The Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy
Edited by Mark Finn, Chris Gruber & Jeffrey Shanks
It is always a pleasure being surprised by something straight out of the blue. Perhaps the most extinct publication form today is the genre themed magazine. Over the years, they have gradually died out; due in most part to economic reasons. Books are simply easier and cheaper to print while a magazine, regardless of its scheduling, simply demands a great deal more work. Which is why the appearance of a full blown, illustrated periodical devoted to weird fiction is nothing short of miraculous these days.
So before even getting into the contents and quality of this title, we have to tip our pulp fedora to the Herculean efforts of editors Finn, Gruber and Shanks. They have achieved something truly special and much needed in the world of literature today. “Skelos 1” is brimming with creepy, frightening tales of various lengths, all guaranteed to produce nightmares in unsuspecting readers. While peppered amongst all this excellent fiction are several critical essays examining such topics as Robert E. Howard’s world building to the comparison of H.P. Lovecraft with Welsh writer Arthur Machen.
These scholarly pieces may not be for the average pulp readers, but for those devoted to the genres, they provide intriguing insights to their respective subjects. And if that wasn’t enough, the magazine also features fantasy poetry, something unseen since the early days of the pulps. Add to this evocative artwork and deft design work and the reader comes away holding on to a true pulp treasure. In fact, after reading issue # 1 from cover to cover, this reviewer can easily imagine how long ago fans of Weird Tales must have felt when it first appeared on the scene. Like that august title, “Skelos” offers up unlimited potential and could prove to be welcome platform in discovering new creators with a genuine talent for the macabre. “The Yellow Death” by David Hardy was our personal favorite in this collection. Still, in the end, the title’s greatest challenge will be building a supportive, loyal audience.
For now, they’ve taken a huge, successful first step. Here’s hoping issue # 2 is not too far on the horizon.