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Brad Linaweaver
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Editor's Note

Before we get into the meat of this article, I want to note that it originally appeared in Worldly Remains #6 in 2002. The review of this book was written by Brad Linaweaver, who was a witness for the prosecution in the Forrest J Ackerman / Ray Ferry trademark and copyright law suit. There are many reasons for reprinting this here and now, but all parties involved, Brad, Worldly Remains then Editor-In-Chief Ron Garmon and myself (then publisher of Worldly Remains) all feel it's best to get it back up here in light of current events regarding Mr. Ferry and his version of Famous Monsters of Filmland.

— Jessie Lilley

Life Is But A Scream:

The True Story of the Rebirth of Famous Monsters of Filmland

Ray Ferry

433 pages from Karmanirhara Publications 2000 / Out of Print

This is no ordinary book review because Ray Ferry's Life Is But A Scream is no ordinary book. The former (finally!) publisher of the revived Famous Monsters of Film/and has written the ultimate press release at great expense to answer a multitude of internet posts produced at much less expense. Ferry's critics didn't always have the complete facts, but knew enough to be enraged at what occurred between Ferry and Forrest J Ackerman over the rebirth of the original monster film magazine. As for Ferry, he never allowed the facts to get in the way of his magnum opus.

L-R: Forrest J Ackerman, Brad Linaweaver and Ray Bradbury

Another way of looking at this unique spawn of Karmanirhara Publications (which of course no one's ever heard of before or since) is that it is Ferry's very personal editorial in which he complains about the very personal editorial style of FJA, the subject of his ire. This review follows the same pattern of personal journalism because the reviewer played a role in the court case that decided the fate of FM and Dynacomm. In other words, the facts I know best are the ones with which I was involved and about which I testified.

In the style of a guest editorial instead of a book review, I want to thank editor Ron Garmon for his ongoing pursuit of justice in matters of genre history, and for allowing me this opportunity to set some portions of the record straight. [Justice, in genre history as in everything else, is a receding dot on the horizon, and my feet are getting tired-Ed. R.Garmon.] The time is right in 2002 because only recently has Ray Ferry learned that he will no longer be publishing a magazine under the title Famous Monsters of Filmland.

Worldly Remains Editor-In-Chief
Ron Garmon
There is no current price information. The book used to go for around thirty bucks but is beginning to command collector's prices, a situation much to be preferred over the prospect of further printings.

The short version of the truth is that Ray Ferry lost his court case in 2000. The jury found in favor of Forry Ackerman on every count, including a hefty financial award. At issue were both intellectual property and money. In victory, Forry learned that it is easier to collect on what you already have (the product of your mind) than money in someone else's bank account. The other thing that Forry learned was more grim than a visit to Castle Frankenstein. In a genre of magazine publishing that he invented, only a few publishers and editors gave a public damn when the godfather of the form was in trouble. The majority should be ashamed of themselves.

The long version of untruth is not just to read but actually scrutinize the chatty and sometimes entertaining Life Is But A Scream (that's how I found out that Ferry and I became fans from the same event, a childhood viewing of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad [58]). Ferry is the master of belaboring true events and then omitting minor details that would provide a complete picture. But he also practices the art of the fantasist when necessary.

Here I'll summarize my part in this nasty business. Quoth the Ferry: "Brad Linaweaver (a writer whose total contributions had consisted of two articles, two news blurbs and a fan letter to FM during the course of Ackerman's l0-issue tenure with me) was called to the stand." The reader may wonder how there can be anything wrong with that statement. Bear with me.

Right before what appears to be trial transcript, Ferry writes, "Part of the exchange went more or less like this." Then follows what to the cursory reader seem to be direct quotes from the trial about my seeing Forry writing a response to a fan for the letters column in FM.

Then we arrive at what seems an unarguable personal view: "It seemed obvious to me from Brad's tone and responses that he didn't think too fondly of me... Perhaps that was left over from his brief article contributions to the magazine back in 1994. I had accepted for publication a piece he wrote on a film called DINOSAUR VALLEY GIRLS [Ferry caps movie titles as did Forry]…I found the film to be absolute amateur rubbish. The filmmakers were friends of Brad, and perhaps he was still smarting over my disapproval."

These seem rather minor items buried in the text, almost tangential to the main issues of the trial. Yet everything just quoted has problems. First of all, I never sent a fan letter. I wrote a tribute to Robert Bloch and submitted it as an article. Both Ferry and FJA liked it. Any professional writer can appreciate the audacity of what Ferry did. By running it as a letter there would be no question of paying for an article.

Next, in the context of writing about a court case, it isn't right to run something that looks like trial transcript but really isn't! The reader would assume that all I did was get tangled up by Ferry's lawyer over how many editorial letters I saw Forry write. The bulk of my testimony was about Forry using the moniker of Dr. Acula outside the in pages of FM (I was one of the writers on Horror House, a radio series that appeared on NPR in late 93. Forry hosted the show as Dr. Acula, ironically in the same year that Ferry unveiled the new FM.). You would never know why I was really in court from Ferry's "transcript."

