Updated: October 10, 2010
FAMOUS MONSTER MAGAZINE (ISSUE #75)
Magazine History (1958-1983)
Famous Monsters of Filmland (which quickly became known to fans as simply
FM (citation needed) was originally conceived as a one-shot publication by James
Warren and editor Forrest J Ackerman, with no discernible future (citation
needed), published in the wake of the widespread success of the 2 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,
Eerie, and Vampirella.
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.,
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 through direct references,
first-person experiences, and adoption of fandom terms and customs. The magazine
regularly published photos from King Kong (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 of 1970, to issue 80 in October of
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 '70s, the
magazine came to rely heavily on reprints of articles from the '60s. 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, Cinefantastique,
Fangoria, The Monster Times, and Video Watchdog. 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.