Elder Signs is a website dedicated to the Cthulhu Mythos in general and the Book Collector in specific. The Book Collector is a creation of G. W. Thomas, a dark detective who seeks out the arcane books of the Mythos for his employer, the mysterious Telford.

Listen to the Book Collector on Pseudopod:

"Goon Job"

"Merlin's Bane"

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Read G. W. Thomas' Book Column

"Writing the Mythos"

at Innsmouth Free Press



Weird Tales Author

C. Hall Thompson: Lost Opportunities

The Ghostbreaker Mythos

Why Write Horror?

The First Deep Ones

The Avon Fantasy Reader Covers

Dark Bards: Mythos Poetry

Ithaqua: Walker on the Winds

Frank Belknap Long's The Castle of Otranto

Le Fanu and the Critics: Seeing Through Other Eyes

H. Warner Munn's "City of the Spiders"

Michael May's Adventureblog

"The Door to Infinity"

"The Graveyard Rats"

"The Yellow Nineties"

"Spider Mansion"

"Why I Watch Under the Dome"

"The Eyes of the Panther"

"Adventures Into the Unknown"

"The Fangs of Tsan-Lo: Man's Best Monster"

"Ghosts at Christmas: Dickens to Davies"

"Anne of Green Horrors"

"The Greater Gatsby"

"Weird Tales Radio"


Maxfield Parrish and Boris Dolgov (Photo by Hannes Bok)

Being an artist for Weird Tales was not a fast track to fame and fortune. It is only in retrospect that names like Hugh Rankin, A. R. Tilburne, Hannes Bok, Lee Brown Coye and Vincent Napoli take on a luster of grandeur. At the time, the gig of producing illos for WT was low-paying and largely obscure. Some, like Lee Brown Coye, were able to establish their reputations in the art world after a long apprenticeship in the Pulps. Most are the select favorites of fans. Boris Dolgov was one of these truly brilliant illustrators who time has not been as kind to as should be.

Clark Ashton Smith's "Who Are the Living?"

Boris Dolgov produce the bulk of his work for Weird Tales between 1941 and 1954. His style is idiosyncratic but delightful, with thin faerie characters, often lighter than air, but never cloyingly delicate like a Victorian visitor to Conan Doyle's garden. They possess sharp eyes that promises behind the otherworldly form lies something darker. It is this quality that allows Dolgov to illustrate any kind of story for WT. He was good with Manly Wade Wellman creepers or Edmond Hamilton Fantasy or even robots and space ships.

Dolgov dressing for HPL poem

Dolgov did five covers for Weird Tales, each colorful and distinctive. This may be, that like Hannes Bok, one of his inspirations was Maxfield Parrish. Bok took a picture of Dolgov and Parrish together, so the idol had real contact with his acolytes. It is in the covers you see this heritage, but in the drawings Dolgov looks more like Harry Clarke, with weirdly elongated human figures or more cartoony like the work of Sidney Sime. And it is in the black and white work that Dolgov was truly unbeatable. He could dress up a boring little piece of verse with a few wispy weeds and make the filler something to notice.

Illustration for the story that pushed Bloch into the forefront of horror writing.

Sadly there is little personal information on Dolgov. Unlike Hannes Bok, Dolgov never had a Lin Carter to chronicle some glimpse of those days back in the 1940s and 50s, when great stories were illustrated by great pictures. We will never know Dolgov's thoughts on illustrating classics like Robert Bloch's "Your Truly, Jack the Ripper" or Clark Ashton Smith, "Who Are the Living?" His work has to speak for itself. Fortunately, it speaks well and clearly of things unimaginable.

© G. W. Thomas unless Fair Use is intended.