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Whole Earth Review, fall, , p. World Literature Today, winter, , p. Economist, April 12, , p. Entertainment Weekly, April 18, , p. Los Angeles Times, April 6, , p. Bloch's first publication in Weird Tales was in its letter-column, with a letter criticising the Conan stories of Robert E. That impressed me even more because Derleth didn't even smoke. Bloch's early stories were strongly influenced by Lovecraft. Indeed, a number of his stories were set in, and extended, the world of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.
Many other stories influenced by Lovecraft were later collected in Bloch's volume Mysteries of the Worm now in its third, expanded edition. In , Bloch wrote the tale "Satan's Servants", on which Lovecraft lent much advice, but none of the prose was by Lovecraft; this tale did not appear in print until , in Something About Cats and Other Pieces.
The young Bloch appears, thinly disguised, as the character " Robert Blake " in Lovecraft's story " The Haunter of the Dark " , which is dedicated to Bloch. Bloch was the only individual to whom Lovecraft ever dedicated a story. Bloch later recalled "believe me, beyond all doubt, I don't know anyone else I'd rather be killed by. Bloch's late novel Strange Eons is a full-length tribute to the style and subject matter of Lovecraft.
Lovecraft's death in affected Bloch, who was then aged only 20, deeply. He recalled "Part of me died with him, I guess, not only because he was not a god, he was mortal, that is true, but because he had so little recognition in his own lifetime. There were no novels or collections published, no great realization, even here in Providence, of what was lost. Only my parents and a few correspondents seemed to sense my shock, and my feeling that a part of me had died with him. After Lovecraft's death in , Bloch continued writing for Weird Tales , where he became one of its most popular authors.
He also began contributing to other pulps, such as the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories. Bloch broadened the scope of his fiction. His horror themes included voodoo "Mother of Serpents" , the conte cruel "The Mandarin's Canaries" , demonic possession "Fiddler's Fee" , and black magic "Return to the Sabbat". Bloch visited Henry Kuttner in California in Another member of the group was Gustav Marx, who offered Bloch a job writing copy in his advertising firm, also allowing Bloch to write stories in his spare time in the office.
Bloch was close friends with C. Moore and her husband Henry Kuttner , who visited him in Milwaukee. During the years of the Depression, Bloch appeared regularly in dramatic productions, writing and performing in his own sketches. Around he sold some gags to radio comedians Stoopnagle and Budd , and to Roy Atwell. The December issue also contained Lovecraft's tale "The Haunter of the Dark" in which he killed off young author 'Robert Blake' see Lovecraft section above.
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Weird Tales published "Return to the Sabbath" in July In a profile accompanying this tale, Bloch described himself as "tall, dark, unhandsome" with "all the charm and personality of a swamp adder". He noted that "I hate everything", but reserved particular dislike for "bean soup, red nail polish, house-cleaning, and optimists".
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In , Bloch was contacted by James Doolittle, who was managing the campaign for Mayor of Milwaukee of a little-known assistant city attorney named Carl Zeidler. He was asked to work on Zeidler's speechwriting, advertising, and photo ops, in collaboration with Harold Gauer. They created elaborate campaign shows; in Bloch's autobiography, Once Around the Bloch , he gives an inside account of the campaign, and the innovations he and Gauer came up with — for instance, the original releasing-balloons-from-the-ceiling shtick. He comments bitterly on how, after Zeidler's victory, they were ignored and not even paid their promised salaries.
He ends the story with a wryly philosophical point:. If Carl Zeidler had not asked Jim Doolittle to manage his campaign, Doolittle would never have contacted me about it. And the only reason Doolittle knew me to begin with was because he read my yarn "The Cloak" in Unknown. Rattling this chain of circumstances, one may stretch it a bit further. If I had not written a little vampire story called "The Cloak", Carl Zeidler might never have become mayor of Milwaukee. Around the same time, he began work as an advertising copywriter at the Gustav Marx Advertising Agency, a position he held until Marx allowed Bloch to write stories in the office in quiet times.
Bloch gradually evolved away from Lovecraftian imitations towards a unique style of his own. The story was Bloch's take on the Jack the Ripper legend, and was filled out with more genuine factual details of the case than many other fictional treatments. Towards the end of World War Two, in , Bloch was asked to write 39 minute episodes of his own radio horror show called Stay Tuned for Terror. Many of the programs were adaptations of his own pulp stories.
None of the episodes, which were all broadcast, are extant.
August Derleth 's Arkham House , Lovecraft's publisher, published Bloch's first collection of short stories, The Opener of the Way , in an edition of copies, with jacket art by Ronald Clyne. At the same time, his best-known early tale, "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper", received considerable attention through dramatization on radio and reprinting in anthologies. This story, as noted below, involving a Ripper who has found literal immortality through his crimes, has been widely imitated or plagiarized ; Bloch himself would return to the theme see below.
Bloch's first novel was published in hardcover - the thriller The Scarf Dial Press ; the Fawcett Gold medal paperback of features a revised text. It tells the story of a writer, Daniel Morley, who uses real women as models for his characters. But as soon as he is done writing the story, he is compelled to murder them, and always the same way: with the maroon scarf he has had since childhood.
