This one goes back to 1984, when feathered hair was in and my only concern in life was not crashing my bike on the neighborhood hill dubbed “The Matterhorn” named not only for the insane steep grade but the number of wobbly-handlebar out of control bike wrecks almost every kid had experienced. I was a very impressionable kid and still traumatized by the opening scene of the movie Ghostbusters, I dreaded the thought of 8:30 at night and the ever-looming gloom of going to bed. In bed the thoughts of ghosts and goblins always seemed to overtake my imagination. It was the pinnacle of stress to a six-year-old. Other than “The Matterhorn” of course.
That same year, friends’ of my parents had two older sons (Brent and Nate. I remember you two!) who were well into high school. I remembered one of them to have a mustache so in my eyes they were like grownups but would give “wet willies” and put me on the phone to their girlfriends so they could tell me to say stupid things. I didn’t care for those two much. Their only redeeming factor, after cleaning their room, I received boxes of their books and magazine they no longer wanted. Seeing as I was in the beginning stages of reading, I guess having three hundred Boys Life magazines couldn’t hurt. And an occasional Zoo Book.
I believe that box of discarded magazines and books stayed in my room for the better part of that summer until one fateful evening when I was forced into confinement of my bedroom early. I am sure it was for some sort mischief. With nothing better to do I opened the box of hand-me-down publications and in sheer shock the first ten or twelve magazines were not the wimpy Boys Life magazines I had no intention of reading but a jolt of terrifying monsters magazines with horrid creatures staring right at me. My reaction was violent. I was an only child and like I said, the beginning of Ghostbusters damn near sent me to therapy. Can you imagine being that innocent and opening a box to be greeted by this:
Soon I had conjured up enough courage from curiosity and approached the box again. With one eye shut and the other barely open, I opened the box again and quickly moved the half-skulled girl. Digging right past that horrid face into pure six-year-old ecstasy was Star Wars. It was a Famous Monster issue of nothing but Star Wars pictures! The rest of the box could have been chockfull of Linda Blair terrors but when mixed with C3PO, I couldn’t care less. This was near and dear to the heart and that was when I officially became a fan of Famous Monster Magazine.
Fast forward nearly thirty years later or…yesterday when I was dropping by a local comic con to give love to my pals over at Lost Story Studios and picking up some amazing personalized art when I spied a familiar face. Holy macaroni it was the same skull faced girl on the cover of Famous Monster Magazine sitting lonely in a box. But wait…she wasn’t lonely at all.
She came with friends! And you know I had to take them all home.
It’s amazing the flood of memories that come along with certain childhood items. I swear, I have no clue what was in that box other than these Famous Monster magazines and to be perfectly honest, I don’t really care. For many years later, I would sit under the covers reading about Peter Cushing and staring at the numerous monsters that I would later meet in my dreams. (Talking to you, Dr. Phobes.)
I spent last night flipping through some of what I loved the most from these magazines. Let’s delve in, shall we?
The cover art for this particular magazine really can’t be contended with. Sure Creep and Tales from the Crypt have pretty neat covers but if you want to get a tattoo that is inspired by magazine art, why not Jaws getting punched in the dick by King Kong? And no one is ever going to believe that girl if she makes it out.
There are so many stories and photos crammed in these magazine that the cover keeps the mystery by just giving a few top articles. I like that. Less is always more.
Oh gosh, the mail-in toy advertisements. Many of these items were not sold on the open retail market (from what I am told) so if you were to somehow obtain these magazines years later by, let’s say, two jerk-o bullies, then you were just shit out of luck. I have sent my parents on an absolute failure missions for multiple Christmases because of these advertisements. The date on the issue was just a number in my feeble young mind.
Unfortunately for me, most of my inherited Famous Monster issues were around the late seventies and early eighties so they were full of Star Wars merchandise that was impossible to find. I have no idea if kids back then really sent away for these items but I am sure if they did, they were the envy of the neighborhood.
I also love the shout-outs to the kids who read Famous Monster Magazine. I have to remind myself today, kids back then actually wrote letters to the editor and sent wallet size photos. I HAVE DONE THIS TOO! Looking at these kids, I imagine we would have all been great friends. Especially Dave. Poor Dave.
The contests! Oh cats, the contests! Every issue had some sort of creative contest that was either sponsored by a movie or created within the Warren Magazine Publication. I think these types of contests are lost today. Well, other that the cool stuff over at DinoDrac, but still, I would like to see more movies that inspire kids to breakout the ol’ pen and paper and send it to some P.O. Box, NY NY. We live in such an immediate gratification society.
This was for the more serious creepy kid of the neighborhood. It’s one thing to order a model kit or send away for a contest but dropping $40 on an ape head, you had to be committed. Or needed to be committed. Forty big ones back in 1971 wasn’t chump change.
It was a simpler time back when Famous Monster Magazine was a well syndicated. Ten-year-olds could easily order a cannon that could be heard five miles away and why should they NOT be able to? It’s true that today, if a ten-year-old kid chewed his cheese sandwich into the shape of a pistol he or she could be expelled but back then kids were much smarter. This was the dumbest paragraph I have ever written. And now I want a mini canon . Without the problems of having the FBI showing up at my door.
Famous Monster Magazine was long running that came to an end in 1983 but ten years later, Ray Ferry, a fan, revived it and shared rights with Forrest Ackerman. They also changed the title to Famous Monsters of Filmland and ran pretty successfully until around ’97 when the relationship fell apart and law suits were flying. That’s too bad too.
It’s still around today and you can order it online for six issues at a time. But it’s just not the same. I know it’s all perspective but with the thousand horror blogs and sites and many magazine circulations, I thing Famous Monster Magazine died when it should have in 1983. I just feel lucky that I was of the age and shared the same joy those kids did in the shout-out sections years and years before.