STAR WARS changed the landscape of popular culture in 1977 for better and, arguably, for worse. Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine founding father Forrest J Ackerman was always a huge fan of science fiction. He was the man who coined the term “Sci-Fi.” He loved STAR WARS with all of his heart and welcomed it to Famous Monsters with open arms, despite Famous Monsters being a name synonymous with horror (close observers know full well, however, that the magazine always embraced myriad films within the science-fiction and fantasy genres, from METROPOLIS and WAR OF THE WORLDS to the original FLASH GORDON and every single Ray Harryhausen project).
But that enthusiastic FM welcome mat for STAR WARS also pretty much enabled the blockbuster and an entire accompanying space-fantasy genre to steamroll over classic horror. FM’s focus, at least where the covers were concerned, shifted to entice kids who wanted to escape to a galaxy far, far away, not to a cobwebbed castle. Wonderful painted covers of horror icons on FM would make way for studio-distributed photograph covers featuring Darth Vader, THE BLACK HOLE, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Cylons, and Ridley Scott’s ALIEN.
Many would argue that Famous Monsters would never really quite recover from that seismic shift in young fans’ appetites. Classic horror would essentially climb back into the grave and watch from the shadows as Sci-Fi and the slasher genre, kickstarted by John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN and the FRIDAY THE 13th franchise, would take center stage, opening the door for competing magazines Starlog and Fangoria. Famous Monsters folded in 1983 after 25 years and 191 issues because tastes had changed. It would lay dormant for several years before returning to newsstands again.
With that history in mind, and in honor of STAR WARS DAY, I’ve assembled a bunch of fun STAR WARS-themed covers of Famous Monsters, classic and contemporary, for your viewing pleasure. In my opinion, the painted ones are still the best.