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Famous Monsters of Filmland

Famous Monsters of Filmland

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Famous Monsters of Filmland is a genre-specific film magazine started in 1958 by publisher James Warren
James Warren (publisher)
James Warren is a magazine publisher and founder of Warren Publishing.Magazines published by Warren include Creepy, Vampirella and Famous Monsters of Filmland...

 (see Warren Publishing
Warren Publishing
Warren Publishing was an American magazine company founded by James Warren, who published his first magazines in 1957 and continued in the business for decades...

) and editor Forrest J Ackerman
Forrest J Ackerman
Forrest J Ackerman was an American collector of science fiction books and movie memorabilia and a science fiction fan...


Magazine history (1958–1983)

Famous Monsters of Filmland was originally conceived as a one-shot publication by James Warren and editor Forrest J Ackerman
Forrest J Ackerman
Forrest J Ackerman was an American collector of science fiction books and movie memorabilia and a science fiction fan...

 (1916–2008), published in the wake of the widespread success of the package of old horror movies syndicated to American television in 1957. But the first issue, published in February 1958, was so successful that it required a second printing to fulfill public demand. Its future as part of American culture was immediately obvious to both men. The success prompted spinoff magazines such as Spacemen, Famous Westerns of Filmland, Screen Thrills Illustrated, Creepy
Creepy was an American horror-comics magazine launched by Warren Publishing in 1964. Like Mad, it was a black-and-white newsstand publication in a magazine format and thus did not require the approval or seal of the Comics Code Authority. The anthology magazine was initially published quarterly but...

, Eerie
Eerie was an American magazine of horror comics introduced in 1966 by Warren Publishing. Like Mad, it was a black-and-white newsstand publication in a magazine format and thus did not require the approval or seal of the Comics Code Authority. Each issue's stories were introduced by the host...

, and Vampirella
Vampirella is a fictional character, a comic book vampire heroine created by Forrest J Ackerman and costume designer Trina Robbins in Warren Publishing's black-and-white horror comics magazine Vampirella #1 . Writer-editor Archie Goodwin later developed the character from horror-story hostess, in...


FM offered brief articles, well-illustrated with publicity stills and graphic artwork, on horror movies from the silent era to the current date of publication, their stars and filmmakers. Warren and Ackerman decided to aim the text at late pre-adolescents and young teenagers.

In the pages of FM, Forrest J Ackerman promoted the memory of Lon Chaney, Sr.
Lon Chaney, Sr.
Lon Chaney , nicknamed "The Man of a Thousand Faces," was an American actor during the age of silent films. He was one of the most versatile and powerful actors of early cinema...

, whose silent works were mostly beyond the accessibility of fans for most of the magazine's life, but were a great influence on his own childhood. He also introduced film fans to science fiction fandom
Science fiction fandom
Science fiction fandom or SF fandom is a community or "fandom" of people actively interested in science fiction and fantasy and in contact with one another based upon that interest...

 through direct references, first-person experiences, and adoption of fandom terms and customs. The magazine regularly published photos from King Kong
King Kong (1933 film)
King Kong is a Pre-Code 1933 fantasy monster adventure film co-directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, and written by Ruth Rose and James Ashmore Creelman after a story by Cooper and Edgar Wallace. The film tells of a gigantic island-dwelling apeman creature called Kong who dies in...

(1933), including one from the film's infamous "spider pit sequence", featured in Issue #108 (1974) which, until Ackerman discovered a photo of a spider in the cavern setting, had never been proven definitively to have actually been filmed.

FM's peak years were from its first issues through the late 1960s, when the disappearance of the older films from television and the decline of talent in the imaginative film industry left it with a dearth of subject matter acceptable to both editor and fan. Warren and Ackerman created a jump in issue numbering from issue 69, which was printed in September 1970, to issue 80 in October 1970. They did this (according to the editorial in issue 80) because it brought them closer to issue 100, justifying the numerical jump because of the publishing of ten issues of the short-lived companion magazine 'Monster World' as issues that 'would have been' Famous Monsters issues. During the 1970s, the magazine came to rely heavily on reprints of articles from the 1960s. In the early 1980s, the magazine folded after Warren became ill and unable to carry on as publisher, and Ackerman resigned as editor in the face of the increasing disorganization within the captainless Warren Publishing Company. The magazine stopped publication in 1983 after a run of 191 issues.

