Thursday, May 27, 2010

Famous Monsters Of Filmland

One of the most coveted discoveries at a random newsstand (especially a place called United Cigar in Santa Cruz) was finding copies of Famous Monsters. It was a B&W magazine based on anything horror or sci-fi in film. This magazine spoke to me as a young man like none other (Scientific American, Marvel Comics and National Geographic came a close 2nd). This was the source for anything happening in the horror film world, and it offered a great behind the scenes look at the effects and make-up art that went onto the films.

The magazine was founded in 1958, at which was probably the height of the horror/sci-fi b-movie wave by James Warren and in particular, a man named Forrest J Ackerman.Forrest was considered by many to be the ultimate horror/sc-fi fan, and the procurrer of the 'Ackermansion', and museum based in Los Feliz/ East Hollywood that was filled with props, artifacts and memorabilia from the world of horror/ sci-fi.

One of my favorite elements of the magazine was the hand done 'ad-hoc' approach to the layout. Most of lettering was hand drawn, and all articles were written in a tongue and cheek manner that felt like Forrest was talking to you. It offered up in depth behind the scenes and it came from a true fan perspective. Forrest J Ackerman can truly be considered the original 'fan-boy'.

Another great feature was the letters section that would feature 'would-be' teenage makeup artists, who would send in their pictures. I have no doubt that Rick Baker and Rob Bottin were some of these amateurs who'd sent their photos in.

Sadly, Forrest passed away a few years ago, but his legend lives on and FM still stands as being one of the best and first fanzines ever published.

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