Saturday, October 8, 2016

MONSTER HOWLS (PART 1)

 
MONSTER HOWLS
Vol. 1 No. 1
December 1966
Humor-Visions Incorporated/Major Magazines
Publisher: Robert C. Sproul
Editor: Milton Duggan
Cover: John Severin
Pages: 52

I have always maintained that a pop culture subject has the best chance of sustaining its popularity if it can be easily parodied. One that comes to mind is weird fiction author H.P. Lovecraft. How many of us have seen T-shirts, coffee mugs and toys, all having a go at the "lighter side" of Lovecraft's most cosmic of horrors, Cthulhu?

Another such subject is our favorite monsters. The juxtaposition between horror and humor has existed for years as a way to alleviate our anxiety from fear. The media has been using it for years. The movies are also a good example with their interspersing of "comic relief" in the middle of a horror movie to remind us that there are really no such things as vampires!

Humorous content in monster magazines began in earnest in 1961 with Charlton's two 'zines, MAD MONSTERS and HORROR MOSTERS. In 1964, Marvel Comics introduced MONSTERS TO LAUGH WITH,  a cover-to-cover funny captioned monster photo magazine, introduced by none other than comical character himself, Stan Lee.

Then, in November 1965, Robert Sproul, the publisher of CRACKED magazine (the leading newsstand contender of the very popular MAD) introduced the first issue of the almost all humor magazine, FOR MONSTERS ONLY. I say, "almost", because there would be a serious article or two in each issue that covered a horror movie star or other monster movie topic. However, by and large, FMO was packed with gags, cartoons and satires drawn by super cartoonists like John Severin and Bill Ward (aka McCartney), some of which were very good -- and actually pretty funny. A few critics cite FMO as "unremarkable" and "juvenile", but guess what, folks -- it was aimed at kids, not Cannes!

A year later, for some inexplicable reason, Sproul published a second funny monsters title, MONSTER HOWLS. Maybe he wanted to expand his funny monsters line, or even replace FMO. Edited by Milton Duggan (who also edited another Sproul humor magazine, POW!), it is generally listed as a "one shot" magazine. In truth, the contents page mentions a bi-monthly publication schedule, so it appears more likely that plans were for it to become a regularly-published companion magazine to FMO.























 
 

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