Goodbye, Forry

We interrupt the long wait between Afterhell episodes to mourn the passing of an icon.

AP: Sci-Fi’s Grand Old Man, Forrest J Ackerman, dies

Forrest Ackerman was known by many while serving many roles, under many names.   He was the editor of the Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine, not to mention its heart and soul.  His playfulness appeared in its pages as cheesy puns and tongue-in-cheek captions.

He often signed his editorials as Dr. Acula.  Readers addressed him as FJA, Forry, 4E, the Ackermonster, and many other goofy epithets.  He embraced them all.  His knack for cheesy puns and wordplay was infectious.

He first coined the term “sci-fi,” so the AP headline is apt on so many levels.  People can’t decide whether it became a benefit or a detriment to science fiction.  The only certainty in its issue is that he said it with genuine affection.

The bottom line:  Forry was the ultimate fan.  He might not be the reason why people invented the term “Big-Name Fame,” but he’s the reason why people still use it. Forry was a model citizen, a grand master in fanboy circles.  He represented what fandom at its best.  He was warm, courteous, playful, and generous.

Spending decades collecting tons of sci-fi and horror memorabilia, he didn’t simply horde his treasure trove.  He opened his home and shared them with strangers from all over the world.

He was a friend and idol to millions — writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians, starry-eye nobodies.  Forry treated them all the same…like family.

I’ve bumped into him once or twice at conventions, on my way to this or that.  And he was doing the same… well, mostly the same.  I was in the company of one pretty lady.  Forry was always surrounded by at least four of them.  (Who says fanboys don’t get any?)  But each time we passed each other, he’d light up, extend a big warm hand, and beam out with “Hi, good to see you!”

Forry was Santa Claus, Dr. Frankenstein, and Hugh Hefner all rolled into one.  He delighted in the dark, revelled in the light… and always seemed to know your name.

He’s gone now.

Does Halloween seem darker every year?  Does every winter seem colder?

No… no, I can’t afford to play that game.  And neither can you, friend.  Yes, you too.  The word “friend” has been overused, but Forry Ackerman proved in his life that it can hold a multitude of real human warmth every time the word is spoken.

A toast to Forry.  The best fiend you could ever want.

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