Saturday, July 30, 2016

Q&A WITH SCARY MONSTERS' NEW PUBLISHER


For 100 issues, Dennis Druktenis published his "all classic, all the time" SCARY MONSTERS magazine. Then, he quit. Going on behind the scenes was a plan for a new Monster Kid on the block to take the helm of the successful magazine.

Mr. Druktenis' editorial in issue #100 left a bit of a question mark as to what would happen after the monumental century mark. Turns out there was a business deal going on in the background that would assure readers that their favorite Monster Movie Memories magazine would continue.

And continue it has, with the recent publication of SCARY MONSTERS #101, headed by Don and Vicki Smeraldi, proprietors of the "One Stop Monster Shop", MyMovieMonsters.com. Now, for the first time, the story behind the change is revealed here at MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD with an exclusive Q&A with Editor and Publisher, Don Smeraldi.

SCARY MONSTERS #101 cover.
MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD: First off, congratulations on your acquisition of SCARY MONSTERS. Tell us about yourself and your interest in this industry. What attracted you to monsters and devoting a business to them?

SCARY MONSTERS: My wife Vicki and I have always considered ourselves Monster Kids. I grew up in Cleveland and my older brother and I watched Shock Theater horror host Ghoulardi, and later Hoolihan & Big Chuck, on local TV. My brother also introduced me to Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine as well as Aurora model kits. My wife, who is the designer and creative director for Scary Monsters Magazine, was introduced to horror films by her older brothers in Boston, where they watched Creature Double Feature among other shows. Our classic horror and sci-fi movies and collectibles website, MyMovieMonsters.com, started as a hobby of sorts in 1999 and has grown far beyond what we expected. Now, we are very happy to be the new publishers of Scary Monsters Magazine because we can help celebrate classic films along with other Monster Kids across the U.S.

MMW: How did acquiring SM come about?

SM: We did business with former publisher Dennis Druktenis for many years. When I was planning to retire from my job outside of the monster industry, I found out that he was contemplating the end of the magazine. We discussed everything at length and he turned over the reins.
 
SCARY MONSTERS #1 cover.
 
MMW: The former SM had advertising back pages that rivaled the heyday of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. Did you acquire the sideline inventory (including reprints of other ‘zines) as well as the title rights?

SM: Yes, we have the inventory and title rights and will continue the back page catalog of monster goodies.

MMW: Are you retaining any staff or going with new?

SM: We are working with some of the same writers and artists. We will continue to look for others interested in contributing.

MMW: What is your planned publishing schedule?

SM: Scary Monsters will continue to be quarterly, and we'll continue the annual Monster Memories Yearbook. Next issue is #102 to be released in late Sept/early Oct. #103 is slated for late Dec/early Jan.

MMW: Are you using the same printer or a new one? It looks like the photos in issue #101 are a bit sharper than before.

SM: We're using the same printer and are ensuring we have high-resolution photos and graphics whenever possible.

MMW: What would you say that distinguishes SM from the rest of the monster magazines crowding the magazine rack?

SM: I wouldn't say the racks are crowded with monster magazines these days, at least compared to years ago, but, like Dennis, we consider Scary Monsters the only real monster magazine because of the pulp pages, it is "all classic, all the time," its emphasis on nostalgia and the wide array of contributions from fans.

MMW: What are your plans for the evolution of SM? Will you be keeping the traditional “look” or moving in another direction?

SM: The look will remain but we'll be incorporating some new and fun features.

MMW: What are your thoughts on the apparent uncertainty of commercial magazines such as FANGORIA?

SM: The print industry, from newspapers to magazines and books is having trouble simply because of the push to make most things digital. The cost of printing and postage are also concerns. Bookstores large and small are also facing tough times. But, in my opinion, we'll always have hard copy because it's so personal and tactile, and it literally plays into the hands of collectors.
 
SCARY MONSTERS #100 cover.
 
MMW: Buy buying SM, you obviously thought there was a future in the print magazine, but what are your strategies to keep your audience (coverage of newer films, etc.)?

SM: That's something we'll need to consider but at this point we want to keep things classic and fill the needs of the niche that we find ourselves in.

MMW: Are you open to art and article submissions and, if so, what are your standard guidelines?

SM: Yes, we are open to art submissions for our Scare Mail section. For articles it is best to send a query providing us the gist of what the author wants to cover, then we'll respond with more precise guidelines. Email: scarymonsters@mymoviemonsters.com. Mail: Scary Monsters, PO Box 567, Wildomar CA 92595-0567.

MMW: What is your favorite monster memory? I have many, including the first few times I looked through Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine (the cover of issue #51 stands out because of the colors of the repeated image of the werewolf). It definitely wasn't a favorite memory when I was younger, but I clearly recall the fear I felt when the Outer Limits TV show would come on our B&W TV set ... "We control the vertical, we control the horizontal..." The glowing eyes on the Children of the Damned also scared me and my brother and sister. Having one of my drawings shown on the Hoolihan & Big Chuck show was a thrill. But nothing beats the memories of seeing the classic Universal Monsters films for the very first time.

