Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weird Tales at Christmas

Christmas is near and if you're in the mood for weird stories of Christmas and wintertime, you might look for these stories published in Weird Tales:
  • "One Christmas Eve" by Elliott O'Donnell (July 1934)
  • "The Crime on Christmas Night" by Gaston Leroux (Dec. 1930)
  • "The Snowmen" by Loretta Burroughs (Dec. 1938)
  • "The Wondersmith" by Fitz-James O'Brien (July 1935)

Merry Christmas
from Tellers of Weird Tales!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Weird Tales and the End of the World

As everyone knows, the Mayan calendar (and so too the world) ends on December 21, 2012.  Rather than just get a new calendar as we all do every year, we're just going to let this happen I suppose. Before it does, though, you might want to read a little about Mayas and the end of the world, and what better place than in the magazine Weird Tales?

Stories about the end of the world abound. It's enough to make me think that the end of the world is a common, if not universal, fantasy. (Why should this be so? I have a feeling that it has something to do with our knowledge that we ourselves are going to end while the world will go on. Maybe the only way to correct that perceived injustice is for all the world to end as well--for all of us to go at the same time.) In any case, here are some stories and poems from Weird Tales on the occasion of the end of the world. (I have selected these stories and poems solely for their titles. I haven't read them myself and don't know their plots or themes.)

  • "In Mayan Splendor" by Frank Belknap Long (poem, Apr. 1934)
  • "World's End" by Henry Kuttner (short story, Feb. 1938)
  • "The World Wrecker" by Arlton Eadie (serial, Apr.-June 1929)
  • "In the World's Dusk" by Edmond Hamilton (short story, Mar. 1936)
  • "The Planet of the Dead" by Clark Ashton Smith (short story, Mar. 1932)

You could of course also read "The Call of Cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft, and though the world doesn't end in that story, it's only because the stars aren't right. Finally, here's a story I have read, and though humanity doesn't meet its end in this one either, we live on only because people from Venus save our bacon: "When the Green Star Waned" by Nictzin Dyalhis.

In Mayan Splendor is a collection of poems by Frank Belknap Long (1901-1994), published by Arkham House in 1977. The back cover shows the familiar circular motif of Mayan art. If a circle has no end, why shouldn't the calendar as well?
Of all the covers I have looked at this evening, this one seems most appropriate to the subject at hand. The cover story is "The Monster of the Prophecy" by Clark Ashton Smith. The cover art is by C.C. Senf. I think this is one of his better covers, not only in its design but also in its execution.
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Weird Tales Artists of the 1970s

I'm just about finished with the artists who contributed to Weird Tales in the early 1970s. There were just four issues in that incarnation of the magazine that never dies. The artists who signed their work or who were given credit for their work included these few:


In addition, there was one uncredited artist who has now been identified:


By the time that four-issue revival of Weird Tales had been published in 1973-1974, two of its artists--Andrew Brosnatch and Virgil Finlay--had passed away. Jack L. Thurston's art was almost certainly used without his knowledge or permission. Bill Edwards and Don Rico were both well-established, professional artists. Their art seems to have been created specifically for the 1970s Weird Tales. Both were based in southern California, which is where Weird Tales was published, and while Edwards was busy with acting and other activities, Don Rico had begun a teaching career at UCLA. He began with courses in the history of comic books. By 1976, he was making plans to teach young students how to draw them.

The reason I bring all this up is that it leads to a line of conjecture. I have been unable to find anything on the artist Geoffrey Sickler except for a reference to a man by that name who graduated from Edison High School in Huntington Beach, California, in 1971. Gary van der Steur, who created the cover of the second issue of Weird Tales, graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in 1971. (The school absorbed the Chouinard Art Institute in 1969; Mr. van der Steur would have matriculated at one school and finished with another.) Much of the unsigned art in Weird Tales from 1973-1974 looks like student work. So my question is, did Sam Moskowitz or his representative approach students or recent graduates of the California Institute of the Arts or other local art schools and ask them to illustrate Weird Tales? Was Don Rico, who was just beginning his teaching career, somehow involved?

Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Don Rico (1912-1985)

Aka Dan Rico, Danny Rico, Donella St. Michaels, Donna Richards, Joseph Milton, N. Korok
Graphic Artist, Illustrator, Comic Book Writer, Artist, and Editor, Novelist, Screenwriter, Teacher, Singer
Born September 26, 1912, Rochester, New York
Died March 27, 1985, Los Angeles, California

Donato Francisco Rico II was born of Italian parents in Rochester, New York, on September 26, 1912. As a child artist, he was something of a prodigy. At age twelve, Rico earned a scholarship to study drawing at the University of Rochester. At fifteen, he learned to make woodcuts under Henry J. Glintenkamp (1887-1946), a graphic artist and cartoonist who had contributed to the radical journal The Masses and who had exhibited at the famed Armory Show in 1913. And at twenty-one, Rico was listed in Who's Who in American ArtDuring the 1930s, Rico worked for the W.P.A. Federal Art Project under the supervision of Lynd Ward (1905-1985), who some believe to have created the first American graphic novel. Rico's Depression-era prints made their way into the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library. Then, when he was only in his mid-twenties, Don Rico became a comic book artist.

Woodcuts are of course a very old form and perhaps mostly for specialized tastes. On the other hand, in the late 1930s, comic books were new, exciting, and wildly popular, and if an artist could crank out four pages a day at $7.50 per page, he might put food on the table. Moreover, the comic book industry needed artists, and so Don Rico answered the call in 1939, almost at the outset of what is now called the Golden Age of Comics. Rico drew Flick Falcon (later Flip Falcon), Blast Bennett, and the Sorceress of Zoom for Fox Publications. He also contributed to Planet Comics and Fight Comics (Fiction House) and drew Silver Streak and Daredevil for Lev Gleason. During the 1940s, Rico worked for Timely (later Atlas, later still Marvel), Fawcett, MLJ, Quality Comics, and Novelty Press. He also sang in New York nightclubs and had his own radio show upstate. As one of the editors at Atlas (the stage between Timely and Marvel) in the 1950s, Rico, working under Stan Lee, wrote comic book scripts, and co-created Jann of the Jungle and Leopard Girl.

In 1958, Don Rico moved to Los Angeles and began writing paperback novels for Lancer, Paperback Library, and other publishers. His books eventually numbered more than sixty, mostly Westerns, mysteries, and a few others with very suggestive titles. In addition, Rico wrote stories or scripts for Adam-12, Godzilla, and Jana of the Jungle, as well as for a movie called Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary (1975). He continued with comic book work as well, and in the early 1970s provided the illustrations for almost an entire issue of Sam Moskowitz's revived Weird Tales. Not counting the cover, there are seven full-size illustrations plus one spot drawing and a decoration in Weird Tales for the Winter of 1973. Of those seven, five are the work of Don Rico. I'm not sure how he found the time to do those drawings, for Rico must have been busy with far more remunerative work. In any case, he continued writing, drawing, and teaching into the 1980s and died on March 27, 1985, in Los Angeles, California. By the way, Rico's wife was the actress Michele Hart.

Don Rico's Illustrations in Weird Tales
(All are from Winter 1973)
"The Balloon Tree" by Albert [sic] Page Mitchell
"Chicken Soup" by Katherine Maclean and Mary Kornbluth
"The Cats of Rome" by Miriam Allen deFord
"The Mysterious Card Unveiled" by Cleveland Moffett
"The Splendid Apparition" by Robert W. Chambers

Further Reading
You can find out more about Don Rico and see some of his artwork here. Otherwise, his work is all over the Internet and you won't have any problem finding it.

Don Rico worked in comic books for more than forty years and wrote, drew, and even created many titles and characters. Here's a print from 1975 showing a few of them. 
In the 1940s, Rico drew the pictures for the Classic Comics adaptation of The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. Here's the cover, and when I first saw it, I had to admit, it looks a lot like . . . 
This cover by Margaret Brundage for Weird Tales, illustrating C.L. Moore's story "The Black God's Kiss." I guess there are only so many ways you can draw an idol.
Many years later, Don Rico provided most of the illustrations in Weird Tales for Winter 1973. This one if for "The Splendid Apparition" by Robert W. Chambers. Note the symmetry of these four drawings taken together.

Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, December 14, 2012

Edison Marshall (1894-1967)

Author, Adventurer
Born August 28, 1894, Rensselaer, Indiana (1)
Died October 29, 1967, Augusta, Georgia

I have been writing about authors whose stories were reprinted in Weird Tales of the 1970s, after they had passed away. Edison Marshall is chronologically the last, as he was born on August 28, 1894, in Rensselaer, Indiana. If you're drawing up a list of writers who were also adventurers, you can include Edison Marshall along with E. Hoffman Price, Gordon MacCreagh, and George Griffith. In any case, Edison Tesla Marshall, named for the two combatants in the "War of Currents," came from a family of adventurers, at least in their own small ways. His father studied law but settled in Rensselaer, bought the local newspaper, and married the schoolmarm, who bore the singular name of Lilly Bartoo. Lilly was an artist and a poet. Her sister Jessie was one of the first women in Indiana to operate a photographic studio. Marshall's Aunt Minnie gave up teaching at age sixty to become the operator of a linotype machine.

As a boy, Marshall hunted and fished around his northern Indiana home. In 1907, he moved to Medford, Oregon, when his father retired from the newspaper business to become a orchardist. Marshall attended the University of Oregon from 1913 to 1915 or 1916 and began writing fiction as a student. He sold his first story, "When the Fire Dies," (2) to The Argosy when he was a freshman and another to The Saturday Evening Post at age twenty-one. Adventure stories, historical novels, and pulp fiction poured out of his typewriter after that. Except for one year in the U.S. Army during World War I, Marshall made his living solely as a writer.

By his early twenties, Edison Marshall had lost his left thumb, but that didn't stop him from becoming a hunter and adventurer the world over. After the war, with literary success in hand (or four-fifths of a hand), Marshall set off on trips to the Arctic, Africa, French Indo-China, and Burma, where he hunted grizzly bears, leopards, tigers, and the great sladang, the wild ox of Malaya. His hunting trophies couldn't match his accomplishments as a writer however. Marshall twice had stories placed in the annual O. Henry collection. These included "The Heart of Little Shikara," selected the best American short story of 1921. He followed that with scores of stories and articles for The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, Field and Stream, Good Housekeeping, Liberty, and many other magazines. In 1939, Marshall turned to writing novels of history and adventure. Nine of his books were adapted to the movies. Strength of the Pines (published in 1921, filmed for release in 1922) was the first. Others included Benjamin Blake (1941), which became Son of Fury (1942) starring Tyrone Power; Yankee Pasha: The Adventures of Jason Starbuck (1947), which had its title shortened to Yankee Pasha (1954); and The Viking (1951), the title of which was pluralized for the 1958 classic starring Kirk Douglas. Also worth noting are Marshall's lost worlds romance, Dian of the Lost Land (1935), and The Lost Colony (1964), a historical novel of the Roanoke settlement and Virginia Dare.

Married to a Southerner during his year in the army, Edison Marshall returned to Georgia (where he had been stationed) in 1926. Over the course of his long career, he wrote from a home he called Breetholm, a place name he used in his novel Benjamin Blake. Author of forty-nine novels in all, Marshall became one of the most successful of popular writers. Like so many in that category, however, he saw his popularity and sales go into decline in later years. The New York Times observed his passing, which took place on October 29, 1967, at his Georgia home, with a photograph and a very brief obituary. The man who had written millions of words in his lifetime received only a few with the notice of his death.

Edison Marshall's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Serpent City" (Summer 1973, originally in The Blue Book Magazine, Nov. 1919)
"The Son of the Wild Things" (Summer 1974, originally in The Blue Book Magazine)

Notes
(1) I have seen birth dates of August 28 and August 29, each apparently asserted with confidence. Edison Marshall's World War I draft card, however, gives the date as August 28. Unless someone can come up with a better source, I'll stick with that.
(2) Sam Moskowitz gave the title as "The Sacred Fire."

