July 15, 2008

Super Frankenstein Mask

A simple, striking ad for a Don Post Frankenstein mask offered by Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, circa 1964.

For all its success, publisher James Warren couldn’t get advertising agencies interested in his monster movie magazine. Famous Monsters was still too small to compete with the monthly combined sales figures of countless comic book titles, which is where all the young teen-oriented ads for bicycles, cereal, candy and air rifles ended up.

Warren, ever innovative and resolutely independent, came up with an original, in house solution. He set up a mail order service and turned his back pages into a catalog for, well, stuff. You could send away for Aurora monster kits and monster-related paperbacks, 8MM movie clips and spoken word records. You could order rubber bats, inflatable snakes, Venus fly trap plants (“actually eats insects and bits of meat!”), skull-shaped ceramic mugs, and a whistle sold as a “Werewolf Siren”. Binoculars were called “Phantom Opera Glasses”. You could also order a parachute, a miniature radio “powerful enough to pick up local station broadcasts”, a hundred magnets for one dollar, and even a live monkey. Best of all were the rubber monster masks.

A staple of novelty, joke and costume shops, the masks included a Mummy, a Vampira-like Girl Vampire, The Screaming Skull, Shock Monster, a Gorilla and The Horrible Melting Man, but the perennial best-seller by far was the classic Frankenstein Monster mask available as a regular “Full Face” mask for two dollars, or a “Super De-luxe” over-the-head version, for a (then) whopping $3.98.

The Super Frankenstein ad refers to the cover of Famous Monsters #1. That was publisher Warren himself under the mask.


Jon K said...

By a nice coincidence, I just saw one of these masks offered for sale on eBay yesterday (and no, I'm not the seller)!


Karswell said...

Interesting, basically Warren became the S.S. Adams of the monster realm. Cool post Pierre... my love for these old ads is still as strong as ever, as strong as my love for the main content of a comic or monster mag in fact, it's all part of the experience.

AndyDecker said...

Wasn´t it called Captain Company? They even delivered overseas, the first mail order I ordered american books and comics from. God, I feel old :-)

Max the drunken severed head said...

The Mummy, a Vampira-like Girl Vampire, The Screaming Skull, Shock Monster, a Gorilla and The Horrible Melting Man masks were all produced by Topstone, not Don Post Studios.

Topstone masks were generally regarded at the time as inferior, but their cheapness and garishness now seem appealing to many.

Pierre Fournier said...

Thank you Max! I made the correction.

I've seen Topstone masks and you're right, they are both garish and appealing. I always loved the Shock Monster.

Pierre Fournier said...

Andy: I ordered the Dick Smith makeup magazine and I still have it in its original hand-addressed envelope from New York, with the Captain Company stamp on it.

Max the drunken severed head said...

"I always loved the Shock Monster."

In a way, Frankenstein's Monster was THE Shock Monster! As Ygor would say, "His mother vas de lightening!"