Sunday, October 10, 2010

Richard Matheson - The Original Stories: The Mystery Digests

In the first two parts of this ongoing series, I looked at Richard Matheson's short fiction appearances in Playboy and the Sci-Fi Pulps. For this installment, I turn my attention to his work that appeared in mystery digests.

My goal is to include basic bibliographic information, cover shots and interior illustrations where possible, and a listing of the subsequent Matheson collections in which the stories appeared. I plan to interject other bits of trivia along the way, and if there's anything in particular you'd like to see, please let me know by posting a comment. -John Scoleri

The Original Stories - Part 3: The Mystery Digests

While not as prevalent as his dozens of appearances in sci-fi digests (which will be covered across several future installments) Matheson sold a number of short stories to the leading mystery markets of the 50s, including Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

"The Children of Noah"
Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine
March 1957, Vol. 2 No. 3

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

Editorial description: While your corpulent correspondent is among the first to admit he would be willing to shed a few pounds, he is shudderingly averse to losing them as did Mr. Ketchum in the sleeping town of Zachry, pop. 67!

Illustration by Richards
Notes: In his interview with Stanley Wiater for Collected Stories TP v2, Matheson states that he believes he adapted the story for Dan Curtis, although it was never produced. This issue of AHMM was the last before a format change to magazine, or bedsheet, size, and not only included a story by Matheson's close friend Robert Bloch, it also contained a story by an even closer acquaintance, Logan Swanson.

"I'll Make it Look Good" as by Logan Swanson
Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine
March 1957, Vol. 2 No. 3

Subsequent appearances (under Matheson's original title "A Visit to Santa Claus"): Collected Stories HC, Shock Waves, Collected Stories TP v2

Editorial description: Do you realize that, give or take a few, we have but 275 shopping days to Christmas? That happy event virtually upon us, permit me to introduce a father taking his son to see "Santa Claus"—without, I might add, the slightest good will toward men, or his spouse.
Illustration by Tom O'Sullivan (?)
Notes: Those familiar with Matheson's pseudonym Logan Swanson are aware that it normally came into play in the event the author was not happy with the rewriting (The Last Man on Earth) or editorial tinkering (the original Playboy Press paperback release of Earthbound) with his work. In this case, it was done to mask the fact that there were two stories by the same author in the magazine.

"The Faces"
Ed McBain's Mystery Book
No. 1, 1960

Subsequent appearances (as "Day of Reckoning): Collected Stories HC, Shock II (as "Graveyard Shift"), Shock Waves, Collected Stories TP v3

Editorial Comment: Richard Matheson ("The Faces"), foremost exponent of the modern tale of terror, leads off the Graveyard Shift department.

Notes: This is speculation on my part, but I believe Dell incorrectly retitled the story "Graveyard Shift" when it was reprinted in Shock II based on the department title in the magazine.

Illustration Uncredited
I assume Matheson had indicated that "The Faces" was not his title, as it is referenced as the original title in the copyright information in that volume. But clearly "Graveyard Shift" was not his title, either. Why else would the story reappear two volumes later, in Shock Waves (with no reference to either prior title in the copyright notice), under the only title it has been reprinted under since? This premiere issue of Ed McBain's Mystery Book also contains an Ed McBain 87th Precinct novel and a Shell Scott story by Richard Prather.

"What Was In The Box?"
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
April 1959, Vol. 33 No. 4

Subsequent appearances (as "The Big Surprise"): Collected Stories HC, Shock II, Collected Stories TP v3

Editorial Comment:

Notes: This is a unique entry into Matheson's body of work. Originally created as a Reader's Contest story, in which readers were invited to send in their suggested conclusion to the short story for a chance of winning $25. Unfortunately, it appears that the readers of EQMM were never told who won the contest, nor was the winning entry published in any of the 1959 issues (special thanks to our resident EQMM expert Peter Enfantino, who went ahead and checked every issue between the April '59 contest and Matheson's second appearance in the magazine ten years later). The story, with Matheson's own ending, has since been collected as "The Big Surprise." He later adapted it for Rod Serling's Night Gallery.

"Needle in the Heart"
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
October 1969, Vol. 53 No. 8

Subsequent appearances (as "Therese"): Collected Stories HC, Shock Waves, Collected Stories TP v3

Editorial Comment: Do you believe in voodoo? No, we suppose you don't. But "there are more things in heaven and earth." dear reader, "than are dreamt of in your philosophy"...

Notes: Once again the editors replaced the title to this short-short story which has only been reprinted under Matheson's title of "Therese." William F. Nolan adapted the tale as one of the often forgotten segments of Dan Curtis' Trilogy of Terror.

