Famous Monsters of Filmland, the magazine that inspired everybody from Stephen King to Steven Spielberg, appeared in 1958 . By then I was well into my Gold Medal books phase. I still read science fiction and I still saw most of the horror movies that came my way. But Famous Monsters, given my taste for hardboiled fction, struck me as pretty juvenile and not worth buying.
The Great Monster Magazines by Robert Michael ""Bobb" Cutter (McFarland) takes singular exception to my feelings about Famous Monsters. But just about everything else he praises strikes me as just about right.
As the publisher notes, "This work provides a critical overview of monster magazines from the 1950s to the 1970s. The term "monster magazine" is a blanket term, which, for the purposes of this study is used to describe both magazines that focus primarily on popular horror movies and magazines that contain stories featuring monsters which are illustrated in comic book style but printed in black and white."
Thus the book details the history of the hallowed EC comics, Jim Warren's fantastic black and white magazines, Marvel's long run of horror comics and various Conan sagas, Hammer films, and all the black and white horror magazines that translated the likes of Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson and Robert E. Howard into graphic form.
Cotter is an excellent writer and a great organizer. A good table of contents backed with a fine Index makes it easy for the reader to skip around if he chooses, though Cotter's chapters are coherent, thematic units so I read straight through.
This is both serious history and a somewhat nostalgic look back at the magazines and comics that helped shape so many of today's graphic creators.