Sunday, December 07, 2008

Forrest J. Ackerman (R.I.P.)

Every time I log onto the computer these days it seems like I'm burying some childhood icon. This week it is with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to the founder of Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine, Forrest J Ackerman. Mr. Ackerman, or "Forry" as he liked to be called, died of heart failure on December 4th at the ripe old age of 92. Forrest Ackerman was the quintessential fanboy collector and patron of the arts; obsessive, thoughtful, supportive, & financially endowed. He loved horror and science fiction with unrivaled passion and devoted his life to championing and archiving these maligned genres. In fact he is credited with coining the term "sci-fi" and for discovering a young teen writer named Ray Bradbury. He also founded Famous Monsters of Filmland in 1958, which quickly garnered a cult following for its stunning Basil Gogos covers and cornball horror-humor that has influenced bands from the Misfits and the Cramps to Electric Frankenstein and Ghoul. I remember stumbling on my brother's tattered copies of Famous Monsters when I was a kid and I spent hours drawing crayon portraits of the monsters on those yellowing pulp pages. Years later I met him briefly at a horror con when I was a teen and he seemed like some eccentric old grandpa that knew how to have a good time. Nearly every Saturday morning for most of his life Ackerman opened up his Los Angeles home to any pilgrim who traveled to view his legendary personal museum of monster & sci-fi memorabilia. He remarked to the Associated Press on his 85th birthday, "My wife used to say, 'How can you let strangers into our home?' But what's the point of having a collection like this if you can't let people enjoy it?" Ackerman embodied a spirit of generous enthusiasm and sheer joy that sometimes seems lacking in these days of instant gratification and high-turnover pursuits. Where are the great patron saints of horror? Where are all the guffawing stewards of sublime stupidity? To paraphrase the great Canadian speed metal band Razor, who have absolutely nothing to do with any of this, I sure hope some rabid fan steps up to the plate and takes ol' Forry's torch! He's gone but his bad puns are not forgotten.


Anonymous said...

I think the Godzilla special of Famous Monsters is probably my most re-read magazine of all time. I checked it out from the library every other week when I was a kid.