Category Archives: Monster Kid Memories

Classic Monster Kid Ads: The Moon Monster & Horror Fan Club

This Iconic Vintage Ad Captured The Collective Imaginations of Monster Kids Everywhere!

Moon Monster 1970 Comic Book Ad

If you grew up in the 1960s or 70s, and you read comic books or monster magazines, chances are you came across this ad.  You may remember it as an ad for the Absolutely FREE Giant Life-Size Moon  Monster (which was actually a black and white poster):

Moon Monster Poster

When you look closer, you’ll notice this ad offered so much more than just the poster.  In fact, the poster is only one of the benefits of joining the Horror Fan Club! 

Look What you Get

Life Size reproduction of a Movie Monster (see above)

12 4×5 glossy photos of your favorite Movie Monsters:

Horror Fan Club glossy movie monster photos

Monster Fan Club membership card and Badge:

Horror Fan Club Membership Card 1970

Horror Fan Club Badge

Official Club Bulletin showing latest Monster Films releases complete with pictures and stories!

Horror Fan Club Newsletter 1970

Its all FREE when you join the Monster Fan Club

Membership Fee $1. 00 – No Dues or Other Charges

You’ll note that this Fan Club was called the Horror Fan Club in magazines, but the four-color comic book version of the ad changed the name to the Monster Fan Club, presumably to get around the Comic Code Authority.  While the ad was CCA approved, all the paper you got for joining the club said Horror Fan Club regardless of whether joined the Horror Fan Club or the Monster Fan Club.  Doubtless, this led to plenty of head-scratching by those who joined through the comic-book ad.

But wait! That’s not all!

Extra Bonus!  3 MONSTER MASKS

Terrifying life-like reproductions of Movie Monsters.

They’re Ghostly. They’re Frightening! 

Horror Fan Club Monster Masks

Horror Fan Club Frankenstein Mask

Horror Fan Club Werewolf Mask

Horror Fan Club Monster Mask

All of this and a Money Back Guarantee too!   Of course, what the ad didn’t specify, the masks were actually pictures of monster masks.  All in all, the entirety of the Fan Club package consisted of pieces of paper and a pin-back button, making the membership kit actually worth about the one dollar membership fee (plus postage).

I stared at this ad for hours, month after month,  year after year, but I never joined the club or knew anyone who did.  In retrospect, I’m sure I would have been disappointed in the reality of these items.  Like most of the novelties advertised in comic books and monster magazines of that time, the ads fueled my imagination and I cherish them for it.


More recently, multi-media artist Jason Willis pulled all of this nostalgic greatness together into one multi-media treat for us in one of his annual Halloween projects.  Watch his version of  a TV spot for the Horror Fan Club below and then visit his website to download your own Horror Fan Club life-like monster masks and member kit:

Moon Monster – Animated Horror Fan Club Spot (Comic Book Ad, 1970) from Jason Willis on Vimeo.

So what about you, reader? Did you ever succumb to the siren’s call of this magical Fan Club? Did this incredible life-like giant monster poster adorn your bedroom wall?  Did you found a local chapter of the Horror Fan Club in your basement? Share your memories with us in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.

(Video) Relive Your 1960s Monster Kid Childhood Through FLIP

Meet Flip, a 1960s Monster Kid That Would Have Been My Best Friend

Flip a Short Film about a 1960s Monster Kid

The short film FLIP: a short film follows the exploits of a 1960s Monster Kid who, flush with birthday money from his grandmother, turns directly to the siren’s call of those wondrous novelty ads in the back of his (and our) favorite comic books.  It’s a perfect way to kick off our series focused on vintage Monster Kid advertising and gets right to the heart of being a Monster Kid during the peak years of the 60s Monster Boom and why so many of us are collectors  today.  

Flip: a short film was written and directed by Kirk Desmarais, a comic book mail order historian who is perhaps best known for his wonderful book Mail-Order Mysteries (by the way, if you don’t have this book you need to click the link and order it from Amazon now; we won’t start the film without you so hurry back).  

Welcome back! You’re really going to enjoy the book.

FLIP won the RONDO award for best independent film in 2004 and I absolutely adore it!

Without further commentary, enjoy the show:

Flip: a short film is jam-packed with some of the most memorable mail order ads from 60s Monster Kid era and is a perfect companion short to our feature focus on those wonderful vintage advertisements.  In no particular order, Flip features:

Topstone Werewolf Mask:

Topstond Werewolf Mask

Topstone Shock Monster Mask:

Topstone Shock Monster Mask Print Ad

Moon Loon Window Decal:

Moon Loon Hot Rod Decal

Monster-Sized Monsters Frankenstein’s Monster:

Monster-Size Monsters Vintage Comic Ad

Be sure to pay close attention when Flip heads into his bedroom at the 1:50 mark — it’s a vintage monster toy windfall!

