Advertising – The Famous Monster Magazine Way


      In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the old Universal horror films were released to syndication and enthusiastic audiences on weekends, weekday afternoons and evenings watched them tirelessly. Then the launching of a movie magazine called FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND increased their interest in the classic movies even more. Instead of just watching the films, they were treated to all the backstage gossips, antics and difficulties of making these films. FM kept these horror films alive and helped rejuvenate the classic horror movie to viewers late into the 1970’s. Eventually, these films grew old (as if they weren’t old already) and a new generation sprung up, but this audience craved movies that were more frightening and scarier (with lots of gore and blood thrown in for color) than their predecessors. But, during the heyday of these classic monster films there was unbridled enthusiasm for horror and horror related items. This is where the General Promotions Co. which became the nationally recognized Captain Company filled a huge marketing void through the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland.

      What Captain Company was good at, was selling horror movie related products via mail order to a loyal following of monster crazed fans that couldn’t get enough of these novelty products, which included books, 8mm films, model kits, giant posters, rubber masks, spooky albums and a ton of other items. If you happened to grow up during this era and were excited about classic horror movie memorabilia then Captain Company fed your hunger and sank its teeth into your allowance and your parents pocketbooks.

      What was Captain Company’s recipe for success and why did it survived for so long? The answer comes down to two simple letters – TV. These classic movies remain popular because of reruns, which reminded us of our childhood years of being frightened and how we are slaves to tie in merchandise that kept us purchasing well into the late 1970’s. Captain Company did something unique with its promotion of its ads – it put the cool into the world of monsters and this kept kids begging their parents for more of these novelty items. Then something unexpected happened, the merchandise did an invisible man, and Captain Company rested its weary bones next to the blood suckers that it promoted. And just like that, it disappeared like a vampire when the day breaks.

    In the late 1990’s there was a renewed interest in the merchandise of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, and the monster craze was back. But this time it carried a heavy price tag. People began to buy back their childhood and started to replace their old dusty magazines. Collectors showed their monstrous faces and the race was on. Ebay was and still is the hotbed for all things classic monsters. FM had a new lease on life when Ray Ferry teamed up with Forrest J. Ackerman to keep the FM legacy going. Of course, this marriage did have its problems and lawsuits to boot. But this only fueled the monster crazed audience for more and more merchandise of old. Like zombies looking to eat your brains, they were looking to gobble up everything they could get their flesh rotted hands on. New companies began to get into the act with monster statues, 12″ dolls and bobble heads, the monster films received a facelift with movies like Dracula (1992), The Mummy(1999) and The Wolfman (2010). So, the monster craze lives on and we can take a page out of Forry’s playbook (RIP), if you advertise to a general audience and prey on their fears and what entertains them, they will open their pocketbooks to you and YOUR Captain Company live long and prosperous.

Sixties Kid and Vampire Girl Mask

While in the search for all things weird and classic monsters, I have come upon a snapshot of a picture taken from the 60’s. How do I know this was from the sixties? Because my mom has these same type of pictures of herself back in the 1960’s. I love this picture. A costume of a caveman wearing the famous Captain Company/Horror Comic ad Vampire Girl mask. Check it out

 

 

Here is the mask in its different incarnations.

 

 

This last pic looks more like Michael Jackson than a Vampire Girl. What do you think?

Ebay Still A Hotbed For Monster Collectibles

On a recent search of Ebay catalog of great finds. I ran into this little diddy of a monster collectible.

ORIGINAL FIRST ISSUE

1963-65  LOWELL CO.

FRANKENSTEIN 6 FOOT TALL MONSTER POSTER c. 1963 UNIVERSAL PICTURES AS SEEN IN CLASSIC COMIC BOOK ADS AND FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND MAGAZINE!

This is an ORIGINAL VINTAGE EXAMPLE of this classic 1960s Universal Pictures FRANKENSTEIN poster as seen in the classic Honor House mail order ads in comic books of the early sixties, and also in Famous Monsters. Yes, this is poster that was often paired with the 6 foot Bela Lugosi Dracula poster.

AN ORIGINAL…NOT A REPRODUCTION!