The story begins in Minneapolis and follows him and his trail of dead bodies to Chicago , New York City , and finally Hollywood , where his hit novel is going to be turned into a movie, and where his self-control may have reached its limit. Bloch published three novels in — Spiderweb , The Kidnapper and The Will to Kill as he endeavored to support his family. That same year he was a weekly guest panellist on the TV quiz show It's a Draw. Shooting Star , a mainstream novel, was published in a double volume with a collection of Bloch's stories titled Terror in the Night.
This Crowded Earth was science fiction. His output of thrillers increased and he began to appear regularly in The Saint , Ellery Queen and similar mystery magazines, and to such suspense and horror-fiction magazine projects as Shock. Bloch continued to revisit the Jack the Ripper theme. His contribution to Harlan Ellison 's science fiction anthology Dangerous Visions was a story, " A Toy for Juliette ", which evoked both Jack the Ripper and the Marquis de Sade in a time-travel story.
His earlier idea of the Ripper as an immortal being resurfaced in Bloch's contribution to the original Star Trek series episode " Wolf in the Fold ". His novel Night of the Ripper is set during the reign of Queen Victoria and follows the investigation of Inspector Frederick Abberline in attempting to apprehend the Ripper, and includes some famous Victorians such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle within the storyline. Bloch had written an earlier short story involving split personalities , "The Real Bad Friend", which appeared in the February Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine , that foreshadowed the novel Psycho.
However, Psycho also has thematic links to the story "Lucy Comes to Stay. This was also the year in which, despite having graduated from painting watercolours to oils, he gave up painting completely. Norman Bates , the main character in Psycho , was very loosely based on two people. Second, it has been indicated by several people, including Noel Carter wife of Lin Carter and Chris Steinbrunner , as well as allegedly by Bloch himself, that Norman Bates was partly based on Calvin Beck, publisher of Castle of Frankenstein.
Bloch has also, however, commented that it was the situation itself - a mass murderer living undetected and unsuspected in a typical small town in middle America - rather than Gein himself who sparked Bloch's storyline. He writes: "Thus the real-life murderer was not the role model for my character Norman Bates.
Ed Gein didn't own or operate a motel. Ed Gein didn't kill anyone in the shower. Ed Gein wasn't into taxidermy. Ed Gein didn't stuff his mother, keep her body in the house, dress in a drag outfit, or adopt an alternative personality. These were the functions and characteristics of Norman Bates, and Norman Bates didn't exist until I made him up. Out of my own imagination, I add, which is probably the reason so few offer to take showers with me. Though Bloch had little involvement with the film version of his novel , which was directed by Alfred Hitchcock from an adapted screenplay by Joseph Stefano , he was to become most famous as its author.
Bloch was awarded a special Mystery Writers of America scroll for the novel in The novel is one of the first examples at full length of Bloch's use of modern urban horror relying on the horrors of interior psychology rather than the supernatural. Winter in an interview. Bloch had never sold a book to Hollywood before. Despite the enormous profits generated by Hitchcock's film, Bloch received no further direct compensation. Only Hitchcock's film was based on Bloch's novel.
The later films in the Psycho series bear no relation to either of Bloch's sequel novels. Indeed, Bloch's proposed script for the film Psycho II was rejected by the studio as were many other submissions , and it was this that he subsequently adapted for his own sequel novel.
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The film Hitchcock tells the story of Alfred Hitchcock's making of the film version of Psycho. Although it mentions Bloch and his novel, Bloch himself is not a character in the movie. Following his move to Hollywood, around , Bloch had multiple assignments from various television companies. However, he was not allowed to write for five months when the Writers Guild had a strike. After the strike was over, he became a much used scriptwriter in television and film projects in the mystery, suspense, and horror genre.
His first assignments were for the Macdonald Carey vehicle, Lock-Up , penning five episodes as well as one for Whispering Smith. In , he wrote the screenplay for The Cabinet of Caligari , an unhappy experience see Movies section below. The episode was shelved when the NBC Television Network and sponsor Revlon called its ending "too gruesome" by s standards for airing. Bloch was pleased later when the episode was included in the program's syndication package to affiliate stations, where not one complaint was registered. Today, due to public domain status, the episode is readily available in home media formats from numerous distributors and is even available on free video on demand.
His TV work did not slow Bloch's fictional output.
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In the early s he published several novels, including The Dead Beat , and Firebug for which Harlan Ellison , then an editor at Regency Books, contributed the first words. Bloch's novel The Couch the basis for the screenplay of his first movie, filmed the same year was published. Following his divorce from Marion Holcombe, Bloch saw into print two further collections of short stories, Bogey men and Horror The latter film was based on his short story "The Skull of the Marquis de Sade".
Three teleplays for the first series of Star Trek were produced — That year Bloch returned to the site of his childhood home at east Knapp St, Milwaukee the address used by Lovecraft for 'Robert Blake'in The Haunter of the Dark only to find the neighborhood razed and the entire neighbourhood levelled and replaced by expressway approaches.
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