I’ve asked Matthew R. Bradley, author of the following book, to tell us more about it. He’s most graciously agreed:

MATTHEW R. BRADLEY — Richard Matheson on Screen: A History of the Filmed Works. McFarland Press, softcover and eBook, illustrated, 2010.

   I’ve long called Richard Matheson (1926-2013) “the most famous writer you’ve never heard of.” The man in the street reacts blankly to his name, yet snaps to attention at his screen credits: The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Twilight Zone (“the one with the gremlin on the wing”), Roger Corman’s Poe films, Duel (“the one with the truck chasing the guy”), The Night Stalker, Trilogy of Terror (“the one with the Zuni doll”), Somewhere in Time … The late George A. Romero also acknowledged that his oft-filmed novel I Am Legend inspired Night of the Living Dead — and thus, by extension, the entire modern-day zombie phenomenon — but since several Matheson-related posts have graced this blog, I presume he needs no further introduction here.

   By the time I decided to attempt a book on Matheson, I’d already written about him for various publications and websites, and Richard had invited me to contribute introductions to limited editions of his novels. I knew a traditional biography was beyond me, so I set out to cover every feature, telefilm or — insofar as possible, records and memories being incomplete — television episode written by him and/or based on his work, placing them in the context of his overall career. Having interviewed Richard and his friends, colleagues, and collaborators among the “California Sorcerers” (Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, George Clayton Johnson, William F. Nolan, Jerry Sohl), I had extensive first-hand accounts and correspondence on which to draw.

   Then, a funny thing happened on the way to the publisher: while writing Richard Matheson on Screen, I ended up editing Richard’s own Duel & The Distributor and co-editing, with Stanley Wiater and Paul Stuve, The Richard Matheson Companion (revised and updated as The Twilight and Other Zones: The Dark Worlds of Richard Matheson).

   Between those, helping my wife raise our Matheson-loving daughter, and the pesky need to earn a living, it took me 13 years to finish this book, yet the cross-pollination greatly benefited them all. The increasing ubiquity of the Internet also enabled me to track down — with the help of inestimable friends — information and materials I’d never have had if it were finished sooner, although a few of his more obscure episodes elude me to this day.

   I’m proud to say that through our research, I think I assembled the most comprehensive information to date on Matheson’s many unproduced scripts, to which a separate section of this book is devoted. I was thrilled that after reading the manuscript, Richard wrote a characteristically gracious foreword, and most satisfying of all, he saw and responded enthusiastically to the finished book less than three years before his death:

   “You just cost me a whole day of writing. They delivered your book today, and I’ve been spending the whole day looking through it. It’s fascinating. You really did a great job on it. It’s beautifully done, extremely complete. I haven’t finished it yet, but I wanted to call and thank you for sending it, and tell you how impressed I am with the work you did on it. A beautiful job.”

   As I said at the time, that’s the only review that really matters.