Thursday, February 06, 2014

THE LES DANIELS BLOG TOUR: Getting Graphic: What Les Daniels Did (and Meant) for Comic Books

Guest Blog by Matt Bechtel of Necon E-Books Our host today, Christopher Golden, has been amazing in his support of our Blog Tour and has gone out of his way to help promote the entire endeavor. Accordingly, he shared a link via his Facebook account to one of our previous articles about The Don Sebastian Chronicles; the following exchange comes directly from the comments he received — (Name Withheld): The Les Daniels who wrote Comix? Chris: Yes sir. He was an excellent novelist. (Name Withheld): I did not know that. I’ll check out his novels. With that lead in, The Les Daniels Blog Tour officially pivots today and takes a look at one of Les’ other passions that came to define his legacy — comic books. The masthead of Les Daniels’ Official Web Site ( describes him as a “Horror Author and Comic Book Historian,” and while writers such as Poe, Lovecraft and Stoker obviously beat him to the former distinction, Les Daniels was the first person who ever deserved to be called the latter. With the publication of Comix: A History of Comic Books in America in 1971, Les was the first writer to ever truly study comic books — their history, their art, and their impact — in a critical, literary manner. As its dust jacket declares, Comix tells “the story of how comic books captured the imagination of millions and became an American institution, and whether or not they deserved to.” Moreover, Comix also features a staggering array of full comic stories. “No snippets,” its dust jacket brags. “Where else can one find in the same volume such divergent personalities as the Old Witch and Donald Duck, or Captain America and Those Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers?” Covering everything from the largest publishers to underground comics, this tome is more than just a treasure trove; it’s arguably the work most responsible for influencing the perception of comics as art. I would be remiss if I did not give proper due to Les’ collaborator on Comix, the venerable John Peck of Mad Peck Studios. In short, Les did the words and John handled the graphics, and the artistic presentation of Comix is a large part of what makes it such a wonder. Of course, that’s befitting of its subject matter, as comics are created by seamlessly weaving words and pictures. Along those lines, I’m afraid I must make a confession — after Les’ passing, Necon E-Books contacted both his estate and Mad Peck Studios about publishing a digital edition of Comix. Despite everyone’s enthusiasm regarding the project, well … let’s just say, we’re still working on it, because those very full comic stories which make Comix so special also make it a bear to reproduce. Sure, we could omit those materials and just republish Les’ text, saving ourselves countless hours and the hassle of securing rights from their copyright holders, but that honestly seems like sacrilege to me. Comix is, in and of itself, a work of art; as such, I would never feel comfortable in compromising Les’ and John’s amazing presentation of their work. Twenty years (and The Don Sebastian Chronicles) later, Les returned his learned eye to the world of comics when he penned Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics. More astoundingly, in my opinion, was the comic book history he would write four years later — DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World’s Favorite Comic Book Heroes. Please take a moment and let that sink in; almost immediately after writing the definitive history of Marvel comics, DC Comics hired Les Daniels to do the same for them. This would be akin to Burger King hiring the same hamburger expert to write their “History of the Whopper” who had just written ‘The History of the Big Mac” for McDonald’s. It’s simply unheard of … unless you’re Les Daniels, and your knowledge, insight, and talent in writing on the subject is so great that the two largest competitors in the field each require (and respect) your credibility so much that your expertise trumps their competition. DC wasn’t done with Les, however, as they subsequently hired him to write the definitive histories of their three biggest heroes in succession — Superman (1998), Batman (1999) and Wonder Woman (2000). Les’ works regarding comic books led to one of my favorite, yet bittersweet, stories. After he passed, a local policewoman was pointed to his Rolodex in search of contact information for his next of kin. The young lady’s face dropped as she scanned through the names it contained, which included Lynda Carter (star of the late-70’s TV show Wonder Woman), Michael Keaton (the title character of Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman), and Stan Lee (and if I have to tell you who Stan Lee is, you really shouldn’t even be reading this article!). Dumbstruck, she turned to Les’ friends who were present and simply asked, “Who WAS this guy?” He was Les Daniels — probably the finest critical mind and greatest friend the comic book and graphic novel art form will ever know. Just a friendly reminder — The Complete Don Sebastian Chronicles are now available as e-books at, so please order your copies today!

