Sunday 7 May 2023


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Today's cover-art is from Volume One, Number 1 of Fantastic magazine (Summer 1952). The spectacular, outrageously startling front cover is the work of Barry Phillips and L. R. Summers and is suffused with a wondrous eye-catching luridness.

The pages within contained stories by Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov (neither requiring introduction here) alongside other writers including Walter M. Miller, Jr., later author of A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959) and – as is boldly announced on the cover – 'A Classic Novel by Raymond Chandler'. This novel was the previously serialised Professor Bingo's Snuff and is accompanied by illustrations from cover co-artist, L. R. Summers.

The back cover features (courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art) 'Danger on the Stairs', a decidedly disturbing image by the French surrealist painter Pierre Roy (1880–1950) about whom, I think, I may shortly be blogging further...


Fantastic, Volume One, Number 1. 

Contents: Walter M. Miller, Jr., ('Six And Ten Are Johnny'); Sam Martinez ('For Heaven's Sake'); Paul W. Fairman ('Someday They'll Give Us Guns'); H. B. Hickey ('Full Circle'); Louise Lee Outlaw ('The Runaway'); Kris Neville ('The Opal Necklace'); Ray Bradbury ('The Smile'); H. L. Gold ('And Three To Get Ready'); Isaac Asimov ('What If') and Raymond Chandler's Professor Bingo's Snuff, illustrated by L. R. Summers and introduced with the following announcement: 

We don't need to tell you who Raymond Chandler is, or what he has written. The man who, back in the Thirties, almost single-handedly lifted detective fiction out of the post-Van Dine doldrums, has a secure and lofty place in American literature. More than anyone he brought the hard boiled 'private eyes' story to popularity – and kept it there despite the swarm of imitators who have done their worst to wreck the genre. To our knowledge, Professor Bingo's Snuff is Mr. Chandler's second – and longest – fantasy. It will not at all surprise you that his talent brings added luster to the field.

The story had been earlier published as a three-installments serialisation in Park East, June-July 1951, and in: Go, June-July 1951. 

The story's protagonist, Joe Pettigrew, grows tired of his wife Gladys cheating on him with their lodger Porter Green. With the help of some magical snuff which he buys from Professor Bingo he becomes invisible. Next Pettigrew creates the perfect 'locked-room murder'. However, the police have serious doubts and in the end shoot Pettigrew when he tries to escape. 


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