Monday, 16 May 2011

Monday Eye Candy: Weird Tales – May 1934 by Margaret Brundage

Weird Tales May 1934 -  Robert E. Howard's Queen of the Black Coast

As promised, here is a pulp cover from the golden age. What could be more perfect,  a Margaret Brundage cover, featuring one of her lithe and virtually naked ladies, who in this case happens to be Belit, Conan’s pirate queen. This is a very different Belit to that depicted in more modern paintings and comics, and to be honest this is probably less like Robert E. Howard’s character than the more recent versions. After all, Belit was in many ways as strong and courageous a character as Conan himself, so to see her here as she cowers back into Conan’s arms, away from the winged demon could be seen as atypical.

However this is almost certainly the first time that Belit was ever realised into the visual form, so it deserves some respect for that alone. Also it must be remembered that when the painting was originally done it was certainly more normal for women to be portayed as the “weaker sex” relying on their heroic male champions to rescue them from peril. Perhaps it was simply a step to far to portray Belit standing alongside Conan as they faced the beast…

Margaret Brundage was renowned for her pulp cover illustrations and they certainly are the most striking and memorable cover to have appeared on Weird Tales, which was at it’s height of popularity at the time of this issue in 1934.

Here are a couple more of her Weird Tales covers.

Weird Tales June 1933 - Robert E. Howard's Black ColossusWeird Tales October 1937 - Tiger Cat

Weird Tales September 1934 - Robert E. Howard's The People of the Black CircleWeird Tales October 1934 - The Black God's Kiss by C.L. Moore

Weird Tales December 1934 - Robert E. Howard's A Witch Shall Be BornWeird Tales February 1935 The Web of the Living Death by Seabury Quinn

Weird Tales November 1935 - Robert E. Howard's Shadows in ZamboulaWeird Tales June 1937 THe Carnal God by John R. Speer and Carlisle Schnitzer

Monday Eye Candy is Pulp themed, offering beautiful artwork to inspire and amuse!

Wednesday Eye Candy is sculptural, offering some of my favourite figure sculpts and models!

Friday Eye Candy features painting and visual images that capture the imagination and offer inspiration!


Taranaich said...

This is actually a depiction of the climactic scene of "Queen of the Black Coast." Conan, weakened from battling a dozen were-hyenas, is attacked by the Winged One (who's more ape-like than the mannish thing in the cover), and damn near killed by the beast. Then:

The headlong rush of the winged one had not wavered. It towered over the prostrate Cimmerian like a black shadow, arms thrown wide – a glimmer of white flashed between it and its victim.

In one mad instant she was there – a tense white shape, vibrant with love fierce as a she-panther’s. The dazed Cimmerian saw between him and the onrushing death, her lithe figure, shimmering like ivory beneath the moon; he saw the blaze of her dark eyes, the thick cluster of her burnished hair; her bosom heaved, her red lips were parted, she cried out sharp and ringing as the ring of steel as she thrust at the winged monster’s breast.

“Bêlit!” screamed Conan. She flashed a quick glance toward him, and in her dark eyes he saw her love flaming, a naked elemental thing of raw fire and molten lava.

Which is certainly a bit different from what we see here.

Brundage often depicted women in far more submissive roles. She portrays the awesome Valeria of "Red Nails" in the single vulnerable scene she has, where she's incapacitated by sorcery and tied up for a sacrifice. Similarly, she portrays C.L. Moore's kickass warrior-queen Jirel of Joiry in "Black God's Kiss" as something of a flapper. As you surmise, I believe this as much a result of 1930s mores as it is personal preference.

Ironmammoth said...


Thanks for reminding me that it has been too long since I read Queen of the Black Coast.

At least I got the gist of it right...

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