Monday, September 16, 2013


Just wanted to let you know that the first book in the Sleepy Hollow High series will be free all day today and tomorrow (Sept 16 - 17) and to share some of my newly re-released books that you may have missed. FREE FOR EVERYONE Monday, September 16th through Tuesday, September 17th: (Spread the word!) HORSEMAN (SLEEPY HOLLOW HIGH #1) - New to Sleepy Hollow, teens Aimee and Shane Lancaster find that upon their arrival an ancient curse has been unleashed upon the town, tracing back to a legend that might just be more truth than myth. Now an array of evil demons is after them, with the infamous headless horseman leading the pack. FREE TO BORROW for Amazon Prime members: DROWNED (SLEEPY HOLLOW HIGH #2) - Having stopped the horseman in his tracks - at least for now - Aimee and Shane must face the other evils tormenting Sleepy Hollow. An enchanting oak tree, cackling cornfield imps, and the greatest threat: naiads - the beautiful and deadly sirens that have infested the Hudson River, drowning their victims on dry land. MISCHIEF (SLEEPY HOLLOW HIGH #3) - Life in The Hollow isn't getting any easier for Aimee and Shane Lancaster, or for their friends. Still facing the fallout of the curse the siblings unknowingly triggered by moving to town, the group of teens continue to confront new demons and creatures at every turn. But keeping the danger at bay becomes even more challenging when tensions erupt between friends and a secret love is finally confessed. Will the group be able to work together when it matters most? ENEMIES (SLEEPY HOLLOW HIGH #4) - Shane and Aimee Lancaster are faced with the darkest horror yet in the fourth installment of The Sleepy Hollow High series. An enemy they once fought could be their only hope, but how can they trust someone so dangerous? Meanwhile, Aimee reels from the discovery of a deep betrayal by the two people she loves the most, but she must rally with the very people who hurt her to save their lives—along with the lives of everyone else in Sleepy Hollow. SLEEPY HOLLOW HIGH FOUR-BOOK BUNDLE - Get all four Sleepy Hollow High books for only $7.99! And since the last Wicked Street Team newsletter, these books have been re-released. If you've always wanted to read one of these, now's your chance. If you've already read one of the books in this list, please take a minute to pop over to Amazon and leave a review to tell other readers what you thought of it. AUGUST - Shane Monroe is on the run from the only force more unpredictable than Mother Nature -- the U.S. government... Storm Warning - JULY - Zombies and werewolves, oh, my! Soulless - "A terrifying, nerve-wracking page-turner. Soulless isn't your father's zombie novel. Golden has given the undead their next major upgrade!" — Brian Keene, author of The Last Zombie Prowlers - Werewolves are the myth. Prowlers are the savage reality. JUNE - $1.99 novella Pyre - “Christopher Golden’s storytelling is spellbinding. His novels capture the charming mystique that permeates New England, to which he adds a shuddering dose of the occult.”--BOSTON Magazine MAY Straight on 'til Morning - "He brings into being a world of haunted and perilous fantasy," hails Peter Straub of Christopher Golden, and it's never been truer than in this unique novel of dark fiction about the strange summer of a young boy coming of age. MARCH - The last three Jenna Blake Body of Evidence thrillers and the sixth book in the Shadow Saga: The Graves of Saints - Throat Culture - Last Breath - Brain Trust - FEBRUARY - Three Jenna Blake Body of Evidence thrillers: Burning Bones - Skin Deep - Head Games - JANUARY - The last two books in The Menagerie Series: Crashing Paradise - Stones Unturned - MEET THE MENAGERIE They're as hodge-podge a mix of other-worldly beings as anyone can imagine. But a sorcerer, a scientist, a sixteen-year-old demon, and the others all have one thing in common: a hunger for justice -- no matter what the cost. They are beings of myth and legend. They possess powers beyond imagining. They are our only hope. COMING SOON: Three more Prowlers novels, the third Secret Journeys of Jack London novel, another Peter Octavian Shadow Saga novel, and much, much more! APPEARANCES: October 31 - November 3 - World Fantasy Convention, Brighton, England CONNECT WITH CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN ONLINE: Facebook Page: Twitter: Website: Until next time, keep reading!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

