Tag Archives: Forry Ackerman

Essential geek library: ‘The Best from Famous Monsters of Filmland’

best from famous monsters

I’ve noted it here before – as have many elsewhere – but it’s hard to overstate the importance of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine to a generation of movie fans and, in particular, horror movie fans.

When FM appeared on newsstands in 1958 – before I was born, no less reading it – the Shock Theater package of old Universal horror films was playing on TV stations around the country, often hosted by an over-the-top character like Sammy Terry here in Indiana.

FM, published by Warren Publishing and edited by Forrest J Ackerman, greatly appealed to the audience of horror movie fans – including me, when I discovered it a few years later.

My relationship with my collection of FMs was a complicated one. I never had a complete run of the magazine, although I had most of them, between buying them new each month on the newsstand and buying back issues.

Then, possessed of the insane writer/designer spirit that led to my actual career, I cut up many of my issues, rearranging photos and articles in scrapbooks in my own fashion.

I bought many of the old issues again, years later, before selling off most of my collection a couple of decades ago.

I kept my copy of “The Best from Famous Monsters of Filmland,” however, and wanted to mention it here in this edition of the Essential Geek Library.

Published in June 1964 by Paperback Library with a cover price of 50 cents, the book was a paperback-sized, 162 page reprint, basically, of some Famous Monsters articles from 1958 through 1960.

Individual articles bore such titles as “Monsters are Good for You,” “Alice in Monsterland,” “The Frankenstein Story” and “Girls Will Be Ghouls.”

Littered with Ackerman’s trademark puns – “Kong-fidentially Yours” – the book offered not only an enthusiastic defense of monster movies but inside information, including the number of models and armatures that were used in making “King Kong,” (27, Ackerman says. In a visit to his house in the Los Angeles area in the 1980s, I got to see one of those armatures, which was nothing but a metal skeleton with bits of material clinging to it by that point.)

I’m not sure when I picked up my copy of “The Best of …” but I’m guessing it was years after publication. It’s in pretty good shape but battered by years of reading, over and over again, by me and the previous owners.

Online sources indicate Warren and Forry published at least three paperback reprint collections of FM articles, following “The Best From …” with “Son of …” and “Famous Monsters of Filmland Strike Back.”

They were just what all of us monster kids wanted and we loved ’em.

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Today in Halloween: Forrest J Ackerman

Forrest_J_Ackerman_at_the_Ackermansion

What would Halloween be without monsters? And what would monsters be without Forrest J Ackerman?

Some of you might not recognize the name, but Ackerman – known as Forry to fans and friends – was the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine from its founding in 1958 until publication ceased – at least under Ackerman, and at least for a while – in 1983.

Ackerman’s publication came at a fortuitous time for his fortunes and for monster movie fans in general. Famous Monsters coincided with the airing of the “Shock Theater” package of old monster movies – including classic Universal monster films from the 1930s and 1940s – on TV.

During the 1960s in particular, monsters were a booming business, spawning model kits, movies, TV shows like “The Munsters” and magazines like FM and its many imitators.

Ackerman, who died in December 2008, was a corny, pun-making treasure trove of movie and science fiction literary history and he brought it all to the magazine.

forrest_ackerman

I met him only once, during a trip to California in the 1980s. My friends and I got to go through his house, dubbed the Ackermansion, which was filled with many thousands of movie props, posters, books and magazines. I still can’t believe Forry let virtual strangers wander around through his museum.

Besides the overwhelming number of books and posters, the house had priceless movie props. I got to see the spaceships from “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers” and metal armatures for stop motion models from the original King Kong.

I don’t know that Forry ever made Halloween a big deal – every day was Halloween for Forry and Famous Monsters – but he sure contributed to the delight and love and knowledge that many, many fans had for the spooky trappings of the holiday.