Sunday, December 07, 2008
A Moment of Silence, Please...
It's been a rough year for the Doctor... at least as far as the death of geeky idols are concerned.
Back in February, the Great Dungeon Master hisself - Gary Gygax died. Gary G. was the creator of Dungeons and Dragons, and the architect of every weekend of my high school and college life, and left a huge geekish whole in my nerdy universe.
This last week, another childhood great passed on. Forrest J. Ackerman - the inventor of the term 'Sci-Fi', the man who singlehandedly discovered and agented Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, and the collector and owner of the largest Sci-Fi and Horror memorabilia collection in the world - sadly passed away in his California home.
Now I apologize to my more casual readers, but in the horror and science fiction world, Forrest J. Ackerman is the equivalent of royalty.
I remember; as the odd, quiet, and burgeoning serial killer child I was; riding my bike to my local comic book store - Comics & Collectibles in Shoregate (in my boyhood hometown of Willowick)-and buying my monthly issues of The Amazing Spiderman, Peter Parker: the Spectacular Spiderman, the X-Men, and Captain America comics. At that same time though, I was buying other things that weren't necessarily approved by my mom.
My mother had no clue about my darker collection of monthly magazines.
And no, it wasn't porn.
It was copies of Amazing Stories, EC Weird Tales, and Forrest J. Ackermans Famous Monsters of Filmland. You see, while I was digesting my fair share of superhero literature, I was also feeding my hunger for all things horror.
Every Friday nght, I would watch our local late night horror movie hosts.
First, it was Ghoulardi...
Then it was Big Chuck and Houlihan...
and then it was Big Chuck and Little John...
And, finally, I would get up every Saturday and watch Superhost on Channel 43.
Superhost - as you can see - was a guy dressed in tights who would show an hour of Three Stooges shorts at noon, then two back to back classic horror flicks in the afternoon. In this fashion; I would whet my appetite on 50's atomic monster movies, Hammer classics, Universal Monsters, and other various forms of horror.
It made me the undead evil scientist I am today!
And - during the week - I would devour Forrey Ackerman's Famous Monsters. I would lay in bed at night, my covers pulled over my head, and read about my favorite silver screen terrors by flashlight.
I can't tell you what was so great about Famous Monsters of Filmland. It was often stories about classic movies that were already made, or interviews with actors long since dead, but it was just awesome. Later in life, I gravitated to the gory, more contemporary Fangoria... but Forrest J. Ackerman's Famous Monsters still held a special place in my heart.
I remember especially the ads in the back of it. I would have given my left arm for some of the things offered for sale in the back of Famous Monsters. The incredibly realistic and high quality Don Post masks were gorgeous and I coveted them all - imagining how, if I wore one of them for Halloween, I'd be the coolest kid in the school (Of course, in reality, I'm sure it would have made me even more creepy than I already was.)
And, the thing I wanted most, the thing I begged my mother for the money for and was resoundingly turned down about, was a silver coffin on a silver chain that contained REAL DIRT from Transylvania. Seriously! Actual soil from the Carpathian mountains where Dracula was from! How fucking cool would that have been! (And again, realistically, how much more creepy could I have been!)
Such an essential part of my childhood. And - truthfully - I think Forrest J. Ackerman is responsible for making me the horror geek I am today.
So... a moment of respective silence, please, for one of the true greats of the Horror and Sci-Fi genre.
Doctor Zombie is sad... I need to go down to my laboratory beneath the Midnight Theater of Terror and torture some college coeds. It's the only thing that will cheer me up!