Edison Marshall wrote historical novels of every era, but here is one set in a place close to home for him: South Carolina. This cover for an abridged version of Castle in the Swamp (1951) is one of Dell's renowned map backs. The front cover artist was George Mayers. Coincidentally, I wrote about Perley Poore Sheehan the other day. His story "Monsieur De Guise" is also set in a large house in a swamp.
You should never pass up an opportunity to show covers like this one for Gypsy Sixpence. The original edition was from 1949. Here's a later paperback edition with a cover from an unknown artist. 
Another historical period, another map back, this time for The Upstart (1950).
It's only fitting that a man named Marshall would write Westerns. The cover artist's signature is in the lower left, but I can't read it.
Here's a fuzzy scan of the cover of Earth Giant, a novel from the early 1960s when Biblical epics and sword-and-sandal movies were all the rage. The artist's signature is as fuzzy as the rest of the image.
I like to show foreign-language editions of American novels and stories. The cover artist on this Spanish edition was Armengol Terre.
The figures on this Spanish-language edition look very Nordic. The artist's name begins with a "P" I think, but that's all I can read.
Here's a French edition with a sketchy cover drawing.
In addition to writing adventure stories and historical novels, Edison Marshall  wrote fantasy and science fiction. Dian of the Lost Land, from 1935, was one of his more sustained works in those genres. It has been reprinted repeatedly, including in this issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries from April 1949. The cover artist was Lawrence Sterne Stevens, aka Lawrence (1884-1960).
Here's the cover of the first edition, published in 1935. The artist's signature is in the lower right, but it's too small and illegible for me to read. 
Here's a Spanish-language edition of the same book. The artist was Juan Pablo Bocquet (1904-1966), a native of Barcelona. Thanks to "A Spaniard" for the information.
Chilton reprinted Dian of the Lost Land in 1966. Curtis Books reissued it with a new title, The Lost Land, in 1972. The book concerns an air expedition to Antarctica and a search for a secret valley. According to the blurb on the back cover, two explorers discover "a lost world ruled by a race of creatures from the darkest depths of time."  That same description might also be applied to "At the Mountains of Madness" by H.P. Lovecraft, which was written in 1931 but not published until 1936, when it was serialized in Astounding Stories. Without a doubt, Marshall's novel owes something to stories of lost worlds from the past. (She by H. Rider Haggard comes to mind.) In any case, we can add Dian of the Lost Land to the list of Arctic and Antarctic fantasy and science fiction. The cover art doesn't appear to be signed and there is no credit on the inside of the book, but this looks like the work of the Spanish artist Gervasio Gallardo, who was very active in creating fantasy book covers during the early 1970s.
The Viking, published in 1951, was one of Edison Marshall's most popular books . . .
In 1958, it was made into a movie called The Vikings, starring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, and Janet Leigh. (Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh were married at the time.) That looks like Ernest Borgnine bringing up the rear in this poster. Borgnine, a navy veteran of World War II, died earlier this year. After sailing around on a longboat in The Vikings, he hopped onto a PT boat for his starring role in McHale's Navy. That show made its debut fifty years ago in October and ran for four seasons on ABC-TV. Unlike so many stage and movie actors who acted in television, he didn't become typecast and went on to play serious roles--and not-so-serious roles, such as the voice of Mermaid Man on SpongeBob SquarePants. In any case, we have lost another irreplaceable actor.
Finally, a publicity photo from The Vikings with Kirk Douglas and Janet Leigh, a woman of unquestionable beauty and extraordinary pulchritude. She made two of the very best American movies within two years of each other, Psycho in 1960 and The Manchurian Candidate in 1962.

Now, four "by the ways": First, Psycho was of course based on the book by Robert Bloch, a contributor to Weird Tales. Second: Janet Leigh appeared in The Manchurian Candidate and Three on a Couch with the actress Leslie Parrish. I call that an odd combination, not of actresses but of movies. Third, in Psycho, Janet Leigh was the woman killed by the creepy male lead. In The Manchurian Candidate, Leslie Parrish suffered that fate. Finally, have the children of Kirk Douglas and Janet Leigh ever acted together?

Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Muriel Campbell Dyar (1875-1963)

Author
Born December 31, 1875, Marietta, Ohio
Died November 21, 1963, San Diego City, California

Muriel Campbell Dyar was born on the day before the nation's centennial year began, on December 31, 1875, in Marietta, Ohio. Granddaughter of a professor and daughter of an oilman, she graduated from her hometown Marietta College in 1897. A 1905 directory of alumni listed her as engaged in "Literary Work" in Beverly, Ohio, a Muskingum River town north of Marietta. The 1910 census found her across the river in Waterford and living with her sister-in-law. Muriel's occupation was listed as "Writer for Magazine." That situation repeated itself ten years later when Muriel was counted this time with her brother-in-law in Downers Grove, Illinois. He was a banker, while she continued to write for magazines. By 1930, she had arrived on the West Coast and was residing with her cousin. Muriel Campbell Dyar had by then moved up to being an "authoress" of novels and stories.

The Fiction Mags Index has listed Muriel C. Dyar's stories, but that list (below) is incomplete, including as it does credits only from the period 1899 to 1912. She was also the author of a book, Davie and Elizabeth, Wonderful Adventures (1908).

