The Art of Famous Monsters of Filmland

Oscar-winner Rick Baker’s painting of his AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON on the cover of Famous Monsters #284 recently earned a Rondo Hatton award for Best Magazine Cover. The atmospheric depiction of his iconic cinematic lycanthrope is in good company with a number of other stunning covers that have enticed contemporary readers to dive into Forrest J Ackerman’s classic magazine ever since it appeared on the scene in 1958.

FM 284 - Werewolf

For most of its run (save for a stretch in the late ’70s and early ’80s when photographs became commonplace on the cover), Famous Monsters has boasted incredible gateway art of classic creatures with numerous covers envisioned and put to canvas by such talented artists as Basil Gogos, Ron Cobb, Ken Kelly, Vic Prezio and Albert Nuetzell.

Inspired by our Rondo Award win, I wanted to shine a spotlight on the current roster of artists painting for Famous Monsters and the brand-new art that came about during the time that I was editor of the magazine, from 2015 to 2016.

You’ll notice a distinct strategy at play with the bulk of the cover art that I commissioned. With the luxury of having two covers to create for each issue (sometimes more), I would choose contemporary subject matter for the newsstand version, while leaning towards more classic subject matter for the direct-mail subscriber base.

The idea was that people who were new to Famous Monsters magazine and the brand were more likely to get acquainted at the newsstand or on social media. Thus, contemporary cover subject matter — GAME OF THRONES, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, BATMAN V SUPERMAN, SUICIDE SQUAD — was designed to invite a younger film- and TV-fan demographic. Classic monsters — Bela Lugosi as DRACULA, Medusa from CLASH OF THE TITANS, King Kong facing off against Godzilla — would appeal more to the Monster-Kid core base of Famous Monsters fans.

Keep in mind that the majority of magazines published today do not feature commissioned artwork, but simply photographs. The original art on the covers of Famous Monsters displayed here — by virtue of the effort itself — represents a key reason why the brand remains so special to the fans, who also love to collect.

The below gallery features the cover art for all of the issues that I edited. The work represents a total of seven individual issues, with an average of two covers per issue, sometimes three. All in all, I supervised the release of 17 different covers. The stats I’ve included below the gallery include the months of release and the different artists responsible for their respective covers.

Please enjoy. There’s some really great art here.

Famous Monsters #282 (October 2015 release): Terry Wolfinger (ASH VS. EVIL DEAD Bone Throne) and Sanjulian (ASH VS. EVIL DEAD Chainsaw)

Famous Monsters #283 (December 2015 release): Terry Wolfinger (THE FORCE AWAKENS & FLASH GORDON) and Rob Prior (THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK)

Famous Monsters #284 (February 2016 release): Rick Baker (AMERICAN WEREWOLF) and Simon Thorpe (BATMAN V SUPERMAN)

Famous Monsters #285 (April 2016 release): Terry Wolfinger (GAME OF THRONES) and Sanjulian (CLASH OF THE TITANS)

Famous Monsters #286 (June 2016 release): Brian Taylor (ALIENS) and Rob Prior (STAR TREK)

Famous Monsters #287 (July/August 2016 release): Paul Wee (Forry Ackerman Comic-Con Exclusive), Brian Taylor (SUICIDE SQUAD), and Bob Eggleton (Godzilla vs. King Kong)

Famous Monsters #288 (October 2016 release): Paul Wee (Forry Ackerman) and Terry Wolfinger (DRACULA) and Ken Kelly (SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN)

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5 thoughts on “The Art of Famous Monsters of Filmland

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  1. I have always loved this art style. It’s such a shame that we don’t get to see it as often as we should. I really wish movie studios would go back to using this style for their movie posters. Now everything looks so generic with the actors’ faces badly edited in under their names. Never read this magazine, but def looks like something I should. Would you mind if I reblogged this to my site tomorrow?

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