Saturday, August 05, 2006

New CCS Class Begins to Arrive; Missing Link in Famous Monsters History Found!

* Short post today, and tomorrow it's home agin, home agin, jiggedy-jig -- so, I may be posting tomorrow in the early AM or late evening. In any case, it's daily posting from here on.

* The new class of CCS is at last arriving in White River Junction. I'm greatly looking forward to meeting one and all, and happy to note the arrival of what might be the first of the new class this weekend. History in the making all over again; I'll be meeting some of the new group later this month, if only via a movie night or two at CCS organized by yours truly.

* Marge and I caught Michael Mann's latest, Miami Vice, last night, and though it wasn't Marge's cup of tea ("you owe me one," she whispered as the credits crawl began), I had a terrific time with the film. Though I was never exposed to Miami Vice in its TV incarnation, Mann remains one of my favorite American filmmakers, and his affinity for crime flicks was obvious with his galvanizing theatrical feature directorial debut with Thief, a film I still love. Like Romero, Mann remains one of the few filmmakers of the Don Siegel/Phil Karlson school of storytelling, and despite the fact the script (fine-tuned though it is) never really rises above the level of a standard TV cop show, Mann invests himself fully and the film cooks, building surprising momentum to its corker final act. Makes me want to find the time for a Mann home retrospective this fall, and that I will be sure to do...

* Some cool finds yesterday among the book and musty-stacks searches. Though I scored some excellent book finds (including two Dick Tracy collections I'd never seen, and a collection of Frank Godwin's Connie strip, which I've never been exposed to before and am eagerly looking forward to devouring later today), paperbacks yielded the gold: a tight, almost mint copy of Albert Edward Wiggam's bizarre syndicated self-psychoanalysis 1950s comic strip Let's Explore Your Mind; a 1966 Pyramid Books collection of stories from the pulp Unknown, edited by D.R. Benson but snapped up for its badly-reproduced but still exquisite parcel of Ed Cartier illos; the first volume of the 1976 run of Popular Library's Seabury Quinn Weird Tales stories, The Adventures of Jules de Grandin (hope to find more!); and the '76 Byron Preiss/Stephen Fabian volume two of the short-lived graphic novel line Fiction Illustrated, entitled Starfawn; etc. A quick exploration of a stuffed-to-the-murky-gills antique/collectible/gun shop up by Freeport yielded a couple of curios, including the July 1952 issue of True: The Man's Magazine, which I picked up for $4 for its Mickey Spillane bio article, but am glad I nabbed now for its article/story on "Carcajou", legendary Quebec gin-runner and ne'er-do-well who figured mightily in the mythic Vermont debut novel by Howard Frank Mosher entitled Disappearances -- this falls into my hands, mystically enough, just as I am working through my writeup of Jay Craven's film adaptation of Mosher's novel for an upcoming volume of Green Mountain Cinema. Dumb luck!

Dumber luck yielded the find of the day: a book dealer with a claustrophobic closet (literally) of sf paperbacks offered a good stretch of the 1970s Ace Perry Rhodan series, which I began to comb to see what the Forrest J. Ackerman feature "Scientifilm World" might offer. I picked up a couple for the Ackerman texts, only to stumble upon, one shelf up, some real gold: a run of 1956-57 issues of the sf pulp Imaginative Tales, wherein Ackerman's original "Scientifilm Marquee" first appeared! I ended up excavating a half-dozen issues, all quite affordable ($2-4 each) and graced with Kelly Freas illos along with the rare Ackerman columns, all of which predate the launch of Famous Monsters of Filmland.

Though I've never seen a real copy of the original conjunction of publisher James Warren and Ackerman via the monster movie article Ackerman scribed and illustrated (with stills) for Warren's men's zine After Hours (referred to in the last of the Ackerman columns in this batch of sf pulps), I've a copy of a reprint of that seminal article, and a few odd issues of other men's zines from the period that Ackerman wrote for. Still, this clutch of Imaginative Tales represents a key body of work between Ackerman's fanzine work and the debut of Famous Monsters, and clearly establishes the mode of Ackerman's writing for FM's first issues, particularly the expansive every-issue reports on upcoming monster, sf and horror films.

One issue, the May 1956 Imaginative Tales, features an inside-both-covers "Introducing the Author" bio and photo of Ackerman, which pretty definitively provides a snapshot of the pre-Warren/Famous Monsters Ackerman, making this a worthy addition to the monster zine collection and surprising new link in tracing the entire monster zine scene's lineage.

I'll scan some of these upon my return home, for those of you who care... and I'm preparing a monster zine history overview, with illos, for the website. Something to look forward to!

Have a great weekend, see you here tomorrow, early or late -- but here.