The American Weekly

The American Weekly was published by the Hearst Corporation from November 1, 1896, until 1966. A Sunday newspaper supplement which published many sensationalist stories was initially called The American Magazine but the name was soon changed to The American Weekly.

Virgil Finlay worked for A. Merritt at The American Weekly between the years 1937 and 1943, and later in the period 1946 - 1951.

In the book Virgil Finlay (1971), Gerry de la Ree together with Virgil Finlay estimate that he did more than 250 drawings in the period 1937 - June 1943, 75 drawings in the period 1946 - 1951, and from March 1939 to June 1943 about 700 small drawings for the Food and Home-making pages. This totals to more than 1025 interior drawings.

Virgil Finlay did only one front cover for The American Weekly, i.e. the cover of the April 3, 1938 issue, illustrating The Ark of Fire by John Hawkins.

There is one drawing that, according to Sam Moskowitz, was the reason that Virgil Finlay was fired. The drawing for the article "Probing the Mysteries of the Sargasso Sea - Graveyard of Ships" was deemed too horrifying. In 2014 a preliminary sketch was offered for sale by Virgil Finlay's daughter. She mentiones that the prelim was for a cover illustration. If so, the sombre illustration would have been be a significant change with respect the normally colorful cover pictures.

In the end a drawing by Virgil Finlay for the "Sargasso Sea - Graveyard of Ships" was published on the centerfold of the March 5, 1939 issue of The American Weekly.

Cover March 5, 1939 issue

Centerfold March 5, 1939 issue

At least one preliminary sketch exists for the published illustration. As can be seen below, much of the final composition is already present in the sketch, although many details are altered.

Preliminary Sketch

Published illustration

It can be argued that the preliminary sketch conveys a much darker atmosphere than the published illustration.