Tuesday, July 31, 2012

JOE JUSKO, THIS POST'S FOR YOU -- AND TIM FERRANTE, TOO!

A week or so ago, fantabulous fantasy artist Joe Jusko left a comment here at MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD and mentioned that his first-ever published art appeared in Joe Kane's much-loved THE MONSTER TIMES newspaper.

Well, that got my curiosity and I dug out the issue from the catacombs of my domicile, otherwise known as Mysterious Mansion. The artwork was in issue #10 from May 31, 1972 -- I was a couple of weeks away from graduating high school myself, and soon to be heading on a cross-country wanderlust of high-adventure . . . well, travel anyway.

There it was, on the letters page -- a bit rough, but a nicely done drawing of Boris Karloff as The Monster. Editor Kane's caption reads: "This sketch came lumbering into our office one day last week on its own steam . . . no letter . . . just a name (J. Jusko), address (N.Y.C.), and an age (only 13). We dug the drawing enough to share it with all our readers."

In a bit of sinister synchronicity, turns out there was word on this page from another developing Monster Kid, this one of the scrivening kind. Seems like a certain Tim Ferrante heaped on the accolades for TMT, calling it "a blessing to us horror and fantasy lovers". Hey, I can't argue with that.

You can see Mr. Jusko's work all over the place these days, especially on the John Carter of Mars comic book series from Dynamite Entertainment. And, irony of ironies, Mssrs. Kane and Ferrante ended up working together, most recently in Phantom of the Movie's VIDEOSCOPE mag!

Here you go, guys. Enjoy, and Long Live THE MONSTER TIMES!


MARGARET BRUNDAGE: FIRST LADY OF ILLUSTRATED FEAR


In her time, Margaret Brundage had no equal. Her provocative painted covers for WEIRD TALES magazine have endured as examples of fantasy and horror masterpieces.

Now, VANGUARD PRODUCTIONS, who have already brought us exquisite collections of artwork by J. Allen St. John, Roy Krenkel, and Frank Frazetta, are about to release a first-ever retrospective collection of Miss Brundage's work.

Three editions will be available: an affordable softcover edition, a hardcover edition, and a deluxe, slipcover edition that includes an extra 16 pages of material.

I don't even have to see one page of this book to give it my highest recommendation. These guys know how to put on an art show.

An iconic WEIRD TALES cover image painted
by Margaret Brundage.

From the VANGUARD PRODUCTIONS website:

"Starting in 1932, Margaret Brundage forever changed the look of Fantasy, Science-Fiction and Horror with her alluring sensationalisti covers for the legendary pulp magazine, Weird Tales. Brundage, whose contemporaries include Virgil Finlay and Hannes Bok, is unique as she was the first female cover artist of the pulp era. Decades before the gothic fetish craze, Brundage's lush, provocative paintings, which frequently featured smoldering, semi-nude young women bearing whips, became a focus of acute attention and controversy. At the very peak of the notorious pulp's classic run, the magazine's appeal was due as much to Brundage's covers as to the stories inside by famous authors H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch and Conan creator, Robert E. Howard. The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage is the first book devoted to this noted artist.

Authors and compilers Stephen D. Korshak and J. David Spurlock follow their seminal collaboration, The Paintings of J. Allen St. John: Grand Master of Fantasy, with The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage which, also features essays by noted artist Rowena Morrill, Weird Tales historian Robert Weinberg, First Fandom member / founding Shasta publisher Melvin Korshak, and more.

All editions feature big, 9" x 12" lavish illustrated, full-color pages with text."


Monday, July 30, 2012

DEADTIME STORIES



[From: RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT TRUE GHOST STORIES #12, February 1969]

MONSTER CARD MONDAY



NOTE: I'm showcasing here a series of SPOOK STORIES trading cards that were graciously donated to MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD's Museum of Monsterology by a most kind benefactor. As a result I will, in turn, be sharing them with you, dear readers. A heartfelt "thank you" to James G. in Colorado for your generosity. You have hereby been bestowed the official title of "Fellow Monsterologist"!

MONDAY MORNING MACABRE


[SOURCE: From the BUCKET OF BLOOD movie poster.]

Sunday, July 29, 2012

DEADTIME STORIES


[From: RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT TRUE GHOST STORIES #11, November 1968]

DOUG'S HALL OF FLAME: IT SLICES, IT DICES!