The film was produced by, and guest stars fellow Monster Kid and vintage toy collector Scott Kinney, aka KidKosmic, who is producing the must-see show of the fall, Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Questwhich will air on Comic-ConHQ.

Check out more of Kirk’s multi-media magic at his blog, SecretFunSpot and his portfolio website KirkDemarais.com

Does this bring back memories for you? Did you have experiences similar to Flip?  Share your memories of those wonderful ads, and not so wonderful products, with us in the comments section or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CollectingClassicMonsters/

Raising Modern Monster Kids: Making Monster Art

Raising Modern Monster Kids Takes Effort By Monster Kid Parents

Monster Kid Bedroom Illustration

In the 1960s and 70s, classic monsters were everywhere! On TV, Halloween costumes, model kits, toys, comics, coloring books…growing up in the “monster boom” was great. If you were a lucky monster kid, your parents supported, even encouraged your love of monsters.  Regardless, it wasn’t hard to surround yourself with the things you love.

Today’s kids have incredible access — they are growing up in an on-demand, always-on world that puts the world at their fingertips.   They have networks dedicated to cartoons, not just an after school block of time and Saturday mornings.  Gone are the days of scouring the TV Guide for anything monster-related to watch and then doing everything in your power to not miss it.  But access to so much media means that classic monsters aren’t really in the mix for today’s kids.

I read a lot of 1960s / 70s Monster Kids (and adults in general) talking about how today’s kids are spoiled and how we grew up in the good old days.  I don’t dispute that we grew up during an amazing time and we’re lucky to have done so.  But I’m not so quick to throw today’s kids under the bus.

Raising Modern Monster Kids requires effort by Monster Kid Parents.

I’m a parent of grade school kids, and while they have tremendous access to all kinds of entertainment, the classic monsters aren’t really in the mix.  Sure, there’s the Hotel Transylvania movie franchise, but I’m talking about the real classic monsters.  I could simply bemoan this fact and wax poetic about how my childhood was the good ol’ days.  But that’s not how I roll.  I’m raising my kids as modern monster kids by proactively exposing them to the classic monsters I grew up loving (and still do, obviously, since I have this blog).

Recently, I scanned a printed some pages from my favorite 1970s monster coloring book, Monster Gallery, and my kids and I spent a chilly March afternoon coloring.  If you had this book as a kid, or want to learn more about it, please read my recent post and check out all every page of this fantastic coloring book:  Colors of a Monster Kid: The Monster Gallery Coloring Book 

it was great fun, and the kids picked their favorite monsters to color. My 9 year old loves the Wolf Man.  He is not a natural artist and almost never finishes a picture when he’s coloring.  But this was different.  As you can see, not only did he finish it, he did a great job and really focused on it.  He had fun doing it and it shows.  Here’s his finished art:

Wolf Man from Monster Gallery Coloring Book

My 11 year old daughter, who loves all things ancient Egypt, picked the Mummy.  Anyone who follows me on Instagram or is friends with me on Facebook knows that she is artistically talented (I’m constantly posting pictures she has drawn).  So getting her to sit down and color with me isn’t a challenge like it is with my son.

The Mummy from Monster Gallery coloring book

I can rarely pass up the Fly, simply because I like a little sci-fi with my monsters:

The Fly from Monster Gallery coloring book

I’ll continue to journal my efforts to raise modern monster kids here and share my success (and failures) along the way.  In case you missed them, here are some of my past writings on my effort to raise modern monster kids:

Related Articles:  Can Today’s Kids Still Be Monster Kids?

So, what do you think? Can modern kids still be Monster Kids? Share your opinions with us.

 

 

Scholastic Books ‘Movie Monsters’ Changed My Life

Monster Kid Memories: Hosting Our Own Monster Show

1975 Monster Play on my Garage

There are seminal events in the life of all Monster Kids.  Seeing King Kong for the first time was one such event for me.  Another was receiving Scholastic Books Movie Monsters in my school book order.

Like many monster kids of the 60s and 70s, I was enamored by the magic of movie monsters.  And thanks largely to Famous Monsters of Filmland, I learned about the magicians behind-the-scenes that made the movie magic happen– the special effect and make-up artists.  I enjoyed the actors who played the monsters, but I loved the artists who created them.

Fortunately for me, the mid-70s was a great time to be into monster makeup with kits and how-to books increasingly available.  My first official guidebook on making monsters came to me through the Scholastic book club in the fall of 1975 when I was 9 years old.

