Tag Archives: Stan Lee

Classic Monster Magazines: Marvel’s Monsters to Laugh With

Marvel’s First Monster Magazine is All Fun & Games

Monsters to Laugh With 1

Monsters to Laugh With #1                                                 (Non-Pariel Publishing, 1964)

In the early 1960’s, Marvel Comics was on a role. Their unique approach to super heroes that readers could personally relate to was taking the world by storm. But the Marvel Bullpen was ever alert to trends in pop culture and wanted in on the classic monster wave that was sweeping it’s target audience in the U.S.  Never afraid to copy success, Stan Lee and crew blended the Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine format with the ever-popular monster joke wax packs like Topps’ You’ll Die Laughing trading cards to launch Monsters to Laugh With magazine in 1964

The concept behind the magazine was hardly high-concept: take a selection of black and white stills from famous Hollywood monster movies and add humorous captions/speech balloons. That’s it. The magazine featured stills from dozens of different films, including most of Universal’s stable of horror titles (DraculaFrankensteinThe Wolf Man, etc), as well as images from various Godzilla and King Kong movies and even some science-fiction films. Monsters to Laugh With cost 25¢ and ran around 36 pages.

Monsters to Laugh With 1

Monsters to Laugh With 1 Back CoverMarvel’s Editor and head writer Stan Lee received the only writing credit, and even though the gags do display his corny sense of humour it’s likely the captions were  the result of a group effort by Marvel bullpen. The magazine wasn’t officially a Marvel title, as it was instead released by one of publisher Martin Goodman’s other imprints, Non-Pariel Publishing Corp, for no historically clear reason other than the fact that all publishers had lost and lots of companies that published under back in the day.

(Back Cover – Issue One)

Monsters to Laugh With #2

 

 

 

Issue #2Monsters to Laugh With 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Issue #3

 

 

 

 

 

 

With issue #4 the comic’s title was changed to Monsters Unlimited and Stan Lee got a cover credit. Apart from that it was business as usual.

Monsters Unlimited #6

 

 

 

 

Monsters Unlimited #7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monsters Unlimited was cancelled after issue #7 but the photo still/corny joke format would be revived in the early 1970s with Monster Madness magazine which we will cover in our next article.

Collector Value

This magazine is under the radar for everyone but the most serious of monster magazine collectors. Given its simple picture/joke caption format, it isn’t essential reading (most of the jokes are really bad) but it does capture a certain innocence of the mid-60s monster boom along with the pun-filled writing style of Stan Lee et al. Reader copies of every issue are easy to find in the $10 range and high-grade copies have steadily appreciated over the years but aren’t unreasonable. Current listings on eBay for VF and higher copies are in the $25-50 range.

Summary

Monsters to Laugh With / Monsters Unlimited was not the finest monster magazine to be published in the mid-60s by any stretch and better work was yet to come from Marvel in the 1970s, but I recommend this title for its simple fun. Monsters and kid-friendly humor was everywhere in the mid-60s and Marvel contributed nicely with this first effort.

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Classic Monster Magazines

 Classic Monster Magazines

Every few weeks, I will go in-depth on a classic monster magazine from my personal collection. We’ll kick this new series off with one of one my favorite comic book monsters, the Man Thing …

Monsters Unleashed #5

Marvel Comics Group, April 1974

Monsters Unleashed! Magazine April 1974. Cover art by Bob Larkin

Fantastic Cover by Bob Larkin

Printed on the interior of both the front and back covers, a poster of the “most startling swamp creature of all” which, of course, you had to remove the cover to hang!

IMG_3441

Special Bonus: Giant-Size Man-Thing Pin-Up  

a double-page pin up of everyone’s favorite swamp creature, ready to hang on your bedroom wall and drip slime over your carpet

Magazine Contents

Man-Thing: All the Faces of Fear  

a horror from the past comes back to haunt the Man-Thing…and this time only one of them can possibly survive.

  • Written by Tony Isabella
  • Art by Vincente Alcazar

Man-Thing: All the Faces of Fear from Monsters Unleashed #5

Great splash page of the Man-Thing battling a pack of gators in the swamp apparently to protect that  mysterious leggy cloaked woman standing in the background.

