Archive for Forrest J. Ackerman

International Fan Letter Week

Okay, it’s not actually International Fan Letter Week. But let’s have one anyway.

When Forrest J. Ackerman was dying, his friends and family asked for his fans to send him letters, and I was one of the people who put a letter in an envelope and sent it on its way. And it felt good. So many of my favorite writers died long before it ever occurred to me to send them a note saying I thought they were cool, and it was nice to, for once, have the opportunity to say thanks.

So that’s what we’re gonna do. Pick out some of your favorite people — authors, artists, actors, musicians, politicians, or anyone else. Make sure they’re still alive — yes, Shakespeare and Mark Twain were great writers, but you’re a bit too late to get a postcard to them.

Write ’em a short letter, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, send it on. If they’ve got an e-mail address, use that. If they don’t, it may take some digging to find their mailing address. For most writers, find out who their publishers are, and send the letter to the publisher. Most movie studios will pass fan mail on to actors and directors. Do a little research, and you should be able to find a way to contact most folks.

It doesn’t have to be anyone working in comics — neither of mine (Ray Bradbury and Terry Pratchett, by the way) are. Just pick someone who’s still alive and whose work has positively impacted your life.

Your letter doesn’t have to be long and flowery. Just a note saying “You rock” to your favorite writers, artists, creative types.

Everybody git to writing…

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The Death of Science Fiction’s Greatest Fan

Forrest J. Ackerman has died at age 92.

Fan as in fanatic. Fan as in fancier. Fan as in fantasy lover. Forrest J Ackerman, who died Thursday at 92 of a heart attack in Los Angeles, was all these things and many more: literary agent for such science fiction authors as Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, A.E. van Vogt, Curt Siodmak and L. Ron Hubbard; actor and talisman in more than 50 films (The Howling, Beverly Hills Cop III, Amazon Women on the Moon); editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and creator of the Vampirella comic book franchise. But each of these trades was an exponent of his educated ardor for science fiction, fantasy and horror, and his need to share that consuming appetite.

The Scifipedia, an online biographical dictionary, defines Ackerman first as “American fan.” That’s good enough. As much as almost any writer in the field, he created a devoted, informed audience for speculative fiction. If he didn’t coin the term “sci-fi” — Robert Heinlein used it first — then by using the phrase in public in 1954 he instantly popularized it (to the lasting chagrin of purists, who preferred “SF”). Forry, as everyone called him, was the genre’s foremost advocate, missionary and ballyhooer. His love for the form, stretching back more than 80 years, godfathered and legitimized the obsessions of a million fanboys. His passion was their validation. He was the original Fanman.

I wrote about Uncle Forry just a month ago, when it looked like he’d be leaving us in days. As it turns out, the cards and well-wishes from his own legions of fans helped him rally for an extra four weeks.

If you’ve ever been to a convention, whether for comics, horror, sci-fi, Star Trek, you name it, you’re one of Uncle Forry’s kids. If you’ve ever dressed up in costume as a character from fiction, you’re one of Uncle Forry’s kids. If you’ve ever spent an evening geeking out with friends about something awesome in a comic book, in an old science fiction story, in a horror movie, you’re one of Uncle Forry’s kids.

Mugs up, folks. Here’s to Forrest J. Ackerman.

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Here’s to Uncle Forry

Forrest J. Ackerman is dying.

I tried to tell people that all day yesterday, and no one around here has heard of him. That’s just depressing.

Forry Ackerman is a longtime fan of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. He’s been a writer, an editor, a collector, and just an all-around great guy. He’s probably best known for creating and editing the legendary “Famous Monsters of Filmland” magazine, though he’s also the first person to abbreviate “science fiction” down to “sci-fi.” He’s been a literary agent for Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Hugo Gernsback, Andre Norton, Curt Siodmak, Jack Williamson, and many, many others. He even wrote the first issue of the original “Vampirella” comic book.

His home, which used to be known as the “Ackermansion,” was almost completely dedicated to his colossal collection of priceless sci-fi and horror memorabilia, which included books, film posters, costumes, makeup, masks, props, models, photographs, and much more. At 300,000 items, it was the largest collection of its kind in the world. The collection included models of the Martian spacecraft from “The War of the Worlds,” dinosaurs from “King Kong,” Bela Lugosi’s cape from “Dracula,” the Metalunan mutant from “This Island Earth,” the golden idol from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and much more. And he’d give free tours of the place, just to give science fiction and film fans a thrill to see all that awesome stuff. Financial troubles in 2002 forced him to downgrade to a smaller house, the mini-Ackermansion.

Forry has been one of the greatest boosters of science fiction and of science fiction fandom ever. Without Forry Ackerman, modern science fiction/horror/fantasy fandom would not exist.

But like I said: Forry Ackerman is dying.

In speaking with Uncle Forry’s caretaker, an amazing gentleman named Joe Moe, I was told that Forry was lucid, peaceful and not even on pain medication, but that he was progressively getting worse – and was ready to move on. However, he was wanting to say his goodbyes to as many of his neice and nephews that he has created in his almost 92 years on this Earth. His 92nd Birthday is this November 22nd.

Many friends of Forry have visited his bedside, hearing one last story, one last pun and to say one last goodbye. Ray Bradbury even flew to his bedside.

And they’re even requesting letters. If you’d like to write Forry, tell him what his work has meant to you, wish him well, here’s the address:

Forrest J. Ackerman
4511 Russell Avenue
Los Angeles, CA  90027

Whether you knew him as Uncle Forry, Dr. Acula, Mr. Science Fiction, or something else, let’s get some cards and letters in the mail, guys. Just to show that not everyone has forgotten Forrest Ackerman.

(Link via Mike Lynch)

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