Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Health Knowledge Genre Magazines Part Four: Startling Mystery Stories

Startling Mystery Stories Part 1 (of 3)

By Peter Enfantino

Note: Originally this section of the Health Knowledge overview was to run in two installments. Other work necessitated I break it into three parts instead, which works well since each “volume” is six issues. As a bonus, I’ve included a complete list of the Jules de Grandin stories following our look at the first six issues.

“The big news this time,” began Robert A. W. Lowndes in the letters page of Magazine of Horror #13, “is the inauguration of our companion magazine, Startling Mystery Stories. While this publication is restricted to mystery tales, we are stressing the eerie, bizarre, and strange type of mystery, rather than the mundane crime story (however excellent) to be found in other magazines of this caliber. Thus you will find not a few authors and types of story quite in line with some of the content of Magazine of Horror.”

No. 1 Summer, 1966
130 pages, 50 cents
cover: Hubert Carter

(4) Village of the Dead – Edward D. Hoch
(7500 words; from Famous Detective Stories, December 1955)
(3) House of the Hatchet – Robert Bloch
(7000 words; from Weird Tales, January 1941)
(5) *The Off-Season – Gerald W. Page (3100 words)
(6) The Tell-Tale Heart – Edgar Allan Poe
(2500 words; uncredited source)
(2) The Lurking Fear – H. P. Lovecraft
(9750 words; from Home Brew, January 1923)
(7) The Awful Injustice – S. B. H. Hurst
(4500 words; from Strange Tales, September 1931)
(8) *Ferguson’s Capsules – August Derleth (4000 words)
(1) The Mansion of Unholy Magic – Seabury Quinn
(16,000 words; from Weird Tales, October 1933)

There is no “Editor’s Page” as in Magazine of Horror. There’s simply an introduction and in that introduction, editor Robert A. W. Lowndes tells us a little bit about each story that appears in the first issue and lets us know what we can expect in SMS. “Village of the Dead” was not only the first story in the long-running Simon Ark series, it was also the first published Edward D. Hoch story. Way back in The Scream Factory #18 (Autumn 1996), Ed Hoch was nice enough to write a piece for us on the history of Simon (including a complete bibliography of Ark appearances which we'll reprint in our next installment). RAWL mentions that the Derleth story will appear in an upcoming hardcover titled Harrigan’s Files. That book didn’t appear until 1975 (published by Arkham House). “The Mansion of Unholy Magic” is a Jules de Grandin story. Strangely, RAWL picks a story years into the series (it began in WT in 1925) rather one of the first. Hubert Carter designed the logo for SMS and Famous Science Fiction and did the cover for SMS 1.

No. 2 Fall, 1966
130 pages, 50 cents
cover: Carl Kidwell

(1) The House of Horror – Seabury Quinn
(9250 words; from Weird Tales, July 1926)
(5) *The Men in Black – John Brunner (4250 words)
(7) The Strange Case of Pascal – Roger Eugene Ulmer
(2500 words; from Weird Tales, June 1926)
(6) The Witch is Dead – Edward D. Hoch
(8500 words; from Famous Detective Stories, April 1956)
(2) Doctor Satan – Paul Ernst
(11,250 words; from Weird Tales, August 1935)
(3) *The Secret of the City – Terry Carr and Ted White (3500 words)
(4) The Scourge of B’Moth – Bertram Russell
(13,750 words; from Weird Tales, May 1929)

In his intro, RAWL reveals that ten of Quinn’s de Grandin tales are “off-limits” as they appear in a then new hardcover collection, The Phantom Fighter (Mycroft & Moran), which is reviewed in the Books section. Also reviewed is the science fiction anthology, Strange Signposts, edited by Roger Elwood and Sam Moscowitz. For some reason, RAWL skips the second Simon Ark story, “The Hoofs of Satan” (Famous Detective Stories, February 1956), and instead publishes the third in the chronology. The first in a series of eight stories starring the titular bad guy, “Doctor Satan” was Paul Ernst’s (and Weird Tales’) attempt to create a popular pulp character ala Doc Savage or The Spider. The difference in this case, of course, was that the Doc was a villain. RAWL got around to reprinting six of the eight stories. Bob Weinberg reprinted 5 of the stories (including the two RAWL didn’t get to) in Pulp Classics #6 (1974). Terry Carr and Ted White were both respected editors and anthologists. White wrote one of my favorite comic book novels, The Great Gold Steal (Bantam, 1968), starring Captain America. He also edited F&SF, Amazing and Fantastic in the 1960s and 70s. Carr edited The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthology from 1972 through 1987 and 17 volumes of Universe, an annual anthology of new sf. Carr and White were the co-authors of Invasion from 2500 (Monarch, 1964) a pulpish sf novel with a fabulous cover. The first installment of “The Cauldron,” Startling Mystery’s answer to It Is Written. In the inaugural, RAWL gives bios of each of the authors that appear in this issue. Letter writers include Robert Silverberg and Edward D. Hoch.

No. 3 Winter 1966/67
130 pages, 50 cents
cover: Virgil Finlay

(1) The Inn of Terror – Gaston Leroux
(10,250 words; from Weird Tales, August, 1929)
(5) The Other – Robert A. W. Lowndes
(1750 words; from Stirring Science Stories, April 1941)
(4) The Door of Doom – Hugh B. Cave
(11,750 words; from Strange Tales, January 1932)
(3) *A Matter of Breeding – Ralph E. Hayes (4000 words)
(6) *Esmerelda – Rama Wells (4250 words)
(7) The Trial for Murder – Charles Collins & Charles Dickens
(5000 words; uncredited source)
(2) The Blood-Flower – Seabury Quinn
(10,750 words; from Weird Tales, March 1927)

Notes: Finally establishing an Editor’s Page, RAWL debates the merits of updating outdated stories (he’s pretty much against it). Gaston Leroux, of course, is best known for his novel, The Phantom of the Opera. In his author bios, Lowndes mistakenly credits Lon Chaney with two versions of The Phantom. He claims he saw a “talking” version of the 1925 classic (save Chaney speaking himself). I suspect this was either a misremembrance or some kind of revival. Probably the former. In the book section, RAWL reviews Colonel Markesan and Less Pleasant People by August Derleth. “The Door of Doom” is illustrated by H. W. Wesso. I could find only one other story written by Ralph E. Hayes (“Yesterday’s 7000 Years” in Adam, September 1963), even though RAWL mentions, in the author bio, that Hayes is a mystery and detective story writer. Lowndes mentions that Hayes would have appeared in the fourth issue of Chase had it been published. I wonder if this is the same Ralph Hayes who would go on to author several novels in the 1970s, including The Hunter series (5 novels) for Leisure. In his bio, RAWL claims that Rama Wells “is well known for non-fiction under a different name, which we are constrained not to divulge; this is his first appearance with us, but he is reticent about saying whether it is also his first fiction sale.” Well, evidently “Rama” is still reticent or maybe still relatively unknown under his real name as I can find no trace of Rama after this issue. It was his only Health Knowledge appearance. The Quinn story is a Jules de Grandin (the 11th of the 93 to be published in Weird Tales) adventure. Letter writers in The Cauldron include Ed Wood and Mike Ashley.

No. 4 Spring 1967
130 pages, 50 cents
cover: Virgil Finlay

(4) The Adventure of the Tottenham Werewolf – August Derleth
(9250 words; from The Memoirs of Solar Pons)
(2) *The Secret of Lost Valley – Robert E. Howard (9750 words)
(3) Medium for Justice – Victor Rousseau
(8250 words; from Ghost Stories, July 1928, originally as “The Blackest Magic of All.”)
(5) Si Urag of the Tail – Oscar Cook
(7000 words; from Weird Tales, July 1926)
(6) The Temptation of Harringay – H. G. Wells
(2500 words; from The Stolen Bacillus and Others)
(1) The Tenants of Broussac – Seabury Quinn
(14,500 words; from Weird Tales, December 1925)

Notes: In The Editor’s Page, RAWL responds to a reader who requests a new department for stories by “budding writers of today.” In keeping with stuffing SMS with series characters, Lowndes adds August Derleth’s poor-man’s Sherlock Holmes, Solar Pons to his roster. For more info on the weird and potholed history of the Robert E. Howard story, see my notes for MOH #13. In the body of the story, RAWL reprints Harry Bates’ letter to Robert E. Howard explaining the cancellation of Strange Tales and thus the return of the story to Howard (dated October 4, 1932). Also reprinted is the first page of the returned manuscript including Bates’ notes and corrections. A fascinating bit of history. Black Medicine by Arthur J. Burks is reviewed in Books. In The Cauldron, a fan meeting with August Derleth (who spoke on Solar Pons) is detailed. Writing in is Ted White and Glenn Lord. Author bios are also included.