  • "The Woman in Red" The Black Cat (Nov. 1899)
  • "Unmasked" The Black Cat (Mar. 1900)
  • "Benje’s Eulogy" Harper’s Monthly (Aug. 1903)
  • "Elizabeth and David" Harper’s Monthly (Sept. 1904)
  • "The Story of a Great Week" Harper’s Monthly (Mar. 1905)
  • "The Beau" Harper’s Monthly (Feb. 1906)
  • "The Valedictory" Harper’s Monthly (Mar. 1907)
  • "The Last Visit to a Scholar" Harper’s Monthly (Apr. 1907)
  • "Old ’Lijah Bale’s Escape" Harper’s Monthly (June 1907)
  • "Johnny Hall" Harper’s Monthly (July 1907)
  • "The Tea-Party" Harper’s Monthly (Jan. 1908)
  • "The Mother Bird" Harper’s Monthly (Apr. 1908)
  • "The Oversight" Harper’s Monthly (June 1908)
  • "The Man of Destiny" Harper’s Monthly (Nov. 1908)
  • "In the Other Room" Harper’s Monthly (Mar. 1909)
  • "Resignation" Harper’s Monthly (July 1909)
  • "Sleepyhead" Harper’s Monthly (Sept. 1909)
  • "On the Bird-Cage Road" Harper’s Monthly (June 1910)
  • "The Crime in Jedidiah Peeble’s House" Harper’s (Mar. 1912)

As you can guess, Muriel must have submitted her story "The Woman in Red" to The Black Cat not long after graduating college. In his introduction from Weird Tales (Summer 1973), Sam Moskowitz described the reaction to "The Woman in Red":
So tantalizing was the ending of this provocatively imaginative story that hundreds of letters poured in [to The Black Cat] asking for a sequel and big red letters across the top of the March, 1900 number presented it reading: "The Woman in Red--Unmasked!"
Weird Tales reprinted the story and its sequel in the first issue of its revived version in the summer of 1973. By then, Muriel Campbell Dyar had been gone a decade, having died the day before John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Her place of death was San Diego, California. Before that she had lived in El Cajon.

Muriel Campbell Dyar's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Woman in Red" (Summer 1973, originally in The Black Cat, Nov. 1899)
"Unmasked" (Summer 1973, originally in The Black Cat, Mar. 1900)

Further Reading
Muriel Campbell Dyar is briefly listed in Ohio Authors and Their Books, 1796-1950 (1962), edited by William Coyle.

Muriel Campbell Dyar was a prolific and popular author, yet I could find only one image relating to her life and work. It's this illustration by W.H.D. Koerner (1878-1938) for her story "Ann Eliza Weatherby's Trip to Town" from Harper's Monthly Magazine (1916)
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Perley Poore Sheehan (1875-1943)

Reporter, Editor, Novelist, Short Story Writer, Playwright, Screenwriter, Movie Director
Born June 11, 1875, Cincinnati, Ohio
Died September 30, 1943, Sierra Madre, California

Perley Poore Sheehan was born on June 11, 1875, in Cincinnati, Ohio. As a young man, he worked as a newspaper reporter in Hamilton, Ohio, before setting off for Union College in Schenectady, New York, with fifty dollars in his pocket. When he graduated in 1898 with a degree in philosophy, he still had his fifty dollars. As the New York Times said of him, "Mr. Sheehan considered faith a substitute for cash."

After his graduation, Sheehan worked on newspapers in New York. Having saved a little money, he decided to see a bit of the world. Starting with Cuba, he made his way to Spain, then to France. Sheehan arrived in Paris without knowing the language and with only ten dollars to his name. Nonetheless, within five years he had become editor of the Paris Herald, the Paris edition of the New York Herald. Sheehan held that post from 1905 to 1907. He was also a correspondent in Paris and London. While in France, Sheehan padded his bankroll, added to his knowledge of the French language, and found himself a Gallic wife. Her name was Virginia (or Virginie) Pont and they were married on May 18, 1902, in France.

