This week marks the centennial of the founding of Weird Tales magazine. On February 18, 1923, the first issue of Weird Tales appeared on American newsstands. Subtitled “The Unique Magazine,” it was the first English language magazine dedicated to science fiction, horror, supernatural, fantasy, and occult fiction. The periodical popularized the work H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, and Frank Belknap Long, among others. Weird Tales also reprinted the works of an eclectic mix of earlier writers: Edgar Allan Poe, Mary and Percy Shelley, Nathanael Hawthorne, Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, H.G. Wells, John Keats, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Paul Verlaine, and Charles Baudelaire.
The magazine’s cover artwork by artists such as Margaret Brundage helped boost its popularity. Colorful, lurid covers, sometime featuring female nudes, grabbed readers’ attention at the newstand.
Weird Tales was published until September 1954 when it ended due to bankruptcy. It was revived briefly during the early 1970s, shut down and was reborn in the 1988 as a quarterly publication, hence its unofficial subtitle is “The Magazine that Never Dies.”
I discovered Weird Tales as a kid during trips to the flea market to buy comic books. I managed to find issues from the 40s and 50s that featured sci-fi icons like Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Theodore Sturgeon. I’m sorry that I didn’t save some of those classic issues; they’re probably valuable now.
You can find most of Weird Tales online for free these days:
The Internet Archive has digitized copies from the 1920s and 1930s.
The Pulp Magazine Project hosts HTML, FlipBook, and PDF versions of Weird Tales issues from 1936 to 1939.