With Apologies on Creatures, Crimes and Creativity

I hate canceling on conventions. It makes me feel like a schmuck and I'm damn sure it doesn't win me any friends amongst readers who might have been looking forward to meeting me or seeing me again or having a book signed. Once upon a time I never would've thought twice about it because it wouldn't have occurred to me that anyone would care or even notice my absence. Maybe that's a bit of my friendship with Rick Hautala coming through, the Eeyore in all writers. At some point I began to realize that there might be one or two folks that would be disappointed by my absence--maybe even one or two who had planned to attend partly because I'd be there. I promised myself then that I would do anything possible not to let folks down again. I'd canceled on a comic con in Toronto once because it was in the midst of the SARS outbreak and my wife asked me not to go...and then my friend at the CDC told me I should *really* not go. I usually listen to my wife, but when your friend at the CDC tells you not to stay home. For the most part, though, the couple of times I've canceled have been due to uncontrollable circumstances, and such it is today. I don't talk much about my health for two reasons. One, for me, it's a private thing. Two, so many people are in so much more pain or having so much greater difficulty that it seems whiny and selfish to me. A couple of years ago, I had to cancel on participating in the Odyssey Writer's Workshop due to some significant internal problems including, but not limited, to diverticulitis. Yeah, diverticulitis *sucks*, but I didn't have it too bad compared to others. Still, there would have been no way for me to focus on trying to lecture the workshop students in the condition I was in. I know it's foolish to let things you can't control weigh on you, but the good old Catholic guilt kicked in. All of which makes it that much harder for me to do this now. I'm sorry to say I won't be attending Creatures, Crimes and Creativity in Baltimore this weekend. I've enlisted a wonderful friend and writer to deliver Friday's keynote address in my place, the inimitable Brian Keene, who will undoubtedly do a better job of it than I would have. I've also offered some other things to the organizers, which I'll explain in a moment. First,'s why I won't be there. My own health is a part of it. I've had gout for seventeen years. Yes, yes...older folks will say "the rich man's disease," unless they've had any experience with it and have learned better. Most people are ignorant about gout and I'm not going to bore you by trying to educate you about it here. Suffice to say I used to not talk about it because so many people dismissed it as a disease of indulgence. It's not that at all. In fact, now that I'm talking about it frequently (you'll see why in a moment), I find that it's far, far more common than I ever knew. Everyone I tell--or nearly everyone--knows someone who has it, or they have it themselves. During a flare-up of gout, the affected joints feel as if they are full of ground glass. Sometimes even the merest pressure can cause excruciating pain. You can wake up in the middle of the night in agony that will keep you up for hours until exhaustion takes you or it subsides enough--as the oncoming morning allows--for you to drift off. In the past I've only had occasional bad flare-ups. The worst ones have lasted at most a week. The flare-up I'm currently enduring began on JULY 21st. I'm writing this on September 10th, so you can do the math. It has migrated from my right knee to a variety of joints in my left foot. I've been on multiple medications, all of which are management meds, because there is no cure for gout. You just have to wait it out and then, when it goes away, pray it will be a long time before it recurs. Over the past seven weeks or so I have become a friggin' expert on gout. I've had fluid drawn out of me and drugs injected in. I've spent hours researching on the internet and worn a path in my doctor's carpet. I've tried half a dozen homeopathic remedies, stopped eating a wide variety of foods, and I've lost almost fifteen pounds. (the upside.) The good news is that this particular battle seems to be coming toward an end. (I think. I hope.) I'm going to see a specialist at the end of the month and will start on preventative medication (which can--guess what--cause gout to flare up) and continue to tweak my diet. For now, I'm getting better, but the key thing when gout starts to recede is *not* to aggravate the joints. The last few times it started to recede, I decided I felt good enough to go out and do something as simple as go to dinner, which required walking a couple of blocks, or go to my daughter's soccer game...and each time the gout came back full force. So although I'm still three days away from my flight to Baltimore, I just can't take any chances. For my mental health if nothing else, I need this flare-up to end. Gout distracts me from my work and interferes with my daily life in ways that are detrimental to me and to my relationships with my wife and children. So...I'm staying home this weekend. Except I'm not really staying home. I'm not going to Baltimore, but there are two events I need to attend: the wake and funeral of my friend and mentor, Bob Booth. Bob was a writer, editor, and convention organizer, one of the founders of World Fantasy Convention and the founder of NECON, upon whose committee I have served for something like twenty years. Bob was a friend and mentor. Like many others, I consider his family my family, and so even if the gout weren't an issue, it's quite probable I would have stayed home this weekend after all, to pay my respects to these people I love and this man, gone too soon. If you are attending Creatures, Crimes and Creativity in Baltimore this weekend, I apologize to you, as I have already apologized to the organizers. If you are attending and there were questions you'd hoped to ask me, please ask them on Facebook or Twitter or email me at and I will do my best to answer them. If you had hoped to have a book signed, contact me at the same email and we will work that out. I thank you for your understanding. All my best, Chris

Monday, June 17, 2013

DARK DUETS: New Tales of Horror and Dark Fantasy will be published in January, 2014 by Harper Voyager. Edited by Christopher Golden, it features an extraordinary lineup of collaborative stories, with the authors of each story collaborating for the very first time. And here they are! (Cover coming soon.) TRIP TRAP -- by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Kevin J. Anderson WELDED -- by Tom Piccirilli & T.M. Wright DARK WITNESS -- by Charlaine Harris & Rachel Caine REPLACING MAX -- by Stuart MacBride & Allan Guthrie T. RHYMER -- by Gregory Frost & Jonathan Maberry SHE, DOOMED GIRL -- by Sarah MacLean & Carrie Ryan HAND JOB -- by Chelsea Cain & Lidia Yuknavitch HOLLOW CHOICES -- by Robert Jackson Bennett & David Liss AMUSE-BOUCHE -- by Amber Benson & Jeffrey J. Mariotte BRANCHES, CURVING -- by Tim Lebbon & Michael Marshall Smith RENASCENCE – by Rhodi Hawk and F. Paul Wilson BLIND LOVE -- by Kasey Lansdale & Joe R. Lansdale TRAPPER BOY -- by Holly Newstein & Rick Hautala STEWARD OF THE BLOOD -- by Nate Kenyon & James A. Moore CALCULATING ROUTE -- by Michael Koryta & Jeffrey David Greene SISTERS BEFORE MISTERS -- by Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, and Holly Black SINS LIKE SCARLET -- by Mark Morris & Rio Youers

Monday, March 25, 2013

WRITERS AND PUNKS - In Memory of Rick Hautala

WRITERS AND PUNKS In Memory of Rick Hautala I have written about Rick Hautala many times over the years—his bio when he was Guest of Honor at our beloved Necon, the introduction to the reissue of his wonderful first novel, Moondeath, and the announcement of his HWA Lifetime Achievement Award, among others—but I never thought that I would be writing this. I hope I might be forgiven, then, for plagiarizing myself in these dark days, when words don’t come easily. The things I’ve written about him before are all still true—it’s just that they mean more to me, now. I’ve talked elsewhere about Rick as a friend and as a man—about his humor and his struggles and his love for his wife and sons. But in truth, if you’d asked him what he was, he wouldn’t have said a friend or a man or a father or a husband…he’d have said he was a writer. He believed more firmly than anyone I’d ever met that writers were born, not made, that he had no choice in the matter. His career had some breathtaking highs, but even at the lowest points, when others might have urged him to cut his losses and find some other vocation, Rick felt helpless in the face of his nature. He didn’t even truly understand the suggestion that there might be some alternative. He was a writer. How could he conceive of being anything else? I loved him for that. Rick liked unique and funny t-shirts and would always have a new one to show off at Necon every July. The best—the one that author Jack Ketchum and I recently agreed best represented the true Rick—was emblazoned with the following: What are you, a writer or a punk? That was Rick. ~ No one wrote horror with as heavy a heart, or with as deep a sense of foreboding and sorrow, as Rick Hautala. His characters are ordinary people, so full of worry about mundane, human things that when the extraordinary begins first to invade and then to tear apart their simple lives, we feel the tragedy on a visceral level that so many who came after Hautala never achieved. Right from the beginning of his career, Rick achieved something that marked him out as a force to be reckoned with—he didn’t write like anyone else. When you crack the pages of a Hautala novel (whether under his own name, or his AJ Matthews pseudonym), there’s no mistaking that voice for anyone else. There’s an anguish in his characters and a terrible claustrophobia to even the most open of settings that marks his novels indelibly. With Rick Hautala and the modern ghost story, author and subject formed a perfect bond. The horror in Rick’s work is the sorrow of isolation and the fear of the unknown future that lies ahead, often laced with echoes of past mistakes. He didn’t go for the cheap scare, ever. Instead, he created a supernatural catalyst with which he deconstructed human frailties and the fragile ties that bind us. These themes are found everywhere in Rick’s work. Some of the best examples include the million-copy, international bestseller Night Stone, the milestone short story collection Bed Bugs, and the extraordinary novella Miss Henry’s Bottles, which may be Rick’s finest work. Fan favorites include the novels Little Brothers and The Mountain King. Hautala’s in top form in Winter Wake and Cold Whisper, as well as the novels he wrote as AJ Matthews, in particular Looking Glass and Follow. With The Demon’s Wife—the last novel he completed—he had begun a new phase in his writing career, written something truly unique. We can only wonder where his ruminations would have taken him next. The tragedy of Rick’s life was that he never knew how many people loved him, how many held him in high regard—or if he knew, he never quite believed it. He never knew how good a writer he was. Oh, he wanted you to read his novels, and he wanted you to like them, but even the books of which he was most proud he dismissed with comments like, “I think that one worked out pretty well.” That was the highest compliment he could give himself. Rick Hautala was the horror writer's horror writer. He never looked down his nose at the genre, but embraced it instead. Legendary for his kindness and his generous spirit, he influenced a great many young writers and exuded a sense of camaraderie that became infectious. In Rick’s view, we were all in the trenches together. Self-effacing and approachable, he combined a blue collar work ethic with literary sensibilities shaped by his love of Shakespeare and Hawthorne. His passion for the horror genre was second only to his love for writing, and all of those elements conspired over decades to transform him into a determined mentor, offering critical feedback and quiet encouragement to many new authors as they began their own careers. Despite the mark he has made on the genre and his quiet mentorship of other writers, Rick was rarely recognized for his work until 2012, when he received the HWA's Lifetime Achievement Award. That honor meant the world to him. I worry that Rick Hautala and other masters are in danger of having their legacy forgotten. That can’t be allowed to happen. Go and pick up a copy of Winter Wake or Little Brothers or one of Rick’s fantastic short story collections. Connecting with readers, making them feel…that was the only reward that ever really mattered to him. So go and read some Hautala, and spread the word. Don’t forget. --Christopher Golden Bradford, Massachusetts March 25th, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

