News hit the internet today that legendary author Richard Matheson passed away at the age of 87.
Matheson has been instrumental and influential in horror and dark fantasy pop culture of the 60 or so years. Stephen King and George A. Romero, undoubtedly two of the most recognizable masters of horror of their generation, has called Matheson a major influence in their work. Where would the zombie genre of today be without Matheson’s groundbreaking vampire novel, I Am Legend, which gave Romero the idea to make his Night of the Living Dead. It is also this very same vampire novel whose influence could be seen throughout King’s own classic vampire tale with Salem’s Lot. Even King’s own foray into a zombie novel, Cell, would be dedicated to Matheson.
Yet, Matheson’s influence wouldn’t just be felt in the literary world. He would pen some of the best Twilight Zone episodes and would also provide Roger Corman with screenplay adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories and novellas. He would also provide Hollywood with screenplays based on his own stories that would become classic horror and dark fantasy films in their own right.
There’s no way to quantify just how many people Richard Matheson has touched and influenced with his work, but one would be hard pressed not to find someone who hasn’t come across something that had Matheson’s fingerprint whether it was one of his stories, films based on his works or a tv episode that he didn’t have a hand in writing. Then there’s those who have seen or read something that had been influenced by his work.
Today the world has lost of the giant’s in his field of work. Yet, as his best known work says as it’s ending, Matheson will survive far longer than he had lived: HE IS LEGEND.
On a personal note, I count Matheson as one of the biggest influences in my life. Everything he has done or touched have had a hand in showing me the power of the written word. Much of what I watch and read has been influenced by his work. Where would horror and dark fantasy be without him to set the path for future writers and filmmakers. Whether they care to admit it or not they, just like myself, owe Richard Matheson a debt of gratitude for work in the field.
A giant of a man has passed into legend and it’s now up to us, his admirers and fans, to continue on his work of providing the world with quality genre entertainment.