by Art Chantry (firstname.lastname@example.org)
when i was a little kid back in the early 60′s, i wasn’t into sports. t he only pro sports we had in seattle back then was the seattle totems hockey team (winner of the 1914 stanley cup!) and unlimited hydroplane racing (which was invented on lake washington in seattle alongside water skiing.) i was one of those kids who made little wooden hydroplane models and dragged them behind my bicycle on a rope (with playing cards laundry clipped to my spokes). plus, i didn’t have a father. to summarize, i wasn’t into sports.
instead of collecting baseball cards like all my friends (or beatles cards like my sister), i collected monster cards. specifically, the trading cards called ‘spook theater’. they were about the same size as a baseball card and depicted a nice b&w reproduction of a classic universal/international movie monsters (frankenstein, dracula, the wolfman, the mummy, godzilla, etc.) with a gag caption under the image – REALLY corny jokes. for example, here is one of the creature from the black lagoon splashing into the water. the caption reads, “last one in is a sissy!”. that sort of humor. groaners.
the back had even more terrible jokes and limericks that read like they were written by forrest j, ackerman, king of the monster puns. i love this stuff. like this – “question: where to ghosts go to swim? answer: lake e(e)rie.” har har har!!
many of these same cards were re-issued under different brand names in subsequent years. i still spot them online and in antique malls under other brand names. but, they are of lesser quality. the jokes are funnier, for instance.
i had complete sets of these things. i also collected together complete sets of cards for tv shows like the munsters and the addams family also some little tiny ones called ‘monster midgies’ (their slogan was “3 for the price of one!”) i had complete sets of outer limits cards and weird-ohs and all sorts of this stuff. no sports cards, tho. not interested.
years later, as an adult i found my old set of spook theater cards in a box in my mom’s house. so, i get to enjoy them today. i also found an old scrap book i had compiled as a child of around 10 or 11. it was full of monster movie adverts i had clipped out of magazines – really cool stuff for mid-60′s hammer films. ray dennis steckler movies and the like.
but the big surprise was in the back of the scrap book. i had actually saved some samples of the actual WRAPPERS that these cards came in. it was quite a find. these are pretty great little crummy graphic items. as inspiring today as they were when i was under 10.