MONSTERS TO LAUGH WITH
Vol. 1, No. 1
Editor: Stan Lee
Publication Date: 1964
Publisher: Non-Pariel Publishing Corp.
Color cover/B&W interior
36 ppg. (including covers)
Cover Price: 25 cents
One of the many methods used to market product during the Great Monster Craze of the 1960's was -- and not always cleverly -- through the use of humor. My first recollection of this monster 'zine "sub-genre" was Stan Lee's MONSTERS TO LAUGH WITH. I bought it off the stand and was entranced . . . not because of the pale jokes emitted from the type-set speech balloons, but because there were a number of full page stills from Universal Studios and other horror movies that I hadn't ever seen before! And, maybe it was because of it's flippant treatment of my beloved monsters (which I took very seriously at the time), but I didn't seem to treasure it as much as other items in my slowly growing monster collection. As a result, my 25-cent copy of MONSTERS TO LAUGH WITH eventually ended up, along with my SPOOK STORIES trading card doubles and triples (and quadruples), being scissors fodder for my own, homemade monster 'zine. That way I could fill up a whole page with very little text needed . . . just like Forry did! In fact, besides the punch lines themselves there is a noticeable lack of any text in the magazine. This along with 35 pages of one-line jokes makes 5 minutes of reading seem like last voyage of the Demeter.
The jokes themselves were gags of the sort that are typical of slap-dash, get-it-to-press quickies . . . short quips and puns that, in many instances, alluded to popular ads and products of the time. In some cases, one could even say that they teetered on the brink of PC (that's "political correctness" for those of you who have been locked up and forgotten in the dungeon of Castel Mare since back then), and could have even been considered offensive in the 60's. Regardless, there was a certain allowable irreverence during that time that is considerably less conspicuous these days.
While I do not have any evidence to support it, the hand that wrote the jokes must have surely been Mr. Stan Lieber himself, brother to Larry, and known to today's multitude of Marvel Comics fans as Stan (The Man) Lee. It is possible that other members of the Mighty Marvel Bullpen may have taken a shot or two, but these wince-inducing gags are trademark Stan Lee. MONSTERS TO LAUGH WITH, which became MONSTERS UNLIMITED with issue #4, would not end up being known as a particularly influential title in the history of monster mags, but it does hold a place as being a reflection of mainstream humor of the times and the media exploitation of monsters in popular culture.
Following are the first few pages of MONSTERS TO LAUGH WITH. Over the course of the next week or so, I will be posting the rest of issue.