Award-winning novelist Jack Ketchum dies of cancer at 71

Dallas William Mayr, better known as Jack Ketchum died last Wednesday, January 24, 2018 after a long battle with cancer.

The news came to us by way of a tweet from Jack’s own Twitter:

“Kev the Webmaster tweeting – Dallas Mayr, Jack Ketchum, passed away this morning, after a long battle with cancer.

“He was grateful for all of you, and he will be sorely, sorely missed.”


Jack’s life and times

Jack was a native of Newark, New Jersey and was an Emerson College graduate. He had mentored under Robert Bloch and was also a former literary agent for Henry Miller’s novel “Tropic of Cancer.”

An award-winning author, he received four Bram Stoker Awards and three additional nominations by the same award-giving body. His last award was the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award, for outstanding contribution to the genre of modern horror fiction.

In an interview with Nightmare Magazine back in November 2016, he was asked if he ever dreamed of being a force of the “splatterpunk” movement in modern horror fiction.

“Not really. Though I did kind of like it when Edward Lee called me the “Godfather Of”. But David Schow came up with the term in ’86 and Paul Sammon’s seminal Splatterpunks anthology didn’t come out until 1990,” he said.

“Off Season was published in ’81, so I was getting the rough stuff in your face way before those guys.

“I didn’t mind opening the door, though. A lot of good writing’s come out of that school. Also a lot of garbage. But you could say the same about the vampire novel, too,” he finished.

Tributes for Jack

Jack Ketchum

An outpouring of grief and tributes soon followed on Twitter and Instagram after the news of the author’s death spread across the online communities.

Fellow author Christopher Golden (@ChristophGolden), a close friend of Jack, also confirmed the literary giant’s passing:

“I’m numb. No other word for it.

“Horror legend and my friend for many, many years, Dallas Mayr (aka @JackKetchum) has passed away after a long battle with cancer.

“Farewell, old friend. I’m so sorry to see you go.”

Writer and director Ted Geoghegan also wrote about the author’s passing:

“Hearing sad word that horror author Jack Ketchum has passed away. A friend and collaborator to many of my peers, I’d only had the pleasure of meeting him once.

He was a kind man, and left behind an amazing legacy. Rest in peace, good sir – and thank you for all the scares.”

The scariest writer in America


Stephen King, another literary force in contemporary fiction, bid farewell to Jack who he once described as likely the scariest writer in America.

“Very sorry to hear that an old friend of mine, Dallas Mayr, died,” King’s tweet began.

“He terrified readers with books like Off Season and The Girl Next Door. Dallas and I went back to the 70s together.”

In one other occasion, Stephen King was quoted in saying that Jack Ketchum ‘remade’ the face of American popular fiction.

“Jack Ketchum’s first novel… set off a furor in my supposed field, that of horror, that was unequaled until the advent of Clive Barker,” King said, after receiving the National Book Award.

“It is not too much to say that these two gentlemen remade the face of American popular fiction.”

Jack Ketchum’s first novel Off Season was first published in 1980; he followed his first bestseller with several more: The Lost, The Woman, The Girl Next Door, Offspring and Red. All of these novels have been adapted to the silver screen.

Another Ketchum work, The Box, became a segment in the horror anthology XX, released in 2017.

Actress Pollyanna McIntosh who starred in one of the Ketchum adaptations The Woman, bid farewell to the master of horror on her Instagram @pollyannamcintosh:

“Rest in Peace, Dallas,” Pollyana wrote.

“Known to many as Jack Ketchum, Dallas loved to experience his best selling books through filmmakers’ eyes. I’ve been in 3 films based on his characters and I’ve enjoyed the hell out of them.

“Thank you Dallas for your work, your collaboration and your support of me and so many other writers and artists out there. You lived it your way. Your smile will be missed. Love to his family, friends and fans,” she finished.

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