Saturday, June 1, 2013

some extremely unimpressive fiction-magazine covers:

1st issue, dated July 1926
I'm going to guess they were going for KKK vampire
ghost with possibly a Frankenstein's behemoth bolt on neck,
(modeled by a Tor Johnson ancestor) who, like Uncle Sam, wants you...
August, 1964 (my birth-month). Even by the weak
standards of "shudder" fiction magazines... 
Don't you hate it when lions insist on Marquess of
Queensbury rules? August 1953. This (Joe) Weider publication
spent its last years as one of three Playboy clones from JW.
Happily, the names sold it...from the decade of
the laziest cover-conception for the magazine...
and really atrocious production values within.























































Of all the bad photo covers (and the several July covers
with US flag stripes), this 1968 cover might be the worst.











It has some rivals, but this might just be the most
inept (and illegible) of all MSMM covers.







Can you tell the no-budget publisher had to put
 this package together in a hurry, after the first
 publisher had to fold? (1964)
There's almost nothing right about this 1957 painting...
except it's as lurid as it was meant to be. From perhaps
the worst period in Amazing's run, Paul Fairman's years
...Fairman left Ziff-Davis to assist editing EQMM...



One of many simply extremely ugly covers.

If you're putting together a reprint magazine on no
budget, you still might not want to use bad
(if free) illos as clip art, and make the rest of the
cover look like an appliance store newspaper ad.























Of course, using bad old cover illos as clip art for
reprint magazine covers is an old tradition among
Amazing's stablemates...





Sometimes a concept just doesn't come off...





















Sometimes lack of concept doesn't work either...(2004)




Even Jove nods...






















And some artists just leaned bad, whether in 1974...


...on in 1926...























And some formats and titles would  confound the
best artists...whether with a probably bad issue...


...or a very impressive one... (this magazine ran
1950-54 as a sibling of Planet Stories)























...or a very impressive, if perhaps familiar, one indeed.


And some never seem to care...
Italo Calvino, William Stafford, Cynthia
Ozick in this issue...can't you tell? (1957)

11 comments:

Walker Martin said...

These covers are enough to make me swear off the collecting of magazines! But I guess it's too late since I've been at it since 1956.

Todd Mason said...

And, oddly enough, that HITCHCOCK'S is one of the first fiction magazines I did actively collect (as opposed to parental gifts or hand-me-downs), actually one of the two first (bought the August '68 issue at the same time at a college book fair when I was twelve).

Ed Gorman said...

Ugo to the extreme.

Todd Mason said...

And there are so many others one could choose...but these seemed to cover most of the range of what's wrong with those that are Wrong...

Jerry House said...

My eyes! They burn!

Todd Mason said...

I particularly relish imagining how Clamp-hands the Robot ties and re-ties his hawk to his arm...but perhaps some other sinister robot does that for him. That, of course, and the over-concretization of the metaphor on the DOC SAVAGE cover...but, lo! It foretold show removal in US airports!

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Todd, I have never actually seen or read any of these magazines in physical form so I have a mixed opinion about these covers. The DOC SAVAGE SCIENCE DETECTIVE is probably the worst of the lot. I'd like to read the story "Ballroom of the Skies" by JDM on the SCIENCE-ADVENTURE BOOKS cover. How come a literary magazine like THE PARIS REVIEW makes the grade here? Well, long as the contents inside make up for the covers.

Todd Mason said...

In most cases here, the covers are either an aberration or sadly suggestive of a consistent lack of taste or attention (or, less frequently, lack of better resources, including time) displayed by the editors or publishers...though I've never understood F&SF honcho Edward Ferman's fondness for Ron Walotsky paintings...I guess bits of this not too atypical airbrushed example are OKish. I haven't read the Poul Anderson story that shares an issue with JDMcD's Ballroom in the Skies, but I've been meaning to get to that novel, and his other major sf novel Wine of the Dreamers for quite some time...his fantasy novel The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything is fine work.

Todd Mason said...

And The Paris Review and Botteghe Oscure are present to demonstrate that even the eclectic little magazines can come up with (in the first case) excessively cute notions that don't come off (a child's crayon drawing! How sweet and self-indulgent!) or (in the second case) be simply arrogantly self-satisfied...just because one's magazine has very little newsstand circulation doesn't mean that differentiating issue 20 from issue 3 with more than simply Roman numerals on the cover might not help lots of different folks...

Todd Mason said...

Frankly, Two Complete Science-Adventure Books as a title form is almost enough to land that magazine on this page by itself...though several have come close, I suspect that's still the most clumsy and (to a neophyte reader) puzzling title any sf magazine has sported so far. The zap diagonal cover format crowded any good work the genius Frank Kelly Freas or the better than competent Allen Anderson could do to illustrate the likes of John (aka Killian Houston) Brunner's "The Wanton of Argus"...(and, as I didn't quite write before, I suspect that Poul Anderson story in with the MacDonald novel to be solid work, at least, as well). Undersung writer Jerome Bixby edited that magazine for a brief while, while also helping Malcolm Reiss make the last years of Planet Stories as impressive as one could ask for...

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Thank you, Todd. I didn't know JDM had written sf and fantasy novels.