By James H. Burns: I think C.J. (Chris) Henderson — author of the hardboiled Jack Hagee detective mysteries, many horror and fantasy tales (as well as several notable comic book titles and a hardcover novel collaboration with William Shatner) — might be annoyed that I always think of him as just this gentle innocent.
Because when I’d see him at his author’s table at conventions in the last several years, he at times seemed cantankerous, that is, until he would get engaged in a worthy conversation with pro, or fan, or passerby.
But I always think of Chris from the early 1980s, when we were contemporaries, writing for the fantasy and science fiction film magazines, and later, when we’d spend happy hours at the old, wonderful Mystery Writers of America cocktail parties on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan (presided over by Chris Steinbrunner and then, when Steinbrunner ailed, Susan Dodson). And Henderson was just this incredibly decent and pleasant guy, along with his lovely wife, Tin.
(Besides, he laughed at my quip when sitting behind me at the press screening for the less than wonderful Bond film, A View To A Kill, and towards its kind of dull finale, when a white feline suddenly appeared, I said to my girlfriend next to me, “Ah! It’s Blofeld’s cat!”)
Chris has gone on to a lovely career, particularly distinguished by the vast VARIETY of his writing.
He’s also been an active presence at conventions for years, and two of his most frequent travelling companions, artist Ed Coutts and writer R. Allen (Rick) Leider (coincidentally, one of the very first professional writers I ever met, way back in 1976 when he was the media columnist for The Monster Times!), attest to his continued good will, and wit.
Word’s out that Chris is again having a tough time with his bout with cancer, and it occurred to me, as I heard the news today, what a good time this might be for all of us who have been touched by Chris’ kindness and imagination, to drop him a line:
I would bet the only element more prolific than Henderson’s output through the years has been the friends he’s made.