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Posts Tagged ‘Magazines’

  1. Spacemen

    September 27, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Although the first issue of Spacemen magazine was published in mid-1961 only two issues would appear on newsstands in its inaugural year. The quarterly magazine was published by Warren Publishing and edited by Forrest J. Ackerman, the same team behind Famous Monsters of Filmland



    It would be inaccurate to call Spacemen the science fiction counterpart to the horror-themed Famous Monsters since the latter highlighted any science fiction film with extraterrestrial creatures or actors in make-up, and the former ignored all but those science fiction tales set in space (Tagline: The World’s Only Space Movie Magazine!)  This might explain why there was probably only enough content for four issues a year.  When there weren’t enough space movies to write about, Ackerman would turn to short fiction, which brings us to a 1961 (or perhaps, 1962) submission letter sent by a 14-year-old Stephen King:


    I suspect “O. Henry’s Comet” was a feature  in Spacemen reserved for short science fiction stories with a twist ending.  Although Ackerman declined to buy the story for Spacemen, he was not a man known for throwing anything away. He would finally publish King’s story in a 1994 issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland under the title ‘The Killer” (at the risk of spoiling a story published almost twenty years ago, it is a tale about an amnesic who doesn’t know he’s really just a robot.)


  2. Mad Monsters

    August 28, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Charlton Publications was an interesting company. Unlike most magazine publishers and all other comic book publishers, Charlton consolidated the whole process of turning out a periodical into a single vast  factory complex in Derby, CT.  Editorial, printing and distribution were all conducted under the same roof. Not content with the savings from strict vertical integration, Charlton also kept costs low by producing products renowned for their low production values in an industry famous for using cheap materials and presses. The two movie monster publications (i.e. Famous Monsters of Filmland rip-offs) they launched in 1961 were no exception.

    Like other Charlton publications, Horror Monsters and Mad Monsters had thin covers that tore easily and preserved the fingerprints of all who touched them. The interior pages were yellow before they were even run through the presses. The photos inside the magazines were muddy and devoid of any gray-tones. But if you got a chance to see the covers before too many people had handled them, they were quite eye-catching. Only one cover can be credited to a particular artist and only because Steve Ditko bothered to sign his name to the drooling wolf man on the cover of Mad Monsters #1 (1961). None of the writers were credited either and even the editor was anonymous, using the pen names “Sanzar Quasatood” (Horror Monsters) and “Abernathy Farquad” (Mad Monsters)

    Both magazines lasted until 1964. Here are the covers from their inaugural year:


  3. Alfred E. Newman’s Poor Relations

    August 15, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Three very popular (and some would argue, similar) humor magazines were found on magazine racks in 1961. Even the publishers of SICK and CRACKED magazines would have privately admitted that they never stood much of a chance against MAD Magazine in terms of sales but the market was large enough to support all three magazines for at least the next twenty years. Because of MAD‘s sales success and endurance, the magazine’s mascot, Alfred E. Newman has secured an iconic place in American popular culture. His counterparts at SICK (The Little Physician) and CRACKED (Sylvester P. Smythe) haven’t fared as well.

    Despite his carefree demeanor, Alfred E. Newman had to persevere to secure his permanent place on the cover of MAD magazine. His first cover appearance didn’t occur until  issue 21, and then as just a tiny part of a mock ad. A rubber mask bearing his likeness with “idiot” written underneath was on sale for $1.29. His next appearance was three issues later when the magazine briefly adopted a complex border of images which included Alfred and his trademark tagline, “What? Me Worry?” Finally, with issue 30, Alfred appeared on the cover as a write-in candidate for president and has appeared on nearly every MAD cover since.

    Unlike his counterpart at MAD, CRACKED magazine’s Sylvester P. Smythe was born at the same time as the magazine he appears on. CRACKED‘s little janitor has no tagline, in fact, as far as anybody can tell he is mute. He often appeared inside the magazine but never played any role more important than cleaning up somebody’s mess. Despite his relative industriousness, he never achieved the fame of the lay-about Newman and has even been proclaimed the least appealing character in comicdom by cartoonist Dan Clowes. Although I, like most everyone else, considered CRACKED to be what you read when MAD was sold out, I’ve always been able to relate better to the dim Sylvester than to the smartass Newman.

    If you think Sylvester P. Smythe didn’t get any respect, consider the first mascot for Joe Simon’s SICK magazine. Known only as The Little Physician, this round-headed, four-eyed goofball with three tufts of curly hair would survive a mere twenty issues before being replaced by an Alfred E. Newman knockoff called Huckleberry Fink.  Although he was only depicted as a doctor on a handful of covers, his occupation, at least, tied in with the magazine title.  Besides delivering baby New Year from an egg with a rip saw, other covers show him performing surgery on a Thanksgiving turkey and assisting Ben Casey by handing him a monkey wrench to work on Frankenstein’s monster. Perhaps his most memorable cover appearance was on the cover of SICK #6 where he portrays every person in a busy city scene save one: