It was a different flavor of men's magazine.
Zest magazine, with its bold graphics and cover portraits, looks like a classic mid-century tabloid, but its banner tells you it's really a men's magazine. It lives up to its billing in this issue from January 1956—issue number one, actually—with short stories from Michael Avallone and H.P. Lovecraft, real life adventure tales, scare stories (“Is Your Daughter a Sex-Film Star?), glamour photography, and humor.
The Lovecraft tale, “Rats in the Walls,” is called “the greatest horror story ever written.” We wouldn't go that far, but it's freaktacular, like everything Lovecraft wrote. It had originally been published in Weird Tales in 1924, and we imagine that its bizarro mutant/cannibalism themes were pretty shocking back then. The Avallone story, “The Glass Eye,” is novella length. He had already published three novels and was building a reputation as a reliable author of thrillers, which makes his inclusion a nice coup for a new magazine.
The photography in Zest is just as impressive as the fiction. Readers get to see rare shots of major celebs such as Sophia Loren, Sabrina, and Delores del Rio. All in all Zest was a high budget effort, but it lasted only two issues. Why did it fold? No idea on that. Competition in the market was plenty stiff at the time. On the other hand, maybe two issues are all that were planned. We're thrilled to show you one of them, comprising thirty-plus scans below for your Thursday enjoyment.
Gramercy Press brings together some of the earliest and best vampire stories.
As regular readers of this site know, whenever our friends over at National Road Books get their hands on a particularly pulpish title, they send us scans. Yesterday, they e-mailed over a classic—the 1982 collection Weird Vampire Tales from Gramercy Press. Inside are shorts from some of the writers who helped build the foundation horror literature stands upon today. We’re talking August Derleth, Clark Ashton Smith, Greye La Spina, Frank Belknap Long, Seabury Quinn, and many others. The collection also contains Robert E. Howard’s famous “The Horror from the Mound,” a tale set in the old west about a cowboy’s growing suspicions that a nearby Indian burial mound is something entirely different. In all Gramercy packs thirty stories into this hardback, all of them culled from 1930s pulp magazines, and they even top it all off with an illustration by veteran Weird Tales illustrator Virgil Finlay. Highly recommended.