Saturday, December 11, 2010

Richard Matheson - The Original Stories: The Mystery, Horror and Western Pulps

by John Scoleri

In prior installments of this ongoing series, I looked at Richard Matheson's short fiction appearances in Playboy, the Sci-Fi Pulps, the Mystery Digests, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Gauntlet Chapbooks, the first, second, third and fourth groups of Science Fiction Digests, The Twilight Zone and other contemporary magazines and the slicks. With today's installment, we look at Matheson's remaining contributions to the pulps. 

The Original Stories - Part 12: The Mystery, Horror and Western Pulps

Matheson burst onto the scene writing for numerous sci-fi digests. While the era of the pulps was coming to a close, he managed to place stories in a number of pulps before they all vanished or changed format.


"Legion of Plotters"
Detective Story
July 1953

Subsequent appearances: Collected Stories HC, Shock!, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories, Collected Stories TP v1

Editorial Comment: Forthcoming




"Dying Room Only"
Fifteen Detective Stories
October 1953, Vol. 19 No. 4

Subsequent appearances: Collected Stories HC, Shock Waves, Button, Button, Collected Stories TP v1

Editorial Comment: It was a strange, little room, with a one-way door. Behind it, Bob lost not only his life and his future—but also his yesterdays!



Notes: "Dying Room Only" was later adapted by Matheson for an ABC movie of the week. It was recently issued through the Warner Archive on DVD-R.

"Wet Straw"
Weird Tales
January 1953, Vol. 44 No. 8

Subsequent appearances: Collected Stories HC, Shock Waves, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories, Collected Stories TP v2

Editorial Comment: "...if I die, you'll wait and I'll find a way to come to you."

Story Comment: "...in bed, the window closed, he distinctly felt his hair ruffled by a breeze."

Illustration by Vincent Napoli
Notes: This issue also includes the story, "Sexton, Sexton, In the Wall" by August Derleth.


"Slaughter House"
Weird Tales
July 1953, Vol. 45 No. 3

Subsequent appearances: Collected Stories HC, Shock III, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories, Collected Stories TP v2

Editorial Comment: There had been rumors of ghosts about the old place, but neither of the brothers could credit that sort of thing.

Story Comment: "...permeated by a cruel and malignant vitality which tried to drink the life force from all who entered it."

Illustration by Joseph Eberle
Notes: According to Matthew Bradley in Richard Matheson On Screen, William F. Nolan adapted "Slaughter House" into an unproduced teleplay. This issue also includes the story, "The House in the Valley" by August Derleth and "On the Elevator" by Joseph Payne Brennan.


"They Don't Make Em Tougher"
Dime Western
May 1951, Vol. 60 No. 3

Subsequent appearances (as Gunsight): By the Gun

Editorial Comment: Only a trusted few knew Sherrif Cooley's hidden weakness... It would take the frontier's meanest killer to ferret out his deadly secret.

Story Comment: Few people knew that John Cooley enforced the law with near-blind eyes, until one man finally broke the sherriff's secret—the meanest killer this side of Hell!


Illustration uncredited


"The Hunt"
West
March 1952, Vol. 76 No. 3

Subsequent appearances: Matheson Uncollected V2

Editorial Comment:A sheriff follows his code to its payoff.

Story Comment: A sheriff follows his code to its cruel desert payoff!

Illustration Uncredited
Notes: West was another "Thrilling Publication," who you may recall from our foray into the science fiction pulps as the home for all of Matheson's related appearances.


"Too Proud To Lose"
Fifteen Western Tales
February 1955

Subsequent appearances: By the Gun

Story Comment: The time was one o'clock. The place: the field behind the graveyard. Sheriff Torrin was afraid of this duel—because Hell, itself, would reject the losing gunman.

Notes: A particularly challenging Western pulp to find, as Fifteen Western Tales transitioned a few months earlier from a standard pulp size to a bed-sheet (magazine sized) format. Special thanks to my pal and fellow Matheson scholar Paul Stuve (co-editor of The Richard Matheson Companion) for graciously hooking me up with this long sought-after appearance.





Illustration Uncredited


"Son of a Gunman"
Western Stories
December 1955, Vol. 1 No. 3

Subsequent appearances (as "Boy in the Rocks"): By the Gun

Editorial Comment: The cowed ranchers wanted peace at any price—and if they didn't welcome the ragtag kid who was rich in the heritage of his father's fighting spirit.

Illustrations uncredited
Back Cover Comment: Weary of a range war, the little ranchers wanted peace at any price. And they had no welcome for the rag-tag youngster who was rich in the heritage of his father's fighting spririt.


Notes: Before being collected (as "Boy in the Rocks"), "Son of a Gunman" was reprinted in Men True Adventure as "Get Off the Circle 7." Peter would surely be remiss if I didn't mention this issue also contains an Elmore Leonard story ("Jugged"). I can't recall if he told me how much that made this issue worth before or after I gave him my duplicate copy for his collection. :)



There's more to come! Stay tuned for future installments of Richard Matheson - The Original Stories.

2 comments:

Peter Enfantino said...

It's funny you mention WESTERN Magazine, Johnny Boy, because as soon as I get my mitts on that elusive September 1955 (featuring, you guessed it, a story by Elmore Leonard) issue, I'll be subjecting these fine people to a Critical Look at Western Magazine. Can't wait!

Walker Martin said...

Thanks for showing the interior illustrations John. I especially am impressed by the one for the WEIRD TALES story, "Slaughter House". Very detailed and showing the faces of six different characters, yet I bet the artist got $10.00.