If You Want to Help Holly Newstein Hautala

Dear friends, I don’t have the words to put Rick Hautala’s death in any form of context. His wife, Holly, told me this morning that it’s blown a crater in her life, and that’s as good an image as any I could imagine. So many people have written so sincerely and so eloquently about their love for him personally or their admiration for him as a man and as a writer. Holly and those of us who were closest to Rick always tried to tell him how much he was loved, but he never believed it. I only wish he could have seen the outpouring of love and support that has come in the wake of his passing. Holly would like me to pass along her love and gratitude. She has been deeply touched and hopes, in time, to personally thank everyone who has reached out to her. Unfortunately, Rick’s sudden death could not have been more untimely. The life of a freelance writer is often one lived on the fringes of financial ruin, and Rick struggled mightily to stay afloat in recent years. Just within the last couple of months, that struggle became difficult enough that he could not afford to continue paying his life insurance bill, and allowed it to lapse. Though he could never have foreseen it, the timing, of course, could not have been worse. Then, just this morning, Holly discovered that the social security benefits she might hope to receive as Rick’s widow are not available to her until she turns sixty, three years from now. Efforts are under way on projects that we hope will earn some money for Rick’s estate, but meanwhile there are costs involved with his death to consider, and then, for Holly, the struggle will continue. If you’d like to help, any donation would be appreciated. You can PayPal directly to Holly at Thank you so much for your time. Christopher Golden