Man-Thing

I’ve always been a Man-Thing guy–Swamp Thing just looked too human for me.  But Man-Thing is clearly a creature of the swamp, a muck monster.  With his trip-tentacled face and black eyes, he fit right into my empathetic + frightening formula for a classic monster. I’m still a sucker for any comic with him in it.

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad                                                                                                              

Review and reflections of the brand new Columbia/Harryhausen epic.

  • Written by Gerry Conway

Golden Voyage of Sinbad - Monsters Unleashed! 1974

Peter Stubb: Werewolf
  • Written by Tony Isabella
  • Art by Ron Wilson

Peter Snubb: Werewolf! Monsters Unleashed #5 1974

The Dark Passage

Nick Raftis was a murderer.  He was tried, convicted, and jailed. Then Nick escaped…only to be hunted by the very ones he killed.

Dark Passage - Monsters Unleashed 1974

Glenn Strange, Frankenstein: Monster fo Dodge City

Recently, he starred on TV’s Gunsmoke as Sam the Bartender. But to monster fans everywhere, he will be remembered as the Frankenstein Monster. A tribute to the late Mr. Strange by expert Don Glut.

  • Written by Don Glut

Monsters Unleashed Curtis Magazines Marvel Comics

Demon of Slaughter Mansion

Twice before we’ve promised this story. Twice before it failed to see print.  Now, at last, you can finally read the terror-tale that was too hot to publish.

  • Written by Don McGregor
  • Art by Juan Boix/Pablo Marcos

Demon of Slaughter Mansion - Monsters Unleashed! Marvel 1974

Monsters in the Media

An in-depth look behind the movies, the books and the television plays that have been bombarding you in the past, and will be clawing your way in the future.

  • Written by Carla Joseph

Monster in the Media - Monsters Unleashed! #5 1974

The Werewolf Tale to End All Werewolf Tales!

A honeymoon is not the best time to track down a monster. Yet, what happens when a monster tracks down you?

Werewolf Tale to End All Werewolf Tales - Monsters Unleashed! 1974

Frankenstein 1974: Once a Monster…

His mind is no longer his own, for it has been transplanted into the body of a monster…and Own Wallach can do nothing but scream in horror..or resort to – murder. A Frankenstein special.

  • Written by Gary Friedrich
  • Art by  John Buscema/Winslow  Mortimer

Frankenstein 1974: Once a Monster.... from Monsters Unleashed #5

Curtis Magazines

was the name of an imprint used by Marvel Comics to publish black and white magazines between 1971 and 1975.   Marvel saw the success Warren was having with their black-and-white Horror anthology magazines and wanted a piece of the action.   Marvel’s editor, Stan Lee, and the mighty Marvel Bullpen were challenging Comic Code authority through their mainstream color comic books with stories about drug abuse in Amazing Spider-Man and the like. Magazines, however, were outside the Comic Code’s jurisdiction entirely making them fertile ground for edgier subject matter like horror and monsters.

The paper stock Marvel used was pretty low quality compared to their color comic pages, and finding VF+ grade books from the Curtis imprint is no small feat.  They’ve appreciated in value nicely over time.Monster Magazine subscription ad- Marvel Monsters Unleashed! 1974

Collectors Value:

Monsters Unleashed #5 has a increased in value nicely over the years, with NM currently priced around $39.   My personal copy, which you see in the scans on this post, is in Very Fine condition and valued at around $26.

Summary

I started buying comics when I was 4 years old and loved the circular racks at my local convenience store.  I drifted to the magazine rack through the gateways of Mad and Cracked magazines as well as the Treasury Edition comic books that were too big for the comic rack.  It was then that I discovered the brave new world of Warren and all these great anthologies, now classic monster magazines.  My parents just thought they were oversize comics and I had no problem getting them — Vampirella was a different story, but then the covers usually gave the contents of those books away to parents.

I still love these classic monster magazines with their fantastic painted covers featuring some great monsters.  The combination of 1950s horror comics together with original stories from the 1970s only enhance the charm for me since I wasn’t around the great over-the-top horror comics of the 1950s.  In short, these magazines mean a lot to me and always will.

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