Movie Monsters by Alan Ormsby

Movie Monsters ; Alan Ormsby (Scholastic Books, 1975)

Pictured above is my original copy of Scholastic Books Movie Monsters; well-used and well-loved.  I remember getting my book order at the end of the school day and, as soon as I got home from school, heading straight to my room to read this cover-to-cover.  I loved the illustrations and the easy step-by-step guide to monster make-up.

With my parents’ blessing, I began to assemble a make-shift make-up kit using an old fishing tackle box and some of my mom’s old make-up.  We lived in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and would often head to the nearby big city of Tulsa, where they had a store featuring costumes and professional make-up for the stage.  I continued to build my make-up kit and to practice on my younger siblings and myself.

Included in this book was a section called “How to Put On Monster Shows” complete with script called “The Monster of Frankenstein!” and I quickly assembled a cast of neighborhood kids to stage our very own production in my garage that October.

Movie Monsters pg 64 "The Monster of Frankenstein!" Play Movie Monsters Ormsby page 65 Movie Monsters Ormsby page 66 Movie Monsters Ormsby page 67 Movie Monsters Ormsby page 68 Movie Monsters Ormsby page 69 Movie Monsters Ormsby page 70 Movie Monsters Ormsby page 71

As the Executive Producer, Director, Make-up Artist and Chief Monster Kid, I played Dr. Frankenstein and my classmates and neighbors played one or more characters in the play.  We hung bed sheets in my garage and decorated with Halloween decorations.  I was such a nerd that I had my own science lab complete with chemistry test tubes, beakers and microscope, so making the laboratory was a snap.  I made a cassette recording of my Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House Disney record for our soundtrack and then we invited every neighborhood kid who wasn’t in the play to come and watch.

The only pictures I have of that eventful day:

1975 Monster Play on my Garage

That’s me in the white lab coat — as you can see the makeup was on the light side — more of a Werewolf of London style than the Wolf Man.  Can’t say I remember why, exactly, because minimalism was hardly my style when I was 9.  Perhaps we simply ran out of time.  The Show Must Go On, as they say!

2015-03-17 09.48.15

My younger brother was Mr. Skull, wearing a skull mask and almost in the picture to the left (these were polaroids, of course.  It was 1975 after all)

I’ll share more pages from Scholastic Books Movie Monsters in future posts — hope you enjoyed this walk down Monster Kid Memory lane as much as I did.

I know I’m not the only Monster Kid that put this show on — please share your Monster Kid memories in the comments section below.

Jaws Collectibles – Summer of Jaws Video

Jaws Collectibles

Since we’ve been taking a look at collectible memorabilia for the movie Jaws, which is celebrating it’s 40th Anniversary this summer, I thought I’d share this cool video by Ralph Grassi from his website Funchase.com celebrating the Jersey Shore of his childhood.

Called ‘The Summer of Jaws’ this video is a time capsule from that summer of 1975 when we were all scared to go in the water but loved going to the movie theater.  Hope you all enjoy this video and then I highly recommend checking out Funchase.com 

Be sure to check out Funchase.com on YouTube as well! Happy weekend everyone!

Raising Modern Monster Kids

Can Today’s Kids Still Be Monster Kids?

The term ‘Monster Kid’ is widely applied to generations who grew up during the great monster craze that swept popular culture in America during the 1950s and 1960s.  I came of age in the 1970s and there are plenty of my generation who relate, and adopt, the moniker of Monster Kid as well.

Many of us Monster Kids are far from childhood in our age but have had the privilege of raising kids of our own.  Is it possible to raise modern Monster kids in the digital age?  This Monster Kid Dad is giving it the old college try, with some mixed results.

Through my series, Raising Modern Monster Kids. I’ll keep readers updated on this journey and share my successes – and failures – for all to enjoy.

This is what my 8 year old son wrote in school on Friday:

Raising Modern Monster Kids - 8 year old tells Godzilla's orignRaising Modern Monster Kids 8 year old draws Godzilla

 

As you can tell, my son loves Godzilla.  We saw Godzilla 2014 in the theater last summer and he loved it.  But that wasn’t the first Godzilla movie he saw.  No, Terror of Mechagodilla, King Kong vs Godzilla, Godzilla vs Mothra, Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla: Final Wars and Son of Godzilla all preceded the Legendary reboot in my son’s Godzilla movie viewing.  He’s 8 and he calls out the monsters as guys in suits, but once the giant monster brawls begin, he doesn’t care.

