R.I.P. - Forrest "Forrie" J. Ackerman (old post hiding in draft until now 1/30/09)

There is no shortage of information about Forrest J. Ackerman. I've spent most of my life either admiring or envying the man... I'm not really sure which feeling is most accurate. The only thing I have to add is my remembrance of his influence on me. I never met the man, though I would certainly have enjoyed doing so. Until the announcement of his passing, the last thing I'd heard about/from/of him was an interview in the "Geeks On" podcast. He seemed a warm fellow, but a no-nonsense sort... he put me in mind of my Grandpa.

When I was a kid I was an avid reader of "The Monster Times" and I dutifully disemboweled each issue to place it's monstrous centerfold somewhere in my bedroom. Back then I didn't actually read much in the issues but I would pore through every page for cool pictures of things both familiar and never before imagined. Star Trek and Godzilla were familiar to me. I loved "sci-fi" and all the gigantic beasts from Japan, but the horror movies and monsters were new to me.

I remember being easily and frequently scared when I was little. Steve McQueen's nemesis, "The Blob", prevented me from ever developing a taste for puddings. The mere sight of Phyllis Diller on TV caused me to hide in another room, away from the set. I don't know when it happened, but I somehow got over my frights and "The Monster Times" was a big part of that.
Later came Starlog. I collected Starlog from issue #1 through issue #43. By this time I was doing a bit more reading. I would flip the pages of every issue and try to learn about only the things that caught my eye. "Sci-fi" was my primary interest, having been groomed with Trek, Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Planet of the Apes, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Space: 1999, UFO, Silent Running, and that damned Blob.

Starlog is where I became aware of Forrest Ackerman. I seem to remember a photo of him standing next to Robby the Robot but I could be mistaken about that. I had only seen Robby once before, versus B-9 (aka 'Robot') on "Lost in Space", but this photo of a regular man standing next to a menace out of space and time finally broke the spell, the horror was gone, and new ideas were planted in that freshly tilled soil of imagination, mystery, and fear. Forrest Ackerman was playing with toys, just as I did. But, his were the coolest toys in the history of Humanity.

With Forrie serving as a mental ground-wire for my imagination, I began to learn a little bit about how these cool movies were made. He reminded me that these monsters and aliens weren't REAL and allowed me to tremble with other fears, like UFO's, Bigfoot, and the supernatural.

I owe you a big load of thanks Mr. Ackerman. You were a sort of lighthouse, steering this man's young mind away from the rocks of childhood horrors. Thank you.

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