A good friend recently presented me with a copy of THE SLASHER MOVIE BOOK. While I have seen some of the key, classic slashers, HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH, for example, my favorite horror film monsters lean more toward the Dracula/Frankenstein/Wolfman end of the spectrum rather than the Freddy Krueger/Jason end. I have tended to avoid most of the gore-fest films which took the cinema by storm in the final quarter of the 20th century. But as a devoted horror film fan, I thought I should read the book and take the opportunity to educate myself on a part of the genre unfamiliar to me.

I enjoyed THE SLASHER MOVIE BOOK immensely!

J. A. Kerswell has compiled a first-rate overview of the slasher horror genre (or “subgenre” as he puts it), which I think will appeal to the slasher aficionado and the novice alike. On two hundred brightly colored pages, the history of bloody, gory movies is laid out. The roots of the slasher movie extend back to France’s Grand Guignol Theater, notorious for its horror plays featuring torture, violence, and bloody special effects. The theater thrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As the terrors of World War II doomed the Grand Guignol, cinema picked up the bloody baton of horror and carried it forward into the second half of the 20th Century. The “Bloody Beginnings” chapter expertly connects the dots between French and British theater, early American horror films, the writings of Agatha Christie, and Hitchcock’s PSYCHO in describing influences on classic slashers. To me, this is the strongest chapter in the book.


The sections detailing German krimi (thriller) and Italian giallo (yellow) films are excellent, also. The author reviews some of the key films of the two subgenres and describes their influence on horror films that followed. Films such as BLOOD AND BLACK LACE and FELLOWSHIP OF THE FROG are highlighted. Kerswell’s discussion of the influence of British writer Edgar Wallace’s books on the German cinema is a revelation to me. The co-creator of KING KONG played quite a big role in the history of crime thriller/slasher films! A separate essay discusses the work of seminal giallo director Dario Argento, who is an inspiration to many in the slasher field. Director of THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, Argento’s work contains “beautifully staged set pieces, fetish[izes] graphic violence, and clever misdirection.” Another sidebar focuses on how the music of Ennio Morricone contributed to the gialli--great background information on the Italian films. The book’s international perspective is also carried through with sections on slasher movies--good and bad—from Sweden, Japan, Australia, and other countries. Many of the illustrations are Mexican lobby cards and posters. The British ban on “video nasties” is explained. Slasher films are universal!

A standard figure in the modern horror film is “The Final Girl,” the likeable young woman who, usually eschewing the partying and promiscuity of her friends, is smart and resourceful enough to survive and battle the villain to the end of the film. What Bela Lugosi was to Dracula portrayals, Jamie Lee Curtis is to “The Final Girl” role. Her Laurie Strode in HALLOWEEN set the standard for all such characters that followed. As this character plays such an integral part in the slasher genre, the one-page sidebar could have been expanded to an entire chapter. Especially so, since some of the final girls (and one or two final boys) mentioned in later chapters are not pictured.

The Halloween-orange pages of the “Golden Age of the Slasher” chapter bring to life the classics of the genre from 1978 to 1984. Here can be found stories of the films which set the standard for gory film effects for decades to follow. HALLOWEEN, TOURIST TRAP, FRIDAY THE 13TH, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, THE BURNING and more all haunt these pages. I had forgotten just how many of these films have been made! Credit is given to the special effects wizards behind the bloody effects, as well as the actors, writers, and directors who brought the terrors to the screen. Kerswell’s obvious love of the genre comes through in his writing, but he maintains his objectivity and perspective. He is unafraid to warn the reader which films are not worth watching.

In discussing the post-golden age period of gore—“video hell”, the book falls into something of a disappointing pattern of movie title followed by brief description followed by box office receipts. A few pages felt like reading a list of releases without much analysis. However, redemption follows in the form of a discussion of slashers’ influence on mainstream movies, as well as a strong conclusion. The book is rounded out by short reviews of ten of the most influential slasher films, a list of prominent actors who got their start in the genre, some box office statistics, and a glossary. The index only lists movie titles, which limits the book’s usefulness as a reference work, but the work succeeds greatly as an introduction to the genre.

Despite the minor flaws mentioned above, I highly recommend THE SLASHER MOVIE BOOK to both the knowledgeable and the novice gore-fest fan. It is lavishly illustrated, well-written, informative, and entertaining. I thank the friend who gave me this book, exposing me to a whole new world of the horror movie!

The book is published by Chicago Review Press and the list price is $24.95. For more information, see Mr. Kerswell’s web site, Hysteria Lives .

Saturday, July 28, 2012

FORREST J ACKERMAN, NUDIST

"If God had meant us to be nudists, we would have been born without clothes." -- Forrest J Ackerman in Continuum

One look at Forrest J Ackerman's resume reveals a varied and multifold list of work. There's his most famous accomplishment, editor of the original FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine,  There's his work as an author's agent. There's his litany of fiction and non-fiction. And . . . there's his entry as a nudist.

