It is probable, or likely, that during the course of a person’s life/existence, certain events or decisions stand out above the others as being monumental. I keep replaying a small number of these life-altering events here and there, and consider myself fortunate to have been given the opportunity to illustrate the cover for Richard Matheson’s first novel; and to have had resisted my brief urge to tell the author to: “go jump in a lake.” This suppressed a bit of frustration was prompted by Richard Matheson’s {to be referred to as ‘RM’ for most of the remainder of this piece} sixth or seventh request for another change to the illustration I was working on.

The year was 2000 and the book was HUNGER AND THIRST to be published by Gauntlet Press in a Limited Edition. Barry Hoffman gave me the chance to do the cover for this near 600 page novel, written 50 years ago (1950) by now an acknowledged legend in the field. I was terrified but started to work and sent RM my first attempt. Looking back, I’m not sure what he saw in it but it was enough for him to visualize how it could reflect the train of events occurring in the novel, but it needed work. In other words, he saw the potential and was willing to work with me in fleshing out the nebulous shadows I sent him to the end of bringing it to life and showing the scenes of the story he had written.

Unlike some other writers I’ve worked with, RM can visualize and communicate what needs to be done to turn his words into graphic images. A remarkable ability, making it easier for the artist to become a communicating vessel with the writer. –Maybe too much so. One amusing (I hope) incident during the process happened as we were going back and forth on the one scene wherein the narrator is laying paralyzed on the bed in his room. RM asked me, “Why is there a witch in that room?” Well, there was no witch in the book, and I did not draw or collage a witch into the room. Neither my dear wife and helper, Christine Morris, or I could find the image of the witch; but with much effort and guesswork, we were able to eliminate the witch for RM’s approval. Afterwards Christine remarked to me, “Mr. Matheson must either have faulty vision or have a great imagination!” We both quickly agreed upon the latter. Anyway, after all this, the cover turned out to be just what we were hoping for. RM liked the cover enough to the extent that he asked Barry Hoffman to leave off the typeset part of the title and his name so that more of the image would show through, and Barry agreed to this, especially since the book is not for mass market. I couldn’t ask for a better compliment.

I have not counted all the book covers I’ve done for books both by and about RM recently, but many have appeared after the Gauntlet edition of HUNGER AND THIRST. A good number of those went through a revision process (nothing like that with H & T!), and as always, the end result is a noticeable improvement over the 1st shot. Other covers have hit the mark right off. We are seeing the same thing in indirect communication: Objective Chance.

On a personal level, RM, and indeed, his lovely wife, Ruth (R.I.P), and especially his son, Richard Christian, have been exceedingly generous and dear to me and to Christine (R.I.P). We had many phone conversations and a few meetings in person at conventions, including Barry Hoffman’s major event to celebrate the achievements of RM held in 2005 in Los Angeles. Ray Bradbury, Roger Corman, and other notable names were present.

I especially remember the time RM stood up for me in dealing with an inconsiderate/cheapskate publisher (not Gauntlet!) I’d been having trouble with. They hadn’t paid or sent me copies of the RM book I did the cover for, ignoring my requests for months after the book had come out. When RM learned about this (either from me or Barry) he intervened and within a day or so an overnight parcel arrived here. Inside was a check for the full amount due and copies of the book, along with a note essentially saying, “so sorry, our records were out of order…”

RM sadly passed on June 23, 2013. If I have any regrets it would only be that I was somewhat reserved around him. I held him in something approaching awe, but I know that I am not alone in that. Anyway, lucky me for the connection we had; plus I can tell friends/people that I knew RM. If some don’t recognize the name, most all snap to the Twilight Zone episodes he wrote, Spielberg’s adaptation of ‘DUEL,’ or the most recent movie version of ‘I AM LEGEND,’ and on and on.

His work endures.