FAMOUS FILMS #2:
CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN/HORROR OF DRACULA
Vol. 1 No. 2 (Actual number 3)
Warren Publishing Co.
Publisher: James Warren
Story Adaptation: Russ Jones
Art Direction: Joe Orlando
Lettering: Ben Oda
I am going to say something here that may bear the taint of heresy to some Monsterologists: James Warren was more of an imitator than an innovator when it came to his monster magazines. Now, before you hit the "close window" option on your computer, let me explain.
It is widely accepted that the inspiration behind FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND was the 20th issue (July/August 1957) of a French journal titled, CINEMA 57. Then writer/agent Forrest J Ackerman had a copy of it in his possession and showed to Warren. With a few issues of AFTER HOURS under his belt, he and Ackerman mutually agreed to try a one shot movie monster magazine. We all know what happened after that -- the beginning of the phenomenon known as the "Monster Craze" that swept America.
Another example is shown here today. In his humor magazine, HELP, Warren had already adopted the Italian "fumetti" style of comic strip which employed the use of sequential photos with super-imposed word balloons and sound effects to tell a story. In this case, the story was an entire film.
This was not, however, the first time that this technique had been used; in 1963 Charlton (MAD MONSTERS and HORROR MONSTERS) published a magazine version of a horror movie in the style of fumetti called BLACK ZOO. The use by Warren of more visually suitable films for his fumetti, in combination with a vigorous advertising campaign, made them a much more appealing product.
The official title of the three Warren fumetti film magazines was FAMOUS FILMS, with the title of the movie(s) following. In the case shown today, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN/HORROR OF DRACULA, in collaboration with Hammer/Seven Arts, was the third, and last, in the series published by Warren (for some reason, it was printed as "#2"). The copyright date shows 1965, but the magazine itself was not advertised for sale until issue #32 of FAMOUS MONSTERS (March 1965).
Russ Jones' story, along with ex-EC COMICS and CREEPY artist Joe Orlando's embellishments and Ben Oda's dynamic lettering, all combined to create a compelling and effective visual and reading experience, possessed of a singular vitality that only a fumetti style could evoke.
So you see, Warren can't be called the creator of the fumetti, including adapting a full-length feature film to its format. Likewise, he was not the first to produce a magazine that was, cover-to-cover, devoted entirely to horror films. What he did do, however, was capitalize on these ideas and put his own creative stamp on them. Therein lies the stuff that legends that were to be.