UNCANNY TALES Pulp Magazine Profile

Founded in late 1940, UNCANNY TALES was a home-grown Canadian pulp that flourished during World War II, when Canadian import restrictions made it difficult for American pulps to enter the country. Its first four issues were printed in digest size, saddle-stapled, with a black artwork border framing a table of contents overlaid with a spot color. The following seventeen were in standard pulp format—about seven by ten inches in size, with full-color covers, side-stapling, and cheap pulp paper.

The Canadian UNCANNY TALES should not be confused with the American magazine of the same title, five issues of which were published between April 1939 and May 1940. (The BigList refers to that one as UNCANNY TALES [1939].) The American magazine specialized in horror and "shudder" stories, with covers featuring mad cultists about to commit mayhem on partially clad women; it was nominally a re-titling of the more mainstream STAR DETECTIVE (May 1935 to November 1938) but this was probably just a ploy to save on copyright expenses.

It is generally believed that most of the stories in the first two or three issues of UNCANNY TALES were written by Canadian author Thomas P. Kelley (1905-82), under his own name and numerous pseudonyms. For later issues the publishers bought stories from many other Canadian authors, and also obtained reprint rights for stories originally published in some small-circulation American pulps run by Donald Wollheim, circa 1940-42.

 

Publishing Information for UNCANNY TALES

A complete history of this magazine was written by Denny Lien and published in issue 10 of THE PULP COLLECTOR. Also, Sam Moskowitz wrote about the magazine in Science Fiction Studies #50: Volume 17, Part 1 (March 1990), pp. 82-94. The following information is taken from the FictionMags BigList, discussions with Mr. Lien, and the magazines themselves:

Uncanny Tales [1940]: Total Issues: 21

Indexed in Miller/Contento: Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Weird Fiction Magazine Index and THE PULP COLLECTOR, issue 10

Publishers: November 1940 to May 1942: Adam Publishing, Toronto; July 1942 to September 1943: Norman Book Company, Toronto

Editors: Thomas P. Kelley, Melvin R. Colby

Prices: 1940 to September 1942: 15c; December 1942 to 1943: 25c

Pagecounts: November 1940 to March 1941: 64pp; May 1941 to September 1942: 96pp; December 1942 to last issue, 1943: 128pp

Frequency: nominally monthly, with gaps; the last issue of 1942 was claimed as "quarterly," and the final issue appeared almost a year after the previous one

Cover Artists for UNCANNY TALES

This artist listing derives from signatures on the covers, where found. The art on the first four issues is the same on all (a border left and above a text block of the contents) but it is not signed.

  • 1940
  • November: Unknown [no signature visible]
  • December: Unknown [no signature visible]

  • 1941
  • January: Unknown [no signature visible]
  • March: Unknown [no signature visible]
  • May: Ted Steele
  • June: Walter Leslie
  • July: Walter Leslie
  • August: Walter Leslie
  • September: Walter Leslie
  • October: Wilf Long
  • November: Wilf Long
  • December: Wilf Long

  • 1942
  • January: "Bick"
  • February: Wilf Long
  • March: K. P. Ainsworth
  • April: K. P. Ainsworth
  • May: G. M. Rae
  • July: Unknown [no signature visible]
  • September: K. P. Ainsworth
  • December: Unknown [no signature visible]

  • 1943
  • September-October: K. P. Ainsworth

Story Contents and Interior Illustrations in UNCANNY TALES

Denny Lien has studied the printed pages of these issues and reports as follows:

Only three of the issues listed their interior artists on the contents page, and even these did not indicate who did what story. Not all of the art is signed, or at least signed legibily. Later issues of UNCANNY TALES reprinted a lot of stories from US magazines; mostly from STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES and COSMIC STORIES, but with a scattering from other magazines. In some cases they also reprinted the art that originally went with that story in the US issue; in other cases they reprinted art from elsewhere in the US issue, or from a different issue of the same magazine. So I also had to check my copies of the US originals publication magazines.

I can't swear that I have caught all the reprints, but I think I got large majority of them. Much of the reprinted art was originally done by Hannes Bok, and I used Ned Brooks' HANNES BOK ILLUSTRATION INDEX to doublecheck the Bok pieces. The story listings below were cut and pasted from the SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY AND WEIRD MAGAZINE INDEX by Stephen T. Miller and William G. Contento (CD-ROM version, Locus Press, 1999.) The abbreviations and format are the same as used in the FictionMags Index. I've deleted all stories from the contents listings if they were not illustrated. Virtually all that were illustrated have only a single piece of art per story. I was not able to find and analyze the first four issues, which were published in small digest format and to my best memory did not contain much, if any, interior art.

[Four digest issues: few illustrations; still to be analyzed]
Uncanny Tales [November 1940] (C15’, 64pp+, octavo)
Uncanny Tales [December 1940] (C15’, 64pp+, octavo)
Uncanny Tales [January 1941] (C15’, 64pp+, octavo)
Uncanny Tales [March 1941] (C15’, 64pp+, octavo)

Uncanny Tales [May 1941] (C15’, 96pp+, trimmed pulp, cover by Ted Steele)
2 • The Wine Siren • D. N. Kane • nv
17 • Escape—To Hell! • Roy Danyer • ss
62 • Isle of Madness [Part 1 of 2] • Thomas P. Kelley • na
These three were all illustrated by someone signing as TAS, with the crossbar of the T tilted up from "ground level," left to right. Letter column note identifies him as Ted Steele.

Uncanny Tales [June 1941] (C15’, 96pp+, trimmed pulp, cover by Walter Leslie)
2 • Beyond the Veil [forecast as by Thomas P. Kelley] • Gene Bannerman • na
40 • Death Meteor • Oliver Saari • ss • signed with a squiggle
62 • Isle of Madness [Part 2 of 2] • Thomas P. Kelley • na
81 • The Thought Monsters ["Black Flames", as by Lawrence Woods; with Robert A. W. Lowndes] • Donald A. Wollheim • nv • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES [SSS] April 1941
None of these identify the artist. The letter column, "Around the Cauldron," starts with a piece of art (a chubby ghost hovering over a graveyard) which is repeated on same column in future issues; artist is unidentified.

Uncanny Tales [July 1941] (C15’, 96pp+, trimmed pulp, cover by Walter Leslie)
2 • I Found Cleopatra [Part 1 of 3] • Thomas P. Kelley • n. WEIRD TALES [WT] November 1938 (+3) • signed "Edward J--something" -- possibly "Edward Jones." Art not reprinted from WT appearance
36 • Lady of the Tomb • Wagner Hall • ss • unidentified
42 • The Mark of the Cloven Hoof • Pierre Janley • ss • unidentified
55 • Bones • Donald A. Wollheim • ss • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES February 1941 • art reprinted from SSS appearance, but unidentified there
59 • Restless Souls • Wallace Bennett • ss • unidentified
68 • The Strange Return • Lawrence Woods • nv • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES February 1941 • unidentified; art is not from the SSS appearance

Uncanny Tales [v2 # 8, August 1941] (C15’, 96pp+, trimmed pulp, cover by Walter Leslie)
2 • The House of Crawling Death • Pierre Janley • nv • unidentified; it looks almost like Finlay to me, but that seems improbable
18 • The Germ Creator • Allen Lake • ss • unidentified
28 • The Swamps Come Back • Nadine Booth Brumell • ss • unidentified
38 • Myrrha—A Mystery • Rolland Jones • ss • unidentified
49 • Blueprint • Donald A. Wollheim • ss • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES April 1941 • Roy Hunt; art reprinted from SSS appearance
54 • I Found Cleopatra [Part 2 of 3] • Thomas P. Kelley • n. • WEIRD TALES November 1938 (+3) • unidentified
83 • !!! • X • ss • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES April 1941 • reprinted from SSS appearance, but unidentified there
86 • The Doll Master [by Robert A. W. Lowndes] • Paul Dennis Lavond • ss • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES April 1941 • unidentified; art is not reprinted from the SSS appearance

Uncanny Tales [v2 # 9, September 1941] (C15’, 96pp+, trimmed pulp, cover by Walter Leslie)
2 • Cycles of an Ego • C. Lamont Turner • nv • John Hilkert
22 • Doomed by the Dead • Allen Lake • ss • John Hilkert
68 • The Mine of the Moon Men • Callan Edmunds • nv • John Hilkert
88 • The Other • Robert W. Lowndes • ss • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES April 1941 • unidentified; art is not reprinted from the SSS appearance

Uncanny Tales [v2 #10, October 1941] (C15’, 96pp+, trimmed pulp, cover by Wilf. Long)
2 • Science of Satan • J. B. Gardner • ss • Wilf. Long
20 • The Abyss • Robert W. Lowndes • ss • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES February 1941 • Roy Hunt; art reprinted from SSS appearance
36 • Listening, Listening • Lawton Fenson • ss • Wilf. Long
42 • The Perfumed Death • Wallace Bennett • nv • unidentified
62 • Doctors of Evil • Neil Perrin • nv • John Hilkert
82 • Black Castle of Hate • Valentine Worth • ss • unidentified

Uncanny Tales [v2 #11, November 1941] (C15’, 96pp+, trimmed pulp, cover by Wilf. Long)
2 • Expedition No. 1 • James Francis Redshaw • ss • H. D. Callahan ; comment in letters page identifies first name as Howard
18 • A Million Years in the Future [Part 1 of 5] • Thomas P. Kelley • n. • WEIRD TALES January 1940 (+3) • Hannes Bok; art reprinted from the original US issue. This one not is in Ned Brooks' index.
56 • Strong Fingers of Death • D. H. Fairley • ss • unidentified
64 • [Quote from Longfellow's poem "Skeleton in Armor"] • H.D. Callahan (this one-page piece wasn't listed in Miller/Contento)
66 • Strange Tree • Leslie Merle • ss • unidentified

Uncanny Tales [v2 #12, December 1941] (C15’, 96pp+, tr. pulp, cover by Wilf. Long)
2 • The Coming of Darakk • Denis Plimmer • ss • H.D. Callahan
15 • City of the Centaurs • Gene Bannerman • nv • unidentified
41 • Bury Me Deep • John R. Brooks • ss • H.D. Callahan
52 • The Mystery of the Missing Ships • James Francis Redshaw • ss • H.D. Callahan
80 • Compensation • C. V. Tench • ss • ASTOUNDING STORIES January 1930 • H.D. Callahan

Uncanny Tales [v2 #13, January 1942] (C15’, 96pp+, trimmed pulp, cover by Bick)
4 • Lure of the Lily • Robert W. Lowndes • nv • John Hilkert
28 • Doctor of Doodling • Frederick Traff • ss (r) • John Hilkert
36 • The Stolen God • Denis Plimmer • ss • John Hilkert
52 • The Growing Terror • Donald A. Wollheim • ss • Hannes Bok: reprint of July 1941 COSMIC STORIES illustration for "Colossus of Maia" by Woods
61 • A Million Years in the Future [Part 3 of 5] • Thomas P. Kelley • sl • WEIRD TALES January 1940 (+3) • H.D. Callahan

Uncanny Tales [v2 #14, February 1942] (C15’, 96pp+, tr. pulp, cover by Wilf. Long)
4 • The Way Back • Sam Moskowitz • nv • COMET January 1941 • unidentified
28 • The Magic Touch of Mozart • John Victor Peterson • ss • Louis Testrine
38 • The Man Who Remembered • Thos. S. Gardner • ss • Louis Testrine
72 • Magician of Space • James V. Taurasi • ss • SCIENTI-SNAPS, Summer 1938 • Louis Testrine

Uncanny Tales [v2 #15, March 1942] (C15’, 98pp, trimmed pulp, cover by K. P. Ainsworth)
4 • Dimension of Darkness • S. D. Gottesman • ss • COSMIC STORIES May 1941 • Hannes Bok: reprint from CS appearance
14 • The Lightning's Course • John Victor Peterson • nv • COMET January 1941 • unidentified
34 • 170 Miles a Minute • Ward Skeen • ss • AMAZING STORIES June 1935 • Louis Testrine
42 • The Strange Case of Julian Rayne • Denis Plimmer • nv • unidentified

Uncanny Tales [v2 #16, April 1942] (C15’, 96pp+, tr. pulp, cover by K. P. Ainsworth)
[first ToC to list artists: "illustrations by Bok and Testrine"]
4 • After 12,000 Years [Part 1 of 4] • Stanton A. Coblentz • sl • AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY Spring 1929 • Louis Testrine
62 • Thirteen O'Clock [*Peter Packer] • Cecil Corwin • nv • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES February 1941 • Hannes Bok: reprint from SSS original appearance
86 • Kazam Collects • S. D. Gottesman • ss • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES June 1941 • Hannes Bok: reprint from SSS original appearance; Brooks also missed this one

Uncanny Tales [v2 #17, May 1942] (C15’, 96pp+, trimmed pulp, cover by G. M. Rae)
[second ToC to list artists: "Bok, Testrine and Callahan"]
4 • Mr. Packer Goes to Hell [*Peter Packer] • Cecil Corwin • nv • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES June 1941 • Hannes Bok: reprint from SSS original appearance
21 • The Words of Guru • Kenneth Falconer • ss • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES June 1941 • Hannes Bok: reprint from SSS original appearance
38 • The Kiss of Bohaana • C. V. Tench • ss • H.D. Callahan
44 • Forgotten Tongue • Walter C. Davies • ss • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES June 1941 • unidentified, but reprinted from SSS original; it's not Bok, and both Callahan and Testrine sign their stuff and I think didn't work in the US mags, so I don't know who did the original SSS one here
50 • After 12,000 Years [Part 2 of 4] • Stanton A. Coblentz • sl • AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY Spring 1929 • Louis Testrine

Uncanny Tales [v2 #18, July 1942] (C15’, 96pp+, trimmed pulp, cover by G. M. Rae)
4 • Dead Center • S. D. Gottesman • nv • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES February 1941 • a rare story with two pieces of art: first unidentified; second H.D. Callahan
35 • No Place to Go [by C. M. Kornbluth] • Edward J. Bellin • ss • COSMIC STORIES May 1941 • unidentified, but not a reprint from COSMIC STORIES original appearance
40 • After 12,000 Years [Part 3 of 4] • Stanton A. Coblentz • sl • AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY Spring 1929 • Louis Testrine
82 • What Sorghum Says • Cecil Corwin • ss • COSMIC STORIES May 1941 • unidentified, but not a reprint from COSMIC STORIES orignal story

Uncanny Tales [v2 #19, September 1942] (C15’, 96pp+, trimmed pulp, cover by K. P. Ainsworth)
2 • When Half-Worlds Meet • Hugh Raymond • ss • COSMIC STORIES July 1941 • reprint from COSMIC STORIES original; I'm fairly sure it's Leo Morey
14 • The Unborn • Denis Plimmer • ss • unidentified
24 • Interference • Walter C. Davies • ss • COSMIC STORIES July 1941 • Hannes Bok: reprint from COSMIC STORIES original appearance of story
42 • After 12,000 Years [Part 4 of 4] • Stanton A. Coblentz • sl • AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY Spr '29 • Louis Testrine

