Halloween Mask M-ad-ness!


By Shawn Robare

Well, there are just two short days before the official beginning of the 2011 Countdown to Halloween and I couldn’t be more excited.  Though I’ve run out of cool Real Ghostbusters monster animation cels to share (like I did in 2009 and 2010), I do have a bunch of fun stuff in store.  The main countdown theme at Branded this year is going to be Halloween Mask m-AD-ness, where I’m going to share a bunch of vintage monster mask ads throughout the month.  Now, I don’t consider myself any sort of authority on the subject (for more in depth mask blogging see the Blood Curdling Blog of Monster Masks), quite the contrary in fact.  My interest in monster masks stems from the amazement I felt as a kid when walking into a Spencer’s in our local mall during the Halloween season.  There’d be a wall of masks and props that would keep me enraptured for hours while my mom did her shopping.  We could never really afford any of those masks back then, but I could afford the odd copy of Fangoria or Starlog which tended to have mask advertisements in every issue (except 1985, but I’ll get to that later) that I’d sit and study for what seemed like days at a time.  So I thought it would be fun to go through my collection of mask ads and share my thoughts.

Though this will be the main daily theme, I’m also going to try my best to cover another topic as well, but look for that sneak peek tomorrow.  Also, I’d like to mention that the great Plaid Stallions site was gracious enough to let me use some of the imagery from their Ben Cooper catalog scans in order to make the mask banner above.  You should check them out for all your fun 70s fashion faux pas and nostalgia memories, in particular this coming month when they’ll take part in the 2011 Countdown to Halloween!  Alright, lets take a look at some really vintage mask ads to get the tone set for October!

I’m not sure when the first modern Halloween masks (rubber, latex, vinyl, or even pressed and molded plastic) crept into pop culture, but I’m pretty sure that the fad was going pretty strong during the initial publication of Famous Monsters of Filmland in the late 50s.  The first few ads I have here are from that wonder of a monster magazine, like this one from issue #4, first published in 1959…

I love these old ads because of the artwork used to illustrate the products.  These illustrations in particular strike a chord with me because my own artwork has naturally tended in this direction…

I also love these illustrations because I know that they were so much cooler than the actual masks were!  You can see the difference more clearly with this next ad that was also featured in issue #4 of FMoF

    

My all time favorite mask rendering in an ad has to be the illustration for the Shock Monster.  That drawing took on a life of it’s own and eventually became a mascot of sorts for Famous Monsters.  Mirek over at Shock! has a great write-up about that mask and the illustration (which was done by Keith Ward.)  Similarly striking is the androgynous visage of the Girl Vampire which also pervaded these magazines and the ad pages of comics for what seems like decades.

Rounding out the Famous Monsters mask ads is the one on the above, right from issue #41 originally published in 1964.  This one mixes the tried and true illustrations of the classic offerings with a selection of masks inspired by the Universal stable of monsters (as well as a side section with some Munsters masks, even though it’s illustrated with production stills instead of actual masks.)  This one cracks me up because it touts that the UM masks are the same ones used by Universal Pictures.  I seriously doubt these masks, or anything like them were ever used in any film productions.  Maybe on the back-lot during tours, but the implication is otherwise.  This ad also featured the weirdo Mystery Man mask (top of the ad), which looks a whole heck of a lot like a cross between a gimp mask and the faceplate Hannibal Lector wore in Silence of the Lambs!

Last up today are a couple of ads from the Famous Monsters sister comic antholy published by Warren called Creepy.  These are from issue #18, originally published in 1968…

    

The ad on the left featured a bevy of Universal Monsters masks that much have been super expensive back in ’68.  Heck, just 4 years prior you could order similar masks from FMoF for a fraction of the price.  Granted the level of detail on these is better, but I wonder of there was an extreme case of sticker shock when kids saw the $34 price tag.  Dang, it would have taken me months to save that much money even back in the 80s.  I’m guessing maybe these might have been aimed at a more adult crowd then?

The ad on the right is fun as it features the Warren comic anthology mascots Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie in 3-D mask form.  Now that’s a level of branding and merchandise that really warms my heart.  This one also features some different pictures of the Mystery Man mask I mentioned earlier, complete with gimp-like removable mouth covering.  So freaking weird.

Well, hopefully that’ll begin to give you an idea of what the next month will be like.  I hope you come back and take a gander at some of the awesome ads that I have in store.  Also, come back tomorrow to get a sneak peak at the other Halloween topic I’m hoping to cover throughout October.  You can also wander over to the Countdown to Halloween for a list of over 150 sites participating in Halloween-y blogging all month long!

  • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

    Jason – I think Masktastic works just fine! Micki – I guess as long as he keeps his one eye on the road you’ll be fine… ;)

  • http://www.escalonimaginario.com Micki

    oh man this is gonna be great. can’t read now but it will be the first thing I’m doing tomorrow early in the morning when I just get to work. work can wait :) I’ve taken a quick look and One-Eyed-Cyclops looks like one of the bus drivers that take us to and from work every day. I’ll try asking him tomorrow about the whereabouts of his missing eye.

  • http://gbnfgroceries.blogspot.com/ Jason K.

    Bring on the Masky Goodness! (wait, that isn’t even a word.) IS Masktastic a Word? Well it is now. Can’t wait to see what masks the future brings!

  • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

    AHS – Oh man, I never thought of doing that! Warming up the printer now…

  • http://halloweenaddict.com AllHallowSteve

    Woo hoo! Keep ‘em comin! I used to cut out some of the scarier faces from the comic mask ads and used them as –wait for it– masks for action figures or Bionic Man figures. Steve Austin… zombie face… a man barely alive…

  • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

    Dex – Agreed. Heck, I wish I’d taken advantage of more mail order fun when I was a kid, regardless of the quality of the actual items. Have you seen Kirk Demarais’ (of the Secret Fun Blog) new book about mail order stuff: http://www.amazon.com/Mail-Order-Mysteries-Real-Stuff-Comic/dp/160887026X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313734351&sr=8-1 Can’t wait for my copy to come int he mail!

  • http://aeiouwhy.blogspot.com/ Dex (@Dex1138)

    Looking forward to more mask m-ad-ness! I recently went through a bunch of scanned Famous Monsters mags from 1976-1984. There was just something magical about the promises of mail order that today’s kids will never experience.