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Updated: April 22, 2024

1958 to 1983

Famous Monsters of Filmland was originally conceived as a one-shot publication by Warren and Ackerman, published in the wake of the widespread success of the Shock Theater 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, Favorite 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 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 November 1974 and November 1975, New York City was host to the "Famous Monsters Convention," a fan convention centered on FM, which featured such guests as Forrest J Ackerman, Verne Langdon, James Warren, Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt, Barbara Leigh, Catherine Lorre, Cal Floyd, and Sam Sherman. ( A similar gathering was held in 1995 in Los Angeles, with such guests as Maila Nurmi, Ray Harryhausen, John Landis, Joe Dante, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Curt Siodmak, Adam West, John Agar, Les Tremayne, Angus Scrimm, William Schallert, and Al Lewis. )

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 leaderless Warren Publishing Company. The magazine stopped publication in 1983 after a run of 191 issues.

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