Friday, July 18, 2008

Rail Rider/Third Rail

Right about this time of summer, back in 1988, I had been visiting Mark Rainey when he lived in Des Plaines. When he dropped me off at the Cumberland el stop near O'Hare, I told him I would write a story starting off with Mark leaving the parking lot. Most of the story that followed was true. There was a girl near the escalator, the el stop otherwise deserted, which was to be expected at 11 PM on a Saturday, at an obscure el stop sandwiched in-between I-94 inbound and outbound lanes. If you go there now, most of the landscape I describe is still there, although the bank with the flashing time and temp has likely changed hands five times. Jerry Williamson, bless him, decided that he would run my story as "Third Rail," even though the story does not involve electrocution. He seemed to think the new title would refer to an erection. Yep. But who was I to argue? It was the first book published with my name on the back cover (instead of being one of the ...And Ten Other Weird-Weaving Authors!) and I received my copy in between the third and fourth operations on my arm in early 1989. Mort Castle, a writer finally getting recognition he deserves after way to many years, got involved with getting the story reprinted by Innovation comics (sporting a Frank Frazetta cover!) along with Robert McCammon's "Nightrunners" and a few others. It was finally called "Rail Rider" after Karl Edward Wagner changed the title back when it was reprinted in YEAR'S BEST HORROR:XV. Well, Mort contacted me today, and Checker Books is reprinting the comic and, somehow, I'm getting paid MORE this time around than I did for all the other versions combined (and I'm not subtracting the price of buying DARKER MASQUES at Borders). Still scratching my head over this one...Wayne