Thursday, November 14, 2002

SCI-FI WILL NEVER DIE: But 85-year-old Forrest J. Ackerman -- founder of the original Famous Monsters of Filmland and the inventor of the often-derided term "sci-fi" -- beset by health and financial problems, has been forced to sell the "Ackermansion" and his lifetime's collection of monster movie and sf fandom memorabilia.

I always assumed these one-of-kind pieces of popular culture history would one day end up in a museum, a fannish Smithsonian Institution, lovingly cared for and maintained for future generations to touch and hold. Instead, the collection is being liquidated piecemeal, in a glorified garage sale.

In my own carefree youth, I too got caught up in the same sort of fannish collectible mania. Even today, remnants of my collection are still kicking around ... there's some kind of an unopened, unused 30-year-old Batman Crazy Foam bath soap container on my bookshelf in the hall, and in one corner of my office there's a complete set of six articulated Walt Kelly Pogo figurines that were distributed as laundry detergent giveaway premiums circa 1969. (Got two of 'em from mom's actual cartons of Biz; the other four I acquired, one at a time, at garage sales for maybe a buck apiece. If they'd been kept in slightly better condition, the set might fetch around $100 now.)

The problem with collectibles is that physical space is finite, while a properly fed and nourished collection grows infinitely. Acquiring the objects of desire is expensive enough. Add the cost of New York City real estate required to house them, and it's a losing proposition.

(I know one old fan-friend whose tiny sixth-floor Manhattan walk-up houses a comic book collection which has so voraciously consumed space over the years, that his living room has been reduced to a single narrow aisle, lined floor-to-ceiling with stacks of mouldering paper in mylar bags, three levels deep. All's I can say is, you gotta really love your hobby to live that way.)

Nevertheless, the loss of Forry's singularly irreplaceable resource is one more reason to be less cheerful today. (via Evanier)

UPDATE: Here's one fan's photo-tour of the estate in happier times. (Erb-Zine online? Don't I remember a print version of Erb-Zine back in the "olden days"? Can this possibly be the same entity?)


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