This week in From the Vault we begin a look at the great monster magazines of the 1960s and 1970s. If you grew up in the era of the late 1950s to the early 1980s chances are you COULD be a “Monster Kid”. So what’s a Monster Kid? Well if I can steal a bit from comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s “you might be a redneck” routine it’s like this…
If you stayed up late, usually on a Friday or Saturday night watching old horror and sci-fi films hosted by crazy personalities like Morgus, Zacherley, The Ghoul, Sir Graves Ghastly, Bob Wilkins, Svengoolie, Elvira, Count Gore de Vol, Ghoulardi, or Fritz the Nite Owl…you might be a monster kid.
If you put together monster model kits made by Aurora or Revell…you might be a monster kid.
And if you grew up reading magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland, and The Monster Times…you might be a monster kid.
Title: Monsters to Laugh With/Monsters Unlimited
Published By: Marvel/Magazine Management
Years: 1964 – 1966
Number of issues: 7
In Marvel Comics’ formative years, they put out this short term, black & white magazine that consisted entirely of photos from mostly Universal classic horror films with funny word balloons added. From a content standpoint this was aimed squarely at kids but the one thing that the magazine boasted is that Stan Lee was the editor and wrote most of the captions. Beginning with issue #4 the magazine changed its name to Monsters Unlimited but the general format remained the same.
Published By: Marvel/Curtis Publishing
Years: 1972 - 1973
Number of issues: 3
Marvel’s second monster magazine would be published under its Curtis imprint which handled all of Marvel’s black & white magazines in the 1970s to the early 1980s. Monster Madness was little more than a revival of Monsters to Laugh With/Monsters Unlimited.
Monsters of the Movies
Published By: Marvel/Curtis Publishing
Years: 1974 – 1975
Number of issues: 9
Marvel’s third monster magazine wouldalso be published under its Curtis imprint. Monsters of the Movies was a much more direct attempt by Marvel to compete with Famous Monsters of Filmland. The magazine covered both current and classic horror films and featured articles, interviews, and photo features.
The Magazine was produced by two factions of writers, a west coast branch that were horror fans, and an east coast branch which were members of Marvel’s regular bullpen staff. Supposedly in-fighting between the two group’s led to the magazine’s early cancelation. One benefit that Marvel did have with Monsters of the Movies was that it had its stable of artists to produce some fantastic covers such as Bob Larkin, Luis Dominguez, and Gray Morrow.
Castle of Frankenstein
Published By: Gothic Castle Publishing Co.
Years: 1962 - 1975
Number of issues: 25 plus one annual edition
Castle of Frankenstein is one of the most unique magazines in the storied history of monster mags…while the magazine was in existence for thirteen years, only 26 issues were published due to the erratic publishing schedule of mercurial founder, Calvin Beck. Castle of Frankenstein is one of the most respected and most sought after magazines due to the quality of its articles.
The impressive list of contributors included writers Lin Carter, Richard Lupoff, William K. Everson and Joe Dante; and artists Virgil Finlay, Wally Wood, Bernie Wrightson, Jim Steranko, Frank Brunner, Russ Jones, and Ken Kelly. While early on Castle of Frankenstein followed the Famous Monsters format of concentrating on classic horror films, as it went on it began to feature more coverage of contemporary horror films as well as fantasy and sci-fi films.
In addition, Castle of Frankenstein devoted coverage to topics such as amateur filmmakers, comic books, and even fanzines. In 1967 Beck released an annual he called Fearbook. In 1999, the magazine was revived for a short time as new publisher Dennis Druktenis put out ten additional issues.
Quasimodo’s Monster Magazine
Published By: Mayfair Publications
Years: 1975 - 1976
Number of issues: 8
If Famous Monsters of Filmland was at the top end of the scale in terms of quality, Quasimodo’s Monster Magazine, published by Mayfair, was at the opposite end. Mayfair, which also produced Monster Fantasy, another magazine, produced very cheap publications. Mayfair made no bones about trying to get a piece of the Famous Monsters pie.
That said, Quasimodo’s Monster magazine (which was called Monster World for its first two issues) wasn’t a bad magazine. It was an uneven mix of humor and actual monster coverage. However its last couple of issues became more akin to Mad Magazine than Famous Monsters.
Tim Janson is a columnist and reviewer for Mania Entertainment. He writes Level Up, the weekly look at videogames and the horror dedicated column, Tuesday Terrors. Tim has written for Fangoria, Newsarama, City Slab Magazine, Twitch Film, and Cinefantastique. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA). Be sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.