Apr 04

Day 4 of Positive Impacts – Forrest J. Ackerman

As a young boy with weird tastes, I was an outsider. The fact that I was, for lots of reasons, a social pariah didn’t help. Uncharismatic, badly socialized, and having weird tastes is no way to go through grammar school, son.  I was told this often, and eventually learned to be likable. But, before that time, I was alone. Worse, I was an extrovert who was alone. But, I had my friends in comic books, cartoons and tv shows, and Famous Monsters of Film Land. My love of horror, monster movies, and science fiction was validated and encouraged by the magazine’s editor in chief, Forrest J. Ackerman.

Forry, if you didn’t know, was one of the early founders of what is now known as fandom. Born during WWI, by the 1920s he was active in Science Fiction clubs in the Los Angeles Area.  By the 1930s he was going to fan gatherings. He wore the first known costume at a science ficition convention, in fact.  His best friends were Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen. He supported and encouraged the careers of so many people. He dabbled in Science Fiction writing, but found his real lasting impact with a monthly magazine that covered film and TV science fiction, Famous Monsters of Filmland.

The magazine has been credited by Stephen King, Billy Bob Thornton, Steven Spielberg, and so many more for the impact it had on their careers. It taught them it was okay to LOVE weird stuff. It taught them about the early days of Sci-fi and horror in the movies. It let them know about upcoming films. It was our internet for folks whose genres were a little bit out of the mainstream.

Mostly, it let us know we were not alone.  It let us know it was okay to like what we liked.

Much of his life was a struggle financially, and later in life he faced some serious strife because of problems with ownership over Famous Monsters. These factors pale in comparison to the positive impact his work has modern culture. Not “pop culture” or “nerd culture.”  His influence is all aspects of American Culture, beyond what I have words to describe.

This is the positive impact that Forrest J. Ackerman had on me: he showed me that it was worth while to make sure that others who like weird stuff know they are not alone, and that there is nothing wrong with liking Godzilla.

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