monsters. its a living

by Art Chantry (

HERE’S my “mag cover of the day” (or week, or month or whatever) feature (great magazine covers ignored by the mainstream world). this is ‘famous monster of filmland’ #40. the editor was forrest j. ackerman, the publisher/art director was james warren, the “layout” and lettering(?) was by harry chester (who also did ‘mad’). but the illustration is by RON COBB.

AC:FM was one of those great cultural clearing houses. it hosted amazing talents and inspired ten times as many as it hosted. it was just one of those great cultural lynchpins or hourglasses that helped make american pop culture what it is today. without it, our world would be a much duller place. i won't list the stories as it woudl take days to do it. but, it launched a million ships. god bless you, ackermonster!

Ron Cobb was one of the very first underground cartoonists. he’s credited by such luminaries such as robert crumb as being major inspiration to do underground comics. his features were a staple in the berkeley barb (i think. i forget those details) before even zap comics existed. he designed/illustrated the first jefferson airplane record “after bathing at baxters”. he later started a comic book called “last gasp”, featuring eco-funnies. all of his early work centered heavily on eco-issues (long before it was noticed by the masses) and he even designed the old “ecology” omicron-inspired logo that graced a bazillion ‘green’ promo items in late 60′s/early 70′s. it even became the logo for earth day.

AC:since we're on an FM kick here, i gotta show you some of the amazing lettering that harry chester did for the mag. now, i'm not 100% sure who did this amazing lettering in FM, but it was associated with harry chester's studio, so i'm crediting it to him. until i learn otherwise (and i mean really find out), i'm sticking to harry as the guy. this stuff is amazing. after 40 years of trying, i still can't duplicate his work. the actual DESIGN of these pages is crude and heavy handed (just like the movies they discuss), but the lettering makes up for it in visual wit and a beautiful light confidant touch that makes this stuff just dance. damn, he was good.

But, Cobb also made living doing monsters. he did a number of cover paintings for famous monsters. he also did a large number of cheezy record covers with monster-style spooky music for a number of record labels. he was extremely versatile and prolific.

Nowadays he’s a major hollywood scene “painter” and became well known for his work in that field by doing the matt painting (or whatever it’s called these days) of the future los angeles in “bladerunner.”

Ron cobb is one of my heros. and he paints a mean monster, ya know?

---AC:this sorta gives you an idea of what a typical FM spread looked like: a title page and a stock movie still, bam, bam. no brainer. but, look at that lettering! unbelievable stuff!---


t of people who worked on it is huge. and the kids who wrote letters and sent drawing became people like steven speilberg, stephen king, bernie wrightson, wilum pugmire and a bazillion others. i would love to been a kid hanging out at harry chester’s studio during production deadline. think of who would have walked in the door…

i subscribed to it when i was a kid, fact this sample above is from my old stash from my subscription days.

AC:where did he learn to do this stuff? did he work on horror movie posters? paper book covers? was he the guy who pasted up EC comics? did he do old men's magazines like adam and sir knight and satan? there's a lot of work in these areas that could be his work (all unsigned and authorless to academia). this harry chester dude is an enduring (and endearing) mystery for me.

oh, and ron haydock wasn’t a god, but he was a great devil!…how come they never teach about this sort of stuff in “art school”. it’s the REAL history of american graphic design, not the work of ego-driven overkill boobs like paul rand. (did i just say that? really?)…

these little samples are the tip of an iceberg. check out the first 50 or so issues of FM and you’ll be blown away.

chester did all of the warren publications. he was a very close friend of harvey kurtzman and worked on the re-design of mad magazine and most other kurtzman projects and was instrumental in HELP magazine that also launched a bazillion careers (like terry gilliam, gilbert sheldon, robert crumb and even gloria steinem!)

AC:notice all the type on the entire cover is hand drawn. amazing. i think these covers are by basil gogos and reed crandall. but i'm not sure any more.

like i said, chester studios must have been an amazing place to hang out. imagine frank frazetta blowing in and whipping up a cover illustration on deadline in the back room (like he did for creepy).

Related Posts

This entry was posted in Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Marketing/Advertising/Media, Modern Arts/Craft and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>