Friday, January 07, 2011

'MONSTER MAG' - Top Sellars Ltd

Now what teenage horror film fan could'nt resist a poster magazine containing gruesome and blood curdling photos, articles on horror films, stars, and real life horrors such as torture etc and of course a large full colour poster of a fiendish monster to put on their bedroom wall or to take to school and show their mates? That is if the newsagent would sell you one or an adult would buy you a copy, after all issues of 'Monster Mag' were For adults only, as it is written on the cover. This is forbidden fruit for the youngsters as is the girlie mags on the top shelf but this also makes it all the more reason for some of them to want to check them out, you know just for curiosity's sake. I should Imagine some of them that did manage to get copies of Monster Mag maybe weren't allowed to put their posters on the wall, not that they were too gruesome or gory but for the 1970's these were the sort of thing not usually covered in any of the genre magazines of the time, especially in full colour. 'Monster Mag' was possibly the first of its kind, many years before America's gory 'Fangoria' magazine came out during 1979. Now 'Monster Mag' is pretty tame to what we have these days, but during the 70's they were the horror/monster fans mag to have.

'Monster Mag' was published by Top Sellars Ltd of London between 1973 and 1976, a total of 17 issues were published. The first few issues were printed in Italy which brings me to issue #2 which has become the issue most talked about, why? Well because the issues were printed in Italy and shipped to the UK, they of course had to go through customs and checked, Issue 1 got through ok but for some reason #2 never made it and all issues were destroyed, although there are german and french editions of the first 4 issues that can on occasions still be found on places like ebay. So really the only way to see that 2nd issue is by buying one of the german or french issues, not much use if you can't read their language but who cares about that the language when you have the gory pictures to look at. Still its a shame that #2 never made it to these shores for us British fans to enjoy and to make our own minds up. Mind you I have heard that the issue in questions may see a reprint. Would be nice to see 'Monster Mag' return again with all new issues starting with that 2nd issue and then publishing the Double X issue which was due after #17, I guess many fans were waiting in anticipation for that issue, me included. I think eventually 'Monster Mag' was printed in the UK probally from issue 5 at a guess, as there are no german or french editions afterwards, and maybe Top Sellars thought it would be a lot easier to get it printed here rather than risk loseing issues through customs. Editor of the first 4 issues was Roger Cook, then from #5 to #14 editorial would be taken over by Rodgers wife Jan Cook. From issue 15 which became Vol.2#1, editorial duties were taken over by Dez Skinn, whom would bring a touch of ghoulish humour to his editorial. Dez would later on publish 'House of Hammer' magazine as well as many many more genre magazines, comics etc. A small advert hinting at the new 'House of Hammer' magazine was printed on the editorial page and a another issue featured the cover of the first issue in black and white on the back of 'Monster Mag'. To end I thought, well still do that 'Monster Mag' was a great publication with its interesting articles, stunning photos and surperb posters especially for Hammer horror fans as most of these posters were from some of the great Hammer films such as 'Curse of Frankenstein', 'Twins of Evil', 'Frankenstein and the monster from hell', 'Vampire Circus' etc. There was a nice one of the poster artwork from Amicus film's 'From beyond the grave' too. In issue Vol.2#2 the poster featured the 1958 Hammer 'Dracula' poster artwork and the other 2 issues had posters featuring 2 seperate photos split into the one poster. For those of you who would like to get your claws onto issues of 'Monster Mag' then like I say do check out Ebay, although it can be difficult at times to find a perfect issue of one as many do have pin holes or cellotape marks where they were obviously put on the wall. Or there is also a disc that is sometimes on ebay which has all pages, including posters of each issue nicely photographed and in PDF format, which also Includes issue #2 and a photocopy of a feature about issue #2 which was first published in a fanzine called 'Magazine of the movies'. Please check out the wonderful and Informative website of Dez Skinn where you can read about his other publications and enjoy rare pictures and artwork from 'House of Hammer' magazine etc.


Natasha said...

Ooh, the woman with blood on her teeth poster is FANTASTIC because it seems REAL. I'm not blaming the other posters because they're not good, I'm just saying that the other seems REALISTIC so it seems much BETTER. Oh, and I have new pics on my blog, assured that even ONE will scare you.

Paul said...

Hi Natasha
Yeah I know what you mean about the Vampire poster. The photo is from a film called 'Vampire Circus' I saw the pictures on your blog and I must agree they are very gruesome ones.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh Monster Mag,
Myself and a friend had to travel to a newsagent in the next town to buy a copy of issue 3. He had to go in 'cos he was much taller than me. When he came out with the obligatory brown paper bag we ran like the clappers around the corner to feast our eyes on the "full gloss gore"!!
I've managed to collect a full set over the years, including the French issue 2 and it's still my favourite series (closely followed by House of Hammer).
Thanks for the nostalgia shot!

Anonymous said...

The photo from VAMPIRE CIRCUS is of Lalla Ward. She was one of the companions of Tom Baker's Doctor Who (and was in fact Baker's wife for a short period in the early 80s). She's now married to the famous scientist Richard Dawkins.

Just thought that you might be interested!

Paul said...

Thank you for your great story about buying Monster Mag, such a buzz getting something like this when you're a kid.
Nice to hear that you now have a full set, would love to get a #2 sometime [French or German]. Monster Mag is certainly one of my favorites too. I wish they would publish them again.

VanityofVanities said...

I'm not into monster mag, though my brother loves it to death. And the woman who has blood in her mouth, is a very great pic. :)

Thanks for sharing,
Cathy@nursing shoes

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interesting blog post! I'm researchng Dept. of Customs in Australiia, it may be that the relevant decisions on Monster Mag #2 are now de-classified, if anyone in the UK is willing to look.
One unlucky horror fan tried to import banned items and found himself raided and his Famous Monsters of Movieland collection was also confiscated!

Paul said...

Yeah I agree Vanityofvanitys, it is a great picture. The actress in the photo is Lalla Ward who was one of Tom Baker's companions in Doctor Who, she was also married Tom Baker for a short while.The scene here is from Hammer's 'Vampire Circus'.

Paul said...

Hi Martin
I can imagine getting banned items through customs must be very difficult and risky. I think it does vary country to country and really. Must of been much more difficult with 'Monster Mag' back in the 70's.This sort of printed material was certainly gory for its time.Strange how number one got through ok though.

Thomas said...

Looks like the VHS box of From Beyond the Grave.