No. 5 Summer 1967
130 pages, 50 cents
cover: Virgil Finlay

(3) The Gods of East and West – Seabury Quinn
(13,500 words; from Weird Tales, January 1928)
(5) The Council / The House (verse) – Robert A. W. Lowndes
(6) *Behind the Curtain – Leslie Jones (2000 words)
(1) A Game of Chess – Robert Barr
(5500 words; from Pearson’s Magazine, March 1900
(4) The Man From Nowhere – Edward D. Hoch
(6750 words; from Famous Detective Stories, June 1956)
(2) The Darkness on Fifth Avenue – Murray Leinster
(23,250 words; from Argosy, November 30, 1929)

Notes: On The Editor’s Page, RAWL continues the debate over a “new writer’s” department. “A Game of Chess” comes with an introduction by Sam Moskowitz. The Quinn story (another de Grandin) is illustrated twice (once is by Rankin, the other is not identified). In his intro to the story, RAWL informs us that "Behind the Curtain” would have run in Chase. The story is illustrated but the illo is not credited. “The Man from Nowhere” is a Simon Ark story. Another uncredited illo for “The Darkness on Fifth Avenue.” Deep Waters by William Hope Hodgson is reviewed in the Books section. In “The Cauldron,” RAWL discusses Robert E. Howard’s enduring popularity and Solar Pons’ non-horrific elements (which have raised eyebrows among readers who want only “weird fiction.” Marvin Jones writes in from Los Angeles to beat down RAWL for the Phantom of the Opera inaccuracies in the last issue. Thanks for backing me up, Marv. Also writing in is Mike Ashley.

No. 6 Fall 1967
130 pages, 50 cents
cover: Virgil Finlay

(2) My Lady of the Tunnel – Arthur J. Burks
(7250 words; from Astounding, November 1933)
(5) *The Glass Floor – Stephen King (3250 words)
Death from Within – Sterling S. Cramer
(10,750 words; from Wonder Stories, June 1935)
(6) *A Vision (verse) – Robert E. Howard
(7) *Aim for Perfection – Beverly Haaf (2500 words)
(3) The Dark Castle – Marion Brandon
(5500 words; from Strange Tales, September 1931)
(4) *Dona Diabla – Anna Hunger (5000 words)
(1) The Druid’s Shadow – Seabury Quinn
(14,500 words; from Weird Tales, October 1930)

Notes: This is, of course, one of the two Holy Grails for collectors looking to complete their set of Startling Mystery (or their collection of Stephen King first appearances, for that matter). Currently there are several copies of the issue on sale on abebooks.com with prices ranging from $750-1500. It’s Stephen King’s first pro sale, which is why the bounty is so high. King actually had one other story appear before this (“I Was a Teenage Grave-Robber” in Comics Review, which was reprinted as “In a Half-World of Terror” in Marv Wolfman’s fanzine, Stories of Suspense #2, 1965) but good luck finding a copy of that. SMS #6 is around but you’ll pay a lot of money for it. For history’s sake, here’s RAWL’s intro to “The Glass Floor”: 
Stephen King has been sending us stories for some time, and we returned one of them most reluctantly, since it would be far too long before we could use it, due to its length. But patience may yet bring him his due reward on that tale; meanwhile, here is a chiller whose length allowed us to get it into print much sooner.” 
Readers were indifferent to the future superstar though as they voted "The Glass Floor" 5th out of 7 stories in The Reckoning the following issue. King would have been about 20 years old at this time. I’m not sure if it’s laziness on his part, but there seems to be a plethora of uncredited illustrations lately. Another one appears with “My Lady of the Tunnel.” However, a badly reproduced illustration credited to Hugh Rankin appears for “The Druid’s Shadow.” In The Cauldron, RAWL relates that he has won the Praed Penny Award from the Praed Street Irregulars for reprinting “The Adventure of the Tottenham Werewolf” back in SMS #4. The award was accepted at the “Annual PSI dinner” by Forrest J. Ackerman. Others in attendance were Vincent Starrett and Robert Bloch. An Index to Volume One also appears.

