Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Collectioning: Robert McCammon Edition

collectioning -- n. -- (1) the act of purposefully building a collection; (2) a made-up word coined by some dude with a blog (mostly) about Stephen King
Not too long ago, I reviewed the 1981 Robert McCammon novel They Thirst, and at the end of that review, I mentioned that I hoped to be attending a signing the author was giving a couple of days hence in nearby Birmingham.

Unfortunately, work got in the way and prevented that from happening.  I've been grumpy about it ever since.  I tend toward grumpiness anyways, so adding this into the grump rotation has proven to be no impediment.
To ease that grumpiness somewhat, I decided to splurge a bit and do something I'd been wanting to do for a while anyways: get my McCammon collection fully up to speed.  And since I've got nothing better to do tonight, why not share the details with you fine folks?
I love that cover art, almost as much as I hate the font on the author's name.  Hopefully that's just a placeholder font.

We begin with the upcoming Subterranean Press hardback limited edition of They Thirst, which I preordered.  It won't come out until October, but a months-long wait is par for the course with these limited editions. 
Subterranean previously published limited-edition hardbacks of McCammon's first three novels, Baal, Bethany's Sin, and The Night Boat, all three of which sold out long ago.  I had been planning to get their edition of They Thirst ever since it was announced, but had not considered trying to obtain secondhand copies of those other Subterranean editions.  However, I decided to check eBay, and was able to scoop each of them up for prices that were within my range.  I'm still a bit mystified as to how I was able to get that lucky.

When I received these in the mail, I was surprised to discover that they were all signed by McCammon!  I don't personally get all that invested in the idea of autographs, but what that means in practical terms is that I don't seek them out or pay extra for them; if they show up unexpectedly, or gratis, I think they're pretty damn cool, and having signed hardbacks by one of my favorite authors is certainly a boon to my collection.
There is interior art in each of those three books, as well; not a huge amount of it, but what's there is cool:

Here's the wraparound cover art for Bethany's Sin by Tomislav Tikulin.  I found the image at http://www.tomtikulin-art.com/page5/page5.html, and looking through the other pieces on his page, I have to say, I'm excited to see what he does for the upcoming Cemetery Dance edition of Carrie.

Bethany's Sin endpapers, also by Tikulin.
The two pieces above are more Tomislav Tikulin art, these from Baal.

This one, and the one above, are Les Edwards pieces from The Night Boat.  Edwards is also doing They Thirst, which is fine by me.  The bottom image looks like it would be right at home on the cover of an Iron Maiden album, which is also fine by me.  Very creepy; very cool.

I may as well also mention another recent McCammon hardback:

Released just last month, The River of Souls is the fifth in McCammon's series about colonial-era detective Matthew Corbett.  It was this new release that McCammon's signing was in support of.  I'd already bought a copy a few weeks back, so technically it doesn't count as part of the hoard hauled in during this round of splurging; but what cares I for a technicality like that?  Not a whit.
I should confess that I have read none of the Matthew Corbett books.  I'm not even sure he's a detective, to be honest.  What I am sure of is that the only reason I've waited to read these books is that I'm waiting to do so as part of my chronological reread of McCammon's entire output.  It's itching at me something fierce that there are that many McCammon books I've not read, but what can I say?  Only so many hours in the day for reading; I'd make them hours breed if I could, but so far, my experiments at making that happen have failed miserably.  You figure it out, do please let me know.
Much of my collectioning this go-round was focused on filling in a very sizable gap in my McCammon collection: namely, a number of short story anthologies from the eighties and nineties that featured McCammon appearances.  I'd been unaware of all of these until I was doing some research, and found a bliographical page on McCammon's website.  Previously, all I'd been aware of were the stories that appeared in his collection Blue World and in the anthology Under the Fang (which he edited, and which includes a story and introduction he wrote, plus stories by folks like Richard Laymon, Al Sarrantonio, and Thomas F. Monteleone).
Turns out, however, there were nearly a dozen other stories that had never been collected, but which had been published in various places.
Tracking down anthologies like this from the eighties and nineties is typically pretty easy work, and these turned out to be no exception:

What a great cover!  This paperback original included a mix of originals (such as McCammon's "The Thang" and Mick Garris's "Chocolate" -- yes, that Mick Garris, which is pretty cool) and reprints (from authors like Richard Matheson, Harlan Ellison, Ramsey Campbell, Theodore Sturgeon, Dennis Etchison, and Robert Bloch, among others).  Happily, I landed a book-club edition hardback.  For $0.01 plus shipping, which is what I paid for every single one of these, I think.

