Friday, June 17, 2011


Ubiquitous on the back pages of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, and found among numerous other examples of reoccurring merchandise for sale from the legendary -- and some say, infamous -- CAPTAIN COMPANY, was a curious item that remained a bit mysterious to me . . . enough so that years later I sought out and bought a copy so that my curiosity could be at last sated.

This mysterious CAPTAIN COMPANY curio was a book entitled THE BRAVE GHOULS. Although I wasn't completely sure at the time, it appeared by the cover image to be a monster joke book of some sort, much like the type in the tradition of monster jokes of the day that put a gagline caption on a monster movie film still. This type of monster humor was thought to be so popular at the time that even mighty Marvel Comics published a couple of magazines devoted to monster photos with punchlines attributed to the man who never seemed to run out of words -- and a master of the word balloon in his own right -- Stan "The Man" Lee.

With a publication date of 1960, THE BRAVE GHOULS, however, beat Marvel to the punch(line), as it predates MONSTERS TO LAUGH WITH by four years. One might even surmise that the idea for MONSTERS TO LAUGH WITH (1964) and its progeny, MONSTERS UNLIMITED (1965) and MONSTER MADNESS (1972) was drawn, not entirely obliquely, from its predecessor. Another magazine with funny captions on film and TV photos that has been covered here at MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD was TALKING PICTURES, published in 1964 and 1965 (see sidebar for links to these posts).

Interestingly enough, THE BRAVE GHOULS schtick was not the use of word balloons on photos at all. Instead, the writer, Bob Reisner, had his gags placed as captions under each film photo. The jokes, and I am being kind here, ran the usual gamut of wince-inducing statements from the mouths of monsters from such studios as 20th Century Fox, AIP, Warner Bros., and RKO Radio Pictures. There were even some from Universal, although oddly, they are not credited.


Robert Reisner was a humor writer, popular at the time for his other series of joke books, CAPTIONS COURAGEOUS. The title THE BRAVE GHOULS, frankly, is lost on me as I write this. Perhaps it references some popular saying of the time, or it is in relation to the statement made in the introduction that in this book the monsters are speaking their innermost thoughts (in which case we have nothing to fear from them!).

THE BRAVE GHOULS seems to have first appeared for sale in FAMOUS MONSTERS  in Issue #21, dated February 1963, three years after it was originally published. It was sold as a "rib-tickling comic captioned collection of outlandish stills from 30 years of horror movies", and declared "One of the best novelty books in years!"

Well, I'll let you decide for yourself after you read the first page offerings from my 1960 First Edition copy of THE BRAVE GHOULS!

1 comment:

Yellow Phantom said...

Big thanks for sharing the scans John!


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