Perley Poore Sheehan returned to the land of his birth in 1908. It didn't take him long to begin placing stories in American magazines. The Fiction Mags Index lists his many credits between 1909 and 1933, but I'm not sure that list is complete. His specialty was adventure, and he contributed to The Argosy, The All-Story Weekly, Thrilling Adventures, and other titles. Sheehan's continuing characters included Captain Trouble and Kwa, a Tarzan-like jungle hero. It should come as no surprise that Sheehan also contributed to Munsey's Magazine, for he served as associate editor of that publication for some time beginning in 1908. He also edited The Scrap Book under his sometime co-author, Robert H. Davis. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database also lists some of Sheehan's tales, evidence that he wrote in genres other than just plain adventure. I have combined a couple of different lists to come up with the following one. These are short stories and serials only. Sheehan's other titles follow.

Short Stories and Serials by Perley Poore Sheehan
  • "Monsieur De Guise" The Scrap Book (Jan. 1911)
  • "The Copper Princess" The All-Story (Sept. 1913)
  • "The Woman of the Pyramid" The All-Story (Mar. 1914)
  • "The Ghost Mill" All-Story Weekly (Apr. 4, 1914)
  • "The Queen of Sheba" All-Story Weekly (Apr. 18, 1914)
  • "Judith of Babylon" All-Story Cavalier Weekly (serial beginning Feb. 6, 1915)
  • "Abu the Dawn-Maker" All-Story Cavalier Weekly (serial beginning May 8, 1915)
  • "The Abyss of Wonders" The Argosy (Jan. 1915)
  • "The Belated Tears of Louis Marcel" Munsey's Magazine (July 1915)
  • "The Superscoundrel" All-Story Weekly (June 16, 1917)
  • "The One Gift" (1920)
From Munsey's Magazine
  • "The Black Abbott"
  • "The Fighting Fool"
  • "The Green Shiver"
  • "Kwa and the Ape People"
  • "The Red Road to Shamballah"
  • "Spider Tong"
  • "Where Terror Lurked"

In addition to writing short stories and serials, Sheehan wrote plays:

  • "Efficiency: A Play in One Act" (with Robert H. Davis) (1917)
  • "Blood and Iron: A Play in One Act" The Strand Magazine (Oct. 1917)

and books:

  • The Seer (1912)
  • The Prophet (1912)
  • "We Are French!" (with Robert H. Davis) (1914)
  • The Abyss of Wonders (1915)
  • Those Who Walk in Darkness (1917)
  • The Passport Invisible (1918)
  • The One Gift (1920)
  • The House with a Bad Name (1920)
  • The Ten-Foot Chain: or, Can Love Survive the Shackles? (1920)
  • The Whispering Chorus (1928)
  • King Arthur (1936)
  • Heidi (1936)
  • Lola Montez, Her Pagan Majesty, or, Queen Errant (1936)
  • Blennerhassett (1937)
  • The Abyss of Wonders (1953) illustrated by John T. Brooks

In 1919, Sheehan made the move from straight prose to scenarios for the silver screen. In 1920, he was still based in Manhattan, but by 1940, Sheehan was living in California and his movie career was winding down. In the meantime, his stories were adapted to film and Sheehan himself wrote scenarios for a number of silent pictures:

  • The Dragon (1916)
  • The Bugler of Algiers (1916)
  • The Whispering Chorus (1918)
  • Brave and Bold (1918)
  • A Society Sensation (1918)
  • Upstairs (1919)
  • Three Sevens (1921)
  • For Those We Love (1921)
  • If You Believe It, It's So (1922)
  • Always the Woman (1922)
  • The Old Homestead (1922)
  • The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (1922)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
  • The Night Message (1924)
  • Love and Glory (1924)
  • The Way of All Flesh (1927)

And talkies:

  • The Lost City (serial, 1935)
  • King Arthur (1936)
  • The Victim of Lust (1940)
  • Ihtiras kurbanlari (a posthumous credit from Turkey, 1953)

Sheehan checked off another box by directing the movie The Night Message, released in 1924. By that same year, according to a poorly designed website,
a Hollywood mythos was clearly emerging. Perley Poore Sheehan, a popular screenwriter, issued a bizarre tract called Hollywood as a World Center, which combined elements of small-town boosterism, industry braggadocio, and occult transcendentalism (known locally as "new thought"). For Sheehan, "The rise of Hollywood and its parent city, Los Angeles, has world-wide significance. It is a new and striking development in the history of civilization. . . . This flooding of population to the Southwest has its origins in the dim past. It is the culmination of ages of preparatory struggle, physical, mental and spiritual. In brief, we are witnessing the last great migration of the Aryan race." Going beyond traditional American disdain for the eastern cities, Sheehan saw the birth of Hollywood as the dawn of the Aquarian age and described a New Jerusalem that would reveal to all mankind the "Universal Subconscious."
If all that's true, then the web of crackpot ideas becomes a little more tangled. If you pull on a thread, you never know what might fall out.