I remember seeing this 1990 anthology in bookstores and being tempted to buy it.  I never managed to pull the trigger until now, though.  McCammon's contribution is titled "Lizardman," which is promising.  Apart from the folks mentioned on the cover, there are also stories by luminaries such as Joe R. Lansdale, Al Sarrantonio, Richard Laymon, Max Allan Collins, Charles de Lint, and John Maclay.

Great title, and the Lee McCloud cover art is even better.  The three holes were almost certainly there by some bookseller to designate this as a deep-discount item, but I'm going to pretend they are representational bullet holes put there by the publisher.  This one came out in 1989, and the McCammon contribution is titled "Black Boots."  By the way, didja notice how his name is given headliner status there?  That's a sign of his reputation circa 1989, which is an interesting note.

The first two books in the "Chronicle of Greystone Bay" series were Greystone Bay and Doom City, also anthologies edited by Grant.  More than that, I do not know.  McCammon contributed a story titled "Beauty," and other authors present include usual suspects like Al Sarrantonio, Steve Rasnic Tem, and Thomas F. Monteleone.

McCammon has three stories here: "The Deep End," "A Life in the Day of," and "Best Friends."

McCammon's story here is titled "On a Beautiful Summer's Day, He Was," and his fellow authors in this anthology include Joe R. Lansdale, F. Paul Wilson, Edward Bryant and Dan Simmons, etc.

This one was a two-fer, as it not only contains McCammon's story "Eat Me," but also the original appearance of Stephen King's "Home Delivery."  I believe I actually had a copy of this once upon a time; no idea why I would have gotten rid of it, so let's assume fornits stole it.

McCammon's story "Haunted World" closes out this anthology.

In addition to those anthologies, I scored the first four issues of Lights Out!, a McCammon newsletter put out by Hunter Goatley:

These newsletters run between 16 and 24 pages each, and include reviews, interviews with McCammon, and even an unfinished short story titled "The Night I Killed the King."  This latter was part of a contest wherein fans submitted their own conclusions, and the winner got a McCammon manuscript.  Pretty damn cool.  I was thrilled to be able to get these from Overlook Connection!
Somewhat similarly:

In addition to an interview with McCammon and an excerpt from Swan Song, this magazine (fanzine?) evidently had a regular feature called "Fragments of Horror," which presented short random bits from whatever author was featured that issue.  So here we get brief segments from works in progress like The Lady (which was never completed), They Still Thirst (which he evidently never actually intended to write!), Whirlwind (also never completed), and Beuhlahland (ditto).
Here's one I haven't actually gotten yet, but only because I realized -- while writing this! -- that I'd somehow neglected to actually order it:
According to McCammon's bibliography, it contains a short story called "The Judge."  This cover art is kinda disturbing, mainly because it unlocked a memory of me seeing some movie on HBO in the mid-eighties that involved a woman getting raped in a laundry room.  That fucked me up for days.  Anyone know what movie that might have been?  If so, let me know in the comments.

Here's a cool couple of acquisitions:

I bought all three parts, but since the cover art is the same apart from the (1/2/3 of 3) designators, I saw no need to scan and post the other two.

Marvel at the shitty quality of my scanner's output!

I have not listened to any of these, and won't until I get to the point of rereading The Wolf's Hour and reading The Hunter from the Woods for the first time.  But if I understand them correctly, they are basically a combination of audiobook and radio drama, featuring a full cast, sound effects, and whatnot.  I suspect I will love them.  Graphic Audio is apparently a prolific company; they seem to do a lot of Westerns, but also have deals with both Marvel and DC and do big-time superhero releases, as well.
Finally, I decided to see if I could locate the original paperback releases of the McCammon novels I'd already reviewed for this blog.  I was afraid that since those are the true first editions of those books, they would be pricey, but I had pretty good luck.  This is the one I was most worried about:

According to the copyright page, this is a 1978 edition, but that can't actually be the case, since The Night Boat was not released until 1980.  McCammon's website indicates that this is a 3rd printing copy.  Do I care that it isn't a first edition?  Fuck no, I don't care!  I only wanted an edition with that artwork, which creeps on me in some way I can't explicate.
In addition to that, I landed these: 

Pretty cheesy.  However, this paperback has red-tinged edges to the pages, which delights me for no apparent reason.

That cover is pretty cool.  I got this paperback as part of a surprisingly inexpensive lot of eight McCammon paperbacks that also contained:

...this edition of They Thirst, which is cool, because I could not locate a decently-priced copy on its own.  I love that cover.

