Wednesday, July 21, 2010
CONVERSATIONS FROM THE VAULT (PART 1)
AN INTERVIEW WITH JIM CLATTERBAUGH, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER OF MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT.
MMW: I see you have an impressive stable of contributing writers who have an affinity for vintage monster movies. Did they come to you or did you solicit them?
CLATTERBAUGH: I met most of my contributors at the conventions I was attending in the early 1990s, such as FANEX (in Baltimore), Chiller Theatre (in New Jersey), and Monster Bash (near Pittsburgh). It was then that I also found out about McFarland & Company (publishers of some of the best genre books out there) and picked up a ton of books from them, many of which were written by the writers I was meeting at the conventions, such as Bob Burns, Mark Clark, Greg Mank, Michael Price, Gary Rhodes, Bryan Senn, and Tom Weaver. When I decided to publish MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT, I approached Tom Weaver, Gary Svehla, and another friend from Baltimore (the late Joe Guilfoyle), and once they agreed to contribute, MFTV was off and running. After the first issue was published, I never had to solicit writers, although I’ve had to turn quite a few away, as their work didn’t quite fit the MFTV style and focus.
MMW: How long have you been publishing MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT?
CLATTERBAUGH: MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT is now in its 15th year of publication, and issue #27 was just published in June 2010. I try to publish two issues a year (this doesn’t always happen) in what little free time I have when I’m not working at my day job as a contractor Test Officer supporting the U.S. Army, at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
MMW: How did you fund the first issue, and how did it do sales-wise?
The first issue was funded completely out of my pocket, but since only 500 copies were produced, the bill was only $680.00. The issue was 32 pages (including covers) and premiered at the FANEX convention held in the summer of 1995 in Baltimore. We originally intended it to be a one-shot (just to say we did it), but it was so well received we decided to publish a second issue in early 1996. Copies of MFTV #1 are hard to come by these days and have sold for as much as $400.00 on eBay. Due to the low print run, I’d say there are only about a 100 people who have a complete run of the magazine. So getting an inclusive set is quite a feat. The issue was sold at only a couple of conventions and through an ad in MIDNIGHT MARQUEE. By the time our fifth issue was published in fall 1997, the first issue was sold out.
MMW: How did you market MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT so that it had some traction for subsequent sales?
CLATTERBAUGH: Starting with the second issue (1,800 copies were printed), the magazine was picked up for distribution by Diamond Comic Distributors; then Capital City Distributors came on with the third issue (1,300 copies were printed). With issue #4, MFTV really took off after Ingram Periodicals picked us up, and the magazine began to show up in Barnes & Noble, Borders, Tower Records, and many other newsstands. At our peak, we were printing 8,000 copies per issue. That was before I determined that getting bigger came with significant financial risk, and after issue #11 I decided it was no longer financially viable to use Ingram Periodicals as a distributor, which significantly reduced my print run to 3,500 copies an issue.