Friday, March 22, 2013

Rick Hautala

I couldn't even begin to type this yesterday. This morning it's not much easier, but I want to write it...need to write it. So here goes. I knew Rick Hautala long before I met him--knew him in the way readers always think they know their favorite authors. I grew up, you see, in the heyday of horror as a genre, when fine, incredibly talented writers like Robert R. McCammon, Charles L. Grant, Matthew Costello, Whitley Strieber and others were putting out regular doses of wonderful horror fiction. I read and absorbed it all. Sometimes, back in the early 1980s, my brother Jamie and I would latch on to a book we both wanted to read. Graham Masterton's Wells of Hell was one of them. I also recall a werewolf novel called Quarrel With the Moon. But of all of them, the one we shared the most enthusiasm for was MOONDEATH, the first novel by Rick Hautala. Witches and werewolves and spooky New England, combined with that intimate sense of growing dread that Rick did so well, right from the beginning of his writing could we go wrong? I read all of his novels. Before and after I first met him, I read them all, even the Lois & Clark tie-in novel that nobody was supposed to know he wrote. But I'm getting ahead of myself. In the spring of my senior year of college, 1989, I ran into Craig Shaw Gardner at the Million Year Picnic in Harvard Square, Cambridge. I had interviewed Craig for Starlog Magazine (my first paid writing assignment) and he told me about a little convention in Rhode Island called NECON. It was fairly exclusive, he said. Never more than 200 people, and mostly horror folks. I should go. Well, I couldn't afford it then, preparing to graduate college, but my then-girlfriend (and now my wife, Connie, without whom I wouldn't have gotten through the day yesterday, never mind the past 25 years) paid for me to go. She thought it was important. My God, we had no idea how important it would be. My history with Necon is a subject for another time. What's important is this. That weekend was filled with so many of my heroes in the genre, writers I looked up to like Craig, Charlie Grant, Doug Winter, John Skipp and Craig Spector, and, of course, Rick Hautala. I was so nervous to talk to Rick. I picked up a copy of his latest novel, WINTER WAKE, at the Friday night signing event, went up to him and babbled something about what MOONDEATH had meant to my brother and me. Now, you have to understand that Rick didn't think much of MOONDEATH. He liked it all right, I suppose, but like most of us when we consider our first novels he looked at it as something he'd done with his training wheels on. Still, he appreciated the enthusiasm. I still have that copy of WINTER WAKE. In the inscription, he wrote, "It ain't no MOONDEATH, but it's a good 'un, too." That was my first meeting with Rick, but I kept going back to Necon, kept writing, and soon we became friends. "Mis-ter Golden" I can hear him saying, even now. We hung out together at Necon and other conventions and we gave each other a ton of shit, teasing pretty mercilessly sometimes. In time, somehow we went from being friends to being the closest of friends. A fraternal bond formed, and over the years we became each other's sounding boards and confidantes. Rick had a few of us--Matt Costello, Glenn Chadbourne, me, and a couple of others--who he called his Texans...the guys he wanted with him if he ever had to stand on the wall at his own personal Alamo. The guys he knew would never let him down. You had to be careful with Rick, though. His self-deprecating humor was only half honest, and the other half was the armor that covered a lifetime of self doubt. He had seen huge successes in his career, and had experienced more than one fall from grace. There were people he had loved who'd turned their backs on him, friends who had turned out not to be worthy of the name. But through all of that, he gave freely of himself. His heart was open to anyone who was willing to meet him just as openly. He joked constantly that he was the "Eeyore of Horror" (Connie and I were at breakfast with him at WHC in Atlanta in 1995 when he gave himself that nickname). "Just another book," he drawled in his Eeyore voice. "Not that it matters." But as constantly as he ruminated about his professional life, worrying about whether his books *did* matter, that never impacted the way he greeted us all. Rick was a guy who didn't just have your back, he wanted to have your back. He was built for loyalty. Nobody ever enjoyed a good time with friends more than he did, drinking a beer and smoking a stogie, singing along to the songs of his youth at Necon, or raving about politics at the various Vicious Circle dinners that he and I often shared with friends in our area. I could write thousands of words about all of the times we shared and the evolution that we went through as I went from fan to brother, our nearly twenty year age difference notwithstanding. When my daughter Lily was little, Rick would always try to say hello to her, but for some reason she would hide her face and cry. God, how we teased him about that. It would always bring out that sheepish, Eeyore grin. Much has been made of Rick's smile, and it's impossible to say how much I'll miss it, but more than that I'll miss his laughter and that particular way he'd roll his eyes at me, just out of sight, when he thought someone was being an idiot. I'll miss talking politics--God, he cared so much about the world and about people. Even after all of the times he'd been let down, he cared so much. I'll miss his hugs ("hug it out bitch"--"cracka please") and his cheerful greetings. I'll miss the phone calls, just to shoot the breeze, and the way he'd enter my house and say hi to Connie and our kids. I'll miss teasing each other. [The first time I ever saw Rick in New York City, he looked like Dorothy in the haunted forest, tiptoeing in his flip-flops, afraid of "lions and tigers and bears." A city boy, he was not.] I'll miss talking to him about writing and Rod Serling and, more than anything, about fatherhood. Rick's three grown sons--Aaron, Jesse, and Mattie--and they were his world, just as much a part of him as his arms and legs. No, more. He could have lived without his limbs. Those boys were his heart, cut into three pieces and living outside his body. He ached when they ached and wept when they wept and worried over them every day, even if there was nothing to worry about. We should all be so lucky as to have a parent who loves us as much as Rick loved his boys. And Holly...when they found each other Rick had reached one of the lowest points in his life. His friend Bill Relling had committed suicide and Rick never quite recovered from that. His self doubt had reached an all-time high. Holly's love helped to restore his faith in himself. It was the greatest gift to him, and a great gift to all of us who loved him to see that reflected in him. I'll stop now. Stop writing this, anyway. I have many people still to call and respond to about this, and deadlines to keep. Rick would understand deadlines. Now, some of the hardest words I've ever had to type. I love you, brother. Goodbye. The rest of my days just won't be the same.