AWESOME-tober-fest 2008: Remembering Cracked Monster Party

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Welcome to AWESOME-tober-fest Week 4. For those that are just joining us, AWESOME-tober-fest is my countdown to Halloween which includes spooky articles each week covering things like scary books/movies, candy, etc. I’ll discuss these things each week until we finally reach “H-Day” as I like to call it (or Halloween, for the layman). Since we are celebrating in October, and this is the Cavalcade of Awesome, the name of this countdown is AWESOME-tober-fest. If you missed any of the first three weeks, here’s a handy dandy list:

Week 1: I review gallons of Halloween sodas
Week 2: Some of my favorite scary movies
Week 3: I Survive Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights

All caught up? Good, let’s get started with today’s topic; Cracked Magazine’s Monster Party.

I was going through an old chest of mine in the garage a week or so ago and found my old stash of Mad Magazines.  Along with all my Mad mags, there was also a huge stash of Cracked magazines.  Talk about hitting the mother lode.  I loved reading Mad and Cracked magazine when I was a kid.  I would wait each month to buy the copy and read it endlessly until the new issues came out.  I even bought the Super Specials and Collector’s Editions which only reprinted material I already owned, but I didn’t care.  I loved the spoofs, parodies and humor of my Mad and Cracked magazines.  I saved every issue I bought of these magazines and stored them carefully in this chest when I was about 13 and it was left there until I opened it a few weeks ago.  I had found my own personal Arc of the Covenant.

Raiders of the Ark

Growing up in the ’80s I was right in the sweet spot to enjoy Mad Magazine during it’s prime. I loved Mad and for several years I subscribed to it. During these prime years, they had a few competitors, which I really didn’t like, except for one; Cracked Magazine. I started buying Cracked during the month or so between Mad’s semi-monthly publishing schedule. When I couldn’t get my Mad fix, I turned to Cracked, and they delivered.

Cracked 218Cracked 219Cracked 221

For the most part, Cracked was considered the “cheap knock off” to Mad magazine. However, as much as a rip-off it is said to have been, I always enjoyed reading it. Their main artist, John Severin, was fantastic and it seemed Cracked was always cooking up something interesting to separate it from Mad. They were big on gimmicks, and one thing they loved cooking up gimmicks for was Halloween.

Sometime in the ’80s, Cracked started taking photo stills of famous monster movies and adding their own funny dialog. These became increasingly popular which lead to more monster humor. Cracked would create funny comics, stories, movie parodies and pictures all based around famous monsters like Dracula, wolf man, mummy and Frankenstein’s monster. Eventually, Cracked would reprint their monster material several times a year in Cracked Special Editions called, appropriately, Monsters. These special editions would also contain some new material in between the larger reprints. It was looking at these special Monster mags that I would come to love the images of famous monsters from TV and movies. Below is a Cracked Special Edition from 1984. It’s one of the earliest ones I own.

Cracked Special Edition Monsters

Cracked even created some monsters of their own to supplement their material. Here’s a pic of the Uggly Family. A more macabre version of the Adams Family that ran as a comic strip in most Monster Party issues.

Cracked Uggly Family

Along with the Uggly Family, Cracked created their intrepid reporter, Nanny Dickering. She was used in parody interviews throughout the ’80s but was used in almost all Monster issues to interview famous figures in horror. Throughout her many years, her look changed. In the beginning, Nanny looked very much like Betty from Archie Comics. Here is one of those earlier interviews with Stephen King and Nanny looking like Betty (click the image for a bigger view).

Nanny Interviews Stephen Kink

As Nanny became more popular she took on a more decidedly “adult” appearance. She started to look more like Elvira than Betty. Here’s a later version of Nanny interviewing Freddy Krueger (click the image for a bigger view).

Nanny interviews Freddy

The reprints, and especially the newer material like Uggly Family, became extremely popular and led to more monster humor in the magazine as well as more special editions. Sometimes the monsters would even take over regular non-Halloween issues like the below August 1987 Cracked issue with Teen Wolf and Freddy Krueger.

Cracked 229

Eventually Cracked would name their monster humor the Cracked Monster Party and would feature entire magazines of the Monster Party material around October every year. Below are two special editions of the Cracked Monster Party from the late ’80s. Each contained mostly reprints. The one on the right actually included some color material.

Cracked Digest IICracked Collector's Edition Monster Party

Cracked decided to spin its popular Monster Party feature to its own magazine in the Summer of 1988. Cracked Monster Party #1 debuted in July 1988.

Cracked Monster Party 1

Monster Party lasted for many years and contained a lot of classic material. You could find Uggly Family comics, monster movie parodies, monster funnies and many, many classic covers. Here are a few.

Monster Party 7Monster Party 8Monster Party 21

Cracked would even make fun of Nanny Dickering’s appearance being so similar to Elvira in Monster Party issue #4.

Monster Party 4

The (monster) party would finally end around 2000, when the last issue of Monster Party would be released. Later, Cracked Magazine would be bought out in a huge corporate deal and went through a relaunch in 2006 as a men’s humor magazine (a la Maxim or FHM). That relaunch lasted about 3 issues before Cracked Magazine was put to rest for good.  Cracked now lives on only as a website. New humor material is written, but most of the articles are in the form of funny lists. They don’t publish any more funny cartoons or movie/TV spoofs.  There are a few gems on the site, but the magazine as I used to know it in the ’80s is gone.

Cracked magazine will be missed.

Well, that concludes Week #4 of AWESOME-tober-fest. Ostensibly, next week would be the fifth and final week/article of AWESOME-tober-fest. However, I may have two more articles for you by the end of the month. Who knows, I may be writing checks my body can’t cash, but that’s just how I roll, people. Stay tuned for more AWESOME!!!!!

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6 Responses to “AWESOME-tober-fest 2008: Remembering Cracked Monster Party”

  1. Your former freakin' neighbor Says:

    I, too, used to love both Mad and Crack’d. Last year, I was traveling with my kids and bought Jack a copy of Mad. He was laughing his butt off on the plane and I took a look at it. I didn’t really remember it being as raunchy and inapprepriate as this issue was. I had to confiscate it (Jenny made me).

    Thing was, it wasn’t that funny. Yet another of the things from my childhood that just don’t stand the test of time.

  2. While I always thought Cracked was inferior to MAD as a kid, I never missed the Monster Party, it was the greatest thing ever when you were eight.

    Years of childhood exposure to Nanny Dickering has given me an unbelievable attraction to the bee hive hairdo….

  3. [...] don’t know anything about her mother, Bebe Buell. Maybe they’re too young to remember Cracked’s Monster Party featuring Nanny Dickering, a pulchritudinous reporter modelled after Ms. Buell (who even appeared [...]

  4. [...] the giant ice cream cone (the hell?).  The two rectangle stickers in the upper right came from the Cracked Monster Party magazine.  The tennis ball stickers came from my parents.  They were avid tennis players when I was [...]

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