The magazine directly inspired the creation of many other similar publications in the ensuing years, including Castle of Frankenstein
Castle of Frankenstein
Castle of Frankenstein was an American horror, science fiction and fantasy film magazine, distributed by Kable News and published in New Jersey from 1962 to 1975 by Calvin Thomas Beck's Gothic Castle Publishing Company. The first three issues were edited by Larry Ivie and Ken Beale. From 1963 and...

, Cinefantastique
Cinefantastique was a horror, fantasy, and science fiction film magazine originally started as a mimeographed fanzine in 1967, then relaunched as a glossy, offset quarterly in 1970 by publisher/editor Frederick S. Clarke...

, Fangoria
Fangoria is an American magazine devoted to horror and exploitation films, which has a number of associated brands:* Fangoria Comics* Fangoria Films* Fangoria RadioFangoria may also refer to:* Fangoria , a Spanish electro pop band...

, The Monster Times
The Monster Times
The Monster Times was a horror film fan magazine created in 1972, published by The Monster Times Publishing Co. Intended as a competitor to Famous Monsters of Filmland, it was edited at various times in its formative years by Chuck R. McNaughton, Allen Asherman, Joe Brancatelli and Tom Rogers...

, and Video Watchdog
Video Watchdog
Video Watchdog is a bimonthly, digest size film magazine started in 1990 by publisher/editor Tim Lucas and his wife, art director and co-publisher Donna Lucas....

. In addition, hundreds, if not thousands, of FM-influenced horror, fantasy and science fiction movie-related fanzines have been produced, some of which have continued to publish for decades, such as Midnight Marquee and Little Shoppe of Horrors.

Revival (1993–2008)

The magazine was resurrected in 1993 by New Jersey portrait photographer and monster movie fan, Ray Ferry. After finding that the Famous Monsters of Filmland title had not been "maintained" under law, Ferry filed for "intent to use" for the magazine's trademark, unbeknownst to Ackerman or trademark's owner and creator, Jim Warren. Ferry, poised to restart publication of FM on a quarterly basis, offered Ackerman the position of editor-in-chief for a fee of $2,500 per issue, to which he accepted. Starting at issue #200, the new Famous Monsters acquired subscribers and over-the-counter buyers who believed they would be reunited with Ackerman in print. While Ferry tried to maintain Ackerman's style in his own writings, he heavily edited and rejected contributions from the man, himself.

In an effort to help Ferry finance his full-time efforts on behalf of FM, Ackerman agreed to a reduced editor's fee of $1500 per issue. With four consecutive unpaid issues and a continued rejection of his work, Ackerman resigned from his position with both Ferry and Famous Monsters. Aside from removing Ackerman's name from the masthead, Ferry did not inform FM readers that they were no longer reading material by, or authorized by, Ackerman. Instead, Ferry infused his writings Ackerman's trade-marked puns and mimicked writing style which led to legal action brought forth by Ackerman.

Libel lawsuit

In 1997, Ackerman filed a civil lawsuit against Ferry for libel, breach of contract
Breach of contract
Breach of contract is a legal cause of action in which a binding agreement or bargained-for exchange is not honored by one or more of the parties to the contract by non-performance or interference with the other party's performance....

, and misrepresentation; Ferry had publicly claimed that Ackerman’s only connection with the new FM was as a hired hand and that Ferry “had to let Forry go” because he was no longer writing or editing for the magazine. Ferry also claimed rights to pen names and other personal properties of Ackerman. On May 11, 2000, the Los Angeles Superior Court jury decided in Ackerman's favor and awarded him $382,500 in compensatory damages and $342,000 in punitive damages. This verdict was appealed by Ferry, but the verdict was upheld by the Appellate Court of California, on November 12, 2002. With judgments in Ackerman's favor, Ferry filed for bankruptcy.

Immediate health issues made it impossible for Ackerman to continue maintaining his large 18-bedroom "Ackermansion," so at age 86, Ackerman moved to the "Acker-mini-mansion" in the Hollywood foothills with a small portion of his famed collection. Forrest J Ackerman passed away on December 4, 2008 at the age of 92.