According to the Internet Movie Database, Sheehan's last movie credit while he was living was The Victim of Lust, released in 1940. By that time, the writer was residing in Sierra Madre, California, amongst a garden of castoff plants, marked by a homemade stone lych gate. He had also returned to newspaper work, writing a column for the Sierra Madre News. The Los Angeles Times noted that he had forsaken the high collars and spats of his days in Paris for an open collar and no tie.

Perley Poore Sheehan died on September 30, 1943, in Sierra Madre, California. Thirty years later, Sam Moskowitz included Sheehan's short story, "Monsieur De Guise," in his four-issue revival of Weird Tales. Moskowitz opened his introduction with these words:
Perley Poore Sheehan wrote in an era of the great scientific romancers--Edgar Rice Burroughs, George Allan England, A. Merritt, Francis Stevens--and his work compares favorably with the best of them. Yet, as occasionally happens to fine writers, it is rare to find his stories reprinted.
and closed it thus:
["Monsieur De Guise"] will go down on your mental list of all-time favorites.
Perley Poore Sheehan's Story in Weird Tales
"Monsieur De Guise" (Summer 1974, originally in The Scrap Book, Jan. 1911)

A philosophy major who made his living as a newspaper reporter and editor, Perley Poore Sheehan turned to writing fiction after ten years abroad. Here's a cover with his byline from June 27, 1914. 
Sheehan specialized in adventure stories as in "Abu the Dawn-Maker" from All-Story Cavalier Weekly, May 8, 1915.
Next came books. Here's an eerie cover from 1928, artist unknown.
Sheehan's biggest hit as a scenarist was probably The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a star vehicle for Lon Chaney in 1923.
That movie was the inspiration for an Aurora model manufactured four decades later.
Sheehan had dealt in lost worlds earlier in his career. He got back into the act with his screenplay (co-written with two others) for the 1935 serial The Lost City. Kane Richmond, who received second billing here, also played during his career: The Shadow, Spy Smasher, and Brick Bradford.
I have written a lot on Perley Poore Sheehan and have barely covered his credits or much on his career. I welcome corrections and additions. I hope someone can pick up the baton from here and complete a biography and bibliography.

Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hildegarde Hawthorne (1871-1952)

Short Story Writer, Novelist, Reviewer, Poet, Essayist, Biographer
Born September 25, 1871, New York, New York
Died December 10, 1952, Danbury, Connecticut

Born on September 25, 1871, in New York City, Hildegarde Hawthorne was the daughter and granddaughter of well known writers. Like her father, Julian Hawthorne (1846-1934), and her grandfather, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), Hildegarde Hawthorne wrote of strange and supernatural events, and like Nathaniel Hawthorne, she was published in Weird Tales long after her death. Her lone story for the magazine was "Perdita," originally in Harper's New Monthly Magazine in 1897, anthologized in Shapes That Haunt the Dusk in 1907, and reprinted in Weird Tales in Summer 1973.

Hildegarde Hawthorne began selling articles to the children's magazine St. Nicholas at age sixteen. During her long and productive career, she wrote many works for children. She also conducted the book review column for St. Nicholas and contributed to the New York Times and New York Tribune. Her last published work was an article for Reader's Digest.

Hildegarde penned numerous biographies, including one of her famous grandfather, based on letters, family stories, and other sources close to home. She also wrote of Nathaniel Hawthorne's well known contemporaries, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. I can offer only a partial list of her books:
  • Born to Adventure: Fremont (1900)
  • The Lure of the Garden (1911)
  • Girls in Bookland (1916)
  • Rambles in Old College Towns (1917)
  • The Secret of Rancho del Sol (1931)
  • Island Farm (1934)
  • The Happy Autocrat: A Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes (1936)
  • On the Golden Trail (1936) illustrated by Sanford Tousey
  • The Poet of Craigie House: The Story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1936)
  • Romantic Rebel: The Story of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1936)
  • Youth's Captain: The Story of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1936)
  • Runaway (1941)
  • Williamsburg, Old and New (1941)
  • California's Missions: Their Romance and Beauty (1943)
  • Matthew Fontaine Maury, Trail Maker of the Seas (1944)
  • His Country Was the World (1949)
  • Concord's Happy Rebel: Henry David Thoreau
  • Long Adventure: The Story of Winston Churchill
  • No Road Too Long
  • Old Seaport Towns of New England
  • Peeps at Great Cities: New York
  • Rising Thunder: The Story of Jack Jouett of Virginia
  • Romantic Cities of California
  • Tabitha of Lonely House
  • Westward the Course: A Story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Her ghost stories were collected in a volume entitled The Faded Garden in 1985. I'm afraid I don't know its contents.

