Unusual Stories

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Unusual Stories was an early attempt at a small press fantasy fiction magazine.

The digest-sized magazine was published and edited by William L. Crawford of Everett, Pennsylvania, as a companion magazine to Crawford's Marvel Tales (1934-1935).

An "advance" issue and two subsequent regular issues of Unusual Stories were published during 1934-1935.

SF and fantasy authors whose work appeared in the three issues included Forrest J Ackerman, R. H. Barlow, P. Schuyler Miller, Robert Bloch, and Robert W. Lowndes.

It was reviewed in William Crawford and D. R. Welch's Science Fiction Bibliography, published in 1935:

In the fall of 1933 many fans received a circular announcing a new science fiction magazine—Unusual Stories. The first issue, this circular stated, would be dated December 1933. The first page of “The Titan” by P. Schuyler Miller was given as a sample. In addition, there were glowing accounts of other stories awaiting publication, stories by George Allen England, Ralph Milne Farley, Stanton A. Coblenz, and Richard Tooker. Then, for several months there was silence.

Finally subscribers received the first sixteen page signature of “When the Waker Sleeps” by Cyril G. Wates, bound into a cover designated Unusual Stories, “Advance Issue,” March 1934, Vol 1, No 1. A form letter was enclosed explaining the delay in finishing the magazine. It seemed that the printer had proved incompetent and had given up the work after getting out the first sixteen pages. A few months later subscribers were mailed, as a substitute, the first issue of Marvel Tales, and another form letter stating that it would be issued in place of the original magazine. In the meantime, W. L. Crawford attempted to finish Unusual Stories himself. He succeeded in completing six more pages, finishing the Wates story and the first few pages of Richard Rooker's “Tharda, Queen of Vampires.” No subscriber received these last pages. They only heard that the project had been abandoned, although the publishers still have hopes of using the title.

The twenty-two page fragment is printed on heavy book paper, 6 x 9, white cover stock. “When the Waker Sleeps” has one illustration, and “Tharda” is illustrated by the cut later used on the cover of the third issue of Marvel Tales.

In one respect, it is almost a blessing that the magazine failed: “When the Waker Sleeps” is probably the "worst concoction, ever feisted on along suffering public. In contrast, Richard Tooker’s story stands out all the more as a masterpiece, The all too brief fragment of the first pages of “Tharda” can only give one a hint of the beauty of that delicately written fantasy worthy of A. Merritt at his best.

Publication 19341935
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