Saturday, March 2, 2013


"I have a personal grudge against Nixon; he calls up captains of football teams after the games, but he didn't even call up the parents of the Kent State kids."

The pugnacious publisher, James Warren.

WITHOUT THE COMBINED EFFORTS of publisher/ad man James Warren and editor/literary agent Forrest J Ackerman, the world of monster movie magazines -- and quite possibly the entire universe of monster movies themselves -- would have had a markedly different effect on the history of pop culture. There is no doubt that the times were right for just the type of venture that Messrs. Warren and Ackerman brought to fruition by seizing an opportunity that apparently only they could recognize -- or were foolhardy enough to pursue.

The combination of television fast becoming a primary source of home entertainment and the release of the SHOCK! movie package quickly merged and evolved into a commodity that was wildly popular with viewing audiences of the Monster Kid kind (despite the protestations of many parents, including mine!). The appearance of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine was the next logical step in the ensuing pandemonium that became known as the "60s Monster Craze".

"I send telegrams to Forry that make sure they get delivered at four in the morning, saying Screw you.' We both have a great sense of humor. It's our buffer against the world."

In the days when branding happened mostly by postage stamp and pounding the pavement, Ackerman was constantly promoting the title. How many pictures of Forry did you not see when he wasn't holding a copy of FM, rolled up or otherwise, for the world to view? Warren, on the other hand, seemed to be the "brains" behind the venture. Outfitted smartly in New York swagger by way of South Philly tough guy, he was far from being the "silent" partner. Warren was fiercely competitive (the term "ruthless" has been used more than once), but in the heyday of magazine distribution wars and title visibility on the newsracks, a meek disposition wouldn't have lasted long in the magazine publisher's snakepit.

Warren was 43 years old in April, 1974 when he was interviewed by April Smith of Rolling Stone magazine. Here we see Warren at the top of his game, feisty, opinionated, and with a confidence that borders on the brash. Still, there's something of his humble beginnings and his dedication to success via hard work that shows through the brazen veneer of his "Kingpin of Comics" persona.

"Perhaps the true culture hero of the revolutionary Sixties will turn out not to have been Dylan but Frankenstein's monster."

Despite the forced perspective from the controversial side of journalism that Rolling Stone cultivated at the time (and still does), and the sometimes obvious shot or two from the hip for effect, the article is teeming with insight -- from the meager beginnings of Warren's brief foray into the world of men's magazines, to his idea of building an empire around movie monsters that at one time was estimated to be worth over a million dollars, which was a huge amount of money for an independent publisher in those days. It's also a rare glimpse into the personalities of the two marketing geniuses who made magazines mostly for kids, talking like adults.

"The truth is, 18 hours a day I work. Saturday night I had all these business papers spread out on the bed while I watched Mary Tyler Moore and M*A*S*H and Carol Burnett. And when it was over, until three in the morning I was working."

NOTE: The caption on the second page inaccurately identifies Bela Lugosi as the vampire in the picture; it is German Robles from the Mexican production entitled, EL VAMPIRO. The caption on the third page identifies the person in the left-hand image as Dwight Frye; it is Bernard Jukes in this photo, who appeared as Renfield in the Broadway stage play of DRACULA.

1 comment:

Dick said...

Thanks a bunch for posting this, really enojoyed it. "Perhaps the true culture hero of the revolutionary Sixties will turn out not to have been Dylan but Frankenstein's monster." - one of my new favorite qoutes !


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