A Collation of Bradbury Headlines

4Es Hand 48652_lg CROP(1) Forry Ackerman’s hand went unsold in the Bradbury auction. Well, not his actual hand, a sculpture of it. Presumably nobody realized that’s what it is or there might have been takers.

In a lot titled Ray Bradbury Personally Owned Objects D’Art the description of item (4) is —

very detailed hand sculpture of a man’s hand wearing a large ring, painted in a bronze color finish. Evidence of prior mounting to a base and scattered chips to finish;

John King Tarpinian recognized the “large ring” is Ackerman’s famous Dracula ring – originally worn by John Carradine in Universal’s House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945), then by Bela Lugosi in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).


Ackerman and Bradbury were friends for many decades, so if there was reason to make castings or sculptures of Ackerman’s hand then there might be an equally good reason why Bradbury owned one. Perhaps someday we’ll find out.

(2) Disney will remake Something Wicked This Way Comes, originally produced in 1983 from a script written by Ray Bradbury himself.

The remake will be directed by Seth Grahame-Smith. This will be the first time the author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has directed a movie, though his heart is clearly in the right place —

“I have been so crazy about this book, and it was such a formative title in my life that I actually wrote a piece on NPR about why it is so important for young males to read,” Grahame-Smith said. “It is a classic coming-of-age, father-son story about the transition from childhood to adulthood and how kids can’t wait to be adults and adults romanticize their childhoods. I’m not remaking the movie; I want the haunted atmosphere that makes the book so chilling, and I want to reinstate some of the classic scenes from the book that were missing from the ’83 film.”

(3) The Lake County News-Sun’s editorial writer, a red hot Bradbury fan, grows increasingly grumpy as it appears that the author’s home town of Waukegan is about to snub Bradbury again by declining to name a school in his honor.

The School Board’s current argument against honoring the world-revered author is that he moved away from Waukegan. That’s what often happens. It’s not a punishable offense.

When the board considered renaming Whittier School, the same argument against Bradbury was offered although it did not stop a previous board from naming a middle school after Jack Benny, another hometown product who left.

But Bradbury so truly loved growing up in Waukegan that reflections of his youth and the town he revered reverberate through his books. People everywhere in the world know about Waukegan because they know Bradbury….

For the record, Samuel Langhorne Clemens moved away from Hannibal, Mo., when he was 17. But Hannibal never had any trouble finding suitable ways to honor him. Townsfolk named a school for him. They knew being Mark Twain’s hometown was their honor, even more than his.

(4) Something else Mark Twain and Ray Bradbury have in common is they both have books on Edina, MN’s 7th and 8th Grade Reading List – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Fahrenheit 451 – though the blogger who pointed this out feels theirs are the only two works on the current list that deliver the same challenge and literary value as the books on Minnesota’s 7th and 8th Grade Reading List in 1908.

Ackermonster Chronicles World Premiere

Ackermonster ChroniclesBy John King Tarpinian: This Sunday the 24th would have been Forrest J Ackerman’s 97th birthday. The Aero Theater in Santa Monica will be hosting a birthday party for 4E and also premiering the documentary The Ackermonster Chronicles at 5 p.m. 

There will be a discussion following the showing with Chris Alexander (Editor-in-Chief of Fangoria Magazine; moderator), George Clayton Johnson (Star Trek, Twilight Zone), William F. Nolan (Logan’s Run), Diane O’Bannon (wife of the late filmmaker/writer Dan O’Bannon [Alien]), Jason V Brock (Director/Writer/Producer), Sunni K Brock (Editor/Producer), and Bill Warren (Ackerman’s assistant and film historian).

Forry Tapping at His Chamber Door?

Life After Death AckjermanNever mind that Forry disbelieved in any afterlife, Paul Davids’ The Life After Death Project analyzes the strange occurrences that some have interpreted as Famous Monsters founding editor — and one of Paul’s best friends — Forrest J Ackerman reaching out to communicate from beyond the grave.

Too bad I didn’t have this news before the documentary aired on Syfy tonight but all is not lost — the producer will happily sell you a copy of the DVD. In the meantime, sample this 8-minute intro video:

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013)

Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury and Forry Ackerman at the Three Legends event in 2008.

Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury and Forry Ackerman at the Three Legends event in 2008.

Visual effects genius Ray Harryhausen, who brought the fantastic alive using stop-motion animation, died May 7 in London at the age of 92.

Between 1949 and 1981 he created effects for Mighty Joe Young, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (partly based on a short story, “The Fog Horn,” by Ray Bradbury), It Came from Beneath the Sea, The Animal World, 20 Million Miles to Earth, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, Mysterious Island, Jason and the Argonauts, First Men in the Moon, One Million Years B.C., The Valley of Gwangi, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and Clash of the Titans.

Harryhausen’s fascination with special effects began in 1933 when he saw King Kong, the handiwork of pioneering animator Willis O’Brien. (They would eventually work together on Mighty Joe Young). Harryhausen’s devotion to King Kong also led to his lifelong friendships with Forrest J Ackerman and Ray Bradbury. He went to a revival of the movie in the early 1940s and saw some stills on display he wanted to copy. The theater employee he asked was Roy Test Jr., co-founder of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy League, who knew the owner of the photos, Forry Ackerman and put them in touch.

Six decades later, as part of the British Film Institute’s celebration of Harryhausen’s 90th birthday, Ray Bradbury described on video their first meeting at Ackerman’s house, when they talked about what they wanted to do with their lives, Harryhausen confessing that he wanted to make movies and Bradbury nervously admitting that he wanted to be a writer….

