Thursday, March 31, 2016

LUGOSI SIGNS HIS SKETCH FROM MODERN MONSTERS NO. 2


A resourceful fan had Bela Lugosi sign a sketch of himself as Count Dracula. The drawing is by "H. Goode" and appeared on the front and inside covers of MODERN MONSTERS #2 (June 1966),

Saturday, March 26, 2016

BORIS KARLOFF'S LAST PHOTOGRAPH


Hollywood fan magazines of the 1930s favored scandal over substance, just as they do today. If they could tantalize, titillate or trash, they had done their job. Like journalistic stage magicians, smoke and mirrors and misdirection were also tools that writers and gossip columnists would use to raise the eyebrow or the ire of the reader.

In this page from PHOTOPLAY (February 1933), the caption accompanying the full-page photo of a pensive Boris Karloff boldly states that this is the last picture that fans were likely to see of him. The catch was that his "bosses" at Universal had made an announcement that any photos henceforth would only be of Karloff in his various monster guises. While it was definitely designed as one more publicity stunt, film historians of today can look back and ponder just how powerful was Karloff's fame, and just how typecast he was, at the time.

The moody, chiaroscuro image of Karloff was shot by Jack Freulich, FRANKENSTEIN's still photographer.

Sinister, those eyes ...

Friday, March 25, 2016

SMOKIN' MONSTERS


Peter Cushing relaxes in his "director's chair" between takes on the set of Hammer's FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN (1967). Cushing was often seen smoking a cigarette or a pipe in his films.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

CHARLIE GEMORA DOCUMENTARY DUE FOR RELEASE


I received my copy of CHARLIE GEMORA: UNCREDITED in the mail yesterday. The documentary, written and directed by Jason Barnett, was a Kickstarter project a couple of years or so ago. Barnett's dream has come to pass, as the film is due for general release April 15 on Vimeo (see trailer HERE).

I have not yet had the chance to view the film, but I have every expectation that this will be a proper tribute to the "Monkey Man from Manila" that appeared both in and behind the scenes for many years in Hollywood movies.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Jason and Diana Gemora, Charlie's daughter, on a couple of occasions. They are great people and very enthusiastic about bringing Charlie Gemora's story to the world.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

FAMOUS MONSTERS LOGO ORIGINS

Cover logo from FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #1.
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.



 
 
 

RARE BERNIE WRIGHTSON OIL PAINTING


First off, after surviving a few minor strokes last year, the legendary Bernie Wrightson is currently being treated for brain cancer. While the prognosis is "good", we should nevertheless all take a moment and send some healing light (and if you are so inclined, a prayer) in his direction.

Today's post is a selection from a recent auction that featured this 1969 work by Wrightson. What makes this unique from his other work is that it is done in oil, a medium that he hasn't often worked in (his preferred methods being watercolor, and, of course, his stunning pen and ink work).

The subject is the mythological Yeti, the image which would be recycled for the cover of Major Magazine's WEB OF HORROR #3 (June 1970).

Here is the description from the auction lot:

"Bernie Wrightson "Curse of the Yeti" Oil Painting Original Art (1969). The master of the macabre painted this incredible piece in 1969, then painted a second version of it in 1970 that was used as the cover for Web of Horror #3 for the Otto Binder story "Curse of the Yeti", from which this painting retroactively gets its title. This specific piece was used as-is on the cover of the 1975 Bernie Wrightson Treasury produced by Omnibus Publishing. Wrightson oil paintings are quite rare as it is a media he did not use as much as watercolor or pen-and-ink. The painting is oil over graphite on canvas board and has been very handsomely matted and open-front framed to 23.5" x 19.5". It is signed and dated 1969 in the 17.5" x 13.5" image area. An incredible piece by a world-renowned talent and in Excellent condition." 





Wednesday, March 16, 2016

WEB OF HORROR NO. 3 (PART 1)


WEB OF HORROR
Major Magazines
Vol. 1 No. 3
April 1970
Publisher: Robert C. Sproul
Editor: Terry Bisson
Cover artist: Berni Wrightson
Artists: Frank Brunner, Bruce Jones, Mike Kaluta, Ralph Reese, Syd Shores, Berni Wrightson
Writers: Otto Binder, Frank Brunner, Mike Freidrich, Bruce Jones, Syd Shores
 
Major Publications, aka Major Magazines, is best known as the publisher of the CRACKED family of magazines, noted as “the most durable imitator of MAD magazine.” Indeed, it ran 365 regular issues (under a number of publishers) from 1958 to 2007, including numerous “King”, “Super” and “Giant” specials.
 
During the heyday of the 60s Monster Craze, Major introduced FOR MONSTERS ONLY, a satire of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, the leading monster magazine sold on the stands during this period.
 
In 1969, Major tried its hand at a magazine influenced by Warren’s line of monster comics ‘zines, CREEPY, EERIE and VAMPIRELLA. Edited by Terry Bisson, WEB OF HORROR, subtitled “America’s Nightmare Magazine” lasted three issues, from 1969 to 1970. A giant spider with the name, “Webster” introduced the stories in the same fashion as Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie, all riffs on the EC Comics trio of horror hosts from a decade before, known collectively as the “Ghoul Lunatics”.
 
The issue shown here was the third and final issue. Not quite as polished looking as Warren’s ‘zines, WEB OF HORROR nevertheless provided readers with an extra dose of horror comics from a quality staff of artists and writers. A nice addition was the inclusion of a “poster” back cover – this one an oil painting of a Yeti by “Berni” Wrightson -- which showed the cover illustration without the distracting titles and text.
 
NOTE: Fans may know that Berni Wrightson suffered several small strokes last year that put him in the hospital. While he recovered, further treatment has discovered a cancerous tumor in his brain. Mr. Wrightson will be going through radiation and chemo, and, according to his wife, the prognosis is “good”. Let’s all send Berni some light and good thoughts for a successful treatment and recovery.
 
























 

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