Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Famous Monsters Of Filmland may be one of the most important genre publications of all time.  Despite (or because) of its lowbrow nature, Famous Monsters influenced generations of horror fans, and fueled the imaginations of some of the most important figures in horror films and literature.  Forrest J Ackerman (Uncle Forry to his fans) was the principle architect of the magazine, and was the driving force behind its pun filled and twisted content.

Ackerman was a fanboy for as long as there have been fanboys.  As a young boy he was a contributor to early Science Fiction magazines like Science Fiction Magazine and The Time Traveler, and he even attended the first ever Science Fiction convention in 1939.  He introduced Ray Bradbury to Ray Harryhausen, and then went on to manage Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.  As if that wasn't enough, he also became Ed Wood's "Illiterary agent".

Through all of these years, Forry was first and foremost a fan.  Over the years he accumulated a formidable collection of Horror and Science Fiction memorabilia that he housed in an 18 room home called the Ackermansion, which later moved to the Son Of Ackermansion.  The collection remained intact until ill health forced him to begin selling it off in 2002.

Ackerman was a legend to many people for many reasons, but it was always Famous Monsters Of Filmland that was his biggest claim to fame.  The magazine was supposed to be a one off publication, but its success was so great that they had to print a second run of its premier issue.  Each issue was a celebration of Sci-Fi and Horror, and it they covered the entire history of the genres.  Silent films were kept from obscurity, and contemporary productions were promoted with anticipation.  The content was ghoulish and funny, and the point of view was firmly adolescent, but it appealed to all ages of fandom.

A few years back I found a place that had the first 50 issues of Famous Monsters available in PDF form.  I jumped at the chance to read them, because the magazine had been unavailable by the time I became aware of its existence.  It was instantly obvious why people loved the magazine so much.  The covers always featured garish paintings of iconic figured from Horror, and the content was very funny.  My favorite part of the magazine, though, turned out to be the advertising.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, and that's partly because of all the weird costumes and gadgets that become available every season.  Stuff like that was available ALL YEAR via mail order though Famous Monsters Of Filmland.  To see the advertising today is to see a wealth of genre collectibles that would be worth a mint on Ebay, but back in the day they were available for a few bucks plus postage and handling.

Here are a few wonderful ads from Famous Monsters.  Get ready to weep for what you cannot have.


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