Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

Magazines as a recognizable medium first appeared in France in 1665 with Le Journal des savants, which discussed art, science and literature (no fiction). Fantasy, in the form of Fairytales, first appeared in Le Mercure Galant in February 1696, with "La Belle au Bois Dormant" ("The Beauty Sleeping in the Wood") by Charles Perrault.

The fascination for fairytales, particularly Oriental ones, meant that Fantasy remained a fairly regular item in society magazines in both France and the UK. The Oriental Satires of John Hawkesworth (1715-1773) appeared regularly in The Adventurer (1752-1754), and the first all-fiction magazine published in the UK, New Novelists Magazine (2 vols 1786-1787), featured Oriental Fantasies as a regular part of its content. This continued into the 19th century, when the Gothic revival (see Gothic Fantasy) saw the steady emergence of the ghostly Horror story. Several chapbooks and serial publications carried Gothic stories, though no single magazine was devoted to them; the closest was The Marvellous Magazine (1822), published in Ireland, which featured unauthorized versions, heavily edited, of popular Gothic novels and stories like Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794). A similar compendium magazine was The Romancist and Novelist's Library (1841-1842) ed William Hazlitt the Younger (1811-1893), although this time the stories were authorized. This attempted to be a complete Anthology of all exotic and adventure stories and novels then available, issued in a format similar to today's weekly partworks.

Magazines featuring fiction as a regular part of the content are really measured from Blackwood's Magazine (1817-1980). It often published Ghost Stories. Other 19th-century UK magazines to feature fantasy and Supernatural Fiction were The New Monthly Magazine (1814-1884), Bentley's Miscellany (1837-1868), Dublin University Magazine (1833-1877) and in particular Charles Dickens's Household Words (1850-1859) and All the Year Round (1859-1895), the latter promoting a special Christmas Book, with its festive offering of ghost stories by Wilkie Collins, Amelia B Edwards (1831-1892), Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) and others. Temple Bar (1860-1906), Belgravia (1866-1899) and London Society (1862-1898) were the main sources for Supernatural Fictions in the second half of the century. Ghost stories and fantasies were a regular component of US periodicals as well, especially in family magazines like Harper's Monthly (1850-current) and Atlantic Monthly (1857-current), which in turn inspired the popular turn-of-the-century UK magazines, among them The Strand Magazine (1891-1950), Pearson's Magazine (1896-1939) and The Idler (1892-1911). Of special merit was The Pall Mall Magazine (1893-1937, merged with Nash's Magazine from 1914), which in the 1890s carried fantasy and supernatural fiction in almost every issue, including works by Grant Allen, F Anstey, W W Astor (1848-1919), E F Benson, Algernon Blackwood, Marjorie Bowen, Bernard Capes, R Murray Gilchrist (1868-1917), Laurence Housman, M R James, Fiona MacLeod, M P Shiel and H G Wells.

Pall Mall was influenced by the Fin-de-Siècle mood that pervaded much literature of the 1890s. The Aesthetic movement that arose from this resulted in several magazines that relied heavily on the fantastic, primarily in art and poetry but also in fiction. The leading publication was The Yellow Book (1894-1897) ed Henry Harland (1861-1905), best-remembered for its artwork by Aubrey Beardsley who, after his dismissal from the magazine during the furore of the Oscar Wilde trial, went on to provide even more scandalous artwork and fiction for The Savoy (January- December 1896). The occult movement was also well under way in the 1890s and, though most of the occult and mystical magazines concentrated on nonfiction, a few became the home for hermetic fiction. The most notorious was The Equinox (10 vols March 1909-September 1913), a biannual hardcover magazine published and ed Aleister Crowley, and containing among the mumbo-jumbo a variety of his stories. Another source for Occult Fantasy was Horlick's Magazine (12 issues January-December 1904) ed Arthur Machen and carrying several of his own fantasies.

