According to a 2007 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Mr. Matheson recalled the incident with Romero no hard feelings:
“The first thing he said to me, putting his arms up as if I was abut to strike him, [was], ‘Didn’t make any money from Night of the Living Dead,’” Matheson recalled. “‘Homage’ means I get to steal you work. He’s a nice guy, though. I don’t harbor any animosity toward him.” (Romero later confirmed this story: “I confessed to him that I basically ripped the idea off from I Am Legend. He forgave me because we didn’t make any money. He said, ‘Well, as long as you didn’t get rich, it’s okay.’”)
Although I Am Legend, which was later adapted into a film starring Will Smith, deals more the fallout of a vampiric apocalypse, Mr. Matheson is well-credited as being the grandfather of the End of the World: Zombie Edition scenarios, as most recently brought to the big screen in Brad Pitt’s World War Z.
Matheson’s son posted a tribute to his father on his Facebook page yesterday evening:
Thank you all for the outpouring of love. My father passed peacefully at home yesterday, at 5:22PM, surrounded by love, family and soft music. As monumental as he is as a writer, he was every bit that as a husband, father, grandfather and friend. He was my hero and my best friend and I loved him deeply. I will miss him forever. I know we all will.