Saturday, December 4, 2010

Richard Matheson - The Original Stories: The Slicks

by John Scoleri

In the first 10 parts 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, and The Twilight ZOne and other contemporary magazines. With today's installment, we look at Matheson's contributions to the slicks. 

The Original Stories - Part 11: The Slicks

While Matheson was a up and coming writer, he placed several stories in pulp magazines (sci-fi covered previously, mystery/horror/western to come), named for the low grade paper on which they were printed. Matheson also had several stories in the 'slicks,' which were magazines printed on nicer paper, including Playboy magazine (covered previously) and the following magazines.

"The Conqueror"
Bluebook Magazine
May 1954, Vol. 99 No. 1

Subsequent appearances: Collected Stories HC, Shock Waves, By the Gun (as "Go West, Young Man"), Collected Stories TP v2

Story Comment: The strange young man rode West with a purpose—to fulfill a grim dream of glory.

Illustration by Charles Geer

Notes: While reprinted in several of his collections under its original title, when included in his Western short story collection By the Gun, Matheson used the alternate title. The first line differs in the two reprinted versions, the Western omitting the beginning of the opening sentence, "On that afternoon in 1871," which itself is different from the original appearance, which starts, "That afternoon in 1871." Perhaps Matheson felt such an introduction was unnecessary amidst a collection of Western stories. While not the rarest of Matheson short fiction appearances, this one remains one of the most expensive due to its including the first appearance of Ian Fleming's James Bond novel, Live and Let Die.

"SF Unlimited"
Writer's Digest
April 1956, Vol. 36 No. 5

Subsequent appearances: He Is Legend (chapbook), Writer's Digest website (2020)

Editorial Comment: The market has shrunk, but the scope for expression is bigger than it ever was.

Illustration Uncredited
Notes: Another tough find, as it seems Writer's Digest wasn't a magazine folks have held onto through the ages.

Aside from introductions and appreciations in other books, this, Matheson's only non-fiction article, has only been reprinted in the at one time indispensable He Is Legend edited by Mark Rathbun and Graeme Flanagan. In many ways rendered obsolete by the publication of Matthew Bradley/Stanley Wiater/Paul Stuve's The Richard Matheson Companion aka The Twilight and Other Zones, it still is a nice addition to any Matheson collection as it contains several nice tributes to Matheson along with this non-fiction piece.

"The Untouchable Divorcee"
May 1956, Vol. 7 No. 5

Subsequent appearances: N/A

Editorial Comment: She had a model's figure, the lovely face of a child, a woman's lips. She was the kind of girl you wanted to marry—and shouldn't. 

All illustrations by Geygan

Notes: This profusely illustrated story was another abridgement of Matheson's first novel, Someone is Bleeding (like "The Frigid Flame" from Justice, published just seven months earlier, as documented previously).

"The Frenzied Weekend"
For Men Only
June 1956

Subsequent appearances: N/A

Editorial Comment: He had killed two men and a third lay dying—but now he had what he wanted. He was alone with her and no one could interfere.

Notes: I became aware of this abridgment of Matheson's second novel, Fury on Sunday in the pages of Matthew Bradley's Richard Matheson On Screen.

Illustrations by Bill Thomas

"Get Off The Circle 7"
Men True Adventure
July 1958, Vol. 7 No. 7

Subsequent appearances (as "Boy In The Rocks"): By The Gun

Editorial Comment: It took more than men with guns to clear the range—t took a 16-year-old kid with guts.

Story Comment: It was getting to look as if nothing could drive the Tiner Gang out of the Panhandle. Then up rode a stubborn kid with more guts than ammunition. 

Illustration Uncredited
Notes: "Get Off The Circle 7" is a reprint of Matheson's "Son of a Gunman" (from  the December 1955 issue of Western Stories—to be covered in a future installment). Matheson is erroneously listed as Charles Matheson in the table of contents.

"Dead Line"
December 1959, Vol. 4 No. 9

Subsequent appearances (as "Deadline": Collected Stories HC, Shock II, Collected Stories TP v3

Editorial Comment: Warshaw shows to double advantage this month with the above-mentioned cartoon-work and a piece of serious art—monoprint—for Richard Matheson's seasonal and softly scary "Dead Line.") Is any comment necessary to introduce Matheson, author of The Shrinking Man and A Stir of Echoes?

Story Comment: It's a matter of doors: opening or closing at the final stroke.

Illustration by Warshaw
Notes: This issue of the would-be Playboy clone also features stories by Charles Beaumont ("Genevieve, My Genevieve") writing as C.B. Lovehill, and Harlan Ellison ("Eyes of Dust").

"A Drink of Water"
Signature: The Diners Club Magazine
April 1967, Vol. 2 No. 4

Subsequent appearances: Collected Stories HC, Shock Waves, Collected Stories TP v3

Illustration Uncredited
Notes: A particularly rare Matheson appearance, in the Diners Club magazine, of all places.

I wanted to share one more piece of Matheson ephemera from the July 1956 issue of Startling Detective. No, not the feature article "Kidnapped Nurse and the Rapist Torture Killer"—a quarter-page ad for Matheson's new (at the time) novel The Shrinking Man. The magazine was a Fawcett publication, parent corporation of Fawcett/Gold Medal, who published the novel. If anyone has awareness of a similar advertisement for I Am Legend circa 1954, please let me know!

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


Matthew Bradley said...

Don't believe "Boy in the Rocks" was in either version of the COLLECTED STORIES under any of its titles, but much appreciate the kind words about my Matheson tomes, and agree that the Rathbun/Flanagan HE IS LEGEND (which we consider the acorn from which the COMPANION sprang) is well worth having even now. As for "The Frenzied Weekend," I am in turn indebted to Paul Stuve for that information, although as with the existence of "The Hunt," we learned of it too late to include it in either edition of the COMPANION.

John Scoleri said...

You're absolutely right, Matthew, that was a copy/paste error on my part!

I'm finishing up next week's post now focused on the Mystery/Horror/Western pulps, and oddly enough, I've had a copy of West with "The Hunt" for a while, but have yet to source a few of the other challenging Western first appearances...

Something tells me that as soon as I finish the last segment of this particular series, Paul will unearth yet another as yet undocumented rarity!

Todd Mason said...

Cool. It occurs to me that I don't think I've perused a post-pulp BLUEBOOK...and Diner's Club had obvious taste in members' magazine contents and cover design...probably (not) why they aren't a player any longer...