[PW] Hitchcockia (the anthologies and magazines)
foxbrick at yahoo.com
Fri Jan 25 10:49:47 PST 2019
Elgin Bleecker said...
Todd – Thanks for the post. I’ve got several old worn paperbacks of short stories under Alfred Hitchcock covers. They used to show up frequently in used book shops. I grabbed them for the authors’ featured, and usually paid for pennies for each. A bargain and a lot of fun.
January 25, 2019 at 12:26 PM
Todd Mason said...
Well, this is where I bring out the warning...there are at least four different kinds of "Hitchcock" anthology...
1. The adult anthologies that Don Ward (at Dell in the '40s) and presumably others (at Simon & Schuster and elsewhere) ghosted for Hitchcock before his tv series started. These are usually very good.
2. The adult anthologies that Robert Arthur (and in one instance Patricia Hitchcock/O'Connell) put together for Random House after the tv series began, and Bennett Cerf and/or someone saw a marketing opportunity. Happily, Pat Hitchcock wasn't too bad at it and Robert Arthur was great...until his rather early death in 1969, and Harold Masur was also great at it...till Hitchcock died. Peter Haining was also tapped to do some anthologies for UK publishers around the turn of the '70s, though one of those was apparently only published in the US, by Dell...Dell *really* liked being in the Hitchcock business, and they did the kind of two volume paperbacks of the Random House adult hardcovers discussed above.
This comment is so long it has to be broken into two, a la a Dell paperback reprint.
January 25, 2019 at 1:16 PM
Todd Mason said...
3. Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine came on the scene in 1956, at about the same time as the RH hardcovers, also hoping for some tie-in benefit, and given it's still publishing, you could say they did it right. Dell started commissioning best-of-AHMM anthologies in the mid '60s, edited at last report by someone at SMLA, and the publishers packaged them along with their RH reprints. Sometimes throwing around titles in very confusing ways...the best-of the magazine volumes are good, but certainly less diverse than the Arthur/Masur Random House anthologies. But even some good, criminous horror pops up from the likes of C. B. Gilford at times. When the original publishers, H.S.D. Publications, sold AHMM to Davis Publications in 1975, Davis took control of the magazine reprint anthologies, even publishing a magazine called Alfred Hitchcock's Anthology in the same manner as they had been publishing Ellery Queen's Anthology as a companion to EQMM...a magazine that B. G. Davis had bought upon leaving Ziff-Davis to anchor his new company, almost two decades before. And the hardcover versions of the Alfred Hitchcock's Anthology issues were published, presumably mostly for collectors and libraries, by the Dial Press...which is to say, Dell.
4. Random House also decided to market "Hitchcock" anthologies to younger readers, and engaged kidlit specialist Muriel Fuller to do a first anthology, Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful, in 1961...good, but not quite getting too deep into the strange and engagingly scary, featuring instead long excerpts from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the like. Robert Arthur was given the job for the second such volume, AH's Ghostly Gallery, and they were off and running. The YA volumes were more thematic and slightly less diverse than the adult volumes, with such titles as AH's Sinister Spies and AH's Daring Detectives, but they were still very well edited, and featured some very handsome design and illustration (something that was far less a concern with the adult books). Arthur also began the AH and the Three Investigators series of young readers' mystery stories, writing the initial books and then having others do the work for hire...along with writing a book of solve-them-yourself mysteries for kids to market along with those. The Three Investigators has survived both Arthur and Hitchcock, and after AH's death, a new character was introduced to be the sort of mentor, if at times less distant, that AH had supposedly been in the early books...some of which, at least, were reissued with the new character written in. Viking and others have also done, for some reason usually abridged, paperbacks of the RH "Hitchcock" anthologies, including the the two Henry Veit edited after Arthur's death.
But it's hard to go too wrong with any of these, including the various forms of instant remainder the Hitchcock-branded anthologies have become...those usually drawn from the magazine, including Harold Masur's last "Hitchcock" antho, The Best of Mystery. One of Charles Ardai's first jobs, in co-op internship, was helping put together the Davis Publications...and eventually Dell Magazines (surprise!) anthologies drawn primarily from AHMM and EQMM.
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