Friday, August 1, 2014

Famous Monsters’ Film Fantasy Yearbook, 1982

Todd Mason, who hosts Friday’s Forgotten Books in place of Patti Abbott, will have more knowledge about this magazine and its background.

March 1982
If you like watching horror, fantasy, and science fiction movies, then you’ll like this annual yearbook on some of the famous monsters brought to life by Hollywood.

The 1982 edition of Famous Monsters’ Film Fantasy Yearbook looks at the “creatures” in eleven films, namely Raiders, Titans, Superman II, Halloween II, Dragonslayer, The Howling, Friday the 13th II, Wolfen, Excalibur, Outland, and Werewolf. The cover image is awful while inside the text is clear though the pictures are hazy.


Famous Monsters was one of several horror-fantasy-sf magazines launched by James Warren who founded Warren Publishing in 1957. Over the next twenty-six years, until 1983, he published magazines like After Hours, Creepy, Eerie, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Help!, Spacemen, and Vampirella. The last of these, reproduced below, has cover art by the legendary Frank Frazetta who was noted for his fantasy and sf artworks as well as covers of books and comic books, posters, paintings, and LP record albums. I just read about him.

No.1, September 1969.
Cover art by Frank Frazetta
Warren’s initial publications, Famous Monsters of Filmland and Monster World, were edited by Forrest J. Ackerman, an American collector of science fiction books and movie memorabilia.

I don’t know much about these magazines and chanced upon this hundred-page free yearbook at Archive. You can read more about Warren Publishing at Wikipedia.

20 comments:

  1. Thanks Prashant - even though it's such a well-known publication, I don't think I've ever actually held one in my hand! I'm sure I'll get told off by Todd!

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    1. Sergio, you're welcome. This is not something I'm ever likely to come across in my neck of the woods. The magazines seem to have been popular in their time.

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  2. Not really my thing - interesting art-work on the second one, what was the target audience I wonder.

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    1. Col, I'd assume fans of horror, fantasy, and sf were the target audience. Warren Publishing was quite focused about the kind of periodicals it wanted to publish.

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  3. Too scary for me, Prashant. That first cover would probably give me nightmares if I ever held it in my hand. Ha. I know, I know, Todd despairs over my chicken-heartedness.

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    1. Yvette, the contents of this particular magazine are not scary as they mainly contain stills from the eleven films with elements of horror and suspense.

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  4. Love that Vampirella cover. I've read a few of the comics. I'm not a huge comics fan. I never saw Famous Monsters when I was young, though many of my friends say it was influential on them as writers.

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    1. Charles, I'll see if I can get hold of online versions of VAMPIRELLA and some of the other magazines from the Warren stable. I'd not heard of them before.

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  5. Those covers are .... extraordinary. I came to see if you'd posted on your legal thriller, but the illos told me fairly quickly that that review wasn't up yet....

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    1. Moira, I have put off my proposed review of the legal thriller by a few days because I have approached its author for an interview. I hope to post the review along with the interview if and when the author agrees to it.

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  6. That Vampirella cover is very cool. I love Frank Frazetta's cover art. I used to have some trading cards of various cover artist's I will have to see if I still have them.

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    1. Tracy, those trading cards would be priceless today. Cover art is what makes these magazines, including mystery, war, and westerns, appealing to many readers.

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    2. The cards I had are not that old, but still fun and enjoyable.

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    3. Tracy, I remember collecting stickers in my childhood though I have been meaning to revive my stamps hobby.

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  7. Sorry it's taken so long to respond, Prashant! A very sleepy weekend.

    James Warren, as the WIKI entry notes, started his career as a national publisher with AFTER HOURS, a PLAYBOY imitation that flamed out in various ways after four issues, apparently...but Forrest Ackerman contributing an article to AH led to them working together on FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, which became a durable sensation as a fan's magazine about horror and related films that took a jocular, kid-friendly approach to the films that largely were aimed at young viewers, anyway. Ackerman soon added SPACEMEN, which dealt more exclusively if similarly with sf films of the era, and lasted a few years. These were not fiction magazines, nor particularly sophisticated, and were put together very inexpensively (one thing apparently true of Warren throughout his career is that he won't pay anyone any more than he has to), but they struck a chord with young readers, and saw no few imitations...and helped inspire some somewhat (if at times only somewhat) more sophisticated magazines, notably Calvin Thomas Beck's CASTLE OF FRANKENSTEIN (Beck being Robert Bloch's physical and to some extent emotional model for Norman Bates in PSYCHO). His first venture into the comics market, HELP!, was editor/creator Harvey Kurtzman's third and most durable successor to his work as creator/editor of the MAD comic book, and where Kurtzman had as assistants first Gloria Steinem (who managed to cadge a lot of high-profile comedy performers to do covers for the magazine, and would famously go onto eventually founding the feminist MS. magazine) and then Terry Gilliam (who after his work on HELP!, where he met a young Brit named John Cleese, who did some work for HELP!, would emigrate to the UK and join Cleese in MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS). HELP! lasted from 1960-65, and I've written a few posts about it...a remarkable range of people worked for it or on it, though most of those because of Kurtzman or his assistants rather than Warren. After Dell Comics started issuing horror comics in standard comics format in the early mid 1960s (Dell never worried about the Comics Code, which was still officially banning horror comics for publishers such as DC and Marvel ancestor Atlas/Timely), Warren started looking into doing their horror comics magazines in the larger format, and again found success (and imitators), and Ackerman, still editing FAMOUS MONSTERS for Warren, created Vampirella for her comic magazine after CREEPY and EERIE had been established as solid successes. None of the Warren comics magazines, at least after HELP!, has been anything like consistently good (though usually better than their imitations were), and none were actually fiction magazines in any serious or sustained way. But even the dullest issues of CREEPY often had some handsome art, from Frazetta and others. An attempt at a HEAVY METAL imitation, 1984 (an then 1985) didn't do so well, later on.

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    1. Dell actually began issuing horror comics in 1962, so the ealy '60s...the first out and out horror comics on US newsstands after the great mid-1950s winnowing and the establishment of the Comics Code.

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    2. Todd, no need for apologies. You have, in fact, elevated my piece with your commendable knowledge about James Warren, his magazines, and related topics, many of which I'm familiar with, such as Harvey Kurtzman and MAD, Gloria Steinem, and the Dell horror comics that I read in the past and now do so online. I think I might have a couple of those comics. I was surprised to read that John Cleese had done work for HELP! Even very early in his career, who would have thought? I have probably come across Frazetta's art without realising it was his, something that I have begun to pay attention to only in recent years, the internet playing no small role in that little adventure. Many thanks, Todd.

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  8. And my memory was incorrect...the new title for the shortlived 1984 magazine was 1994.

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  9. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

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