Friday, September 30, 2011

HEY, MMW IS IN THE ANNOTATED FAMOUS MONSTERS NO. 1!

I remember a news story back in 2008, where a couple of attention-seekers who turned out to be scam artists solicited a monetary reward for what was purported to be a genuine (dead) body of the legendary Bigfoot. These people claimed that the body was real and that they had it stashed on ice in an "undisclosed location". Well, the payoff was made, the scammers left town and the poor sap who paid for the pleasure of being divested illegally from his income was left with the thawed out boy of a Halloween gorilla suit. Said simian suit was even confirmed as authentic costume parts by the manufacturer. So much for the historical cryptid discovery of the century.

Stories like this have been told over and over again throughout the years. People starved for attention -- or just being plain 'ol crackpots -- will sometimes stop at nothing to get it. Hoaxes have been around for centuries. I just think that they are more prevalent in today's world than ever before.

I waited with (fish) baited breath for THE ANNOTATED FAMOUS MONSTERS #1. I picked it up with the rest of my goodies from the cool comics guy Brandon at EVERETT COMICS. When I got it home, I rolled it over my hyper-excited cortexes. The first thing I noticed is that it really didn't look "annotated" at all, at least not the way that I'm used to seeing an annotated book. Maybe I've been living under a bat's wing too long, but this seemed to me to be simply alternate pages showing the typescript and the printed product. That part of it was disappointing.

Actually, it was very disappointing. I was expecting a page-by-page discussion, via footnotes and call-outs, of the creation of the first issue of the King of Monster Magazines. I would settle for nothing less than finally being witness to the entire, true story behind the birth of the Acker-Warren monster!

Well, it's not quite that, but it's a heckuva well-produced tome. For 25 bucks, you could do a lot worse. But, what exactly is inside this momentous publication? David Horne, Warrenophile extraordinaire, and author/publisher of the indispensable GATHERING HORROR explains:

“It is indeed almost all reprint material, although there are a couple of new things. Most of it is taken from "Forry's Folly," the 90th birthday publication [appears on page 522 of Horne’s GATHERING HORROR], although in somewhat different order. "The Birth of a Notion" is from Forry's own book on Famous Monsters [bottom of page 525 in GATHERING HORROR] – and it may have appeared in other places, too. The new material includes the introduction, the piece by Kevin Burns, "Forry's Stories" by Dennis Billows, "The House That Ack Built" (variations on this may have appeared elsewhere), and that page taken from your website [MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD Blogspot].”


Another knockout is the fabulous wrap-around cover by none other than Pete Von Sholly. I was curious to know about how such a great work of work could have come to be. So, I did the only thing that came to mind . . . I asked him! Here's Pete's explanation:

“I contacted Phil Kim and basically said I wanna be in FM! He replied enthusiastically and asked if I wanted to do a cover. Of course I said and what he wanted was "Forry surrounded by this favorite monsters" which was all he told me and all I really wanted to know. THEN he was to make it a wraparound which was great because it allowed me to get more stuff in without cramming and to do the Kong reach-around crushing the FM logo. Natch the front had to be FJ and the Big Five but for the rest I could reference Metropolis- and put Maria in Kong's hand instead of Faye and also I could get Lon Chaney in - plus Harryhausen- and Bradbury by association with the Foghorn/Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. I did it all in Photoshop using photo refs as sources and painting them up, adding lighting to try to tie it all together. I didn't know when I started the pic that it was going to be for the Annotated issue. But I like that very much, having been an FM reader from issue 1. Which makes me oooooollllld... but whatcha gonna do? If you're not old yet, you will be! If you're LUCKY! I will add that Phil was very pleasant and professional to deal with and PAID me the full fee immediately. So it was a good experience.”



What's left? The one-page spread entitled, "Fact or Fiction?" This has all got to do with the exclusive post that appeared here at MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD depicting an alternate cover to FAMOUS MONSTERS #1. The information was submitted by David Horne as a possible entry on the blogroll, and I think to get it out there to see if someone didn't have some more info on it as well. Here are the details as we know them. The text is re-posted from the earlier edition. David Horne wrote:

"Unfortunately, it was poorly reproduced in the publication I found it in. I've never seen this or heard of it anywhere else. The contributor who supplied the image (within his article) was Mark Carducci, who apparently owned the dummy cover. Carducci was a big FM fan and monster magazine collector."

Then I add:

The publication that Horne references is the Comic and Fantasy Art - Amateur Press Association (CFA-APA) membership publication Issue #33, dated January 1994. While provenance appears to be limited only to this publication, that it was offered by a serious fan of monster magazine lore suggests strong evidence in support of its authenticity.

The implication in the ANNOTATED FAMOUS MONSTERS #1 piece is that this could be a hoax (incidentally, the image shown on the page is to the left, not the right -- looks like the page design was changed without editing the text. Also, I'd like to hear from one or two of the historians that are mentioned that have also apparently heard of this).

Regardless, while anything's possible, I believe that, based on the existing info and both the time and the person from where it originated, the alternate cover is most likely for real. Is there a reason not to think so? Sometimes a monster magazine cover is just a monster magazine cover. I just think it's so obscure that there is virtually no empirical knowledge of the event ever taking place beyond the publication in which this most curious bit of forgotten Monsterology lore first appeared. Sort of like having just a hair or two of a genuine Bigfoot in your freezer instead of claiming to have the whole enchilada, isn't it?

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