As a child growing up, my love for all things horror derived
from the fact that I wasn’t supposed to watch them. Of course, all children want what they can’t
have; which is why, every so often, I would venture down to the television room in the
early hours of the morning to watch classic horror icons like Peter Lorre,
Vincent Price and Boris Karloff take part in frightening tales of the
macabre. Sure, all of my friends were
going crazy over Freddy, Jason, Chucky and Michael Myers. But there was just something about the older
monsters… the classier ones, if you will… that struck a chord in me.
From there, I proceeded to scour through the books at my
local library, trying to find anything that could quench my thirst for anything
affiliated with horror. One particularly
dull day during the summer, I found a magazine tucked in between two thick
hardcover texts. The unmistakable stench
of dust and mold attacked my nostrils. I
pulled the wrinkled magazine out of the bookshelf.
lost treasure, I hid the magazine inside a much larger book and began to read
through the strange publication.
I’ll never forget it.
The first article I read was on The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Then I moved on to an article discussing Lon
Chaney and Lon Chaney, Jr’s contribution to the horror lexicon. While reading the magazine, it was the first
time in which I realized that there was actually a horror community out there; who,
like me, wanted to learn as much as possible about the incredibly horrific
stories we love and the people who brought them to life.
It was through
introduced to some of the greatest and most legendary genre writers, such as
Ray Bradbury, Joseph Stefano, Robert Bloch, Charles Beaumont and Richard
Matheson. From there I went on to
discover other magazines (all of which are now considered classics)… The
Arkham Collector, Terror Tales, Whispers, Horror Stories and, one of the
most peculiar, (Not) One of Us. These
magazines emphasized that there were others out there who, like me, looked at
horror films as being something other than a grotesque display of morbid
imagery. It was (and still is) a deeply
psychological form of artistic representation… when it wants to be.
Throughout that particular summer, I read through seemingly
hundreds of these magazines; finding them at different libraries, convenience
stores, grocery stores and comic book stores.
Little did I know that these magazines, and the places in which I read
them, would play such a strong role in who I would become later in my
life. What strikes me the most, though,
is the fact that I look back at these days with great love, but also sadness,
seeing as how they are long gone.
With the advent of the Internet, the purpose of these
magazines seemed more and more limited.
Why wait for months on end for information when you could just log on to
a website and access it almost as quickly as it’s released? It was a change in the times; one that
couldn’t have been ignored. But as soon
as the publications became extinct, a part of me disappeared, as I’m sure a lot
of you felt the same way.
and other similar magazines, represented a time and place that I am grateful
for having experienced. The horror
community is unflinchingly passionate and articulate because many of us were
educated by the masters found within the faded pages of those classic
publications. And while I may never see
one again, I carry my memories of that great summer very close to my heart, as
it made me realize the extent in which the fantastic and horrific can impact
one’s life and imagination.