by Jack Rickard.





Production of the Mad Style Guide was by the designer Judy Reiser, author of a series of books on irrational human behavior (And I Thought I Was Crazy). For more, see her website.

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Friday, July 18, 2008
  Crystalized Dream







Watchmen - Trailer

Joe Orlando's contribution to the Watchmen graphic novel was Tales of the Black Freighter, the Brechtian comic-within-the-comic. Warner Brothers will release Watchmen on March 6, 2009. Five days later, Warner will release the animated Tales of the Black Freighter as a DVD only. The studio is also planning The Watchmen Motion Guide, a panel-by-panel slide show of the graphic novel, narrated by an actor in a dozen 22- to 26-minute webisodes.

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Friday, January 04, 2008
  What a Long, Weird Trip It's Been

By Bhob Stewart

Much like the white stuff in the middle of an Oreo cookie, the magazine Weird Tales lies strangely sandwiched between cartoon magazines and comic books. To probe exactly what this odd statement means, one must pay attention to the men behind the curtain, notably Jacob Clark Henneberger and William J. Delaney, Sr., who kept Weird Tales racked on newsstands over many decades.

The life of Bill Delaney (1892-1986), publisher of Weird Tales, Short Stories and World Astrology, parallels the history of popular fiction during the 20th Century. During the years Delaney published Weird Tales (1938-54), with Farnsworth Wright and Dorothy McIlwraith as his editors, the magazine introduced the highly stylized cover illustrations of Hannes Bok and published the earliest stories of Fritz Leiber and Ray Bradbury. Six of the Bradbury stories published by Delaney later became memorable adaptations in EC Comics, illustrated by Jack Davis, George Evans, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen and Joe Orlando: "There Was an Old Woman" (Tales from the Crypt 34 from the July 1944 issue of Weird Tales); "The Lake" (Vault of Horror 31 from the May 1944 Weird Tales); "Let's Play Poison" (Vault 29 from Weird Tales, November 1946); "The Handler" (Crypt 36 from Weird Tales, January 1947); "The October Game" (Shock SuspenStories 9 from Weird Tales, March 1948); "The Black Ferris" (Haunt of Fear 18 from Weird Tales, May 1948).

During the early 1950s, when the 279-issue continuous run of Weird Tales was winding down, a glance at a newsstand revealed the magazine's strong influence on comic books. In a 1980 paperback revival of Weird Tales, Lin Carter wrote, "I can think of no other magazine in history which exerted quite the same sort of influence which Weird Tales exerted over the genre it shaped and perfected, and the authors who contributed to it so devotedly over the years... And there can have been very few fiction magazines in the history of publishing which have had as many of their stories dramatized on radio, television and in the movies."

In addition to the EC adaptations, the magazine provided a source for other graphic story adaptations, such as Robert Bloch's "The Shambler from the Stars" (Weird Tales, June 1935), illustrated by Jim Starlin and Tom Palmer for Marvel's Journey into Mystery 3 (February 1973). Only occasionally did periodical publishers put the word "weird" into magazine mastheads, yet within the comic book field, Weird Tales spawned a seemingly endless parade of weirdness: Weird (1966), Weird Adventures (1951), Weird Chills (1954), Weird Comics (1940), Weird Fantasy (1950), Weird Horrors (1952), Weird Mysteries (1952), Weird Mystery Tales (1972), Weird Science (1950), Weird Science-Fantasy (1954), Weird Science-Fantasy Annual (1953-54), Weird SuspenStories (the Canadian reprint of Crime SuspenStories), Weird Suspense (1975), Weird Tales of the Future (1952), Weird Tales of the Macabre (1975), Weird Terror (1952), Weird Thrillers (1951), Weird War Tales (1971), Weird Western Tales (1972), Weird Wonder Tales (1973) and Weird Worlds (1970).

         "Nightmare World" by Basil Wolverton in Weird Tales of the Future 3 (September 1952).


Pinpointing Delaney's role in all this, one must back-pedal to publications of the 19th Century. With a focus on reprints, translations and classics, Short Stories was launched in 1890. After it was purchased in 1910 by Doubleday, it was converted into a 160-page all-fiction pulp adventure magazine featuring stories by Max Brand, Talbot Mundy, Sax Rohmer, Edgar Wallace and others. Born in Brooklyn two years after the first issue of Short Stories, Delaney served during World War I in France with the United States Marine Corps, returned to New York after the war and entered the advertising field as a salesman. In 1937, Delaney bought Short Stories from Doubleday, and the magazine's base of operations moved to his office at 9 Rockefeller Plaza.

When Delaney acquired Short Stories, he also acquired its editor, Dorothy McIlwraith, who had worked for Doubleday for 20 years. A native of Canada, McIlwraith became one of the higher paid pulp editors while working for Delaney. Leo Margulies, at Standard Magazines, ranked highest with $250 a week, but most pulp editors took home weekly salaries of $50 to $75. Delaney employed McIlwraith at $100 a week.

Frank Gruber, in The Pulp Jungle, described his 1937 encounter with McIlwraith: "I knew that Short Stories was virtually a closed market, but I took the Argosy reject in to Short Stories. I met Dorothy McIlwraith for the first time. She was cool, formal, not too encouraging, as she had a stable of excellent, regular writers. I gave her one of my finest sales pitches, told her I had to have two cents a word, that the editors of Argosy and Adventure were laying siege at my door, but I liked Short Stories so much that I preferred to have my work in it. I later became so well acquainted with Dorothy McIlwraith that we frequently discussed this first meeting of ours. I would guess that Dorothy was 52 or 53 years of age at this time... She was a heavy-set woman who had never married. She lived in a small house on Long Island with another spinster. She was an excellent editor. The day after my all-out sales pitch, Dorothy telephoned me. She agreed with all that I had told her and was buying the story at my price of two cents a word! I promptly wrote a second story for Dorothy, which she also bought for two cents a word. Then I plunged into the novelettes that dominated the magazine for the next several years."

In 1938, Delaney's company, Short Stories Inc., also began to publish Weird Tales from the 9 Rockefeller Plaza office. The magazine had been published previously for 15 years in Indianapolis and Chicago before it was bought by Delaney. The origin of Weird Tales is curiously linked with cartoon humor magazines, including the Fawcett publication, Captain Billy's Whiz-Bang, a title which served as a springboard in 1940 for key Fawcett names and titles -- Captain Marvel, Billy Batson, Whiz Comics and Slam Bang Comics.

The founder and original publisher of Weird Tales was Jacob Clark Henneberger. In 1916, Henneberger was a student at a Virginia military academy where he attended English literature classes taught by Captain Stevens. Each semester Stevens gave an hour-long lecture, "Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque," covering various writers influenced by Poe. What Henneberger learned in that class stayed with him as he entered publishing with The Collegiate World. The magazine attracted few advertisers until Henneberger decided to expand "The Area of Good Feelings," a section of excerpts from college humor magazines. When these pages were developed into an entire publication, College Humor was born. In 1920, College Humor sold out its first print run of 50,000 and went back to press for another 15,000.

Henneberger was acquainted with Wilford H. "Captain Billy" Fawcett, who had returned from WWI to Robbinsdale, Minnesota, where he began producing a small mimeographed newsletter of military banter and jokes, circulated among the disabled at the local veterans' hospital in 1920. After distribution by a wholesaler to drugstores and hotel lobbies, the cartoon-joke publication increased its circulation and upgraded to a saddle-stitched, digest-size format. By 1923, it had a circulation of 425,000 with $500,000 annual profits. The title Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, combining Fawcett's name with the nickname of a destructive WWI artillery shell, is immortalized in the lyrics to the song "Trouble" from Meredith Willson's The Music Man (1962): "Is there a nicotine stain on his index finger? A dime novel hidden in the corncrib? Is he starting to memorize jokes from Captain Billy's Whiz Bang?" However, this is an anachronistic reference, since The Music Man is set in River City, Iowa during 1912, which was seven years before the first issue was published. The humor magazine often featured a picture of Wilford Fawcett in uniform along with the caption, "This magazine is edited by a Spanish-American and World War veteran and is dedicated to the Fighting Forces of the United States and Canada."

In 1922, Wilford Fawcett's brother, Harvey Fawcett, began publishing a similar gag book when he acquired rights to do the American edition of Calgary Eye-Opener in Minneapolis. This was the publication that launched Carl Barks as a cartoonist in 1928, enabling him to leave the railroad gang and go freelance. Calgary Eye-Opener was taken over by contractor Henry Meyer. Barks recalled, "Meyer was enough of a businessman to see things weren't being run right around there. There was too much drinking and playing around, and not enough production. So he looked over the list of gag men and decided that hell, I was a hard-working son-of-a-gun. So he sent a telegram to me, asking if I would come back there. I had enough money to send a telegram saying I didn't have enough money to get back there. He sent me money, and I closed my affairs very rapidly and gave away the big stack of joke magazines I had. What I could carry in a valise, I carried with me. I got into Minneapolis in November of 1931." Banking $110 a month at his new job, Barks and editor Ed Sumner also attempted to launch another humor magazine, Coo-Coo, in 1932, but it only lasted one issue. In 1935, Barks left for Hollywood and his long association with Walt Disney.

