Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Welcome, Monster Lovers!

Hey, there! This is my first posting on this brand new Blog called MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD. And, just what is MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD all about you may ask? Well, it's all about -- you guessed it -- monster magazines, of course! Monster magazines are a pop culture phenomenon that have been around since the late 1950's, if you can believe that. Most monster fans and historians of monsterology (that's the study of monsters just so you know) agree that the very first periodical magazine about monsters -- and monster movies in particular -- that was ever published was FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. The inaugural issue went on sale in February of 1958 and wound up as an experiment that turned out amazingly successful for gentleman publisher James Warren and sci-fi writer, agent and Esperanto-speaking Forrest J. Ackerman.

As fate would have it, during the same period of time that Jim and Forry were putting the finishing touches on their brainchild, Screen Gems, a subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, was marketing a package of 52 Universal Pictures horror and mystery movies using the name SHOCK THEATER. Among the titles were such scream gems as Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, and The Wolf Man. The whole horrific kit 'n caboodle was released on October, 1957, just mere months before the release of FAMOUS MONSTERS (that's the shortened version I'll be using for the FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND title -- I think you understand why. You'll also see me use "FM". It'll mean the same thing). Whether or not SHOCK THEATER helped the ensuing initial sell-out of the first FM or FM fueled the fire for SHOCK THEATER will probably never be fully known. What mattered was that the monster craze hit the good 'ol US of A in a, well, monstrous way. After that, for many newly-born "monster kids", the world would never be the same!

So there you have it in a nutshell. After FM, the monster wave hit like a tsunami slap from Godzilla's tail. The flood gates were opened and scads of monster magazines began appearing on the newsstands (any of those left in your neighborhood, folks?) in attempts to capitalize on the craze. The aim of MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD is to capture the history and essence of this amazing cultural phenomenon. Heck, I might even try and add a dash of verisimilitude to the mix, too! It's interesting to note that this phenom came about seemingly fresh on the heels of the infamous comic book controversy, where horror comics were indicted by society's moral watchdogs and forced to capitulate under their hand of "decency". Sound familiar?

So, it's very possible that the monster craze could have been a huge backlash to the supression of this "horrifying" material just a few years before. Let's face it, monster 'zines have not been without their critics all along. But one thing can't be denied and that's the impact that these magazines, along with the films that they have covered so fanatically within their pages, have been on popular culture and society as a whole. And, who knows what the future will bring? Monster magazines are still being published and enjoyed by an avid readership. While these might not be the haydays of the past, what comes around usually goes around, doesn't it? I'll keep my fingers crossed . . . all 12 of them!

There you have it, fellow monster kids and multitudes of the idly curious. I hope to make this Blog entertaining, informational, educational, most of all, FUN. You are more than welcome to come along for the midnight ride to Castle Dracula. And, if you feel so inclined, I'd be much obliged if you spent a couple of minutes to leave me a comment. In the meantime, as a certain horror hostess liked to proclaim: Unpleasant dreams! And careful not to step on that spider ... it might be Lon Chaney!

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