Jessie Lilley and Forrest J Ackerman

Regarding the matter of Ferry writing letters for the Fang Mail department, Ferry says I contradicted myself and "poor Brad reminded me of Ralph Kramden (from "The Honeymooners" TV show) when that character couldn't come up with a good response after having been caught telling a tall tale." I admit I laughed when I read that. But I didn't laugh over the idea that I was trapped by Ferry's lawyer when I assumed (from seeing FJA write a letter to a fan) that he had written more letters as well! I caught the lawyer in his own contradiction when I pointed out that on the one hand Ferry was saying he wrote all those letters because FJA wasn’t doing the a work, but on the other hand Ferry wrote the letters because FJA turned in work that was inadequate. When I asked which it was (no work or bad work) the lawyer told me he had no more questions. It felt like being on an episode of "Perry Mason."

Most incredible is that Ray Ferry didn't check the back issue of his own magazine to find out that the movie he commissioned me to cover for FM #202 was not Dinosaur t Valley Girls (96) (directed by Don Glut) but Dinosaur Island (93) directed by Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski). This is my favorite example because all you need is Ferry's product to catch him in one of his own tall tales. After he finished with me, he did a few paragraphs on how disappointed he was to see Ray Bradbury testify—and how much he still admires Bradbury. Omitted is the fact that Bradbury testified about Forry coining Dr. Acula as far back as 39, decades before FM. The reader of Life Is But A Scream would never know that Bradbury and I were in court for the same reason—to prove that Forrest J Ackerman's intellectual property exists independently of FM. Owning FM (at the time) didn't mean that Ray Ferry should get away with trying to trademark Forry's entire life!

One last personal example should finish the job of putting Ferry in the proper context. Throughout the book he complains that Forrest J Ackerman never gave him credit for all the wonderful things he did for FM. Yet this is the same guy who brags about getting a piece from William F. Buckley, Jr., and naturally doesn't mention that the WFB contribution came through me!

There was more to the rebirth of Famous Monsters than just the magazine. There were also the two giant conventions, both of which I attended. Seeing how Ferry handled the fans should have been a tip-off by itself, but that's another article. One pro who is repeatedly attacked in Ferry's chapters on the conventions is WR publisher Jessie Lilley, who was at that time publishing Scarlet Street.

Besides complaining about her attempts to horn in on his publicity at a con she didn't even attend, he labels Scarlet Street a fanzine (as opposed to any Ferry product) and then questions Ackerman's entrusting her with a list of professional addresses and phone numbers. Besides ignoring that Scarlet Street won an award for best semi-professional magazine at FANEX 6 in 1992, Ferry makes a deeper blunder that is addressed by Mrs. Lilley:

Jessie Lilley and Ray Bradbury
"It seems odd to me that Mr. Ferry worried about that. When he first called me to introduce himself, he said that Forry had suggested he get hold of 'Wonder Woman' to see if I might help invite some guest stars. Yes, that's what Forry calls me. I'm rather proud of that. At any rate, the numbers in my phone book stay there. If I gave them out, I'd never get another one. Richard Valley got a copy of the book when I resigned. He doesn't give them out either."

There is a simple rule of thumb for reading this book. When he says bad things about Jessie or Ron Borst or Joe Moe or Bill Warren or Lee Harris, just dismiss it. Of course he's going to say bad things about the attorney who cleaned his clock, J.C. Applebaum. As for his bad words about James Warren, the first publisher of FM, they are probably true.

But when he says good things about various celebrities, that shouldn't be held against them! Sure, it's an honor to be attacked in his book, but not everyone mentioned is so fortunate. Celebrities treat all PR as pretty much the same, and Ferry's FM kept going long after it should have folded.

A unique category is reserved for Brinke Stevens. Ferry starts out by saying mean things about her, but ends up paying a back-handed compliment to her professionalism. Maybe she scared him!

The tragedy is that some of Forry's friends continued to write and perform editorial functions for the magazine after the split. How they could have done this is a mystery. There were other places they could have gone. There have never been more of these magazines in history. Hell, they could have joined Forry and me when we worked with Buddy Barnett and Michael Copner to do special double issues of Cult Movies with the return of Spacemen, Forry's other famous filmzine. At the very least, they could have given Forry kind word on his new projects.

As for Ray Ferry himself, there is no mystery at all. Here are a few words of wisdom from the pages of Life Is But A Scream:

"I wasn't going to air dirty laundry in public."

"I see my job as entertaining our readers, not using the magazine to bolster my own sense of celebrity."

"I have never exploited my friendships with anyone."

What a guy! You’d never think of him as someone who used Forry to bring back the original movie monster mag, then rebuilt the old fan base before going after new fans, and finally calculated that the new of fans outnumbered the old before jettisoning Uncle Forry when the grand old man had served his purpose.

Ferry constantly complains about the Ackerman ego. But FJA always been upfront about that and has a lot fun with it. What can we say of Mr. Ferry tried to appropriate Ackerman’s fans and friends, not to mention puns and personal style? Is this The Invasion of the Ego Snatchers? Whatever it is, it's the weirdest damned thing that has ever happened in the history of our genre of specialty magazines. This is the story of a fan mentality gone mad.

— Brad Linaweaver