Did I say nudist? I most certainly did! FJA unabashedly claimed his stint at a nudist colony back in the 1960s was actually "research" for an article. I guess it really doesn't matter if it was an assignment or a freelance job, does it?

In his autobiographical Forrest J Ackerman, Famous Monster of Filmland, published by Imagine, Inc. in 1986, he casually states: "I, for instance, am not embarrassed to let you know that, years ago, after researching an article called "Brave Nude World", which was originally published in a nudist magazine [unnamed here] and later reprinted in Fantastic, a companion to Amazing at the time, I frequently frequented [sic] a nudist camp on Sundays for about 5 years."


Man, that's a lot of reasearch! In an attempt at a sort of professional validation, Forry went on to say that famous science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon made "no secret" about being a nudist, as well. Oh, okay.

In an earlier, unrestrained (but oh, so entertaining) bio-fest titled Amazing Forries, published in November 1976 by Metropolis Publications, FJA included nudism on the list of "Things I Am For".

It's no secret that Forry had an eye for beauty, especially of the young female kind. For instance, he professed ebullient support for a young fan, Trina Petit, who was later to be known as underground cartoonist Trina Robbins, and was credited by Forry as the designer of the strip of cloth that became Vampirella's costume.


Trina Petit/Robbins' letter in FAMOUS MONSTERS #6.



Then there was the strange promotion of another up and coming female fan by the name of Heidi Sahi. Miss Saha was a regular member of fantasy conventions in the early 1970s, many times appearing in costume as such heroines as Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, and, most famously, Vampirella.

For a while, Forry was unrelenting in the promotion of his favorite nymphette, even to the point of having James Warren publish the now-notorious, AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF HEIDI SAHA, in 1973, which left many a' monster fan scratching his head as to its significance.


A page from AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY
OF HEIDI SAHA.


A photo of Heidi in her Vampirella costume (top).
Pictured below is a young scream queen
later to become known as Brinke Stevens.

Another quirk of Forry's was for him to be seen in many photographs clutching a copy of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND in a seemingly neverending shameless plug of his magazine. This being a regular practice, one could be lead to speculate that Ackerman, during the course of his "research" on nudist camps, had only his copy of FM between him and his companions.

Friday, July 27, 2012

JOHN STANLEY INTERVIEWS RAY BRADBURY (PART 2)

"The great thing over the years was discovering suddenly I was a poet." -- Ray Bradbury

In part two of John Stanley's interview with Ray Bradbury in CASTLE OF FRANKENSTEIN magazine (#14 1969), Mr. Bradbury discusses his latest writing projects, his fear of rejected stories, television (his favorite TV was Bugs Bunny!), and an oft-visited theme in his work -- machinery and gadgets. The installment closes with a review of Bradbury's latest film THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, by none other than a young Joe Dante!









Thursday, July 26, 2012

JOHN STANLEY INTERVIEWS RAY BRADBURY (PART 1)

"There's no well directed scenes and the dialogue is banal to the point of extinction." -- Ray Bradbury on the film 2001: A SPACE ODESSEY

Along with his piece on Rober Bloch, John Stanley interviewed Ray Bradbury in CASTLE OF FRANKENSTEIN magazine. The interview appeared in two parts, issues #13 and #14, in 1969.

Bradbury was 48 years old when he did this interview. The film adaptation of THE ILLUSTRATED MAN was in rough cut and 2001: A SPACE ODESSEY was all the sci-fi rage. In the first part he talks with some criticism about the current state of science fiction films. For example, he calls PLANET OF THE APES "primitive". He goes on to talk about his love for comic books and how, in the 1950s, EC comics plagarized one of his stories.







Wednesday, July 25, 2012

INTL 'ZINES: WHAT IS A VAMPIRE?

Fond of the format, the Brits published a number of "poster 'zines" during their monster magazine heyday of the 70s and 80s.

One of them was titled, LEGEND HORROR CLASSICS. The first issue was published in 1974 and was an all-Dracula issue. Edited by one Gent Shaw, the 16-page quickie included a few photos and a Dracula comic strip drawn by Kevin O'Neill. A bit crude, the strip was an adaptation of Dan Curtis' DRACULA TV movie, starring Jack Palance. Mr. O'Neill had 25 more years to hone his art until it appeared -- considerably more evolved -- in Alan Moore's LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN comic book series.


















The folded poster that came as a magazine insert.


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