Wednesday, October 10, 2007

31 Days of Halloween - Day 10

For me, monsters and Halloween go hand in hand, and that includes monster magazines. When I was a kid there was only one monster magazine that really counted and that was "Famous Monsters of Filmland," published by Jim Warren and lovingly edited by Forrest J Ackerman with tons of stills and plenty of bad puns. I loved this magazine, poring over all the photos from movies I hoped would one day show up on the Creature Double Feature, and often not seeing them until even now. Of course, more often than not, whatever scenario I concocted based on a single image, or two, ended up being better than the actually plot for the movie once I saw it. I'm sure it would have been the same for most of the items sold by "the Captain Company" in the back of the magazine, but I never actually got around to ordering anything there. I can still look at those ads and create mental wish lists, now though, looking at, what I once thought were high prices, and now realizing they were being sold for a bargain compared to what I'd pay for them on ebay now. And those covers, those gorgeous, enticing covers (3 of my favorites are shown here). Ahhh.

Uncle Forry's FM is no longer with us, but there are loads of monster magazines available now, most edited and with contributors who grew up on Famous Monsters. Each of these magazines fills a different niche and has a different audience.

For me, the cream of the crop is Monsters From the Vault, a more scholarly oriented magazine about horror movies made through the early 1970s. Beautiful stills, gorgeous covers, and fantastic articles and reviews by the most knowledgeable people writing about the genre.

If you're a fan of the horror movies put out by Hammer Studios, then I can't recommend Little Shoppe of Horrors enough. This magazine is also extremely well written and researched, providing highly detailed articles and interviews about each of Hammer's movies. It also features pleanty of artwork by "Batman: The Animated Series" artist Bruce Timm.

More modest in quantity, Mad Scientist makes up for it in sheer quality. Each article is painstakingly researched. It also branches out from just horror movies to cover comic books, games, television and toys, including an autobiographical comic that pretty much any monster kid can realte to. Originally published in a digest sized format, the next issue will be full magazine sized, and as further incentive, I did a portrait of Vampira for the back cover.

If you love Godzilla and his kin then G-Fan is the place to turn to. If it has to do with Japanese kaiju (and even their American cousins) it's covered here. The articles range from fan appreciation to lengthy analysis and "making of" type articles as well as interviews, toy reviews and fan art.

If your interest in horror is not limited to movies, and the movies that you're interested in include modern fare then try Rue Morgue. The articles are typically short, and most of the magazine is devoted to reviews, but the scope of things covered is far reaching, and if you've ever wondered about that DVD you just came across with the title you've never heard of, and the crappy cover art, then Rue Morgue can probably tell you if it's worth your time.

If your interest in horror movies pretty much begins with "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th" and moves to the present, and if you feel the bloodier, the better, then Fangoria is what you're looking for. While it does have the occassional article or interview that pertains to movies made before 1980, it generally covers the most current stuff.

Scary Monsters is aimed at the nostalgia crowd who long for their old copies of Famous Monsters, and can be a mixed bag. The paper is terrible, and gives the whole production the look of old copy machine copies, and the writing ranges from the informative to repetitive nostalgia pieces by fans about seeing such and such movie at the drive-in, or the first Aurora monster model they bought. it has its charm, but is not for everyone.

Video Watchdogis not exclusively a horror magazine, but most of the movies it covers will appeal to genre lovers. This digest sized magazine contains well researched articles, great stills (many of them rare)and detailed technical specs for every DVD it reviews, and comparisons to prior releases of the film in various formats.

Midnight Marqueecontains a variety of well done articles about classic horror films, their stars and their makers, with some nice stills. they also publish a line of excellent books.

Chiller Theater is a slim magazine that ties into the Chiller Theater conventions, and the articles generally realte to their special guests. They are well written, and there is lots of photos, and some beautiful cover art as well.

Monster Bash, like Chiller Theater, is a convention tie-in, only for the Monster Bash convention, which one of these years, I'm going to make it to. Also somewhat slim, the content ranges from the higher quality end of Scary Monsters to shorter, yet informative, articles along the Monsters From the Vault-type. This one has a real fun feel to it.

Basil Gogos is the man responsible for most of the more memorable covers to Famous Monsters. He has some prints available, and also takes commissions, in case you were wondering what to get me for providing this fine Halloween countdown. You can visit his website here.

A fantastic book is also available about Basil Gogos and his artwork. The book is simply gorgeous, and well worth the price. You can order a copy here.

If you do order any of these magazines, be sure to tell them I sent you. I've contributed to a number of them, and want the publishers to know who's ending people their way, so that I can get that skeleton key to the executive wash room.

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