This past weekend as I was shuffling through the dealer room at Timegate , I stopped to talk to a friend of mine who was vending. I was looking through his comics and the other things he had, when he showed me something really interesting. He pulled out several issues of Famous Monsters of Filmland from the 60s.
I have never been a big fan of monster movies, I appreciate them but they have never really appealed to me. These Magazines spoke to me on a certain level though. They called to me from their black and white pages and said "Take us Home." I could not say no to the primal instincts that suggested that I buy them. I was intrigued, having recently watched American Scary and heard the references to Famous Monsters and the importance that was put on it for the development of the horror hosts of the era. I found that it is a very important historical document, and I wanted to see what it was all about.
Simply looking at the cover of these books take you back, and I can imagine kids of the time standing at news stand staring at these covers for as long as their parents would let them. The cover images were very compelling for the era. these covers also remind me of how important these monster movies and characters were to kids. Where my generation has Star Wars their generation had the monster movies. It was the kind of thing that the kids would sneak and watch and then scare them selves so that they couldn't actually go to sleep.
The magazine is the kind of product that kids would sneak into school to look at with their friends. Some of the images would have been quite graphic back then and I could imagine kids taking them into the school only to getting them taken up by their teachers.
Going into the inside of these magazines you can see they feel much different than a modern magazine, most of the text is little more than the captions you would find in a magazine on the news stands today! The pictures. . . That was and still is the draw. though all of these pictures are passe today with the advent of the internet, in the 50s and 60s these black and white images would have been gold to the readers of the magazine. Many of the images were first published in this magazine and it was the first place they had actually been seen! It was an important document for that! Also for the movies that were actually being made while the magazine was being produced the writers were becoming actual journalists and were being let on set and were allowed to take pictures.
The magazine did not just focus on movies being made in this country either, but also dealt with a lot of Japanese titles such as Godzilla. Considering the importance of Godzilla in the monster movie circuit it was a great way to expose audiences to some of the behind the scene aspects of the making of the gigantic Lizard himself. In an issue I picked up there is a feature on Godzilla, and while the writing leaves a bit to be desired and I even question some of their "facts" I realize how young children and monster movie buffs would have salivated in anticipation for the next issue.
Since the original publication ceased in the 80s the magazine has had a turbulent life, but recently the magazine has made a come back and has been fairly successful! you can find out more about the current incarnation of the magazine by going to The Famous Monsters Website
Famous Monsters of Filmland is a very important part of the American Pop Culture legacy that I have missed out on for most of my adult life. It is a magazine that has inspired numerous movie makers and pop culture personalities over the lat 5 decades. If you get a chance to pick up some of the vintage issues do it, if for nothing else than a history lesson in the early years of pop culture publications.
Do you have memories of Famous Monsters of Filmland? Has it influenced you in your writing or reading habits? Is there another Pop Culture Publication that you think people should know about? Let us know!