The Yellow Book had its equivalent in the USA: The Clack Book (12 issues April 1896-June 1897), ed Frank G Wells, specialized in bohemian poetry and fiction, including works by John Kendrick Bangs, Edgar Fawcett (1847-1904) and Elia Wilkinson Peattie (1862-1935). Another in the same vein was The Black Cat (316 issues October 1895-April 1923; vt The Thriller from October 1919). This is sometimes credited as the first weird-fiction magazine, but it was not. It did specialize in stories of the unusual and inexplicable, but these were not necessarily fantastic – indeed, fantasy was specifically underplayed. It is best-known for having purchased the first fiction from Jack London.

The first magazine to devote itself entirely to fantastic fiction was the German Der Orchideengarten ["The Orchid Garden"] (51 issues April 1919-May 1921) published and ed Karl Hans Strobl in Munich. It was heavily illustrated and carried a wide range of new and reprinted material from all over Europe, including the UK. Focusing on the surreal and the macabre, it was part of a growing movement in Germany at that time for satirical and Gothic Fantasy.

At the same time in the USA, the pulps were reaching their zenith, and the proliferation of specialist titles had started. The publishing company of Frank A Munsey (1854-1925), who had issued the first regular pulp magazine, The Argosy (December 1882-November 1988 as The Golden Argosy; December 1888-September 1917 as The Argosy; October 1917-July 1920 as Argosy Weekly; thereafter merging with All-Story Weekly to become Argosy All-Story Weekly July 1920-September 1929), after converting it from a children's magazine in 1896, developed a number of titles which regularly ran weird and fantastic stories as part of their content, especially The All-Story (January 1905-March 1914; as All-Story Weekly March-May 1914; as All-Story Cavalier Weekly [merged with The Cavalier] May 1914-May 1915; as All-Story Weekly May 1915-July 1920; then merging with The Argosy), The Scrap Book (March 1906-January 1912) and The Cavalier (October 1908-January 1912; as The Cavalier Weekly January 1912-May 1914; then merged with All-Story Weekly), which began in 1905, 1906 and 1908 respectively. However, the first magazine to specialize in the form was The Thrill Book (March-October 1919), which picked up the post-WWI mood for the occult. The first magazine wholly to concentrate on fantasy and Horror was Weird Tales (May 1923-September 1954, with later revivals). Under the editorship of Farnsworth Wright in 1924-1939, WT was the backbone of the fantastic in magazine form (as distinct from sf, which it also published but which established its own genre with Amazing Stories in 1926) and the main market for all the leading pulp writers of Weird Fiction; it established the careers of many, particularly Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Robert E Howard, Henry Kuttner, H P Lovecraft and Seabury Quinn. Although never a significant commercial success, it made for itself a niche from which it ruled supreme. This encouraged a few rivals, including: Tales of Magic and Mystery (5 issues December 1927-April 1928) ed Walter B Gibson (1897-1985), which focused more on stage magic and the occult; Strange Tales, the only significant rival to WT in its first decade; and Mind Magic (6 issues June-December 1931; retitled My Self from November 1931), which was more into Spiritualism and psychic adventures, though attracting fiction from leading authors like Mary Elizabeth Counselman, Ralph Milne Farley (real name Roger Sherman Hoar; 1887-1963) and Manly Wade Wellman. A further title was Ghost Stories, which contained purportedly true tales of Hauntings and Séances.

The weird and fantastic influenced many of the hero pulps of the 1930s, although most of these endeavoured to rationalize their often bizarre events as sf. This was true, too, of the various weird-menace pulps of the time, chiefly Terror Tales, Horror Stories and Dime Mystery. The only single-character pulp to be wholly supernatural in content was Doctor Death (3 issues February-April 1935), whose arch-villain, Dr Rance Mandarin, used occult powers in attempts to destroy civilization. The author of the three short novels involved was Harold Ward (1879-1950), writing as Zorro.