Uncanny Tales [v2 #20, December 1942] (C25’, 128pp+, trimmed pulp, cover by K. P. Ainsworth)
[third and last ToC to list artists: "Bok, Morey, Hall and Dolgov"]
2 • The Goblins Will Get You • Hugh Raymond • ss • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES March 1942 • Hannes Bok: reprint from SSS original story
8 • Mecanica • Frank Edward Arnold • nv • COSMIC STORIES March 1941 • Leo Morey: reprint from COSMIC STORIES original appearance
36 • The Brain Conscription • Zan Savage • nv • Hannes Bok, but original appearance unidentifed by either Brooks or me
52 • Blind Flight • Millard Verne Gordon • ss • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES March 1942 • Hannes Bok: reprint from SSS original story
59 • Portrait of the Artist's Mother • Denis Plimmer • ss • Hannes Bok, but original appearance unidentified
74 • The Long Wall • Wilfred Owen Morley • ss • STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES March 1942 • Hall; reprint from SSS original story
84 • The God of Oo • Allen Warland • ss • Hannes Bok: reprint from March 42 SSS story "The Unfinished City" by Martin Pearson which per Brooks is same story; I didn't notice that when I checked the art but no doubt he's right
92 • Fire-Power • S. D. Gottesman • nv • COSMIC STORIES July 1941 • Boris Dolgov: reprint from COSMIC STORIES original appearance

Uncanny Tales [v2 #21, September-October 1943] (C25’, 128pp+, trimmed pulp, cover by K. P. Ainsworth)
4 • The Last Viking • Hugh Raymond • ss • COSMIC STORIES March 1941 • unidentified, but not a reprint from COSMIC STORIES original story
2 • Louisiana Night • Denis Plimmer • ss • Hannes Bok: reprint from May 1941 COSMIC STORIES, story "The Improbable" by Charles Tanner
32 • The Riddle of Tanye • W. P. Cockroft • nv • COSMIC STORIES May 1941 • Hannes Bok: reprint from COSMIC STORIES original appearance
49 • The Martians Are Coming [by C. M. Kornbluth] • Robert W. Lowndes • ss • COSMIC STORIES March 1941 • Hannes Bok, but neither Brooks nor I identified original source; it's not reprint from COSMIC STORIES
60 • The Plane Equator • Stanley Whiteside • nv • unidentified
79 • The Curse of Huitzil • Leonard B. Rosborough • nv • Hannes Bok, but neither Brooks nor I recognize original source
95 • The Golden Weapon • Zan Savage • ss • Mooney (no first name listed)


       —Denny Lien

 

Ned Brooks writes and adds the following notes:

"[1] For Uncanny Tales v2 #21, September-October 1943: the illustration for "The Curse of Huitzil" by Leonard B. Rosborough is said by Korshak (in the "Hannes Bok Showcase") to be a 1941 illo for "The Devotee of Evil" by Clark Ashton Smith (STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES February 1941).

"[2] For Uncanny Tales v2 #20, December 1942: the illustration for "The God of Oo" by Allen Warland, someone I trust must have told me this; I don't have the March 1942 STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES. The story is an obvious Dunsany imitation. But Allen Warland and Martin Pearson are both pseudonyms used by Donald Wollheim.

"I can't identify any of the uncredited art either; between the lack of talent and the bad repro all I can see is rubbish."


MagazineArt.org would like to thank Dennis Lien, who provided these magazines for our pages, along with much scholarly comment and insight into its publishing history.

To find copies of these pulps for your own collection, a good place to start is with eBay sellers.


Update history:

  • 30 June 2008: John Hilkert has been identified as the artist for several stories in the 1941-09, 1941-10, and 1942-01 issues. Thanks to William Lampkin, and to John Hilkert himself, for this information, which comes from a memoir by Hilkert for the 2008 PulpCon issue of "The Pulpster". Hilkert signed himself "Kerthil" for the 1942-01 issue, because he was under contract to another publisher.
  • 14 September 2006: All of the pictorial covers have been retouched, restored, and cleaned up better than original newsstand image quality, thanks to the volunteer work of Hartmuth Freihoff.
  • 20 March 2006: Added detailed analysis of interior art, written by Denny Lien, with additional comments by Ned Brooks.
  • 16 November 2004: Updated formats
  • 11 July 2004: Created this section. First images uploaded.