An important part of Harryhausen’s success was his new ideas. The New York Times explains:

The heart of his technique was a process he developed called Dynamation. It involved photographing a miniature — of a dinosaur, say — against a rear-projection screen through a partly masked pane of glass. The masked portion would then be re-exposed to insert foreground elements from the live footage. The effect was to make the creature appear to move in the midst of live action. It could now be seen walking behind a live tree, or viewed in the middle distance over the shoulder of a live actor — effects difficult to achieve before.

As for the famous skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts, Harryhausen wrote in 2003 that:

Each of the model skeletons was about eight to 10 inches high, and six of the seven were made for the sequence. The remaining one was a veteran from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, slightly repainted to match the new members of the family. When all the skeletons have manifested themselves to Jason and his men, they are commanded by Acetes to ‘Kill, kill, kill them all,’ and we hear an unearthly scream. What follows is a sequence of which I am very proud. I had three men fighting seven skeletons, and each skeleton had five appendages to move in each separate frame of film. This meant at least 35 animation movements, each synchronised to the actors’ movements. Some days I was producing less than one second of screen time; in the end the whole sequence took a record four and a half months.

His innovations were honored in 1992 with a career Academy Award for technical achievement. At the Oscar ceremony, Tom Hanks told the audience that he thought the greatest movie of all time was not Citizen Kane or Casablanca but Jason and the Argonauts. Which is quite a reversal of fortunes when you consider that Harryhausen’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, a 1959 Hugo nominee, lost to No Award.

Science fiction fandom did eventually become more appreciative. Harryhausen was a Worldcon Guest of Honor in 1987 at Brighton. And he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2005.

His filmmaking colleagues also found ways to acknowledge him, dropping in references to his name in animated movies, such as Harryhausen’s restaurant in Monsters, Inc., and giving him live cameos in Beverly Hills Cop III (1994, Bar Patron) and Mighty Joe Young (1998, Gentleman at Party).

Harryhausen’s last feature was Clash of the Titans in 1981. A proposed follow-up, Force of the Trojans, never got a green light. He also came to believe that the movie industry had changed for the worse:

The thing that finally persuaded me to quit was that I saw that the nature of the hero was changing. When I was growing up we had heroes such as Cary Grant, Ronald Colman and David Niven, real gentlemen on the screen. Now, all you have is Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and all those people who solve problems with their fists. It’s a different world and I sometimes feel I’m not part of it. Say what you like about Hollywood in my time, but they were in the business of happy endings, of escapism. Now, you have to sit through two hours of people dying, you know. Today, everything’s so graphic it’s rather unnerving.

Harryhausen is survived by his wife, Diana Livingstone Bruce, who he married in 1963. Said Bradbury, “He found just the right woman at just the right time, and it worked out terrifically.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Forry Ackerman Inaction Figure

Forrest J Ackerman, the Dark Horse Comics statuette

Forrest J Ackerman, the Dark Horse Comics statuette

Beethoven probably never got his own action figure either… Not that Forry moves, just the same, Dark Horse Comics’ Forry Ackerman statuette is an instant front-runner for next year’s Rondo Awards in the Best Toy, Model or Collectible category —

Forrest J Ackerman, commonly known to fans as “Forry”, comes to life in this colorful 13″ tall statue. Forry was the creator, editor and principal writer for Famous Monsters of Filmland, a magazine that influenced generations while spreading the love of the horror genre he was also known for his “Ackermansion,” a sprawling house in Los Angeles that held his extensive horror book and memorabilia collection. For fifty years, Forry shared his collection with fans during open-house events. As an agent, writer, editor, and actor, he had far-reaching influence in the science fiction, horror, and fantasy community. The statue includes a nameplate on the base with one of Forry’s most popular nicknames, “Dr. Acula.”

And think how cool it would be if LASFS bought a batch of these to give its Forry Award winners (instead of the nothing they get now.)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

15 Costumers You Should Know

The International Costumers Guild is posting a series of short video tributes to the pioneers and superstars of convention masquerades

The trailer “15 Costumers You Should Know” credits Forry Ackerman as the “Father of Convention Costuming” – he wore a “futuristicostume” made by Myrtle Douglas at the first Worldcon in 1939. The series will revisit the historic work of fans Kathy Sanders, Bruce & Dana MacDermott, Karen Schaubelt Turner Dick, Animal X, Jacqueline Ward, Janet Wilson Anderson, Deborah K. Jones, Pierre & Sandy Pettinger, Barb Schofield, Adrian Butterfield and Ricky Dick.

See more at the IGC Archives.

The Ackerman Oeuvre

Christopher M. O’Brien’s The Forrest J Ackerman Oeuvre is now available from McFarland.

For the benefit of those who only know the French they learned from Pepé Le Pew, ouevre means a substantial body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, an artist, or a composer.

A bibliography listing Ackerman’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenplays, film appearances, speeches and other works, plus a filmography and concise biography, fill the book’s 242 pages.

This includes a foreward by Dennis Billows who met Forry at the San Diego Comic-Con around 1975 and spent his free time for the next 20 years organizing his collection. Billows also worked as assistant editor of Ackerman’s magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland.

O’Brien has spent more than a decade researching the pulp magazines and early science fiction fandom. His fannish credits include an article about William Hamling in Earl Kemp’s eI #55.

[Thanks to Bill Warren for the story.]