There were  two similar late 60s/early 70s posters that were made (the “English”  version, an inferior copy of this poster that is often offered on ebay-usually guising as THIS poster, and the plastic sheet ‘glow’ poster,  that has a very ugly, non-Universal Pictures Frankenstein). Neither of the later posters were copyrighted.

THIS IS THE ORIGINAL 1963 POSTER.

Measures 6 feet tall by 26″ wide.

Poster is printed on a thick, semi-glossy paper stock.

In FINE-VERY FINE condition (C6/7). High grade for this poster. One of the best I have ever seen. Light wrinkles/creasing and light surface wear, some browning on BACK of poster- but not visible on front side.

Colors are BRIGHT and VIVID as new, the white backround has mellowed with age.

This sold for $440.99. WOW! There is still a market for this stuff after all these years. And just think this cost only about a dollar back in the 60’s and 70’s. Now there are some who would think that you have to be crazy to pay this much for a piece of paper. But to some it brings back childhood memories of days gone by. I hope the winner can enjoy his prize with a $400 hole in his pocketbook. But to each his own. I just wished I was the one selling it.

What Ever Happened to Honor House?

If you look into the windows of the internet, you will start to read questions about a place called Honor House. What is Honor House? You might ask?  Well, if you were a kid in the 60’s and 70’s and read comic books, you will know what I am talking about. It was a place to order comic book novelties that got a kids head racing and heart pumping. So what happened to those companies that got kids all excited about paper toys, posters and gag gifts? Well, one grown up kid found out.

Now in the words of Mr. Castle

“I just called ADVANCE BIOFACTURES CORPORATION. aka HONOR HOUSE!!! It still is the same ol’ building on 35 Wilbur St. in Lynbrook, NY. Here is my conversation with the employee on the phone.

MC: Hello, I am looking for Honor House? Are they still around?

ABC: Honor House?? We haven’t been called that in over 20 years!

We both laughed.

ABC: Ed (Edwin Wegman) started up Honor House in the 50’s or 60’s. And used to sell novelty items. He then turned it into BIOSPECIFICS TECHNOLOGIES CORP. And by the way, we don’t have any Polaris Nuclear Sub’s hidden in old boxes put away, way, way in the back!!!

 

We laughed.

MC: I had in mind a 7 foot Monster or Frankenstein mask!

ABC: Sorry!

MC: Do you realize how much all those treasures from Honor House are sought after? Some go for thousands of dollars.

ABC: DAMN! Well we have searched the whole entire warehouse and we found nothing left from the old Honor House stock of novelties. You know at least 3-5 people call every 3-4 months or looking for this stuff.

MC: Wow,  I thought I was the only one!”

ABC: Nope, but Ed would have been so happy to know his novelties are worth top dollar and that so many collectors are trying to obtain them still after all these years!! Sad to say, Ed passed in 2005.

MC: That is too bad. Thank you for talking to me and sharing your stories about Honor House.

ABC: Your welcome. Bye

MC: Bye.

And that is the story of what happened to Honor House, one of the many novelty companies that sold its wares in the pages of comics, horror comics and famous monsters of filmland magazines.

Bela Lugosi’s Comic Book

A new comic book company is producing a new horror comic like that of the days of old. Remember House of Mystery, Boris Karloff’s Ghosts, Grimm Ghost Stories and the like? This new comic will be the same as those but with a fresh new edge for the 21st century. (Let’s hope).

It looks promising for Monsterverse Comics. Here is an excerpt from an interview done by FM with creator Kerry Gammill.

      Kerry Gammill (Superman, Power Man and Iron Fist) and Kez Wilson (Scarlett, Power of the Atom) will be serving as publishers and editors as well as contributing artwork. The book’s cover will also feature a portrait of Lugosi by artist Basil Gogos, who also did cover art for a magazine called Famous Monsters of Filmland. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.Excited yet? Good, because Gammill was kind enough to answer some questions about the upcoming book.

      FM: OK, so what can you tell me about the anthology itself?

      KG: Bela Lugosi’s Tales from the Grave will be the first title from my new company, Monsterverse Entertainment. It will be a full color 48 page quarterly comic with several stories each issue. We want the feel to be fairly close to the classic horror comics of the past. It will features lots of monsters and classic horror elements but with a fresh and contemporary edge to it too. The first issue will be out in September 2010 and will be available at most comics stores.

