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Friday, February 25, 2011















WHY IS THIS MAGAZINE SELLING FOR $1,500?


STARTLING MYSTERY STORIES #6
Pulp magazines, by virtue of their age and the celebrated authors and illustrators often found within their pages, may sometimes fetch high prices in the collector's market. But why would this rather obscure title from 1967 be selling for a shockingly exhorbitant amount? As the famed pulp detective, Jules de Grandin would say, "Shall we investigate, mon ami . . . "

STARTLING MYSTERY STORIES, along with its companion title, MAGAZINE OF HORROR, were two "digest-sized" pulps that were sold on the newsstands from 1963 to 1971. Published by Health Knowledge, Inc., the magazines were edited by Robert Augustine Ward "Doc" Lowndes (September 4, 1916 - July 14, 1998). Lowndes was an author of science fiction and horror stories himself, who had corresponded briefly with H.P. Lovecraft. He was also quite active in the early science fiction fan circles of the day.

Like it's sister publication, STARTLING MYSTERY STORIES used both new material and reprints. The Fall, 1967 (No. 6) contained these stories:

"My Lady of the Tunnel" – Arthur J. Burks (reprinted from Astounding, November 1933)

"The Glass Floor" – Stephen King

"Death from Within" – Sterling S. Cramer (reprinted from Wonder Stories, June 1935)

"A Vision" (verse) – Robert E. Howard (reprinted from Weird Tales?)

"Aim for Perfection" – Beverly Haaf

"The Dark Castle" – Marion Brandon (reprinted from Strange Tales, September 1931)

"Dona Diabla" – Anna Hunger

"The Druid’s Shadow" – Seabury Quinn (reprinted from Weird Tales, October 1930)


It certainly becomes clear after seeing one named "Stephen King" listed among the authors, of the reason behind the high collector's price in today's market. But why so high as $15oo? While not justifiable to some, the reason is simple -- this is the magazine that contains Stephen King's first professional sale.
 
It is also clear that King's talent was very evident early on, as Lowndes' story introduction attests:
Stephen King has been sending us stories for some time, and we returned one of them most reluctantly, since it would be far too long before we could use it, due to its length. But patience may yet bring him his due reward on that tale; meanwhile, here is a chiller whose length allowed us to get it into print much sooner.”

WEIRD TALES October 1937
 King was reportedly paid $35 for his hard work. Not an unfair amount in those days, especially for an untested writer of around 20 years old. King had a story previously published in COMICS REVIEW entitled "I Was A Teenage Grave-Robber"(!) but was not paid for it.

Whether or not one wishes to pay the money for STARTLING MYSTERY STORIES No. 6, we nevertheless, to some degree at least, have Robert A. W. Loundes to thank for introducing us to the man who would become the most famous horror writer of modern times.

STARTLING MYSTERY STORIES
No. 6 (Fall, 1967)
Health Knowledge, Inc.
130 pages, 50 cents
Cover artist: Virgil Finlay (reprinted from an illustration for a 1937 WEIRD TALES story, "The Homicidal Diary")

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