I usually don't get verklempt over writers, but this man is such a part of my life. When I was a way geeky kid, I memorized the stories, authors, actors etc of every single Twilight Zone episode. Matheson of course, was everywhere. The first really scary film I ever saw in a theater was "Legend of Hell House" in a place on Calle Ocho with Spanish subtitles. ("Necrophilia...." Remember Olga?) Kolchak? OMG, Freaking Kolchak! I Am Legend, even that cheesy "Somewhere In Time". Books, movies, television! Other than King and Bradbury, no other writer has ever left an imprint on me like he did. Rest his soul, time to reread some of the greats. Killer NPR write up here.
It is ironic that one of the books author Richard Matheson, who has died at the age of 87 according to publisher Tor/Forge, is best known for is 1956′s The Shrinking Man. While that novel related the tale of a person diminishing away to virtually nothing, Matheson’s influence on the science fiction genre continues to grow more than a half century after the book’s publication. Just last week saw the release of World War Z, a film which owes a huge debt to George A. Romero’s classic 1968 film Night of the Living Dead and hence to Matheson’s similarly revered 1954 tome I Am Legend, to which Romero paid extremely generous homage in his film. Maybe too generous, according to Matheson himself. In 2007, the Allendale, N.J.-born writer told me with a chuckle about the time he met Romero for lunch. ”The first thing he said to me, putting his arms up as if I was abut to strike him, [was], ‘Didn’t make any money from Night of the Living Dead,’” Matheson recalled. “‘Homage’ means I get to steal you work. He’s a nice guy, though. I don’t harbor any animosity toward him.” (Romero later confirmed this story: “I confessed to him that I basically ripped the idea off from I Am Legend. He forgave me because we didn’t make any money. He said, ‘Well, as long as you didn’t get rich, it’s okay.’”)