I really liked Legendary’s Godzilla  and I’m okay if this new version becomes my son’s preferred Godzilla.  He’ll have to make his own choices. All I can do is make sure he is exposed to the classic movies that inspired the reboot and hope that he falls for them like I did.

I’m optimistic that I can raise modern monster kids who love the new but treasure the classic.

This one is clearly in the ‘Win’ column!  Enjoy and Happy Memorial Day to all you Monster Kids — young and old!

Lesson #2: Monster Movies are Scary

Monster movies are scary.

It’s a lesson I learned early in my journey to becoming a monster kid.  How one responds to that fear is what separates monster kids from everybody else.  Monster kids love the monsters that scare them.

This is the story of how I learned this lesson and how I responded.

My parents were naively trusting. Either that, or they cunningly knew I wouldn’t make it 5 minutes into the movie.  Maybe it was a little of both.  Whatever the reason, they agreed to let me stay up past my bedtime to watch WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS on the network Friday Night Movie.  It was 1971 and I was 5 years old.

The previous summer, I had seem my first monster movie, King Kong, at the public library and I was hooked.  I checked out every library book on movie monsters I could find over the course of that summer and did the same at the school library when summer ended.  Books were good, but in the days before streaming and even VHS tapes, actually seeing a monster movie was a big deal.  Especially when you were my age.

Each week, I scoured the new issue of TV Guide and circled the movies I wished I could see.  I had an early bedtime, so my options were limited.  Then I saw it– the ABC Friday Night at the Movies World Premiere Event — WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS.

I found this TV Guide Ad from 1974 on eBay — though not the channel or the year I discovered this movie, it is similar to the ad that captured my imagination in 1971:

TV-Guide-War-of-Gargantuas

I had never heard of this movie before seeing this ad, but I knew about Ringling Brothers’ Gargantua.  So I figured, by name and appearance, this movie was going to be like a crazy version of KING KONG with two monsters.  I knew had to see this movie, and I carefully prepared my campaign to convince my parents began.  To my surprise, they agreed to let me stay up and watch it as soon as I asked.  Naive, or wiley…always the question.

I spent the rest of the week in complete anticipation of that night.  At last, Friday night arrived and I sat in front of the TV with baited breath.

Fans of this movie know it wastes absolutely no time in getting to the thrills or, in the case of my 5 year-old-self, the terror.

As the eerie sounds of the theremin played over the opening sequence, we see a ship at sea.  With lightening crackling overhead, a lone captain mans the ship against the coming storm.  Within seconds, an octopus tentacle snakes through an open door of the ship and wraps around the captain’s leg.  He fights it off, only to be ensnared again by another tentacle.  We then see the massive octopus, larger than the boat, as it begins to pull the helpless sailor toward it.  Suddenly, the captain is free and the tentacles gone.  The startled and relieved sailor looks out to see an epic battle raging between the giant octopus and something else– a humanoid of massive proportion.  This gargantua kills the octopus, but it’s intent was not to save the captain and his ship.  He then grabs the vessel and, like a child in the bath tub, rocks the boat violently, trying to get at the tasty human morsels inside.

That was enough for me.  I turned off the TV and ran to find my parents.  I hadn’t even made it to the opening title of the film.

I have since seen this movie many times.  I watched it earlier today as I prepared to write this and, out of curiosity, I timed the opening scene at 3:58.  I had convinced my parents to let me stay up late to watch a monster movie and I made it all of 4 minutes.

Where KING KONG made me feel excited and sad, WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS scared me.

This movie taught me an important lesson about monster movies — they were SCARY!

Of course, becoming a monster kid meant facing your fears and watching the movie.  For me, this happened incrementally.

PLANET of the APES was my next attempt.

I made it all the way to corn fields before giving in to the my fear.  I didn’t even get to see the apes in my first effort.  But I made it past the frightening scenes of death in the spaceship and the disturbing, anxiety-provoking music and Taylor’s trek across the Forbidden Zone.  Progress.

But that’s a story for another time.

Attempting to watch GARGANTUAS was a critical step for me as a five-year-old.  Perhaps more important, I didn’t let my fear stop me.  I remained curious about monsters and I kept coming back for more.  I was becoming a Monster Kid.

 


 

If you haven’t seen WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS in a long time or, Heaven forbid,  you’ve never seen it, click on the image below to stream it on Amazon Instant Video.  This is a fun 60’s monster movie and, in my opinion, one of the best non-Godzilla kaiju films ever:

 

Monster Kid Memories: The Library & the Giant Ape

           My First Monster Movie Begins                    A Lifelong Love Affair

King Kong Fay Wray 1933

It was the summer of 1970.  Or maybe it was 1971.  I was 4, maybe 5, years old.  My little brother had just been born and my mom, like all parents of newborns with school-age siblings, was looking for anything and everything to get me out of the house and out of her hair.  Enter summer movies at the public library and my first exposure to monster movies.  Not just any monster movie, mind you.  That was the summer I first saw King Kong.