As of mid-2007, Ferry had been allowed to continue to publish issues of FM due to lack of efforts on the part of bankruptcy trustees and Ackerman's lawyers to force the sale of the trademark or personal assets attached to his income. Ferry had also failed to pay any of the $720,000-plus cash judgment against him. In late 2007, Philip Kim, an entrepreneur and a private equity investor, purchased the rights to the logo and title, entering into an agreement with Forrest J Ackerman to use his trademarks to retain the magazine’s original look and feel. The new Famous Monsters of Filmland website was launched in May 2008 and on December 7, 2009, Kim announced the magazine's return to print.

2008 to Present

Prior to his death, Ackerman requested to leave the hospital and return to his Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 bungalow at 4511 Russell Avenue. Forrest J. Ackerman died just before midnight on Thursday, December 4, 2008. On the night of his death, he was with his personal caregiver, as well as die-hard fans. At the time of his death, he still possessed numerous items of rare science-fiction and fantasy film memorabilia, much of which was auctioned off in April 2009.

Ackerman's partner, James Warren continues his work, and is involved in publishing and is active in revival publications of his own works, and his work with Forrest J. Ackerman, with the exception of Famous Monsters, which is now owned by filmmaker and publisher Philip Kim.

The revival of the classic horror magazine came in July 2010, with the launch of Famous Monsters of Filmland Issue #251 at the Famous Monster Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. The success of the print magazine at the Famous Monster Convention and Comic-Con International in San Diego yielded the announcement of the magazine's expansion in distribution and circulation into major bookstore chains and independent retailers throughout North America and select markets in the US, Canada, and UK. Publisher Movieland Classics, LLC announced concurrently that the magazine would be entering into a bi-monthly publication schedule to meet the significant increase in requests from captivated readers beginning with Issue 253.

King Kong urban legends

Ackerman would occasionally publish rare photographs and art from King Kong (1933 film)
King Kong (1933 film)
King Kong is a Pre-Code 1933 fantasy monster adventure film co-directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, and written by Ruth Rose and James Ashmore Creelman after a story by Cooper and Edgar Wallace. The film tells of a gigantic island-dwelling apeman creature called Kong who dies in...

. One of these depicted an automobile-size spider and a similar sized reptilian creature from a scene deleted from Kong. Ackerman allegedly once claimed that the lost scene was present in the film prints originally shown in the Philippines. He also was the source of the erroneous story of an alternate ending having been put into King Kong vs. Godzilla
King Kong vs. Godzilla
is a 1962 Japanese science fiction kaiju film produced by Toho Studios. Directed by Ishirō Honda with visual effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, the film starred Tadao Takashima, Kenji Sahara, and Mie Hama. It was the third installment in the Japanese series of films featuring the monster Godzilla...

 for Japanese audiences, having Godzilla, instead of Kong, as the victor in the final battle scene, making some film historians dispute most stories of his concerning film editing of Kong films in Asia.

Pop-culture connections

In April 1981, the punk
Punk rock
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock...

 band The Misfits began using the magazine's distinctive logo font on most albums, T-shirts, and other associated promotional materials. In 1999, The Misfits released an album by the name of Famous Monsters
Famous Monsters
-Chart positions:- Credits :* Michale Graves - vocals* Jerry Only - bass* Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein - guitar* Dr. Chud - drums...

Famous Monsters was mentioned by Billy Bob Thornton
Billy Bob Thornton
Billy Bob Thornton is an American actor, screenwriter, director and musician. Thornton gained early recognition as a cast member on the CBS sitcom Hearts Afire and in several early 1990s films including On Deadly Ground and Tombstone...

 in an interview with host Jian Ghomeshi
Jian Ghomeshi
Jian Ghomeshi is a Canadian broadcaster, writer, musician and producer of Iranian descent who was raised in Thornhill, Ontario. Now based in Toronto, he is the host of the national daily cultural affairs talk program, Q, on CBC Radio One and Bold TV...

 on April 8, 2009, on the CBC Radio One program, Q. Thornton, upset by Ghomeshi's mentioning his career in the film industry during the interview with The Boxmasters
The Boxmasters
The Boxmasters are an American country rock/rockabilly band founded in Bellflower, California in 2007. It features actor Billy Bob Thornton on drums and vocals with J.D. Andrew on Rhythm Guitar , Danny Baker aka. Unknown Hinson on guitars, Brad Davis Vocals and Lead Guitar, and vocals as well as...

, became non-responsive before relating a long story of how he read and entered a contest sponsored by FM when he was a boy. A video of this radio interview has been posted on YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....


External links