Thursday, November 23, 2006
Night. 1965. A ten year old boy waits until the door to his room is closed and then sneaks a magazine from under a pillow. The flashlight comes on and his fingers flip through pulp pages. The pictures lurid and in black and white. The captions absurd. The magazine: FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. Forest J. Ackerman, publisher of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND gave American kids what they wanted. Picture after picture of the Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, and more. He kept these icons alive, feeding the interest for a new generation in horrors created on celluloid many years before. Pre teens and teens weren't able to go to the magazine stand and pick up STARLOG or FANGORIA. Those magazines and their ilk wouldn't be around until the late seventies and early eighties. And other magazines that might cater to the subject of weird films just weren't accessible to that demographic. Known as Uncle Forry to the science fiction and fantasy world, Ackerman started maybe the first fanzine in 1932, "Time Traveler", while at the age of sixteen. The fanzine became an international publication. (pictured: Karloff and Ackerman) Over the next several years Uncle Forry would continue to encourage fandom by helping to found The Las Angeles Science Fantasy Society (http://www.lasfs.info/html/mainmenu.html ). He would meet, befriend, and encourage a number of aspiring personalities including Ray Harryhausen, Charles Beaumont, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Ray Bradbury. Anthony Boucher(writer and editor of SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY) is said to have once proclaimed: "If Forrest J. Ackerman had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent him." Ackerman continues to be a presence; his FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND is still available in a different incarnation (http://www.filmlandclassics.com/01home.html ); he maintains an outstanding website(http://4forry.best.vwh.net/) and the Las Angeles Science Fantasy Society continues to be a force in the genre.