I'd intended to only get original-edition copies of the books I'd already covered on this blog; I'll fill in the others as I cover them in the coming months/years.  However, when I ordered that set of the Lights Out! newsletters from Overlook Connection, they also had a book-club-edition Mystery Walk hardback for a ridiculously low price, so there was no way I wasn't going to order it, too.  And now, it is mine!

This one, too, I had no intention of getting until later; but it was in that lot of paperbacks, so I was happy to be able to cross it off my list early.

The only other items that need covering are these (which also came with the aforementioned lot of paperbacks):

Speaks the Nightbird was the 2002 novel that brought McCammon back from his semi-retirement.  IT was the first in his series of Matthew Corbett novels, and it's a pretty big book.  I didn't know that there had been a mass-market paperback release, much less that it had split the novel into two volumes.  Boy, I don't much care for those subtitles.  But hey, thanks to the blurb(s), I get to count those paperbacks as part of my Stephen King collection now, too, which is cool, I guess.
This brings the collectioning update to an end.  It'll probably be a while before I can slpurge like that again, and I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that I realize how lucky I am.  Not as lucky as some, no doubt about it; but there are plenty of people in the world who never get to spend any money on things like this.  I wish I could do something meaningful for each and every one of them, but I can't.  So, in lieu of that, I simply acknowledge that I have a pretty good life, and that I thank luck, fate, God, Thor, Q, L. Ron Hubbard, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and whoever/whatever else had a hand in making things that way.


  1. (1) Wow, those Tomislav Tikulin illustrations are fantastic.

    (2) Quite a wealth of cool art here, actually, all around. Great haul! If you're anything like me when going on a book-acquisition / fill-in-the-gaps spree like this, you're on cloud 9 right now. I hope you've spread them all out and are spinning around in your office chair, cackling like Taylor from Planet of the Apes.

    (3) I totally remember that Stalkers anthology! I think my brother had it - that's the only thing that can account for the strong recognition factor it registered with me. I never read it (or any of these) but it looks pretty cool to me now.

    (4) I'll have to check out Graphic Audio's catalog. Sounds right up my alley.

    (5) The Further Adventures of the Joker! Nice.

    (6) Red tinted edges to the pages are pretty cool.

    (7) I like the idea of a colonial-era detective. Particularly if it's supernatural-tinged. Hmm. I couldn't get into Swan Song, but I may have to try one or two of those Corbett books and see what I think.

    1. Tomislav Tikulin's stiff is awesome. I would have bought the new Carrie just for his stuff but I think having Chadborne do a page for no reason kind of tainted the thing for me.

    2. That is a bit odd. I like Chadbourne's stuff sometimes, and dislike it at others.

    3. (1) They really are. Check out his website; his horror stuff is good, but his sci-fi stuff is great, and plentiful.

      (2) Yes, indeed, I am. It's also going to be a very valid excuse for me to reorganize my bookshelves, since my new haul has made my McCammon section larger than the space designated for it. This is both good news (it's a great excuse to mess around with books while listening to music for several hours) and bad news (I've got a LOT of books), but when it comes to stuff like this, I'm firmly in the that's-good-news camp.

      (4) They've got at least one other that I'm definitely going to get at some point: "The Searchers," by Alan LeMay, which is the source of one of my all-time favorite movies.

      (7) I don't know for sure if they are actually supernatural or not. My impression is that they weren't, but don't take that for the gospel on the subject.

  2. Agreed great art. The Nightboat Avon cover is awesome.
    I wanted to get those Graphic Audio's but I thought $65 was a little steep. I think amazon used has them a lot cheaper. I wish he had more unabridged audio books.
    I have Stalkers on audio. Really poorly packaged, cheap cardboard and I don't think the discs even say what authors are on what discs.
    My wife really likes the Corbett series. She says some are definitely better than others.
    Usher's Passing looks like a great time.

    1. I got my Graphic Audios new and for about $15 each. Given how long they are, I didn't feel like I overpaid. I think it's cool that they are split into parts; that way, it's not necessary to buy the entire thing at once.

    2. mike wrote: "I wish he had more unabridged books."

      Almost all of Robert McCammon's novels are available as unabridged audiobooks from Audible.com. Unfortunately, only a couple are available on CD, but they do exist.


      GraphicAudio will be releasing their adaptation of I TRAVEL BY NIGHT later this summer.


    3. "GraphicAudio will be releasing their adaptation of I TRAVEL BY NIGHT later this summer."

      That's fantastic news! I will buy the mess out of one of those.

  3. Thanks Hunter for the info. I have a grudge against audible still. If their quality has improved in the last 5 years I might give them another shot but then again I like having physical discs for most stuff just bc it's easier to remember where things are.