Vintage Treasures: Lin Carter’s Weird Tales

Vintage Treasures: Lin Carter’s Weird Tales

Weird Tales , Volumes 1 -4 (Zebra Books, December 1980
– August 1983). Covers by Tom Barber (#1-3) and Doug Beekman (#4)

Lin Carter was one of the finest genre editors of the 20th Century, and Weird Tales magazine was the most important fantasy magazine of the last century, publishing the career-defining work of Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and hundreds of other writers. In December 1980 Zebra Books published the equivalent of a genre superhero Team-Up, the first two volumes of a paperback relaunch of Weird Tales helmed by Lin Carter.

The ambitious effort had several things in common with the original pulp incarnation. Namely, it was criminally underfunded, published sporadically, and doomed.

But it also had a hugely talented and hardworking editor, and in three short years it published a total of four volumes containing ‘lost’ stories by Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft, an original John the Balladeer story by Manly Wade Wellman, reprints of classic tales from the pages of Weird Tales, and original fiction by Ramsey Campbell, Carl Jacobi, Tanith Lee, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, Steve Rasnic Tem, Hannes Bok, Joseph Payne Brennan, Evangeline Walton, Charles Sheffield, Frank Belknap Long, Lin Carter, and a lot more.

[Click the images for weird versions.]

The Eyrie
on the inside front cover of Weird Tales, Volumes 1 and 2 

The paperback Weird Tales took the responsibility of carrying on the legacy of The Magazine That Never Dies very seriously.

The editors — primarily Carter, with editorial assistance from associates Roy Torgeson and Robert Weinberg, “Mr. Weird Tales” — worked hard to give it the look and feel of the original pulp magazine, with an illustrated table of contents, a letters section, a masthead by Hannes Bok, and handsome decorative sketches by Andrew Brosnatch.

They even included breathless one-line story blurbs in the Table of Contents, which helped old-time pulp fans feel right at home.

The Table of Contents for Weird Tales 1, with enticing blurbs, and masthead art by Hannes Bok

The first issue of Weird Tales has a lot to recommend it. But the first thing I read (of course) was Carter’s fine introduction, a 13-page mini-history and appreciation of the magazine.

It was in the earlier issues of this magazine that so many of the immortal stories of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and others first appeared. Though these pages first stalked the grim figures of Solomon Kane. King Kull and Conan the Cimmerian; herein Jules de Grandin, merriest and most inimitable of all the ghost-chasers, pursued evil monsters in many a memorable tale; and here the dark shadows of Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep and Tsathoggua first brooded ominously. For it was in Weird Tales the today’s popular genre of “Sword and Sorcery” began and the fascinating and eerie “Cthulhu Mythos” was born.

At the back of Carter’s introduction he included letters of congratulation and best wishes for the new endeavor from folks like Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Theodore Sturgeon, and Sam Moskowitz.

The first four pages of Lin Carter’s introduction in Volume 1

The first two volumes of the paperback Weird Tales were published simultaneously in December 1980. In the back  — like all Zebra paperbacks, and really all paperbacks of the period — were brief house ads filling out the leftover signature pages.

The house ads for December 1980 included three volumes in Roy Torgeson’s Chrysalis anthology series, plus his anthologies Other Worlds 1, and Night Fear, and novels by John Shirley, David C. Smith, Mike Sirota, J.T. McIntosh, Sharon Combes, and lots more.

Click any of the images below for a closer look.

House ads for other Zebra titles in Weird Tales, Volume 1 (click for bigger versions)

In addition to Carter’s intro, Weird Tales 1 contained reprints by Ramsey Campbell, August Derleth, and Seabury Quinn, original stories by pulps stalwarts Carl Jacobi, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, and David H. Keller, M.D., fiction by relative newcomers Hannes Bok, and Tanith Lee, and two item of immediate interest to Weird Tales aficionados: an unfinished Clark Ashton Smith story completed by Lin Carter, and a ‘new’ novelette by Robert E. Howard, a previously unpublished trunk story uncovered by Glenn Lord.

Here’s the complete TOC.

Introduction by Lin Carter
“Scarlet Tears” by Robert E. Howard
“Down There” by Ramsey Campbell (1978)
“The Light from the Pole” by Lin Carter and Clark Ashton Smith
“Someone Named Guibourg” by Hannes Bok
The Worshippers, by Robert A. W. Lowndes — poem
The Courier, by Robert A. W. Lowndes — poem
“Bat’s Belfry” by August Derleth (1926)
“The Pit” by Carl Jacobi
“When the Clock Strikes ” by Tanith Lee
Red Thunder, by Robert E. Howard (1929) — poem
“Some Day I’ll Kill You!” by Seabury Quinn (1941)
“Healer” by Mary Elizabeth Counselman
“The House Without Mirrors” by David H. Keller, M.D.
“Dreams in the House of Weir” by Lin Carter

Here’s the back covers to the first two volumes.

Back covers to Weird Tales, Volume 1 and 2

Weird Tales 2 contained letters by E. Hoffmann Price, H. Warner Munn, and Frank Belknap Long, another Lin Carter/Clark Ashton Smith collaboration, an H.P. Lovecraft fragment completed by the young fan R. H. Barlow, “The Night Ocean,” and a previously unpublished poem by Robert E. Howard, The Song of the Gallows Tree. Plus new fiction by Steve Rasnic Tem, Joseph Payne Brennan, Ray Nelson, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, Lin Carter, Ramsey Campbell, and Tanith Lee.

