I’ve never met Pierre V. Comtois, yet I think it would be fascinating to come face to face with a man who not only shares several of my obsessions, but also channels them into concrete form much more successfully than I do. For example, he is the author of Marvel Comics in the 1960s and …1970s, which have been on my to-read list for an embarrassingly long time; both their presence and their duration on that metaphoric list are directly related to how completely my efforts on behalf of Marvel University have come to consume my life. It is, however, his work under another of his many hats that led to this long-overdue post, namely as the editor and publisher of Fungi #21, the special 30th-anniversary issue of “The Magazine of Fantasy and Weird Fiction,” about which you can read much more on Pierre’s website here.
Dedicated to the late Richard Matheson—a name you may have encountered once or twice on this blog—the issue is literally as large as a phone book (for those of you old enough to remember what that was), making it impossible even to come close to doing justice to it in this post, so I hope I may be forgiven for taking a BOF-centric approach. Knowing that Pierre planned a special section devoted to “The Group,” the circle of authors and screenwriters to which Matheson belonged, I granted him the use of the profiles I had partly distilled several years ago from my 1990s interviews with fellow members George Clayton Johnson, William F. Nolan, and the late Jerry Sohl. Among other related goodies, he also re-presents “The House of Matheson,” an appreciation written by Gauntlet publisher Barry Hoffman for The Richard Matheson Companion (which I edited with Stanley Wiater and Paul Stuve), and Group scholar Christopher Conlon’s commendable overview, “Southern California Sorcerers,” another of the informal group’s many names.
Obviously, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and the roster of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and artwork on display is mind-boggling indeed. Included are the original stories that were adapted into two Twilight Zone episodes (Charles Beaumont’s “Elegy” and Lynn Venable’s “Time Enough at Last”) and the film Target Earth (Paul W. Fairman’s “Deadly City”). Other names that jumped out at me from the table of contents as subjects and/or contributors: Robert Bloch (represented by an interview, as is Zone writer Earl Hamner), H.P. Lovecraft (with an introduction to his letters), Nolan himself (the story “Small World”), Fu Manchu creator Sax Rohmer, and even Thongor of Lemuria (in a new adventure by Robert Price).
Okay, I’ll shut the hell up now so you can go and order the thing!