Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tor Books 2007 Movie Tie-in

Tor reissued I Am Legend (with collected stories) to coincide with the release of the Will Smith film in 2007. The content is identical to the previous Tor paperback.

This is currently the in-print mass market edition of the book, which has already gone into multiple printings.

Tor Books with collected stories

In 1995, Tor Books published I Am Legend. For the first time, rather than being sold as a standalone novel, 10 additional short stories were also included.

Featuring one of my personal favorite Legend covers by artist Jim Thiesen (and the one I'm proud to own the original painting for) that would go on to be re-used (in a digitally manipulated form) on future domestic and international versions; the image cropped so as to remove the vampire baby, the head of the reaching vampire replaced with the skull like head below it, and all other vampires blurred.

Berkley Book The Nightmare Classic

In April 1979, Berkley brought I Am Legend back into print as part of their series of Matheson titles with matching covers. The same artist provided covers to The Shrinking Man, Stir of Echoes, The Shores of Space, Shock I, II, III and Shock Waves.

This would be the last US mass market paperback of the book for 16 years.

Berkley Medallion S2041 - The Omega Man

To coincide with the release of the film The Omega Man in August of 1971, Berkley Medallion thankfully acquired the rights to Matheson's albeit vastly different novel rather than hiring someone to write a novelization of the film.

The book sports a very nice cover image of Charlton Heston, Anthony Zerbe and the Family by Mort Kunstler, and includes the book's original title on the cover and spine, while giving the primary real estate on the cover and title page to the film title.

The first edition is recognizable by the inclusion of a TRUE cigarette advertisement between pages 88 and 89.

A second printing of the book was released in November of 1971, with a cover indistinguishable from the first printing, yet easily identified by the notation on the copyright page, as well as the absence of the cigarette advertisement fold-out that was present only in the first edition.

Bantam J2744 - The Last Man on Earth

Several years passed before Bantam acquired the rights to reprint I Am Legend in March, 1964, obviously to tie-in with the release of the Vincent Price film adaptation The Last Man on Earth.

While the front cover doesn't reference the film (it being too busy with hyperbole), the back cover deliberately includes the phrase "I AM THE LAST MAN ON EARTH!" The artist's name, Sanford (Sandy) Kossin, is partially cut off on the front cover, is still difficult to read when presented in its entirety on the back cover.

This single printing would be the only Bantam edition of the book, and the last edition of the book until the next film adaptation was released in 1971.

Gold Medal 643 - Canadian Printing

The second Gold Medal I Am Legend was also printed north of the border in Canada in 1956. Easily confused with the American second printing, it is quite easy to determine if you have a Canadian edition.

The clue on the front cover is the price - 35¢ instead of the 25¢ of the American edition.

The copyright page does not reference that the book is a second printing, however it does contain the line: PRINTED IN CANADA.

Finally, the back cover also includes the notation: LITHOGRAPHED IN CANADA.

Gold Medal 643 - Second Big Printing!

After Gold Medal published Matheson's follow-up novel The Shrinking Man in 1956, they brought I Am Legend back into print. The cover trumpeted the fact that this was the 'Second Big Printing!'

Internally, there were a few other modifications from the first printing. Cover artist Stan Meltzoff's name was dropped from the title page, and the last page lost the notation about this never having been a book before.

Several years back I picked up a pristine copy of the book with a label on the inside front cover designating it as a file copy from the printer. Whether it truly was or not, it's an amazingly sharp copy for a 40+ year old paperback.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gold Medal 417 - The First Edition

I thought I'd use the blog to introduce the full collection in greater detail than I've been able to do on the website previously. I hope to provide valuable reference information about each edition. You can use the labels to quickly find and identify a particular edition.

To kick things off, we look at the original Gold Medal paperback original, number 417, published in July of 1954, weighing in at 160 pages with a cover price of 25 cents. (Click on images to load larger versions.)

The first science-fiction novel from a publisher known primarily for their crime fiction, I Am Legend was successful enough to warrant a second printing - under a new number (Gold Medal 643) that saw unique US and Canadian printings. Those editions will be photographed and indexed separately. The haunting cover painting is by artist Stanley Meltzoff (1917-2006).

Here's the descriptive text on the inside front cover:

I still recall the first time I met Richard Matheson, at an HWA convention in Redondo Beach, CA, where I had him sign my first edition. I have had the honor to meet a great number of the people who have inspired me through the years, and meeting Matheson was the first time I was at a loss for words. I'm sure I stammered something about how much this book and his others meant to me, and how it changed my life (at the ripe old age of 20). I've since had the opportunity to speak with him at subsequent appearances, where I think I've more successfully retained my composure.

As was customary for Gold Medal, the end of the book includes a brief note clarifying theirs is the first publication of this book. I can only imagine what an unsuspecting reader felt upon reaching this in the summer of 1954.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


This extension to the I Am Legend Archive website is going to (finally) allow me to update the site with much greater frequency. The fixed content will remain available on the primary site, and here you will see the latest covers, news bits, and pointers back to the site as new features are added. Look forward to a full indexing of the editions in the archive, including numerous photos and other details.

Now you can also sign up for notification when new posts are made, and also add comments directly. I've always wanted to provide a forum for fans of the book and the films, and I hope by way of this blog, we can succeed at that.

If you've just stumbled across this blog, please do check out the main site through the link on the right.

If there are things you'd like to see, please let me know!

John Scoleri

New Italian graphic novel adaptation of I AM LEGEND available for pre-order

  Coming next May from our friends at Independent Legions in Italy (home of many Italian translations of great horror novels and stories), a...