H.P. Lovecraft’s friendship with the young Barlow, whom he lived with with a time, has drawn a lot of speculation, and was the subject of a recent novel with the same time by Paul La Farge, The Night Ocean.

Here’s the complete TOC.

The Eyrie by Lin Carter
“The Night Ocean” by R. H. Barlow and H. P. Lovecraft
“Boy Blue” by Steve Rasnic Tem
“Fear” by Joseph Payne Brennan
“Valse Triste” by Ray Nelson
The Song of the Gallows Tree, by Robert E. Howard — poem
“The Feast in the Abbey” by Robert Bloch (1935)
“The Lamashtu Amulet” by Mary Elizabeth Counselman
“Something in the Moonlight” by Lin Carter
“Trick or Treat” by Ramsey Campbell
The Guardian, by Robert A. W. Lowndes — poem
Liberation, by Robert A. W. Lowndes — poem
“The Descent Into the Abyss” by Lin Carter and Clark Ashton Smith
“The Sapphire Siren” by Nictzin Dyalhis (1934)
“The Sombrus Tower” by Tanith Lee

Here’s the last two back covers.

Back covers to Weird Tales, Volume 3 and 4

The third volume contained a novella by Evangeline Walton, a John the Balladeer story by Manly Wade Wellman, and lots more.

Introduction by Lin Carter
“The Chinese Woman” by Evangeline Walton
“The Messenger” by Steve Rasnic Tem
To the Nightshade” by Clark Ashton Smith (1970) — poem
“The Opposite House” by Diane Brizzolara and John Brizzolara
“The Guardian of the Idol” by Robert E. Howard and Gerald W. Page
“The Black Garden” by Carl Jacobi
“The House of the Temple” by Brian Lumley (1980)
“The Red Brain” by Donald Wandrei (1927)
The Summons, by Robert A. W. Lowndes — poem
The Viola, by Robert A. W. Lowndes — poem
“Nobody Ever Goes There” by Manly Wade Wellman
“The Summons of Nuguth-Yug” by Marc Laidlaw and Gary Myers
“The Wind That Tramps the World” by Frank Owen (1925)
“The Winfield Heritance” by Lin Carter

Volume 4 had a Cthulhu Mythos story by Lin Carter, a novella reprint by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, and more.

“The Next Glade ” by Robert Aickman (1980)
“Crocuses” by Charles Sheffield
“The Belfry” by James Arthur Anderson
There Are No Ghosts in Catholic Spain, by Ray Bradbury (1981) — poem
“Homecoming” by Frank Belknap Long
“Compliments of the Season” by John Brizzolara
“The City of Dread” by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach (1955)
“The Doom Chant of Than-Kul, by Robert E. Howard (1983) — poem
“Save the Children!” by Steve Rasnic Tem
The Sea-Gods, by Clark Ashton Smith (1923) — poem
“Ooze” by Anthony M. Rud (1923)
“Late Night Final” by Stuart H. Stock
“The Vengeance of Yig” by Lin Carter

Like the magazine version, the paperback issues are highly collectible. Copies are widely available on the used book market, in places like eBay and AbeBooks, though issue #2 is a little bit harder to find than the others.

I bought the four copies I scanned for this article over the last few months. All were in fine, unread condition, and averaged about $10 per copy (about the cost of a new paperback). Issue #2 was $18.39; I purchased the other three in a single lot for $23.22.

Here’s the complete publication details.

Weird Tales #1 (268 pages, $2.50, December 1980) — cover by Tom Barber
Weird Tales #2 (265 pages, $2.50, December 1980) — cover by Tom Barber
Weird Tales #3 (318 pages, $2.50, 1981) — cover by Tom Barber
Weird Tales #4 (288 pages, $2.95, August 1983) — cover by Doug Beekman

Read Part II of this article here.

Our complete coverage of these volumes includes:

Weird Tales #1, edited by Lin Carter (2014)
Lin Carter’s Weird Tales, Part 1 (2023)
Lin Carter’s Weird Tales, Part 2 (2023)

See all our recent Vintage Treasures here.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Thomas Parker

I have three out of the four, bought when they were published (of course, #2 is the one I’m missing) and I thought it was a great format, a perfect way to keep the Old War Horse going. But, alas.

20$ to get #2 and complete my set doesn’t seem too bad to me. (By the way, my wife hates you.)


I love those covers!!!!
Why did publishers ever stop the painted illustration covers for the interior design looking crap they use now?

Brian Murphy

The first 3 covers all painted by Tom Barber, still with us, still painting. And his work is better than anything Weird Tales has put on its cover since the 1930s.

Brian Murphy

A matter of preference. And i’m being a little flip here. BUT I will take Tom’s work over anything in the above montage. The two below are pretty cool.

Jeremy Erman


Eugene R.

Lovely that the masthead for Volume 1 (Issue 1?) reads “Spring 1981” for a book coming out in December 1980, exactly the way a magazine would list its “expiration” date rather than its publication date. Ah, the little touches!

Joe H.

I managed to pick up all four of these at some point over the years but as is so often the case (sigh), I haven’t quite gotten around to actually reading them. Someday.

Steve A Oerkfitz

Carter was a good editor but not a very good writer. I could also do without the poems. Genre poetry has never been much more than amateurish .

[…] Tales (Black Gate): Lin Carter was one of the finest genre editors of the 20th Century, and Weird Tales magazine was […]

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x