Hildegarde Hawthorne married John Milton Oskison on July 16, 1920, and moved to California. Later she lived in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and passed away in nearby Danbury on December 10, 1952, at age eighty-one.

A Song
By Hildegarde Hawthorne

SING me a sweet, low song of night
  Before the moon is risen,
A song that tells of the stars’ delight
  Escaped from day’s bright prison,
A song that croons with the cricket’s voice,
  That sleeps with the shadowed trees,
A song that shall bid my heart rejoice
  At its tender mysteries!

And then when the song is ended, love,
  Bend down your head unto me,
Whisper the word that was born above
  Ere the moon had swayed the sea;
Ere the oldest star began to shine,
  Or the farthest sun to burn,—
The oldest of words, O heart of mine,
  Yet newest, and sweet to learn.

Hildegarde Hawthorne's Story in Weird Tales
"Perdita" (Summer 1973, originally in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Mar. 1897)

William Dean Howells and Henry Mills Alden assembled this collection, Shapes That Haunt the Dusk, for publication in 1907. Hildegarde Hawthorne's "Perdita" is among its contents.
Here's an illustration from Girls in Bookland (1916). The artist was John Woolcott Adams.
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wardon Allan Curtis (1867-1940)

Aka Warden Allan Curtis
Journalist and Author
Born February 1, 1867, New Mexico Territory
Died January 20, 1940, Plymouth, New Hampshire

Wardon Allan Curtis was born in the New Mexico Territory on the first day of February, 1867. He was the son of Captain Charles Albert Curtis, U.S.A., and Harriet Louise Hughes Curtis. I suspect that he was born on or near a military installation. He may have moved from place to place as a child as military children do. In 1889, Curtis received his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin. He worked as a journalist after that and was with the Chicago Daily News in 1910-1913, the Boston Herald in 1913-1916, and the Manchester Union in 1924-1928. Curtis also served as secretary of the Publicity Commission of New Hampshire in 1921-1925. From at least 1899 onward, Wardon Allan Curtis wrote science fiction and fantasy stories. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1995) writes:
His most important sf [i.e., science fiction] is a short story about a brain transplant, "The Monster of Lake LaMetrie" (1899 The Windsor Magazine), in which the brain is human and the recipient body that of a prehistoric survival from a bottomless lake that may lead into a hollow earth.
If that description doesn't make you want to read the story, I don't know what will.

The Black Cat published his story "The Fate of the 'Senegambian Queen'" in 1900. Weird Tales reprinted the story in its Fall 1973 issue. An Arabian Nights kind of story, "The Seal of Solomon the Great," appeared in The Argosy in February 1901. Almost two decades later, All-Story Weekly printed his tale "The Mahoosalem Boys" (May 15, 1920). All other credits for Curtis as listed in the Internet Speculative Fiction Database are from his 1903 collection The Strange Adventures of Mr. Middleton, "a mixture of Oriental fantasy and bizarre mystery," according to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Wardon Allan Curtis lived in New Hampshire late in life and died in Plymouth twelve days before his seventy-third birthday. He was buried in Green Grove Cemetery in Ashland, New Hampshire.

Wardon Allan Curtis' Story in Weird Tales
"The Fate of the "Senegambian Queen'" (Fall 1973, originally in The Black Cat, Nov. 1900)

An illustration by Stanley L. Wood (1866-1928) for Wardon Allan Curtis' story "The Monster of Lake LaMetrie" from 1899, demonstrating the connection between science fiction and cryptozoology. A story like this one would later have been included in that hybrid genre known as weird western. The Valley of Gwangi (1969) was a later entry in that selfsame genre.
Curtis wrote a series of interrelated tales in The Strange Adventures of Mr. Middleton (1903). My first question upon seeing this cover illustration: "Just what are they smoking?"
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley