There are many things I love about this hobby of mine. The genre movies that I have in my collection, nearly 1,700 at last count. The books and magazines. The figures and toys.
However, what I treasure most about this life-long love of Horror and Sci-Fi are the memories and friendships that it has brought to me. Having the FRANKENSTEIN 75th Anniversary Edition DVD in my collection is nice; it’s an absolutely beautiful DVD. However, the joy I derive from watching it can’t possibly compare to the memory of the first time I saw FRANKENSTEIN… grainy, scratchy, cut to pieces, on a 12-inch black & white TV. Halloween is still my favorite holiday, and now, as an adult, I can go as wild as I want with it, with the only restrictions on my celebrations being monetary, but it will never be as good as it was when I was ten.
The feelings for, and memories of, the people I’ve come in contact with since I began to write seriously about the Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy genres are the real treasures of my collection. That’s true whether in the yahoo groups I inhabit, such as the Universal Monster Army, the Creatures Features group, or my own Attack of the B-Movie Monster group; or at conventions like Wonderfest and Horrorfind; or even through the writing itself. Three of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life came about through the horror groups, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet individuals whose work I’ve admired for decades. Thirty or so years ago I watched Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch, and Bob Burns every week in the Saturday morning live-action program Ghost Busters… five months ago I was standing not ten feet from Mr. Burns, one of my heroes of the genre, at Wonderfest.
The most amazing thing to me is the way the network spreads throughout the genre. Much like the “six degrees of Bacon” game, everyone can be connected to everyone else. In just one degree of separation (or maybe two… I was never good at the game), I can be connected to an Oscar-winning actress, a ‘50’s Sci-Fi icon, and a legend of the genre. The web of my personal network is not deep, but it is exceedingly broad. Unfortunately, that does have painful consequences at times.
Now is one of those times. Richard Valley, Editor and Publisher of Scarlet Street Magazine, has passed away at the age of 58.
Scarlet Street, for those unfamiliar with this magazine, is one of the few devoted to the classic Horror and Suspense films of the ‘30’s, ‘40’s, and ‘50’s; certainly it is the best. Started in 1991, with a focus on the Granada Television Sherlock Holmes series starring Jeremy Brett, it has evolved over time to encompass a much broader spectrum of classic genre films. It now includes such films as the Universal Horrors, ‘50’s Sci-Fi B-pictures, and Italian Sword-and-Sandal epics. Well-written and slickly produced, with a distinctive visual style, Scarlet Street is required reading for Holmes fans, particularly those who feel that Brett was the consummate Holmes. Moreover, it should be on the “must-read” list for anyone who considers themselves classic Horror Film fans. And for sixteen years, Valley was the driving force behind it.
He began the magazine in his spare time, working with friends and fellow-fans, Xeroxing the first issue in black & white. And he has guided it ever since, transforming it into the quality publication it is now.
I didn’t know Richard Valley personally, but one of my best friends included him in her circle of friends. I share her pain and sense of loss, in my sympathy and concern for her. Her anger at the disease which has claimed him, as it has claimed so many others in both our lives, is understandably heartfelt and sincere. Cancer has taken many of those I love, including my own father. We have discussed this between ourselves before, as a favored cousin of mine lay dying of the disease. I wish that I had the words to ease her pain now, as she sought to do for me when the situation was reversed. As we both have sought to do for others countless times before.
Unfortunately, those words don’t exist; at least, not in my limited vocabulary. There is nothing I know to say that can ease the sense of loss and hurt that afflicts her now, or help those whom I don’t know who loved this man. The only thing I can do is reassure her of one concern that she voiced to me prior to his death. She was angered by the fact that his intellect, his passion and knowledge, would soon be lost.
But it won’t… not really. We have it in his writings, his articles and essays, his true legacy. We still have it, in the pages of the magazine he created.
We still have it, because we still have Scarlet Street.