Saturday, March 19, 2016


Among the many attributes of the world's first monster fan magazine, FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, is its distinctive title logo. Other monster magazines have titles that are well designed and deserve note, but it's FM's distinctive lettering that has the "pop" that sets it apart from nearly all the others. The magazine's longevity also contributes to its familiarity, and its eerie, crumbling castle font is inextricably linked with the magazine's original creative team of James Warren and Forrest J Ackerman. The American punk rock band, The Misfits, whose songs often contain elements from monster movies, have even adopted the FM lettering as their own and popularized it even further.

So, who was the creator of this most famous monster logo?

Some time ago, I posed this very question to David Horne, the author of the encyclopedic GATHERING HORROR, and expert on all-things Warren. It was his opinion that it was Jim Warren himself who designed the FM cover logo. Since Warren had an art background and who was fresh from the field of commercial art, it stands to reason. The names George Frenoy and John Watko are listed on the contents page as art directors, so it's possible one or both of them had a hand in it, as well.

I further theorize that the origin of the FM logo -- whoever is responsible for creating it -- is derived from the lettering used on one or more monster movie posters from the period. And why not look to the movie poster for inspiration? One sheets and lobby cards contain excellent examples of flashy (if not lurid) design and excitement inducing lettering. That was their purpose, to grab attention.

To illustrate my point I have superimposed three sections from three different monster movies over a typical FM cover. It is not difficult to observe the similarity of the shapes of the letters when compared to the FM logo. Taking into consideration that the lettering on some of these posters came years before the first issue of FM was published, it is not outside the realm of possibility that Warren was inspired to create the FM logo from posters like these.


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