Other small-scale periodicals of the early 1920s were Jim Jam Jems, the saucy Smokehouse Monthly and George Julian Houtain's Home Brew. When the monthly sales of Captain Billy's Whiz Bang reached half a million, Henneberger took note of the rising revenue, imitating Whiz-Bang with The Magazine of Fun. "Soon," wrote Henneberger, "there were a number of these small magazines on the stands, and a number of them provided the capital for further venture. One of them, Home Brew, introduced me to Howard Lovecraft." Lovecraft's "Herbert West – Reanimator" appeared in Home Brew in 1922, the year Henneberger first saw the publication.

Henneberger also published romance pulps, girlie magazines and Detective Tales. In 1922, Henneberger and J.M. Lassinger started their Rural Publishing Corp. and launched the first issue of Weird Tales, dated March 1923. Edited by the Chicago newspaperman and mystery writer Edwin Baird, the magazine had financial problems during its first year. Baird was replaced by Farnsworth Wright after the first 14 issues. "Farnsworth Wright was the second editor of Weird Tales and the man responsible for its longevity," wrote Henneberger. "He was a rare human being who combined a sense of humor with a knowledge of literature and his fellow man. The previous editor, Edwin Baird, assumed the duties of getting out a companion magazine, Detective Tales, as well as Weird Tales." Under Baird, the magazine published such authors as Lovecraft (who appeared in the October 1923 issue with "Dagon"), Clark Ashton Smith and Seabury Quinn. Today, it is Lovecraft who is most strongly identified with Weird Tales, but it was Quinn who was the magazine's most popular writer, with his series about psychic detective Jules de Grandin.

From Home Brew, Henneberger learned that Lovecraft lived in Brooklyn, and he went to see him. "Meeting Lovecraft in Brooklyn was a rare experience," he wrote to Sam Moskowitz, "despite the fact that he was weighted down with marriage problems. He was married to a beautiful White Russian girl, and it seems his work of reviewing and an occasional editing job did not provide the means to support her as she desired. The union was short lived. I tried in vain to get Lovecraft to come to Chicago, but he was tradition bound to New England, especially Rhode Island in which state I called on him a few months before his death. The first story I bought from Howard was 'The Rats in the Walls,' and I think it was one of his finest. However, I sat down with Howard and Harry Houdini one evening while Houdini recounted an experience in Egypt or rather the Giza plateau. A few weeks later Howard submitted the manuscript 'Imprisoned with the Pharaohs.' It was published at my insistence, although Baird did not like it and Wright was not then at the helm of Weird Tales. During this time I was publishing College Humor and The Magazine of Fun successfully... I never made any money with Weird Tales, but the few headaches it caused were compensated by the association with men like William Sprenger (business manager), Farnsworth Wright, Frank Belknap Long, Seabury Quinn (who ran an undertakers' magazine) and many prominent men like Harry Houdini who swore by the publication."

Subtitled "The Unique Magazine" and "a magazine of the bizarre and the unusual," the "early issues were undistinguished," according to The Science Fiction Encyclopedia. After Baird's first 13 issues, a friend of Henneberger's, the songwriter Otis Adelbert Kline (1891-1946), who had written Weird Tales' first serial ("The Thing of a Thousand Shapes"), served briefly as editor (May-July 1924) on the issue planned as the last. "Problems with the printer," wrote Moskowitz, "more than lack of circulation, plunged the early Weird Tales into debt. In order to pay it off, Henneberger sold his profitable Detective Tales."

When the magazine reappeared (November 1924), it had both a new publisher, Popular Fiction Publishing Company, and a new editor, Farnsworth Wright (1888-1940). Born in San Francisco, the musicologist Wright had published an amateur magazine in high school, lived through the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fought in the infantry during WWI before joining Baird as an editorial assistant, beginning with Weird Tales' first issue. For the next 16 years, Wright, who suffered from Parkinson's disease, guided Weird Tales through its peak years, although even at its peak, Weird Tales had no more than 50,000 or so readers.

Between 1930 and 1934 Wright also edited Weird Tales' companion magazine, Oriental Stories (retitled Magic Carpet in January 1933), and his love of Shakespeare prompted an edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream with art by the Weird Tales illustrator Virgil Finlay. Other Weird Tales illustrators of the 1930s included Margaret Brundage, J. Allen St. John, Frank Utpatel, Vincent Napoli (who drew for DS Comics in the late 1940s) and Harold De Lay (artist on 1940-47 comics for Novelty and other companies). Working with pastel chalks, Brundage created a series of controversial, erotic covers.

