March 3, 2009

The Covers of Frankenstein : Castle of Frankenstein No. 1

A classic Frankenstein cover, Larry Ivie’s front page painting for the first issue of Cal Beck’s Castle of Frankenstein, from 1962.

An earlier incarnation, in 1959, as a low-run, one-shot called Journal of Frankenstein (“edited by Victor Frankenstein”) made it one of the first titles to test the monster movie magazine market pioneered by James Warren’s Famous Monsters of Filmland. The ‘Journal’ logo was lifted directly from Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein comics of the Forties. It would be slightly modified when the title was retooled and re-launched in ’62 as Castle of Frankenstein. The magazine would appear on an erratic schedule until 1975, totaling 25 issues, plus a 1967 Annual.

Writer, editor and publisher Calvin T. Beck ran a shoestring operation, relying on dedicated managing editors to complete and assemble the magazine. Artist Larry Ivie (later to publish the fannish Heroes and Monsters) co-edited the early issues with Ken Beale, both men staying on as contributors after Bhob Stewart took over with issue number four. Through the Sixties, as the magazine became a fan favorite, the prolific and talented Stewart, as a self-described “staff of one”, would write, proofread, design and paste-up issues out of the basement of Beck’s home in North Bergen, New Jersey.

CoF was distinctive and different from the usual Famous Monsters knockoffs, featuring serious film analysis, casting a wide net to include foreign and obscure film coverage, as well as articles on science fiction and horror writing, fantasy art and comics. Every issue was crammed tight with content, using small type and haphazard layouts that gave off a passionate fanzine vibe.

Both Journal of Frankenstein and Castle of Frankenstein were revived briefly in 1999 by Dennis Druktenis of Scary Monsters Magazine.

Castle of Frankenstein Wiki page.

Bhob Stewart’s Wiki page, and his excellent blog, Potrzebie.

Castle of Frankenstein cover gallery.


wiec? said...

wow! all that good stuff for 35 cents.

Fred said...

Thanks for bringing back some great memories, Pierre. My vintage copies Castles of Frankenstein are the favorite part of my monster magazine collection, and they are one of the few magazines from that time that stand up to repeat readings. Beck also wrote two books I really enjoyed, Heroes of the Horrors and a sequal featuring scream queens. He was a real fan, and he has been missed since his untimely passing.

wich2 said...


CoF was THE place to go when you outgrew(-some!) 4SJ's horrible puns!

Covered Movies, TV, Comix, SciFi pb's, Fanzines; the whole panoply.

And if you've never read it - as Fred says, it holds up today. Especially as a window into its era: they were never afraid to carry a flaming torch up to the Nixon Whitehouse gates!

Great weekend,
-Craig W.

Jim T. said...

I enjoyed CoF to such a degree that back issues of the magazine are basically all I look for at large comic conventions. Wonderful writing, and I've re-read all the issues in my collection many times over.

Jim said... This is the link for a Facebook page I've initiated covering the initial run of Castle Of Frankenstein magazine. Hope you can check it out.