The sole other magazine of interest in the mid-1930s was The Witch's Tales (2 issues November-December 1936), based on the successful US radio series The Witch's Tale (1931-1938), though bad management and poor distribution saw the magazine's early demise. Apart from original fiction by Alonzo Deen Cole (1897-1971) and Laurence D Smith, both associated with the radio series, the magazine contained only reprints, with stories selected from the US edition of Pearson's Magazine.

During the 1930s the interest in Supernatural Fiction waned in favour of mystery and sf, but by the end of the decade there was a revival. Three magazines that appeared in early 1939 showed the three faces of fantasy: Strange Stories, an unambitious imitation of WT which featured most of the same authors; Unknown ed John W Campbell Jr (1910-1971), which aimed to achieve for fantasy what Astounding had for sf; and Fantastic Adventures, a lighter-hearted magazine ed Raymond A Palmer (1910-1977), which at its rare best probably came closest to the pulp equivalent of Slick Fantasy. The latter pandered primarily to US servicemen, with stories of Lost Races and Magic powers. Unknown, however, genuinely changed the shape of fantasy.

The success of Unknown and Fantastic Adventures had a minor effect on the sf magazines. From its first issue, Stirring Science Stories (4 issues February 1941-March 1942) ed Donald A Wollheim had featured a self-contained and generally superior section called Stirring Fantasy Fiction, with work by Cyril Kornbluth (1923-1958), Robert A W Lowndes, David H Keller and Clark Ashton Smith. Similarly, the hitherto sf-based Future Fiction, begun in 1939, changed its title to Future Fantasy and Science Fiction in October 1942 under the editorial direction of Robert A W Lowndes; although this new name lasted only three issues (until April 1943), it heralded a marked increase in the quality of the magazine's fiction, with work by Hannes Bok, Donald A Wollheim, Ross Rocklynne (1913-1988) and Lowndes himself.

Few of these magazines survived WWII. In the mid-1940s WT and Fantastic Adventures were the only fantasy magazines aside from the rather anomalous Famous Fantastic Mysteries, primarily a reprint magazine, initially drawing upon the archives of the Munsey magazines and emphasizing the work of A Merritt. But there was then a revival of interest, spearheaded initially by the success of Avon Fantasy Reader, really an Anthology series but often regarded as a magazine. By now the pulps were starting to give way to digest magazines, and the success of Avon Fantasy Reader led to Mercury Publications issuing The Magazine of Fantasy, retitled The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction from #2. Although sf dominated its content for much of the 1950s, F&SF remains the major fantasy magazine of the past 40 years.

Academic interest emerged when August W Derleth issued The Arkham Sampler (see Arkham House), a short-lived but important title, the first to discuss Supernatural Fiction seriously; it printed both new and reprint fantasy and Ghost Stories.

During the early 1950s there was a boom in the publication of digest magazines, especially of sf and mystery; fantasy and horror often took refuge within these. There were some specialist titles, however, of which the best were Fantasy Magazine ed Lester del Rey and Beyond ed Horace L Gold. Both emulated Unknown, although Fantasy Magazine focused more on fantastic adventure and Beyond on Slick Fantasy. Hybrid sf/fantasy magazines included: Imagination (63 issues October 1950-October 1958), ed after #2 William L Hamling (1921-    ), which followed in the style of Fantastic Adventures; Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader (2 issues January-April 1953) ed Sol Cohen, a magazine continuation of Avon Fantasy Reader; Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine (4 issues September 1953-July 1954) ghost-ed Laurence M Janifer (1933-    ); Mystic (16 issues November 1953-July 1956; thereafter retitled Search and devoting itself to nonfiction) – a companion to Raymond A Palmer's Other Worlds and Fate, it concentrated on paranormal and Occult Fantasy, and shifted more towards nonfiction after its early issues; and Fantastic Universe (69 issues June/July 1953-March 1960), which always projected an sf image but published much fantasy, notably Sword and Sorcery, especially during the editorship of Hans Stefan Santesson (1914-1975). Fantastic Universe had a brief fantasy companion, Fear (2 issues May-July 1960), which featured competent but routine Weird Fiction. A similar magazine was Shock (3 issues May-September 1960). Both of these had much in common with three earlier short-lived magazines linked to popular radio series: Suspense (4 issues Spring 1951-Winter 1952), The Mysterious Traveler Magazine (5 issues November 1951-June 1952; #5 retitled The Mysterious Traveler Mystery Reader) (see Mysterious Traveler), and Tales of the Frightened (2 issues Spring-August 1957). The first two carried some fiction of interest, but only the first sought to go beyond traditional tales of the weird and unusual.

The other US magazine primarily containing fantasy in the 1950s was Fantastic. This began in 1952 mainly as a vehicle for slick fantasy, but budgets were cut and by the mid-1950s it was concentrating on sf, with occasional issues on wish-fulfilment; this last theme inspired a short-lived companion magazine, Dream World (3 issues February-August 1957). Fantastic returned twice, first in 1959-1965 under Cele Goldsmith (1933-2002) and again in 1969-1979 under Ted White (1938-    ); in the mid- to late 1970s it was a major market for S&S.

Fantasy was almost anathema in the US magazine market in the mid- to late 1950s, but an audience, albeit a small one, remained in the UK, which had had no specialist fantasy magazines during the pulp era. Some early general-fiction pulps featured Weird Fiction; e.g., The Novel Magazine, which in 1913-1922 had a regular "uncanny tale" feature. For a period this magazine was edited by E C Vivian; he left in 1922 and joined Hutchinson's to start Adventure-Story and Mystery-Story (see Hutchinson's Magazines). Both carried much fantasy, especially Mystery-Story, which traded tales with WT and later Ghost Stories. After these magazines folded in 1929 there was no specialist market in the UK, although in the 1930s the pulp Master Thriller Series (1933-1939) included among its titles a number of one-off issues like Tales of the Uncanny (1934) and Tales of Terror (1937). During WWII the enterprising publisher Gerald G Swan (1902-1980) issued several ephemeral magazines, all thin because of paper rationing. These started with Weird Story Magazine (1 issue August 1940), with contents written almost solely by William J Elliott (1886-1947), but the magazines were soon masquerading as US publications under the general banner Yankee Magazine, of which three issues were entitled Yankee Weird Shorts (nd but January 1941, July 1941 and May 1942). Swan also issued Weird Shorts (1 issue nd but ?1943) and Occult (#1 nd but 1941; #2 titled Occult Shorts nd but ?1946), and reissued Weird Story Magazine (2 issues 1946). Swan's publications were still appearing in 1960, when he put out three issues of Weird and Occult Library, using material of WWII vintage.

Outlands (1 issue, Winter 1946) ed Leslie J Johnson (1914-    ) was the only fantasy magazine proper in the UK until 1950. Despite their title the two separate magazines called Fantasy – the first had 3 issues 1938-1939, the second 3 issues December 1946-August 1947 – were wholly sf. The latter, ed Walter Gillings (1912-1979), resurfaced in 1950 as Science Fantasy, initially as an sf magazine; but, under the editorship of John Carnell, it became the UK's main fantasy market during the 1950s and 1960s. It published much Unknown-style fantasy by Kenneth Bulmer and John Brunner, the historical fantasies of Thomas Burnett Swann and the Elric stories of Michael Moorcock. It was the only significant UK market for fantasy in the late 1950s – the only other UK magazines to carry fantasy, mostly Ghost Stories, were the short-lived Phantom and the much longer-lived Supernatural Stories (109 issues 1954-1967), written almost entirely by R L Fanthorpe (1935-    ) and John S Glasby (1928-2011), both writing at phenomenal pace.