Wright discovered and nurtured a lengthy list of Weird Tales writers – the poet Leah Bodine Drake, the teenage Tennessee Williams, film producer Val Lewton (Cat People), Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Nictzin Dyalhis, Robert E. Howard, Edmond Hamilton (who scripted for DC Comics from 1945 to 1966), Manly Wade Wellman (who scripted for at least eight comics publishers between 1939 and 1951), Catherine L. Moore, Carl Jacobi, Frank Belknap Long, E. Hoffman Price, H. Warner Munn and Donald Wandrei, while also attracting such authors as Gaston Leroux (Phantom of the Opera), Gustave Meyrink (The Golem), Jack Williamson, Murray Leinster, E.F. Benson, A. Merritt and Algernon Blackwood. Weird Tales first published Robert E. Howard in 1925, and his Conan stories began in WT with "The Phoenix on the Sword" (1932). The 1960s revival of interest in Conan and other Howard characters led to numerous Howard-inspired Marvel Comics.

When Delaney purchased Weird Tales in 1938, he followed the same procedure as he had with McIlwraith and Short Stories, and Wright relocated in New York to continue as the Weird Tales editor. The following summer, the 25-year-old Ray Bradbury showed Wright work by Hannes Bok, cover artist of Bradbury's fanzine, Futuria Fantasia (1939-40). "Long before my appearance in Weird Tales," wrote Bradbury, "I had influenced its artistic makeup. In June 1939, I had traveled across the United States on a Greyhound bus, bringing with me a dozen or so Hannes Bok drawings and paintings. I visited Farnsworth Wright in his offices, and he immediately commissioned Bok to paint a cover for Weird. I returned home on the bus in triumph, delighted that I had brought Bok and my favorite magazine together." The painting illustrated David H. Keller's "Lords of the Ice" (December 1939), and other distinctive Bok covers fronted Weird Tales until 1942. During the 1930s and 1940s, pulp magazine illustrators were usually paid between $50 to $75 for a cover painting.

The issue introducing Bok was one of Wright's last; he died in Jackson Heights, Queens, in June 1940. Delaney chose McIlwraith as Wright's successor, and she continued as Weird Tales' editor for the next 14 years. Bloch had praise for McIlwraith's editorial abilities: "I met Dorothy McIlwraith only once, in late 1939. She seemed pleasant, but I recall little about her, and her letters of acceptance, together with those of associate Lamont Buchanan, don't linger in my memory. Actually, I think she's far too neglected. I can't dismiss anyone who published Bradbury, Sturgeon, Brown and other top talents. I think that she would have published more, had she been given the budget to compete with Unknown Worlds, F&SF and other comparable markets. But that lousy one cent a word – and sometimes bimonthly publication – induced few writers to remain in Weird Tales once better rates were obtainable elsewhere. I lasted longer than most, because I was always a bit stupid. (Still am, writing short stories today when I should be knocking out TV episodes at roughly 100 times the fee, plus an additional 100 times for reruns over the years.) But Weird Tales was my first market, my favorite reading as a young fan, and I felt, and feel, that I owed it a lot."

Delaney and McIlwraith continued to fill the pages of Weird Tales with Derleth, Bloch, Wellman, Hamilton and Quinn, while also introducing Leiber, Bradbury, the now-neglected female fantasist Alison V. Harding, Joseph Payne Brennan and others. In addition to Bok, other illustrators for the Delaney/McIlwraith issues included Lee Brown Coye, Matt Fox (who also illustrated for 1952-63 Marvel Comics and 1967-69 issues of Castle of Frankenstein), Charles A. Kennedy, Boris Dolgov, Fred Humiston, Harold Rayner, Henry del Campo, A.R. Tilburne, John Giunta (who illustrated many comic books from 1938 on), Bill Wayne, Jon Arfstrom and Joseph Krucher.

Frank Gruber (1904-1969), who knocked out some 800,000 words for pulps in 1940, worked just as hard in 1941, but still found time to drop by for weekly chats with McIlwraith and Delaney, as he detailed in The Pulp Jungle: "I don't think I missed an issue of Short Stories that year. If I did not have a serial running in the magazine, I had a long novelette. Bill Delaney, the owner of Short Stories, had become one of my best friends... On Mondays I always went into town... I made a call or two, then about eleven o'clock I would go to the offices of Short Stories. Bill Delaney and I talked awhile, or played a rubber or two of gin rummy, had lunch and returned and played some more gin rummy. About four or four thirty I went home."