The 93 Jules de Grandin Stories (All stories appeared in Weird Tales):

1. The Horror On The Links (Oct 1925, reprinted May 1937)
2. The Tenants Of Broussac (Dec 1925)
3. The Isle Of Missing Ships (Feb 1926)
4. The Vengeance Of India (April 1926)
5. The Dead Hand (May 1926)
6. The House Of Horror (July 1926)
7. Ancient Fires (Sept 1926)
8. The Great God Pan (Oct 1926)
9. The Grinning Mummy (Nov 1926)
10. The Man Who Cast No Shadow (Feb 1927)
11. The Blood-Flower (March 1927)
12. The Veiled Prophetess (May 1927)
13. The Curse Of Everard Maundy (July 1927)
14. Creeping Shadows (Aug 1927)
15. The White Lady Of The Orphanage (Sept 1927)
16. The Poltergeist (Oct 1927)
17. The Gods Of East And West (Jan 1928)
18. Mephistopholes & Co., ltd. (Feb 1928)
19. The Jewel Of Seven Stones (April 1928)
20. The Serpent Woman (June 1928)
21. Body And Soul (Sept 1928)
22. Restless Souls (Oct 1928)
23. The Chapel Of Mystic Horror (Dec 1928, reprinted Nov 1952)
24. The Black Master (Jan 1929)
25. The Devil-People (Feb 1929)
26. The Devil's Rosary (April 1929)
27. The House Of Golden Masks (June 1929)
28. The Corpse-Master (July 1929)
29. Trespassing Souls (Sept 1929)
30. The Silver Countess (Oct 1929)
31. The House Without A Mirror (Nov 1929)
32. Children Of Ubasti (Dec 1929)
33. The Curse Of The House Of Phipps (Jan 1930)
34. The Drums Of Damballah (March 1930)
35. The Dust Of Egypt (April 1930)
36. The Brain-Thief (May 1930)
37. The Priestess Of The Ivory Feet (June 1930)
38. The Bride Of Dewer (July 1930)
39. Daughter Of The Moonlight (Aug 1930)
40. The Druid's Shadow (Oct 1930)
41. Stealthy Death (Nov 1930)
42. The Wolf Of St. Bonot (Dec 1930)
43. The Lost Lady (Jan 1931)
44. The Ghost-Helper (Feb-March 1931)
45. Satan's Stepson (Sept 1931)
46. The Devil's Bride (Feb-July 1932)
47. The Dark Angel (Aug 1932)
48. The Heart Of Siva (Oct 1932)
49. The Bleeding Mummy (Nov 1932)
50. The Door To Yesterday (Dec 1932)
51. A Gamble In Souls (Jan 1933)
52. The Thing In The Fog (March 1933)
53. The Hand Of Glory (July 1933)
54. The Chosen Of Vishnu (Aug 1933)
55. Malay Horror (Sept 1933)
56. The Mansion Of Unholy Magic (Oct 1933)
57. Red Gauntlets Of Czerni (Dec 1933)
58. The Red Knife Of Hassan (Jan 1934)
59. The Jest Of Warburg Tantavul (Sept 1934)
60. Hands Of The Dead (Jan 1935)
61. The Black Orchid (Aug 1935)
62. The Dead-Alive Mummy (Oct 1935)
63. A Rival From The Grave (Jan 1936)
64. Witch-House (Nov 1936)
65. Children Of The Bat (Jan 1937)
66. Satan's Palimpsest (Sept 1937)
67. Pledged To The Dead (Oct 1937)
68. Living Buddhess (Nov 1937)
69. Flames Of Vengeance (Dec 1937)
70. Frozen Beauty (Feb 1938)
71. Incense Of Abomination (March 1938)
72. Suicide Chapel (June 1938)
73. The Venomed Breath Of Vengeance (Aug 1938)
74. Black Moon (Oct 1938)
75. The Poltergeist Of Swan Upping (Feb 1939)
76. The House Where Time Stood Still (March 1939)
77. Mansions In The Sky (June-July 1939)
78. The House Of The Three Corpses (Aug 1939)
79. Stoneman's Memorial (May 1942)
80. Death's Bookkeeper (July 1944)
81. The Green God's Ring (Jan 1945)
82. Lords Of The Ghostlands (March 1945)
83. Kurban (Jan 1946)
84. The Man In Crescent Terrace (March 1946)
85. Three In Chains (May 1946)
86. Catspaws (July 1946)
87. Lotte (Sept 1946)
88. Eyes In The Dark (Nov 1946)
89. Claire De Lune (Nov 1947)
90. Vampire Kith And Kin (May 1949)
91. Conscience Maketh Cowards (Nov 1949)
92. The Body Snatchers (Nov 1950)
93. The Ring Of Bastet (Sept 1951)

(source: posted by “demonik” on The Vault of Evil: British Horror Anthology Hell)

Also, thanks once again to Galactic Central for the cover repros. I've got these zines in my collection but I'm too lazy sometimes to break out the digital camera!


