L-R: Noted comic artist Kerry Gammill, fan Dustin Jablonski, Max attached to a dummy's body (No joke, huh?), FM publisher Phil Kim, and noted illustrator and publisher J. David Spurlock.
Famous Monsters Convention Memories 2010
Like many of us, I grew up reading Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. My Dad had read it in its heyday in the 1960s. I got my first issue in 1977 (#134) when I was just five years old. I still have this magazine and it is a treasured part of my modest collection.
Fast forward to 2010 and I was in the midst of the Famous Monsters of Filmland Convention at the Wyndham Hotel in Indianapolis, IN. I live a mere 30 minutes away so I cleared my calendar immediately to attend and starting tracking all of the latest Con information on Twitter and Facebook. I am definitely one of the more “old-old-old school movie fans” so initially was a little perplexed by the guest list as it seemed to be void of any signs of my favorite “Universal Studios Monsters” personalities/heirs (Sara Karloff, Ron Chaney, Bela Lugosi Jr.). Not long afterward Cortlandt Hull of the classic horror museum The Witches' Dungeon became one of the attractions as well as legendary FM cover artist Basil Gogos. At the very last minute Bela Jr. became a guest of the convention as well as the indispensable film maker Joe Moe, and Forry Ackerman's friend and executor Kevin Burns, the well-known documentary producer (and Munsters expert!). Having Joe and Kevin in attendance confirmed that the spirit of the late editor of the original FM, Forrest J Ackerman, would indeed live on at the convention. Joe was Forry’s best friend who has made it his personal mission to make sure that many of the Ackermonster’s personal belongings remain available for fans to see (Forry’s personal copy of FM #1 and the Amazing Stories magazine that jumped off the noosestand and grabbed his attention back in 1926).
Finally the time arrived- Famous Monsters of Filmland invades Indianapolis! As I pulled up to the Wyndham it occurred to me that I must be at the right place, as I gaze at King Kong and Godzilla up on the roof, welcoming monster fans from around the world.
I quickly made my way through the “will call” line at the convention entrance and purchase the con-only "Predator" issue of FM #251 and also the Forry Tribute issue (#250). Organizer Phil Kim sees me and hands me a bundle of programs so I can get souvenirs for friends who could not attend, including Convention program cover artist Frank Dietz. My stack of goodies is already so large that I immediately head out the back door to my car. From looking around at the con I spot Cortlandt Hull with his wonderful collection of life-sized monsters on display. Cortlandt is always fun to talk to and a true movie historian.
Above: Various members of the Universal Monster Army. Joe Moe is in the upper left corner and Cortlandt Hull, with cap, holds a poster.
After a quick look around the dealer’s room I attend the Famous Monsters/Forry Ackerman Panel. On the way in I run into Ain’t It Cool News website creator and super-fan Harry Knowles. Harry has some wonderful stories about Forry and is nice enough to pose for a picture. The Famous Monsters Panel is enlightening and thankfully is focused more on the panel members sharing memories and stories about Forry. Joe Moe, Bela Lugosi Jr., Kevin Burns, FM owner Phil Kim, FM Editor-in chief Michael Heisler, FM Editor Jessie Lilley, Basil Gogos, and Cortlandt Hull were among the panel members. Phil Kim then shared the next cover for FM (#252) and the cover for FM #70 for the “retro FM” series that will be published in the near future. Phil touched on the fact that Forry would have wanted FM to evolve and include modern day directors, producers and movies alongside the silver screen horror articles that graced the pages of the original FM.
Bela G. Lugosi and Kevin Burns in front of the Witch's Dungeon exhibit. This image comes from the Witch's Dungeon's photoset on Facebook.
Afterwards I spent more time perusing the dealers' room and noticed a lot of people talking about Forry and their Famous Monsters magazine collections. A friend of mine completed his FM Collection by purchasing Issue #3 and #4 from the largest magazine dealer at the Con, Michael Pierce and Monsters Among Us. Per a pre-arrangement I had one last stop to make for the day. Earlier I had spoken to Bela Lugosi Jr. and showed him a rare Spanish biography of his father. He signed my copy and was interested in acquiring one for himself. His daughter Lynne also seemed surprised and interested in the book as she had not seen it before. I was able to present them with my extra copy of the book and two super cool Crestwood House Book Monster Series posters that feature Lugosi as Dracula. They signed my copy of the poster and had not seen this collectible before. Bela Jr. then signed many of my Lugosi biography books as a favor to me. This was obviously one of the highlights of the con. Bela Jr. was soon whisked away to the VIP party and I called it a night. What a wonderful memory!
Sunday at the Con was another fangtastic day filled with spending time with friends. I was fortunate to catch my friend Eric Grayson’s TV pilot Dr. Film which included many vintage rare interviews with Bela Lugosi. I also chatted with local horror host Sammy Terry’s son about his father’s career, and signed the petition to get a permanent display in the Indiana State Museum in honor of the Hoosier Horror Host. Last but not least I spent the afternoon chatting with some Universal Monster Army members and the founders of the Horror Society from Illinois.
Afterwards I had dinner with the Severed Drunken Head himself: Max Cheney and Jane Considine. We shared convention stories and reminisced about the Ackermonster. Max himself did not appear intoxicated as coffee was his beverage of choice and his head was firmly attached to his body.
Overall I really enjoyed FM Con 2010. It was a huge success as it was well attended and everyone seemed to be having a good time! Kong-sized Kudos to Phil and his FM staff and volunteers for putting on such a great show. I am already looking forry-ward to Revenge of the Indy FM Con next year!