"Till Death Do Us Part"
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
September 1970, Vol. 56 No. 3

Subsequent appearances: Collected Stories HC, Collected Stories TP v3

Editorial Comment: Smiling fiercely, Merle began to jab pins...

Notes: The short-short story became a stock in trade for Matheson at EQMM.
It's an area that his son Richard Christian Matheson would subsequently master.

Uncredited spot illustration

"Leo Rising"
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
May 1972, Vol. 59 No. 5

Subsequent appearances: Matheson Uncollected Volume 2

Editorial Comment: An ultimate array of squares, semisquares, and adverse conjunctions...

Notes: Until recently, this remained one of the few Matheson tales left uncollected, an oversight finally corrected with the release of Matheson Uncollected: Volume 2 from Gauntlet. While Matheson Uncollected: Volume 1 was made up primarily of stories Gauntlet had released as chapbooks offered as incentive to purchase Matheson limited editions directly, this volume does a better job at filling in the holes of Matheson's previously published pieces that had gone uncollected. Thanks are due to fellow Matheson fan and scholar, Paul Stuve, who provided most of these rarities to Gauntlet. Paul was also a key contributor to The Richard Matheson Companion, co-edited by Matheson expert Matthew Bradley.

Spot illustration credited to HM

"CU: Mannix"
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
April 1991, Vol. 97 No. 5

Subsequent appearances: Matheson Uncollected Volume 2

Editorial Comment: An unusual crime for EQMM, and all the more fascinating for that—entrapment, not so pure and simple...

Notes: After almost 20 years, Matheson re-appears in EQMM. Despite being described as a short-short story, this one clocks in at 11 pages!

"The Frigid Flame"
October 1955, Vol. 1 No. 3

Subsequent appearances: American Pulp, edited by Ed Gorman, Bill Pronzini, and Martin H. Greenberg.

Editorial Comment: Dave loved Peggy—despite the ugly rumor that she had murdered her husband.

Illustration uncredited
Notes: This is an abridged version of Matheson's first novel, Someone is Bleeding (and not the last you'll be reading about here). I was pleased to provide the copy of Justice that was used for American Pulp.

"Now Die In It"
Mystery Tales
December 1958, Vol. 1 No. 1

Subsequent appearances: Matheson Uncollected Volume 2

Editorial Comment: The voice on the phone called him "Tyler" and said he was about to die. Was it a terrifying case of mistaken identity? Or was a coldblooded, revengeful hood really on his way to end Don martin's life? A respectable suburban husband and father faces his trial by terror in Richard Matheson's latest nerve-tingling suspense yarn.

Illustration uncredited
Notes: In his new book Richard Matheson On Screen, Matthew Bradley points out that "Now Die In It" was subsequently expanded into Matheson's novel Ride the Nightmare.

May 1960, Vol. 1 No. 1

Subsequent appearances: Collected Stories HC, Shock II, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories, Collected Stories TP v3

Editorial Comment: MEMO FROM LULUBELL: Now, here's the kind of story I really like. It proves that everything turns out for the worst in this worst of all possible worlds.

Notes: The star-studded lineup in this issue also includes numerous reprints from Ray Bradbury ("The Crowd"), Theodore Sturgeon ("Bianca's Hands"), Henry Kuttner ("Graveyard Rats"), and W.W. Jacobs ("The Monkey's Paw").

Uncredited spot illustration

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


Peter Enfantino said...

I'd really really really like to know who did the detailed study of the arachnid which closes out your fine study.

John Scoleri said...

That's a cricket, courtesy of Savlador Dali. I didn't want to mention it because I couldn't substantiate the claim, but you've wrestled it out of me.

Todd Mason said...

That was the SHOCK with Robert Bloch's "Final Performance," eh? A MSMM stablemate?

Matthew Bradley said...

Excellent overview as always, John, and thanks for mentioning my tome. On at least one occasion, Matheson claimed that he created the Logan Swanson pseudonym for the premiere episode of COMBAT! five years later, but as far as I know this issue of AHMM marked its first appearance. "The Children of Noah" (to which William F. Nolan wrote a sequel, "Zachry Revisited," for the HE IS LEGEND tribute anthology) was one of four Matheson stories adapted in comic-book form for the short-lived IDW magazine DOOMED. The others were "Blood Son," "Crickets," and "Legion of Plotters." As for the ever-excellent Paul Stuve, he earned his co-editor credit on the COMPANION many times over.

John Scoleri said...

Todd -

Just FYI - Bloch's "Final Performance" is not in this particular issue of SHOCK. I was sure that I would have mentioned it if it were, and I double checked the contents to confirm.

Peter Enfantino said...

Nah, the Bloch was in the September 1960 Shock.

Mark said...

wasn't children of noah adapted for Alfred Hitchcock presents?