MMW: Any final words you’d like to share with monster fans out there?

SM: We're just so thankful for the support we've received so far and the enthusiasm that so many people have shown now that they know Scary Monsters is continuing and our first issue is now on the newsstands. The best possible way to ensure that this magazine goes on for perhaps another 100 issues is to subscribe!

MMW: Thanks tons, Don, for taking time out to share all this with MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD.

SM: Thanks for the opportunity, John, to share all of this with Monster Magazine World!

Friday, July 29, 2016

WHO PHOTOGRAPHED THE FREAKS?


A set of exquisite portrait photographs and production stills from MGM's infamous FREAKS (1932, Tod Browning) has been circulating around the Web (see series below). They are stark, provocative and suggestively perverse; in other words, every bit like the movie itself.

The images range from portraits of the actors and actresses who portrayed the circus freaks, portraits of the leading "big people" in the movie, as well as production shots of the cast either posing for the camera or in action.

A closer examination reveals the clarity and detail that was commonly seen in these types of Hollywood photographs of the 1930s, where a number of unit and studio photographers plied their trade and would later become world-famous for their work.

I did a little digging on this set of stills and found that they had been a part of a series from an 2012-2013 exhibit of the Musee de l'Elysee called "Freaks, The Monstrous Parade". The selection of about 50 of these photographs were from the collection of Zurich-based Enrico Praloran. What struck me, though, was that in all my (admittedly terse) on-line research, I never once came upon the name of the photographer who took the pictures.

I know that legendary photographers like George Hurrell and Clarence Sinclair Bull had worked for MGM, and, since they were both noted for their glamour shots, both had taken portraits of Leila Hyams in the early 1930s. But Hurrell left MGM in 1932 and Bull is known for only a limited amount of horror actors as his subjects (ex. Lugosi, Lorre), which would most likely leave both of them out. Which leaves the cameramen (also unlikely), or an as yet (or undiscovered so far by me) identified person. There is one more possibility -- and a probable longshot at that -- is Tod Browning himself.


Even one of the more authoritative sources on Browning, the duo of David Skal and Elias Sevada fail to mention a unit photographer in the excerpt from their book, "Dark Carnival: The Secret World of Tod Browning, Hollywood's Master of the Macabre" concerning the making of FREAKS (FILMFAX #52 Sept/Oct 1995),

So, unless I've missed something or if the information is unearthed in new research, it looks like the photographer of these very unusual, but artful photographs will remain unnamed.





















Thursday, July 28, 2016

R.I.P. JACK DAVIS


It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I report the passing of Jack Davis at the age of 91 on 27 JULY 2016 in Athens, Georgia.

Born John Burton Davis, Jr. on 12 DECEMBER 1924 in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Davis is distinguished by his military service and his career as one of the pre-eminent cartoonist of his times.

Famous to the general public for his movie poster art for such films as IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD and THE LONG GOODBYE, it was the readers and fans of E.C. Comics and MAD magazine that most loudly lauded his work.

Mr. Davis was one of the "usual gang of idiots" illustrating strips for the early issue of MAD, as well as having the notoriety of his E.C. story, "Foul Play", mentioned in Dr. Fredric Wertham's indictment of the 1950s comic book industry, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT.


Mr. Davis is also recognized for his numerous illustrations of movie monsters, including the "Giant 6 Ft. Frankenstein" poster seen in countless comics and monster magazines, as well as being the cover artist for the first issue of Warren's CREEPY, a tribute to the E.C. horror comics line.


His work is recognized by the exaggeration of a character's head, hands, and feet, and by the intricate line and cross-hatch work that gave his images a sketchy but precision ink line.

Of course, I was introduced by Jack Davis by his work in MAD, but he also helped shape my interest in monsters with his classic illustrations for the YOU'LL DIE LAUGHING cards in the 1950s.

I never met Jack Davis, but loved his art and will miss him greatly. Thankfully, though, we have a large body of his work available to us to enjoy for many years to come.

LARRY IVIE'S MONSTERS AND HEROES NO. 1


LARRY IVIE'S MONSTERS AND HEROES
Vol. 1 No. 1
1967
M & H Publications
Editor and Publisher: Larry Ivie
Pages: 52

I've done a bit of talking about CASTLE OF FRANKENSTEIN of late, and of Larry Ivie, CoF's first editor and designer.

Larry Ivie (1936-2014) was one of fandom's earliest champions. His talents ranged from writer, to illustrator, to publisher, and just about everything in between. He was very well liked, and was more than once gracious to the point of allowing young artists to stay with him until they could get a leg up.

In 1967, Ivie decided to apply what he learned from CoF and publish his own magazine. Entitled LARRY IVIE'S MONSTERS AND HEROES, it encompassed the gamut of his interests -- monsters, super heroes, radio shows, movie serials and adventure. Produced in his recognizable fluid style, Ivie's fan magazine could be found on newsstands, which was quite an accomplishment in the days of burgeoning big-business magazine distribution.



















































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