March 06, 2004

"Up, up and away with 4EJ"

Forrest J. Ackerman, many years ago... (Used without permission)
Back in 1997, I just got my cable Internet connection, and was happily exploring the web, when I remembered a funky magazine I used to love in my teens...

It was Famous Monsters of Filmland, or "FM" to it's fans.

This crazy, silly, fascinating mag was filled with all manner of film monsters and sci-fi creatures, all in glorious black and white!! The editor of FM was Forrest J. Ackerman, probably the biggest horror and sci-fi fan alive anywhere! He was (and still is) known variably as Forry, 4E, or just EEEE.

FM magazine was steeped in 4E's nutty, bad puns. It was rather like Mad Magazine, but with a love of monster flicks replacing Mad's sarcastic put-downs and New York-style or in-bred cultural references ("you clod!").

Even though FM was chock full of the scary monster movie images, it was still a fun, friendly read for a kid - not scary at all. Pretty campy and silly, really.

Unfortunately, FM went out of print in the early eighties. I still have one issue tucked away from my once mighty collection of two or three dozen...

So, in 1997, in a raging fit of nostalgia, I decided to see if I could locate info about this magazine on the web.

As luck (and AltaVista) would have it back then, Mr. Ackerman had published a "virtual tour" of his personal Hollywood monster museum - "The AckerMansion" - as an interactive CDROM. I was so there baby!

I also discovered his web site and decided to send my first ever fan letter via email...

My fan letter to Forrest J. Ackerman went like this:

"Greetings 4E!

I really enjoyed the "Forry's Weird Wired World Web Site", but was dissappointed that my email to you
at that site bounced (bummer)...

So, I'll try again:

Thanks most of all for editing "Famous Monsters of Filmland", a mag I lived for when I was 12-16 yrs. old.
It gave me an escape route from the real world, and a window into the world of movies, fx, and fantasy,
and a preview of future fx greats like Rick Baker - truly inspirational!
Your cornball humour and enthusiasm kept the feel from getting too serious, and gave FMOF a familiar "face" that made it fun to read.

I just ordered your virtual tour CDROM set, and am anxiously awaiting it's arrival.
Thanks for creating this software and giving me my escape route back!

Thanks and best wishes,

E. John Love
Art Director
TVI Interactive Systems Inc.
Burnaby, BC, Canada"

The next day, I received this reply, apparently from the man himself (I hope so!)

"Enjoy the CDROM! Come back and visit my virtual Ackermansion often. You will always find a home there, at the end of your escape route......
Up, up, and away, with 4EJ!!!"

Now, seven (!) years later, I rediscovered these messages, as probably the oldest emails I still have. I assume that Mr. Ackerman must be well into his eighties or even beyond by now (talk about the undead - go 4E, go 4E!!)

...and lo, his same old web site is still kicking, in all it's 1997-esque, HTML version 1 glory, rife with his same crazy puns, and with a online guestbook bursting with loving fans like me, giving our respect.

My favourite 4E pun/joke is now "Esperanto - the tongue of cunning linguists". :)

Did you know that it was he who coined the term "sci fi"?
That's pretty cool...

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