Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Horrors, The Horrors

You've heard me go on and on about the writing of Karl Edward Wagner, creator of the hero/villain Kane and writer of countless horror stories. Wagner was also a tireless champion of the horror genre and he became editor of DAW Books' annual Year's Best Horror anthologies beginning with volume 8. I had a couple of those volumes and had been meaning to track them all down (Wagner edited volumes VIII through XXII) but they proved hard to come by and unexpectedly expensive, and whenever they popped up on Ebay, they tended to get bid out of the range I was willing to pay pretty quickly.
Anyway, I had mentioned several times at my weekly Mexican dinner with friends and fellow pop culture fans that I was hunting the series. Last night, one of that crew, Jim Moore, better known to horror aficionados as writer James A. Moore, author of Deeper, Serenity Falls and many other horror novels, gave me an almost complete collection of The Year's Best Horror stories, not only the Wagner volumes but those edited by Gerald W. Page and Richard Davis. To say I was surprised would be an large understatement.
The books had belonged to Jim's late wife, Bonnie, who passed away last year and she had gotten several of them signed by Karl Edward Wagner and some of the writers showcased in the books at various conventions over the years. I asked Jim if he was sure he wanted me to take them since they had apparently been very dear to his wife and he told me he would prefer they go to someone who would really appreciate them rather than sit stored in a box.
I certainly do appreciate them. I sat up late last night, paging through the contents. Everybody who was anybody in horror circles is there. Stephen King. Robert Bloch. Ramsey Campbell. Brian Lumley. Tanith Lee. Joe R. Lansdale. Dennis Etchison. Harlan Ellison. Richard Matheson. Kim Newman. You get the idea. I have a lot of reading ahead of me.
The set was only short four volumes of the 22, so I'll track the others down soon enough. So thanks again, Jim. The books have a good home.


Anonymous said...

Wow. That was a noble act by Mr. Moore. His motives were excellent and admirable, and put me to shame-- I have a full set of Year's Best Horror and could not be persuaded to part with them.
You really do have a lot of fine reading ahead of you. The early, non-Wagner collections have a few unexpected gems, but KEW could seemingly pull an arcane masterpiece out of a stack of Better Homes and Gardens. Check the credits page to see the often unusual, occasionally bewildering, original sources of many of his selections.
You also have a lot of excellent cover art to admire. Some of Michael Whelan's career best work, I think. I'm especially fond of the cover of Volume 10. That one bears close examination.

John Hocking

Charles R. Rutledge said...

John, I see what you mean about Wagner's sources. Within his first few books he pulled stories from such diverse publications as Easy Riders and Model Railroad Magazine. It also seemed that he read absolutely every fanzine pro-zine, anthology and collection in the horror genre. He really was the right man for the job.
I agree about the Whelan paintings. People tend to focus on Whelan's fantasy and SF covers but he also did a ton of horror paintings. Several of my H.P. Lovecraft collections have very creepy Whelan covers.