I just read that Forrest J. Ackerman died last night. He was having heart problems, and word was that he wanted to stop treatment and go peacefully. All reports say that he did pass quickly and peacefully.
Forest (or "Unlce Forry") was a literary agent who helped get the careers of many science fiction (or "sci-fi", a term he coined) writers careers started, Ray Bradbury among them. Forry also had a very extensive collection of horror and sci-fi memorabilia in his home, which he opened to the public every chance he got, because he wanted to share it with others.But Forry's main accomplishment ( to me, anyway) was the prototype monster movie magazine, Famous Monsters Of Filmland. FM was the first regular magazine devoted to horror, fantsay, and sc-fi films. Even though the text and photo captions were littered with puns and jokes, FM took a serious approach to the genre, having articles on not only current films, but movies from the silent era and the Universal classics. FM covered art and exploitation alike, and ran from 1958 to 1983.
I remember the first time I saw an issue. It was issue #114, a special on Japanese monster movies. A friend at school had it, it must have been first or second grade, I guess(i.e., some point in the 70's). He wouldn't trade anything for it, either. I went to the grocery store with my Mom as soon as I could talk her into it, and looked for it. Issue #114 wasn't there, but there was another one there. I grabbed it up, and was thereby hooked. It was so cool to see a magazine devoted to the stuff I loved. Most adults weren't into those kinds of movies (none I knew, anyway), and only a few kids I knew liked them as much as I did. This is the kind of thing when you're a kid that, even though I never knew Forry or anyone else associated with the magazine, seeing this magazine validated my interests and made me feel like I wasn't alone in my obsession with monsters and horror. In addition, it was a great source of information and education on my favorite genre. It was FM that led me to watch silent films like The Phantom of the Opera(1925)and Nosferatu(1922), and other such B&W classics on my local PBS station.
I'm in the process of writing a book, and about a month or so ago I wrote about Forry and FM, and the influence it had on me. Writing that chapter really got me thinking about those times . Getting the newest issue of FM was my favorite part of the month. I always started reading it in the grocery store first, and read it thoroughly after getting home...and then I couldn't wait until next month for the next issue! Luckily, my Mom encouraged my reading habits, even if it was monster magazines and comic books ( "I was just glad you were reading something", she later told me). I still have all those old issues of FM , and yes, I did finally get a back issue of #114.
Uncle Forry, you will be missed.