The success of the Hammer horror movies in the late 1950s saw a gradual resurgence of interest in horror fiction, spearheaded in the UK by the anthology series Pan Book of Horror Stories (from 1959). This stimulated the re-emergence of horror Anthologies in the UK, but had little impact on the magazine market. In the USA, however, the success was noticed by a small-time publisher, Health Knowledge Inc., who decided to issue The Magazine of Horror in 1963. Although containing mostly reprints and heavily influenced by WT, under the skilful editorship of Robert A W Lowndes this magazine – and its later companions, Startling Mystery Stories, Bizarre Fantasy Tales and Weird Terror Tales – sustained and began to rejuvenate interest in Weird Fiction. Startling Mystery Stories carried the first professional fiction by Stephen King and F Paul Wilson. The resurgence of interest in High Fantasy, following the success in paperback of the works of J R R Tolkien and Robert E Howard, had little impact on the magazines, although a short-lived magazine called Worlds of Fantasy was initially moderately successful.

It is ironic that, at the height of the fantasy paperback boom, the magazines dwindled in circulation – even Fantastic, which under Ted White published some of the most innovative fantasy of the 1970s. Of new titles, only Coven 13 (later retitled Witchcraft & Sorcery) made any effort to be original. The Haunt of Horror (2 issues June-August 1973) was a highly illustrated digest-sized production that tried to repeat as a fiction magazine the success of Marvel Comics' horror Comics; it carried some good fiction, but #1 did not make a profit and so the publisher killed off the magazine. Fantasy remained in the hands of the reprint magazines, of which Strange Fantasy (6 issues Spring 1969-Fall 1970), Weird Mystery (4 issues Fall 1970-Summer 1971) and The Strangest Stories Ever Told (1 issue Summer 1970) drew solely from the archives of Fantastic Adventures and Fantastic. Better fare was offered by Forgotten Fantasy (5 issues October 1970-June 1971) ed Douglas Menville (1935-    ), which sought to reprint rarer (and out-of-copyright) material, and was more in the vein of Famous Fantastic Mysteries.

What now became noticeable was the emergence of the Small-Press magazine. These can generally be described as amateur magazines, in the sense that profit is not the sole reason for publication, and they sell mostly by subscription, newsstand distribution being limited. Some of the higher-circulation magazines may be classed as semi-professional; there is no clearcut distinction. The grandfather of these was The Recluse, published by W Paul Cook (1880-1948) in 1927. In the 1930s the magazines produced by William L Crawford (1911-1984) – Unusual Stories (3 issues March 1934-Winter 1935) and Marvel Tales (5 issues May 1934-Summer 1935) – although aimed primarily at the sf market, included some Weird Fiction. Marvel Tales published the first story by Robert Bloch, as well as fiction by August W Derleth, H P Lovecraft, David H Keller, John Beynon Harris (1903-1969), Carl Jacobi (1908-1997) and Ralph Milne Farley (real name Roger Sherman Hoar; 1887-1963). Fanciful Tales (1 issue Fall 1936) ed Donald A Wollheim was devoted solely to weird fiction.

Although other amateur magazines appeared throughout the 1940s, some professionally printed and assiduously edited – the best was The Acolyte (14 issues Fall 1942-Spring 1946) – it was only in the late 1950s that the small-press magazine as a vehicle for professional-quality fiction began to appear. Leading the way was Macabre (23 issues 1957-1976), produced by Joseph Payne Brennan, intended to fill the gap left by the demise of WT in 1954.

The same motive saw the launch of Weirdbook in 1968 and Whispers in 1973. These two became the leading small-press magazines of the 1970s and inspired many imitations. Both emulated WT in publishing a mixture of fantasy and supernatural fiction. The most lavishly produced small-press magazine was Ariel, which received professional distribution; it placed the emphasis on fantasy art and graphics. Other quality titles in the fantasy field in the 1970s and early 1980s were Chacal (later reissued as Shayol) and Fantasy Tales, and in the 1980s and early 1990s there were Argosy, Fantasy Book, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine and, most recently, Realms of Fantasy.