Walker Martin said...

Thanks for this latest installment Peter. I better take my Stephen King issue out of the basement and take it to PulpFest. I'll price it at $10,000 just to piss everyone off.

I managed to find my copy of OUTWORLDS 28/29 with Doc Lowndes history of the Health Knowledge magazines. I also found another fanzine, THE SCIENCE-FICTION COLLECTOR 3, published in 1977 and edited by Grant Thiessen. It contains a long index, pages 3-42, dealing with all the Health Knowledge digests. There is an issue index of HORROR, STARTLING MYSTERY, FAMOUS SF, WEIRD TERROR, and BIZARRE. Also covered are WORLD WIDE ADVENTURE and THRILLING WESTERN. Then there is a long author index of the five fantasy/SF magazines.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet it is possible to buy OUTWORLDS 28/29 from abebooks.com for $25 or from ebay for $13.99. I recommend getting this magazine if you collect MAGAZINE OF HORROR, etc.

Liza David said...

Thanks for sharing the list of good mystery publications with us. I wonder who gets time in such a fast life to read mystery instead of reading a book that helps enhancing knowledge.
Good Work !
Essay Papers

L. F. Chaney said...

Actually, there was a sound version of my picture, "The Phantom of the Opera." But it was released in 1929, not 1925, and I refused to talk in it.

Just thought I'd let you know.

Very truly yours,

L. C.

Todd Mason said...

Very Senior.

Hey, fwiw, Ted White was the assitant editor at F&SF, first under Avram Davidson and then under Edward Ferman. When Ziff-Davis sought a buyer for FANTASTIC and AMAZING in 1965, White hoped publisher Joseph Ferman might buy them and perhaps let White edit one, but Sol Cohen, who had just quit the GALAXY group but wasn't quite ready to retire, actually made the deal with ZD. White would begin editing F & A in 1969, quitting or being fired in a hassle with former co-owner and new sole owner Arhtur Bernhard in late 1978, as Cohen did retire...and coincidentally and initially happily being hired as editor of HEAVY METAL shortly thereafter (Ben Bova quite ANALOG at about the same time and apparently as unrelatedly couldn't pass up the fiction-editor job at OMNI almost immediately thereafter--both men suddenly working with Big Magazine Budgets). Carr had already begun work by time of the story's publication at Ace Books, where he was junior book editor to Donald Wolllheim, but co-edited the Ace WORLD'S BEST SCIENCE FICTION annuals with DAW, through the 1971 volume, when both quit the newly-purchased Ace (Carr started freelance editing, DAW started DAW Books at New American Library). Carr had also been working on Ace's gothic line, publishing Joan Aiken among many others, and started and edited the Ace Specials. White and Carr had, iirc, also worked on fanzines and such together.

It's a zippy little tale, their collaboration here. I was under the impression, much as Fred Pohl did with IF, that RAWL tended to publish the very new writers in STARTLING MYSTERY anyway, leaning toward more veteran new-fiction contributors at MOH.

Hoch, as I've surely mentioned, never forgot that RAWL gave him his start and other encouragement..as he no doubt told you himself.

Todd Mason said...

And that OUTWORLDS essay is impressive.

Todd Mason said...

Sorry...the Ace annual Carr and Wollheim co-edited was YEAR'S BEST SCIENCE FICTION; WORLD'S BEST SF was what Wollheim's series would be called, starting in '72, the same year Carr began THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION OF THE YEAR with Ballantine. I think it was '73 that there was an explosive growth in sf botys, even more than we have today, and we certainly have several now (the quartet from Dozois, Hartwell & Cramer, Horton and Strahan, if I'm not forgetting anyone touting sf rather than solely horror or fantasy...or erotica or crime fiction or theoretically more eclectic fiction selections).