My Origin Story

Now for a pre-schooler with a mad love for dinosaurs, this movie had me hooked from the start — adventure on a lost island full of prehistoric beasts.  Throw a giant ape into the mix and have him fight the dinos and I was a goner! I can’t recall the other movies I saw that summer, which leads me to believe they were not monster movies.  I’m sure I enjoyed them, but King Kong sticks in my memory like it was last week.  It was exciting, full of adventure- and dinosaurs. It was a bit scary at times but it was also sad. Like every other kid, I felt bad for Kong and knew from the start he wasn’t really the bad guy.  he was scared and probably home-sick.  The bad guys were the men who captured him and exploited him to get rich.  As a kid, adults control your world–parent, teachers, babysitters…and you can relate to getting in trouble because you’re out of your comfort zone, for not fitting in, for being scared and feeling alone.

For me, Kong was personal.  I understood the plight of the monster.  It was the first, but certainly not the last, time that I found myself rooting for the ‘monster’ and being sad when he, inevitably, would lose.

From Dinosaurs to Classic Monsters

I don’t know if that was the same day I discovered that they wrote books about movie monsters, but it wasn’t long after seeing Kong on the tiny library television that I was scouring the library for any and everything I could find about the monsters of the movies.  And the 1970s were a time when kids books about classic movie monsters were plentiful.

Meeting the Classic Monsters

By the time school started that fall, I was well versed in the classics of Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Godzilla and the Wolf Man.  In some cases, seeing these movies was still years away, but I checked those books out over and over again that summer–reading and re-reading the movie synopsis and memorizing every frightful picture. That was the summer I became a Monster Kid.

I’m sure my story isn’t unique for kids of the early ’70s or for generations before me.  My wife remembers seeing King Kong at her local library as well.  It must have been pretty common fare in those pre-Star Wars days of the early 1970s.  For most kids it is a fond childhood memory.  For monster kids, it changed everything and started us down the path of a lifelong love for fantastic creatures and worlds of the imagination.  The public library was the gateway, but King Kong was the drug.

Monster-Kid-Memories_King-Kong

What is your Monster Kid origin story? How did King Kong effect you and when did you first see this iconic film?

Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s Exhibit

Some of my Instagram shots from that day that will live in infamy for this Monster Kid:

Aurora Frankenstein Monster model kit 

Marx Plastic Monsters 1960s 

Heroes and Villains 

Aurora Model Kits – Batman, Wolf Man, Creature, Mummy and more

Ben Cooper Wobbler Monsters 

Mego Batman Action Figures 

Mego Spider-Man 

 

A Monster Kid Awakens….

Monster Kid Memories

Monster-Kid-Memories
Monster Toy Exhibit at Minnesota History Center

In the summer of 2014, my family visited the Minnesota History Center in St Paul. The museum has just kicked off an exhibit that I couldn’t wait to see called Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. As we worked our way through the excellent exhibit, we arrived at the 1970s room and there– right in the center of it all — was my childhood on display. An entire section dedicated to monsters and superheroes. Aurora model kits, Mego action figures and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. I was immediately transported back in time; transfixed and flooded with memories that I hadn’t consciously recalled for decades.

My family was patient — and I finally continued through the rest of the exhibit, only to find myself drifting back through the crowd to the monster display. I’d be inclined to blame it on a mid-life crisis given my age, but I’ve been an active comic book collector for most of my adult life, so my passion for childish things wasn’t new– my wife was more than aware of it when she married me. No, it was the monsters. As much as I love superheroes and comics, I had forgotten the monsters. And for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved monsters.

When I got home that afternoon, I tracked down the collector whose toys were featured in this exhibit, and it turns out they belong to fellow Minnesotan, Dave Barnhill. According to his bio on his website SuperMonsterCity.com, “David’s collection now includes more than 200,000 items, making this Minnesota-based collection one of the largest private toy collections in America. Containing rare and highly sought after items representing toy-makers and monster creators from across the US and several foreign countries, David co-founded SuperMonster市 City! because he is eager to share his joy in toys, monsters, superheroes and villains with the world. I highly encourage checking out his site, specifically his Monster Toy Gallery.

And that’s all it took– George the Monster Kid had risen from the grave and my love of classic monsters was alive, ALIVE!