      FM: How did the experience of working on Tales from the Grave differ from some of the other pieces you’ve worked on?

      KG: I worked in super-hero comics for many years and drew mainly characters like Superman and Spider-Man, etc. I liked doing those but my main passion in life has always been monster movies. I grew up during the time that the classic horror movies of the ’30s and ’40s were first released to television and there was a sort of monster boom in the country. Of course I read Famous Monsters which was great because, in those days, it was the only way you found out that there were other monster nuts out there just like you. By the time I got into comics professionally in the early ’80s, there weren’t many horror comics around anymore. Super-heroes had pretty much taken over, so I rarely got to mix my love of horror with my art career. Eventually I left comics and went to work as a concept artist for a special effects studio. Now that was a cool job! I drew lots of creatures and aliens and things and just had a blast. I left that for a job at an ad agency and have felt sort of out of place ever since, like I left my real calling. With Monsterverse I’ll be able to do the kind of comics I always wanted to do, but never got the chance.

      FM: Can you give any specific details about some of the featured stories?

      KG: We have variety of stories in the works for the first few issues. We have a cool zombie story written and drawn by Rob Brown (Bane of the Werewolf). It’s the voodoo-style zombie, not the Romero type, and Rob has done a beautifully stylish job with the art. James Farr and Chris Moreno did a rather thought-provoking story about revenge and black magic that shows what happens when you don’t get your spells just right. We also have a ghost story set in the Old West, a vampire story in outer space (by Mike Hoffman), a humorous story inspired by Lugosi’s Ed Wood period (done in a sort of Robot Chicken claymation style), a masked Mexican wrestler vs monsters story by Jack Herman and Neil Vokes and lots more including a Frankenstein-type mad scientist story written and drawn by yours truly. My partners Kez Wilson and Sam Park will also be involved in creating stories.

      FM: I understand that Bela Lugosi’s likeness will be acting as the host for the anthology. Why was Lugosi chosen for this role?

      KG: I’m a huge Bela Lugosi fan and we were very interested in doing something that would appeal to other fans of classic horror films, who may not have bought a horror comic in years, as well as to current horror fans and comic book readers. Of all the great horror movie stars, Lugosi probably has the most sinister and eerie persona. He has an almost otherworldly ambience. From his dark, mysterious looks to his strange accent, there’s something rather hypnotic about him. Having him act as the host of a horror comic just seemed like the perfect fit. I’ve known Bela Lugosi Jr. for several years and when I approached him about licensing his father’s name and image for the comic, he was very open to it and excited about the idea of a quality horror product that would present Bela Lugosi to a new audience in a creative new way.

      Once we had secured the rights to use Lugosi, our goal became to do the coolest and best horror comic possible. Our enthusiasm began spilling over to others and we were able to tap into some major talent in comics and movies who are Lugosi fans and were interested in being involved. Director John Landis (American Werewolf in London) has committed to writing stories for us and a couple more very big movie names are hoping to find time to contribute. Make-up genius Rick Baker gave us a very strange and disturbing image he created in a 3-D computer program for use as a future cover. It inspired a story that will appear in the same issue. Hot horror writer Steve Niles is scheduled to do a story in the near future and comic artist (recently turned director) John Cassaday will be doing a story and a cover illustration for us. Other big talents who will be popping up, if only to provide single page illustrations, include Bruce Timm, Mike Mignola and Brian Denham.

      The cover of issue #1 will be a portrait of Lugosi by the legendary Basil Gogos. I’m one of Basil’s biggest fans and was the author of the book on his art published a few years ago. It’s a dream come true to have his art on our first cover.

      We are also utilizing Lugosi in other ways in the comic. We will be presenting a series of stories we call “Lost Lugosi Films”. Lugosi will star in some strange stories done as if they were old Monogram movies that were too horrifying to release. Martin Powell and Terry Beatty did the first installment with Bela as a taxidermist obsessed with a beautiful actress. You know that’s not going to end well. We will also be doing a series of stories based on Bela’s character in White Zombie showing how he came to become the zombie master and how he turned each of his enemies into zombies. And most exciting of all, we will be doing a serialized adaptation of Dracula with Bela Lugosi portraying Stoker’s original version of the character.

      To read the rest of the interview head on over the Famous Monster of Filmland website by going here – INTERVIEW

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