Weird Tales: The trouble with demons

Anyway, the cover isn’t even why I’m writing about this particular issue anyway.

This odd cover from a 1946 issue of Weird Tales features a assortment of anthropomorphic animals, probably representative of animals possessed by evil or even just the twisted visages of some hell-bound demons.

Weird Tales was known for its unsettling covers, and this is no exception. I’m half inclined to believe that the artist of this cover is actually borrowing these likenesses from medieval paintings of demons and devils. In fact, I bet if I poke through some of my “supernatural sourcebooks” and see if I find these images’ original sources.

Instead, I wanted to talk about “Enoch” by Robert Bloch, a story that was found inside.

The story, in typical “Weird Tales” fashion, provides an unsettling look at a man possessed by a demon.

Here are the first few paragraphs of the story. (Text in Red)

It always starts the same way.
First, there’s the feeling.
Have you ever felt the tread of little feet walking across the top of your skull? Footsteps on your skull, back and forth, back and forth?
It starts like that.
You can’t ever see who does the walking. After all, it’s on top of your head. If you’re clever, you wait for a chance and suddenly brush a hand through your hair. But you can’t catch the walker that way. He knows.
Even if you clamp both hands to your head, he manages to wriggle through, somehow. Or maybe he jumps.
Terribly swift, he is. And you can’t ignore him. If you don’t pay any attention to his footsteps, he tries the next step. He wriggles down the back of your neck and whispers in your ear.
You can feel his body, so tiny and cold, pressed tightly against the base of your brain. There is something numbing in his claws because they don’t hurt — although later you’ll find little scratches on your neck that bleed and bleed. But at the time, all you know is that something tiny and cold is pressing there. Pressing and whispering.
That’s when you try to fight him. You try not to hear what he says. Because when you listen, you’re lost. You have to obey him, then.
Oh, he’s wicked and wise.
He knows how to frighten and threaten, if you dare to resist.
But I seldom try, anymore. It’s better for me if I listen, and then obey.
As long as I’m willing to listen, things don’t seem too bad. Because he can be soothing and persuasive, too. Tempting. The things he has promised me in that little silken whisper!
He keeps his promises too.
Folks think I’m poor because I never have any money and live in that old shack by the edge of the swamp. But he has given me riches.
After I do what he wants, he takes me away — out of myself — for days. There are other places besides this world, you know; place where I am king.

Creepy, huh? That’s “Weird Tales” for you.

This edition of the magazine also included a short story by Fritz Lieber and a poem by H.P. Lovecraft, among other features.


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