That day I gave Mr. King a copy of his pulp story he once again said something that stopped me in my tracks. He was holding and paging through a copy of my and Blake's book looking at the section on the men's adventure magazines, and completely out of the blue blurts out, "You know, I was hired by Bruce J. Friedman to work for Magazine Management." Just like that! Out of nowhere, he mentions Bruce J. Friedman and Magazine Management, which just happens to be the entirety of Martin Goodman's non-comic book publishing empire and the main subject of our book!
I practically screeched, "What did you do?? When?? How...??" He cut me off, answering, "Oh, I was hired but I never worked for them. My wife wanted me to get a real job so I immediately landed a job with (an agency I don't recall) and quit before my first day!" "How did you end up at Magazine Management?", I asked. The answer was, he had written stories for a ton of men's magazines at the time and felt a staff position with one of the biggest publishers might be good idea. Asked what he wrote for the men's magazines, the answer was, "fiction," but didn't provide any details.
The second story, "Road Runner", is in the Vol 6, #11, November, 1961 issue of ROGUE. Included is a photo of Charles H. King in the "Rogue Notes" column. (The image I've used at the top of this article). The issue also contains a story by Robert Bloch
The end of the story is cropped from the top of the page it appears. The full page 80 is included also.
The third story I found, "This is Your Wife!", is satire from the Vol 7, #2, November 1962 issue of DUDE.
These three are the only ones I was able to turn up and the likely scenario is that there may be a score of additional short fiction stories buried in back-issue early 1960's men's magazines.
But this is not the end of Mr. Charles King's literary career. There's one more very important item, the existence of which he'd been mentioning for a while and I just didn't catch on. Let me explain what I mean. From the first time I met Mr. King, I've related about how enthusiastically garrulous he was. He would speak fast and in spurts, mentioning so many things in a row that it was often a bit hard to keep up. And of course out of courtesy, I would not stop him over and over to explain a point or a reference more clearly. One thing I realized (well after the fact) was that he often made a reference using the phrase "mama's boy." I didn't really know what he meant, he didn't offer any context, just kept on with whatever he was talking about. He mentioned it often enough for me to wonder if perhaps he had a tendency to use the expression colloquially for whatever reason he had. While I was researching his early fiction I was startled to find that Mr. Charles King had actually written a novel by that name, "Mama's Boy!" Now it all made sense! He was repeatedly referring to his novel, without actually having ever told me that he had written a novel!
And what a novel it was! Published by Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books in 1992, this crime-suspense thriller got rave reviews including a back cover acclaim by noted horror author Peter Straub. But what really was interesting was the bio on the dust jacket, a bio that gave background on Mr. King's life that I knew nothing about, and Mr. King being one not to talk about himself (Mama's Boy excepted, which he was obviously proud of).
From the dust jacket flap (including another updated photo):
"Charles King has been a mathematician at the Harvard Computation Laboratory, a performer and writer for network radio, and a creative director at a large New York advertising agency. (He was the ad man "John Fortune" in Studs Terkel's Working.) He has published some twenty short stories in national magazines; this is his first novel. He lives with his wife Katherine in New York."
Who knew? I certainly didn't. I packed all these men's magazines up with a copy of Mama's Boy, and brought them all in for him to see the next time his appointment came around. He laughed at the men's magazines, recalling that they paid poorly and were the impetus for his wife's urging to get a "real" job, a job that landed him ultimately at the top of the Advertising business. A real-life Mad Man at the exact same time!
In the last 2 years or so, his wife's health took a turn for the worse and Mr. King's own health was a battle. I last saw him in June, and he was his usual outgoing, happy self, refusing to let obstacles stop him from enjoying life.
In early September, several weeks ago, I received a phone call from Mr. King's brother. Mr. King had been in a car accident, and was pretty darn banged up. I offered my good wishes be passed along and my help in any way I could offer. He was in need of a particular medical referral, which I eagerly gave. The feeling I had from that phone call was that although he was an elderly man, and battling his own medical concerns, he was going to be ok. Within a week we received the sad news that Mr. King had passed away on September 15th.
And just like that, he was gone, causing me to think about what a wonderful life he had and how much he'd seen and done that intersected with my own interests and passions. It made me realize that I should have interviewed him formally and gotten his entire story for posterity. I really knew nothing at all about his Advertising career, nor his personal life. But then again I also realize that it was only by the chance mentioning of a now obscure physical culture publisher of the 1920's, that I even uncovered our allied interests. In any manner, I will miss Mr. Charles H. King and welcome anyone who reads this who may have known him in a professional (or non-professional) manner to add to his story.