I picked up a pair of paperback books recently that I wanted to share with you ghouls, as I knew you folks would appreciate them. They are two anthologies published in 1960 that were edited by none other than Zacherley himself!
The first of the pair was ZACHERLEY'S MIDNIGHT SNACKS. My copy of this one is in pretty bad condition. The pages are brittle and the entire thing is crumbling around the edges. But it is intact, and I'm glad to finally own it. The stories in the book feature brief introductions by Zacherley, and include some familiar and impressive names:
Sorry, Right Number - Richard Matheson
Share Alike - Jerome Bixby and Joe E. Dean
Talent - Theodore Sturgeon
Listen, Children, Listen - Wallace West
The Whispering Gallery - William F. Temple
The Piping Death - Robert Moore Williams
The Ghost - A.E. Van Vogt
Carillon of Skulls - Philip James
Pile of Trouble - Henry Kuttner
Zacherley's Vulture Stew was the second volume of these books, and my copy of this one is in near mint condition! I bought these online, and they came from two different dealers, neither of which listed the condition. But I took a chance and it paid off for this book. Once again there are brief introductions to each story by Zacherley, and the list of authors is once again equally impressive:
He Didn't Like Cats - L. Ron Hubbard
Dr. Jacobus Melifore's Last Patient - Mindret Lord
The Devil is Not Mocked - Manly Wade Williams
Bones - Donald A. Wollheim
Out of the Jar - Charles Tanner
The Witch - A.E. Van Vogt
They Bite - Anthony Boucher
The Shed - E. Everett Evans
There Shall Be No Darkness - James Blish
This one all has a brief introduction to who Zacherley is, which is aimed at folks unfamiliar with the Cool Ghoul:
Unlike most ghouls, ghosts and monsters, Zacherley is a self-made tradition. He is alleged to have been conceived in the mountains of Transylvania, reared with werewolves and schooled at the Transylvanian Technical College of Poltergeistery.
A creative figure of the world of shrieks and shrouds, he talks on equal terms with the known hoots and haunts of antiquity. But his urbane laughter and dexterous daring-do, whether in the haunted vaults or vaunted halls of legend, always put him a step ahead of routine monsters.
To grasp fully the ephemeral mystery of Zacherley, study this book and then watch his ghost-to-ghost tv program in New York on WOR TV, and in Los Angeles on KHJ TV (both channel 9).
For those who know, Zacherley represents the triumph of artful laughter and keen satire over ancient films peopled with the cinema's most contrived spooks and nightmares. Whether it is Dracula, Frankenstein or the Hound of the Baskervilles, Zacherley's celluloid magic always triumphs.
What a cool intro. I wonder who actually wrote that? To be fair, I believe Zacherley's involvement with this project was probably limited to the brief intros before each story. The curating and collection of said stories, as well as the above introduction, were no doubt done by someone with a publishing background. But I'm glad that this was done, as these are fun collections full of equally fun stories.
The stories were all previously published in a variety of pulp magazines including UNKNOWN WORLDS, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, BEYOND, FANTASTIC UNIVERSE, THRILLING WONDER, and AVON SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY READER.
The artwork on both books is by long time fantasy and science fiction artist Richard M. Powers. I love the fun and whimsical flair to this art. You can see a complete listing of his work, with examples of each, here. According to Wikipedia, during the 1950s and 1960s, he served as an unofficial art director for Ballantine Books, which meant he would have been art director for these two books, too. he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2008.
Published by Ballantine books with an original cover price of 35 cents, these books are a lot of fun, and still available online (with just a little searching) and well worth the effort.