Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Weird Menace

During the thirties and early forties, peaking from 1934-7, there was a glorious period in the pulps where the promises of the lurid pulp covers came true in the content of the stories.  Weird Menace, also called the Shudder Pulps, evolved out of the detective pulps and influenced by Grand Guignol theater.  The stories were formulaic in the extreme, and reading these tales in collections by author can get very repetitive.

They're told almost exclusively in first person by an average Joe.  He, usually accompanied by his fiance, visit some small town to cash in on an inheritance or such.  Some kind of supernatural menace threatens them, with a variation having the hero thinking he is responsible.  The hero is captured or knocked out, his girl is disrobed and faces a grisly end, before the villain is revealed to be mortal and after land/inheritance/the girl, in what is now known as the Scooby Doo ending.

There is a surprising amount of gore and violence for the time in these titles, which is what led to their inevitable downfall.  Some elements seeped into pulp hero titles like G-4 and the Spider.

The biggest Weird Menace titles were Dime Mystery, Terror Tales, Horror Tales, and Thrilling Mystery.  Other smaller titles include Strange Tales, Uncanny Tales, Mystery Novels, and Marvel Tales.  There was a brief revival in the 1960s with Web Terror Stories and Shock Mystery.

As with other pulps, the Weird Menace writers wrote in several genres under several different names.  For some reason, my favorite tales were written by writers better known for science fiction.  Authors include: Henry Kuttner, John H. Knox, Arthur Leo Zagat, Hugh Cave, Nat Schachner, Arthur J. Burks, Wyatt Blassingame, Novell Page, Emile Tepperman, Russell Gray, HM Appel and Robert E Howard

Author collections are available at Ramblehouse.  These are excellent collections, though it requires ordering via paypal.

Radioarchives.com also has several ebook collections, including single titles, available on their website and Amazon.com.  There are a few at Altus Press.

Other places to look include Pulpgen, Munseys, Mobileread, Gutenberg Australia, and Archive.org

1 comment:

  1. Great author, all. I never got into the Weird Menace pulps, but read the detectives, heroes, and SF. A few westerns, naturally. I always enjoy your Blog Posts.