Monday, January 16, 2012

DOUG'S HALL OF FLAME SHEDS LIGHT ON FAMOUS MONSTERS NO. 259


2011 was an excellent year for monster magazines, both in quantity and quality. My favorite issue of the year was one of the last to hit the stands: FAMOUS MONSTERS 259. The newsstand edition features a fantastic WOLFMAN painting by Rick Baker, one of the best cover depictions of a werewolf I’ve ever seen. The magazine contains two main themes, werewolves and THE TWILIGHT ZONE. I like “themed” issues, as they allow the editor and writers to develop topics more fully and provide more perspectives than normal. It does take some intestinal fortitude on the part of the editor, however, as an unpopular theme could lead to a poor selling issue. That said, I love the two topics in FM 259.

Mark Miller kicks off the were-creature section with an article surveying werewolves in cinema. From the silent movie era to the upcoming sequel to Del Toro’s WOLFMAN, Miller mentions them all. Quite a feat! I was a bit humbled when I realized how many of the films I hadn’t seen. More entries on the DVD wish list, I suppose.

Richard Schellbach provides a personal reminiscence of discovering and watching werewolf movies growing up. His story of studying the TV Guide each week for monster movie listings and then getting up (or staying up) to watch them at 4:00 a.m. brought back memories of own experiences crawling out of bed before dawn to watch WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY and other such cinematic gems. A true monster kid experience!

The highlights of the werewolf section are the first-person article by make-up genius Rick Baker and the fantastic “Monster Master Class” make-up demonstration by Dave Elsey. Twenty years from now, the make-up artists on “WOLFMAN 2032” will say they were inspired by Elsey’s detailed “how to” instructions in FM 259.

Fans of THE TWILIGHT ZONE will enjoy the interviews with Carol Serling, Richard Matheson, Earl Hamner Jr., and George Clayton Johnson. Their comments and memories of working with Rod Serling add new life and warmth to the show and its creator. Mrs. Serling relates some details of her husband’s pre-television life, which may be new to many readers. Peter Martin contributes an excellent article about the late Charles Beaumont, a fantastic writer who died way too young. Justin Beahm discusses the making of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE’s “It’s A Good Life” with director Joe Dante. The entire set of TZ articles is outstanding and a great tribute to a great show.

I am enjoying Kevin Burns’ comic art adaptation of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, part three of which appears in this issue.

The depth and quality of writing and illustration in this issue make FAMOUS MONSTERS 259 one of the best monster magazines of 2011.

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