When Gruber went home it was to Scarsdale, but in January 1942 he moved to Manhasset, Long Island, where Bill Delaney lived with his wife Margaret (whom he had married in 1923). The Delaney/Gruber friendship was interrupted when Gruber swung a Hollywood deal only weeks after moving to Manhasset. Delaney helped him make his exit. "We decided to close up the house, leave everything in it and take the train to Hollywood, carrying only our suitcases –- and Bob, who was then 22 months of age. I completed The Gift Horse the day before we were due to leave. Bill Delaney came down to the train to see us off, and I gave him the last chapters and asked him to have them retyped and send the manuscript to Farrar & Rinehart. I wrote Farrar & Rinehart on the train. I told them I would be back in six weeks, that I needed a vacation. I did not see New York again until 1946."

In the midst of the 1950s wave of "weird" comics and competition from a new wave of magazines, such as Galaxy Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the Weird Tales readership began to fall away. Following the death of Margaret Delaney in 1952, Weird Tales was reduced to a digest-size format (September 1953), and then it closed up shop a few months later (March 1954).

In 1956, Bill Delaney married Regina Cogan. He did not continue in publishing; one of his later business ventures was a Manhattan greeting card shop. After Regina Delaney's death in a 1970 auto accident, he took up residence in the New York Athletic Club. He died March 15 in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, after a long illness, survived by three children, 19 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Complete runs of the 279 issues of Weird Tales are highly valued by collectors, with complete runs being sold in the 1980s for prices between $20,000 and $25,000. After Weird Tales folded in 1954, the word "weird" surfaced immediately on several short-lived 1955 publications – the British Weird and Occult Library paperback magazine, the British pulp Weird World and True Weird. Edited by Calvin Beck for publisher Joe Weider, True Weird later changed its name to True Strange in order to kill a persistent office joke about True Weider magazine.

All rights to Weird Tales were next acquired by editor-publisher Leo Margulies. It was Margulies who gave Mort Weisinger his first editorial job, earning $15 a week, at Standard (Thrilling Wonder Stories). In the back of the hall during the First World Science Fiction Convention (1939), Margulies and Weisinger concocted the character of Captain Future, with Margulies plotting the magazine on the spot to the convention attendees. The following year the character debuted in both magazine form (Captain Future) and comics (Startling Stories, America's Best). Margulies was also instrumental in Weisinger's switch to DC as Superman editor-writer, advising him that pulps had less of a future than comics. "On the honor roll of great fiction magazines of all time, Weird Tales rates very high," wrote Margulies. "Among devotees of the weird, fantastic, science fiction and off-trail, the magazine was considered a classic." With the backlog of Weird Tales material, Margulies packaged two Pyramid anthologies -- Weird Tales (1964) and Worlds of Weird (1965).

On November 14, 1969, Weird Tales founder Jacob Clark Henneberger died. The legendary magazine Henneberger created reappeared in time for its 50th anniversary when Margulies revived Weird Tales for four pulp-sized issues (1973-74), edited by Sam Moscowitz. After Margulies died in 1975, the WT logo and title rights were acquired by Robert Weinberg, editor of WT50 (1974) and The Weird Tales Story (1977). In the UK, Peter Haining edited two Weird Tales collections for Sphere in 1978.

In 1981, Zebra Books presented WT as a new "paperback magazine" series, four issues edited by Lin Carter. Brian Forbes' Bellerophon Network brought the magazine back for two issues in 1984 and 1985. George H. Scithers revived the title in 1988 for the Terminus Publishing Company with assistant editors Darrell Schweitzer and John Gregory Bettancourt. In 1991, Schweitzer took full editorship, but the license to use the Weird Tales title was revoked with the Spring 1994, and the magazine changed its name to Worlds of Fantasy & Horror. The Weird Tales title was licensed to DNA Publications, the publisher of Absolute Magnitude and Dreams of Decadence, in March 1998.

Robert Bloch, who fashioned almost half a million words for Weird Tales (spread over 70 stories), once wrote: "Throughout the years, working with or for Weird Tales was largely a labor of love for all concerned. The magazine was never a moneymaker; it attracted few advertisers, and its rates of payment to contributors was low, even by Depression standards. Yet, in a strange sort of way, it was probably the Depression of the Thirties which enabled the magazine to continue. Today's publishers and distributors would never bother with such a trivial source of revenue; today's printing houses would hardly continue a magazine which went so consistently into the red on so small a circulation; today's writers couldn't afford to aim their output directly at so non-lucrative an outlet for their work. That Weird Tales managed to survive as long as it did is probably the weirdest tale of all."

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