Outside of Star Wars figures, one of my favorite things to collect is old books. My office is full of them. I have first editions and turn of the 19th century hard cover poetry books. I feel nothing captures a snapshot in time better than a book. Many have inscriptions in the front dedicated to long deceased friends and loved ones.
One of my most treasured books, is not 200 years old. It’s not even fifty years old. It is a first edition paperback of John Russo’s Return of the Living Dead. John is the screenwriter of George A. Romero’s seminal classic 1968 movie Night of the Living Dead. Return of the Living Dead is the sequel that takes place shortly after the events in the movie. Yes, I know Dawn of the Dead is the movie sequel to Night of the Living Dead, but this is John Russo’s literary version and is completely different from the movie with the same name.
Still with me?
Okay, good. So why is a creased and worn book about zombies so important to me? I was seven when I got the book. My Grandad gave it to me with the strict instructions to hide it under my bed so my parents wouldn’t find out. The cover was of a rotting zombie and I must have read it a hundred times. I brought it with me when I moved to the US in 93 and it has stayed on my bookshelf.
This past weekend and after 33 years, I was finally able to get it signed by Mr. John Russo himself. Adding to the moment, Mr. Russo stated that he had never seen this particular edition before and was surprised that I wanted it personalized. The financial value matters little to me as I never plan to sell it. What it represents is far more valuable. It was what turned me onto the zombie genre and thus started my writing career. Finally being able to meet Mr. Russo and thankg him for the inspiration was a wonderful moment in my career.
This is testament that patience pays off. Sometimes good things can just take a little while to come to fruition.