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Calvin Beck’s legendary monster movie magazine Castle of Frankenstein began publication in 1962. The magazine carried no, or very little outside advertising, so the magazine was published whenever Beck felt like it. It was mostly edited by Bhob Stewart, who also created many of the best-selling “Wacky Packages” stickers for Topps. Basically there were about two issues a year.
Aside from the erratic publishing schedule, most newsstands wouldn’t carry something like CoF anyway, and so it was very hard to find, meaning that an issue or two could go by before you saw one and there would already be new “back issues” for sale that you were just hearing about.
CoF covered comic books critically, the first such reviews ever to appear in a nationally distributed magazine, even underground comics. CoF also wrote about underground and experimental films and foreign “art” cinema, not just its mainstay, classic horror. Joe Dante was one of the writers and unlike Famous Monsters of Filmland (which was aimed at little kids and just full of film stills captioned with Forry Ackerman’s groan-worthy puns) CoF published some very good writing from some very hip characters.
I didn’t pick up on Castle of Frankenstein myself until it was almost over, with issue #21, featuring a cover painting (see above) of Ray Harryhausen’s The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, with photos within of its eye-poppingly gorgeous, scantily-clad co-star, Caroline Munro. It was 1973 and I was a not very innocent seven-year-old and something like CoF was like “WOW!” to me, a lot to take in.
I used to find it at the same place I would later buy Rock Scene and CREEM, a low rent department/hunting/garden/grocery store in Wheeling, WV called “Cook’s.” Thinking back on it, I am reasonably sure that no one working in that store had any idea what sort of seriously subversive wares came through their regional distributors aimed at impressionable young minds like mine. I simply cannot imagine a second resident of my Rust belt hometown buying a copy.
It was in CoF that I first read about John Waters and Divine. If memory serves, there was both a review of Female Trouble (calling it a part of the “lardass” sub-genre of women in prison flicks—whatever that was—and also a behind the scenes look at Female Trouble from the point of view of the actor who played the prison chaplain escorting Dawn Davenport to the electric chair. I read these articles when I was ten or younger, but it would take until I was eighteen before I was able to actually see Female Trouble... imagine that.
In any case, these days, rare issues of Castle of Frankenstein can claim a hefty price on eBay. On occasion I’ve seen pdfs floating around on torrent trackers as part of a “pulp magazines” collection and from time to time on blogs.