Joseph Wrzos, September 9, 1929 — April 7, 2023

Joseph Wrzos, September 9, 1929 — April 7, 2023

A few of the magazines edited by Joseph Wrzos: Amazing Stories
(complete year, 1967) and Fantastic Stories (complete years, 1966 & 1967)

I wanted to mention the passing on April 7, at the age of 93, of the former editor of Amazing and Fantastic, Joseph Wrzos, who used the name Joseph Ross professionally.

He was Cele Goldsmith Lalli’s immediate successor, and took over the magazines at a difficult time, when Ziff-Davis sold them to Ultimate Publishing. Lalli stayed with Ziff-Davis (and had a very successful career editing Modern Bride.) Ross worked under publisher Sol Cohen, who mandated severe budget cuts, including reprinting stories Amazing had first published decades before (and, until SFWA objected, not paying for them.)

Ross did his best in those circumstances, as far as I can tell, and was well liked by those who knew him. (I never met him myself.) In addition to his editing work (which included consulting for Arkham House, and for some later iterations of Amazing) he was a High School English teacher.

[Click the images for Amazing and Fantastic-size versions.]

Reprint magazines published by Sol Cohen’s Ultimate Publishing: Great Science
Fiction, Thrilling Science Fiction, The Most Thrilling Science Fiction Ever Told,
Science Fiction Classics, Strange Fantasy, Science Fiction Adventures, Space
Adventures, Science Fantasy, The Strangest Stories Ever Told,
and others

Cohen’s reprint practice was entirely legal, as Amazing and most other magazines of the early era of SF bought “second serial rights” — the right to reprint stories in magazines. My impression — formed from reading several (probably not all entirely reliable) accounts of the whole affair — was that while they were within their rights to do exactly what they did, it was sort of a “gentleman’s agreement” that authors would receive a token payment of some sort when a story was reprinted, and it was on those grounds that SFWA objected to the practice and eventually negotiated some settlement.

I assume the token payments Cohen eventually made also went to those who had stories reprinted in the all-reprint magazines Cohen published. (Titles like Science Fiction Adventures and Thrilling Science Fiction — I remember buying, I think, the July 1974 Science Fiction Adventures and being gravely disappointed to find that it was all reprints and mostly awful.)

More digests from the 1960s

He is part of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. Not as well known as he might be, but he’s another of the oldest contributors to the genre, now gone.

Rich Horton’s last article for us was a review of the Flashing Swords! anthologies by Lin Carter. His website is Strange at Ecbatan. Rich has written over 200 articles for Black Gate, see them all here.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Eugene R.

Thank you, Mr. Horton, for bringing some well-deserved attention to Mr. Wrzos/Ross and his editorial career. I would not have recognized his name, but I am now interested in learning more about him. Off to the reference websites! Oh my, he was a neighbor! Well, he taught in a neighboring north NJ town, I should say.

(Oh, and the formatting of the article went all Bold after the second image caption “Reprint magazines published by”.)

Last edited 1 year ago by Eugene R.

I wanted to thank you for this post, I really loved reading it. I am actually Joseph’s granddaughter, and he was always so proud of his work and talking about books and artists whenever he could.
So sweet to see others talking about and appreciating him.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x