The re-emergence of Horror fiction as a market genre in the mid-1970s led to new magazines that focused more on this. They were led by Rod Serling's the Twilight Zone Magazine, which appeared in 1981, and its short-lived companion magazine Night Cry. The success of commercial horror magazines in the professional market has remained limited, however, because of the age-old problems of distribution and shelf-life; since the 1980s, with the emergence of desk-top publishing, the main new fiction magazines have come from the small presses. Many lavishly produced, these have proliferated; notable are The Horror Show, Cemetery Dance, 2AM (21 issues Fall 1986-Spring 1993), Grue and Deathrealm. Others worthy of remark include: Iniquities (3 issues Autumn 1990-Autumn 1991) and Midnight Graffiti (7 issues June 1988-Fall 1992), both of which developed around the Splatterpunk movement; Nyctalops (19 issues May 1970-April 1991), initially nonfiction centred on Lovecraft but later developing into a fiction magazine of the WT school; Eldritch Tales (Winter 1975-current; #1 titled The Dark Messenger Reader), which again seeks to emulate WT with predominantly Lovecraftian fiction; The Crypt of Cthulhu, a scholarly magazine concerned with Lovecraftiana; Haunts (1984-current), which only occasionally rises above the visceral into more spectral horror; and the latest revival of WT, retitled Worlds of Fantasy and Horror from 1994 (when it lost the licence to the title).

Beyond the small-press field, there is no specialist fantasy magazine, although both The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine feature fantasy and horror as a regular part of their content, as does Interzone (Spring 1982-current) in the UK. For a short period the UK had the very successful Fear, which relied mostly on features and Horror-Movie reviews but during 1989-1990 was the UK's only regular market for horror fiction, although Skeleton Crew (6 issues July-December 1990), which grew out of a small-press magazine, and Frighteners (3 issues, July-September 1991) briefly joined the fray.

Outside the USA and the UK, few other English-speaking countries have had specialist magazines. Canada had Uncanny Tales (21 issues November 1940-September/October 1943), which mixed sf and fantasy and carried some native material, though relying mostly on US reprints. More recently, Canada has had some good Small-Press magazines. In the fantasy field there has been the sequence published by Charles de Lint: Dragonbane (1 issue Spring 1978) and Beyond the Fields We Know (1 issue Autumn 1978), the two merging as Dragonfields (2 issues Summer 1980-Winter 1983). These magazines focused on mythic fantasy in the Folktale tradition. In the realm of Dark Fantasy there has been Borderland (4 issues 1984-1986) ed Robert S Hadji, which reprinted rare fiction alongside new material in the traditional vein.

Australia has never produced a straight fantasy magazine, though in 1970 Sword and Sorcery, a putative companion to Ronald E Graham's Vision of Tomorrow, reached dummy stage before a poor financial deal killed it. Void (5 issues 1975-1977), an sf magazine, published occasional fantasy. Not until The Australian Horror & Fantasy Magazine (5 issues Summer 1984-Fall 1985) did a specialist publication emerge in the small-press field, though it concentrated mostly on horror, in imitation of WT. The same applied to Terror Australis (3 issues Fall 1988-Summer 1992), which emphasized graphic visceral horror.

In Italy Francesco Cova produced the largely English-language Kadath (1979-1982), but this interesting experiment has never been repeated.

Between the 1920s and the mid-1950s the specialist fiction magazine dominated the short-story market, but for a long time now the paperback Anthology (and for younger readers the Comic book) has been paramount – and increasingly Graphic Novels (not to mention home videos) have played their part. Specialist fiction magazines have come to be seen as an anachronism, and survive predominantly by subscription and by distribution through specialist shops. Many devotees of horror and fantasy in book form are unaware of the magazines, although these remain the main testing ground for new writers, most of whom graduate to books only after first selling to magazines. Although prophets proclaimed magazines would become extinct in the 1970s, they continue to appear, and the leading ones remain moderately healthy. [MA]

further reading: Monthly Terrors: An Index to the Weird Fantasy Magazines Published in the United States and Great Britain (1985) by Frank H Parnell and Mike Ashley; Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines (1985) by Marshall B Tymn and Ashley.


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.