Back From ‘The Edge’

Back From ‘The Edge’
By Sunni K Brock

How many living legends can you cram into one small bookstore on a Saturday afternoon? An amazing number, it turns out.

Saturday, February 20th, 2010 saw legendary writers alongside up-and-comers at the mega-signing event for The Bleeding Edge anthology at Mystery and Imagination bookstore in Glendale, California. Editors (and contributing authors) William F. Nolan (Logan’s Run; he had just received a Lifetime Achievement award from the Horror Writers Association) and Jason V Brock (Charles Beaumont: The Twilight Zone’s Magic Man), hosted the event in cooperation with book shop owners, Malcolm and Christine Bell.

Brock had earlier dedicated the gathering to the memory of Dan O’Bannon (Alien), who contributed to the book and was scheduled to attend the signing before his untimely passing in December 2009. In his stead, his wife, Diane, chatted with all of the writers and the store had a portrait up in his honor.

In attendance were authors Ray Bradbury, George Clayton Johnson, John Shirley, Earl Hamner,  John Tomerlin, Cody Goodfellow, James Robert Smith, and Lisa Morton. Appearances were also made by John Skipp (The Light at the End), Pete Atkins (Clive Barker’s A-Z of Horror),  Dennis Etchison (The Dark Country), Paul G. Bens (Kelland), Paul J. Salamoff (Logan’s Run: Lastday), and many other writers and Hollywood insiders. Although Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) was unable to attend, he received birthday greetings via a phone call.

The event was a huge success, both in sales (nearly 100 copies of The Bleeding Edge were sold!) and excitement (by estimates, over 300 people). It was covered by Famous Monsters of Filmland, and the local newspapers. John King Tarpinian kept the crowd in line with threats of “Soylent Green” for those who didn’t keep the order. Fans were lined up out the door and down the block to get their copies inscribed, as author/fan Paul G. Bens became a volunteer crowd controller, noting that the Fire Marshall was concerned about the throngs of eager patrons jammed into Mystery and Imagination. James Beach, the publisher of Dark Discoveries, was also assisting with crowd control and mingling with the authors and fans.

The Bleeding Edge has been called “A Landmark Anthology” by the genre press, and certainly this was a landmark signing. Ray Bradbury wore his medal for Arts and Letters from the country of France and signed for over two hours while warmly greeting his fans.  Best known for Fahrenheit 451The Martian Chronicles, and Dark Carnival, Ray invited everyone to attend his musical, Wisdom 2116 playing in Pasadena that evening.

Many fans lined up to see Norman Corwin (On a Note of Triumph), a radio great and contemporary of Orson Welles. The 99-year-old was chipper as ever and also signed copies of his book, Thirteen by Corwin.

George Clayton Johnson, co-author of Logan’s Run, writer of eight episodes of The Twilight Zone, and the first Star Trek original series episode to be aired, sat next to Corwin. The self-proclaimed “Dog without a Collar” greeted enthusiasts with vigor, and signed with his trademark doodle and dated copyright.

John Shirley, whose contribution entailed a ghost that follows a family home from Costco, was equally inundated with fans. Readers also snatched up Shirley’s novel, Bleak History, to get autographed copies.

Co-editor Jason V Brock rounded out the authors at the front of the store. Fans and colleagues congratulated him on the fine book, his editorial debut – and the overwhelming success of the event.

There were so many authors at the event (over 14 including surprise guests), that an additional line was formed for more writers to be seated in the second floor of the store. Upstairs, James Robert Smith, whose novel, The Flock, has been optioned by Don Murphy for a summer tent pole movie release, was blown away by the number of people. Cody Goodfellow (Perfect Union) and Lisa Morton (The Castle of Los Angeles) were equally astonished by the turn out and the company they were keeping.

Earl Hamner (The Twilight Zone, The Waltons, Falcon Crest) enthusiastically penned his name and chatted with numerous aficionados in his warm Southern drawl. John Tomerlin, who helped create The Twilight Zone’s classic, “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You”, signed alongside William F. Nolan. “This is the biggest signing I’ve ever attended for a single book!” exclaimed Nolan. Tomerlin concurred, adding that his hand hurt from signing so many times.

Marc Scott Zicree, television writer and author of The Twilight Zone Companion, noted that, except for Richard Matheson, all of the living Twilight Zone writers were present.  “You’ll never see all these people in one place again,” Marc said to Jason during the group photo session. James Robert Smith kept repeating: “This is amazing! Amazing!”

There will be another signing opportunity for The Bleeding Edge in Los Angeles at The Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, prior to the world premiere of JaSunni Productions’ documentary Charles Beaumont: The Twilight Zone’s Magic Man. The signing will begin at 2pm, with the movie starting at 3pm.

Brock and Nolan plan to follow-up The Bleeding Edge with another anthology based on cross-genre fiction and featuring authors writing out of their comfort zones. The next book is titled The Devil’s Coattails and should go to print Fall of 2010.

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