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: Famous Monsters of Filmland
Published By: Warren Publications
Years: 1958 – Present
Number of issues: 267 and counting.
Forrest J Ackerman, affectionately known as “Uncle Forry”, was one of the founders of science fiction fandom and is credited with coining the genre’s nickname “sci-fi”. He attended the 1st World Science Fiction Convention in 1939, where he wore the first "futuristicostume" and sparked fan costuming, which we today refer to as cosplay . Ackerman became a literary agent to many sci-fi writers and producers including Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, Charles Beaumont, Marion Zimmer Bradley and L. Ron Hubbard.
Over the decades Ackerman accumulated a massive collection of sci-fi books, magazines, artwork, and movie memorabilia. He would frequently host tours of his collection for fans at his well-known “Ackermansion” in Los Angeles. Ackerman was also the creator of sexy vampire comic book character, Vampirella.
Ackerman started up Famous Monsters of Filmland in February 1958 and served as the magazine’s editor until 1983, 191 issues in all. Famous Monsters featured articles, interviews, and photographs primarily dealing with classic horror films of the 1930s and 1940s. In addition, Ackerman kept things lively with liberal doses of humor including notoriously bad puns. FM became known as much for its covers as its interior content. Beautifully painted covers by the likes of Albert Nuetzell, Gray Morrow, Ron Cobb, Vic Prezlo, Ken Kelly,and of course, the great Basil Gogos.
As FM moved into the 1970s they began to feature more coverage of non-horror films like Star Wars and Superman. FM Ceased publication in 1983 but the story didn’t end there. A monster fan named Ray Ferry attempted to bring the magazine back in 1993 and even hired Ackerman to edit it. However when Ferry failed to pay Ackerman, he resigned. Eventually Ackerman sued Ferry and won a judgment of over $700,000 in damages resulting in Ferry filing for bankruptcy. In 2007 Philip Kim reached an agreement with Ackerman to use his trademarks to retain the magazine’s original look and feel and the magazine continues on to this day.
Title: The Monster Times
Published by: The Monsters Times Publishing co.
Years: 1972 - 1976
Number of issues: 48 plus three special issues.
The Monster Times was one of the more unique monster magazines because rather being in a standard magazine format it was actually a newspaper. Each issue contained a feature article on a current or classic horror or sci-fi film, plus book reviews, news of upcoming comics and sci-fi conventions, color center-fold poster, a two page comic story and ads for fanzines. The Monster Times featured are by some of the great comic artists of the day including: Neal Adams, Frank Brunner, John Byrne, Jeff Jones, Mike Kaluta, Gray Morrow, and Bernie Wrightson.
The format of The Monster Times was both good and bad…on one hand, newsprint does not hold up very well over time. It tears easily, yellows and becomes brittle. On the other hand this has also meant that issues of the publication are scarce compared to other magazines, particularly those in exceptional condition. This has made them highly collectible! The Monsters Times was sold right on comic racks back on the day and it was one of the better mag out there in terms of its content.
Next week we’ll take a look at several more classic monster magazines.
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.