Friday, December 5, 2008

Dr. Acula, Actually Dead

Uncle Forry is the epicenter of Horror Fandom, the devilish daddy spider at the heart of an intricate web teeming with countless grinning spider-babies.

I've had this post saved as a draft since November 3rd, when the internet reported the passing of Forrest J. Ackerman, founder of Famous Monsters of Filmland, Uncle to Monster Kids the world over, and Father of Modern Geekdom. Just about everyone jumped the gun in declaring him deceased, but Uncle Forry held on just long enough to turn 92 and bid farewell to a few more of his loving friends.

Born in 1975 and much more a member of the Fango Generation of Horror Magazine readers, I missed out on FM in its Aurora model kit-filled heyday, and, as a child, came to know the magazine through my brother's tattered back-issues.

I recall paging through one of them and seeing a photo from Night of the Living Dead with a caption stating the film's original title (Night of Anubis) and informing readers that its sequel, Dawn of the Living Dead, was underway. I bought my first issue of FM in 1982, #183. It sported the Swamp Thing on the cover, a photograph that could not compare to the beautiful painted covers of the magazine's golden age, but a glorious sight nonetheless for this monster-obsessed kid.

(I took that issue to school, stored it with my books, and was not very surprised to find it missing when I returned from recess. I was pretty sure then that I heard the teachers laughing in the hallway as they tore it to shreds, but that was probably just my First Grade imagination. Then again, we are talking about a Southern Protestant private school that still used the paddle, so...)

FM kicked the bucket seven issues later (the less said about Ray Ferry's revived FM, the better), and an era came to an end, but its seeds were already planted, its legacy established. All of us involved in this strange little genre owe something to Uncle Forry, the man who sparred (in print) with H.P. Lovecraft, discovered Ray Bradbury and gave Harlan Ellison a reason to scream about the sound of crickets fucking.

Today is not a sad day. No tears should be shed for the man. Instead, his life should be celebrated--a life of generosity, influence, and innovation, a life that brought frightful joy to countless souls, many of whom, so inspired, then brought joy to countless more.

Not knowing exactly how to end this brief tribute, I pick at my moist and gently pulsating brain and decide to go with the first thing I find there. I suspect it'll pop up in several similar tributes over the coming days, but what can I do? We can't all have Uncle Forry's way with words.

The Ackermonster is dead. Long live the Ackermonster.


Go here for a two-page obit from the LA Times.

For a series of heartfelt tributes followed by depressingly-hopeless "letter from the grave" of sorts from the man himself, follow this link.

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