About me

I've been writing stories for years. I think I'm a good writer and I'm willing to bet you'll feel the same way. So here they are. Enjoy them, comment on them, tell your friends about'em, reblog them, retweet them, reread them. I have four stories in my archive so far:
"One day on the Mountain", a story of Lycanthropy, a father, and a son.
"The Boy", a story of a very ambitious and sociopathic fifth grade boy.
"The Easy Girl, A story of infidelity and unpaid sexual debts. This story is very dark.
"Brick The Mighty", a story of an aging superhero.
Although this is primarily a blog of horror, I also write about things that are important to me. I have more stories tucked away; they just need editing. There's even a few novels. There will be more to come.
PS. Feel free to leave a comment. I love comments.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Mail-Order Frankenstein

Don't they look regal?

    Comic books.

    Not the ones out now. Not those glorious, epic, artsy creations by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. Nothing by Garth Ennis or Grant Morrison. I'm talking about the quick and dirty Hulks and Spider-mans that you got at the corner store. These comics would never be voted into the top-100 book list in Time Magazine, like Watchmen was. 

    I want to talk about ads in the back of those comic books. They were something else; they were the paper equivalent of a down-market, fly-by-night carnie circus. These days, comic book ads are bought by mainstream companies. It's a big business, and I'm glad comics are now a viable product. But globalization and conglomeration have drained some of the wonderful little backwaters of North American culture. Back when I was a kid, the ad-space in comics were bought by - This is my imagination here - some guy smoking his cigar in his warehouse of crazy things he wanted to sell you. 

How could a little boy resist?
    Hypno-coins to bedazzle your friends! X-ray specs to look through Stephanie Johnson's shirt! Some strange device that somehow 'threw' your voice! And SEA MONKEYS!

   According to the ad, if you ordered Sea monkeys you would receive in the mail (after a 6-8 week wait) a packet of dried… stuff. You would sprinkle the stuff in the water of your aquarium, and royal family of Sea Monkeys would appear. The King, Queen, and their children would lounge about your aquarium with their golden crowns lolling on their heads. 

   What got me was the monster catalog. For ONE DOLLAR (plus 35 cents for shipping and handling), I bought Frankenstein's Monster. The ad promised that it would terrify my friends, that its eyes would glow in the dark at night in my room. It was SEVEN FEET TALL! 

    I found that ad today. When I was a little boy, I perhaps didn't read everything alongside the exciting description. Honor House, the company that sold the mail-order monsters, clearly wasn't into emphasizing the mundane truth about what they sold out of kids' comics for a buck plus shipping. 

    I just sent my buck thirty-five in the mail and waited what seemed like an eternity for my monster to be delivered, bolts and all, to my door. Some enemies of mine had a fright coming, and I was gonna give it to them.

   The day came when a very small package from Lynbrook, New York, came to my door. Was that all? I asked myself. Surely there was some sort of mistake. Perhaps this was the monster's leash? Its food-bowl? Its remote-control panel?

   I opened the package, and there was this folded piece of plastic the size and feel of a large, heavy-duty garbage bag. 

   I unfolded it, and found that it was a seven-foot polyethylene poster of Frankenstein's Monster. He indeed was stretching out his hand menacingly. And his glowing eyes? Along with the poster came two stickers: tiny, fluorescent orange dots which I was to affix to Frank's eyes. With the help of my dad, I glumly taped it to the bedroom wall. The folds never went away. When I turned out my light later that night, the two bright orange dots sat in the dark and did nothing. 

   The friends who were supposed to be frightened were not impressed at all. They poo-pooed it and demanded I get out my home chemistry set. 

    I was horribly disappointed; I'll make that clear. But I do look fondly back at that time. Sure, you couldn't get everything you wanted at any time. But today, I don't think there's a kid alive on this continent who would ever believe he or she would be getting a monster delivered by mail. You can read reviews about everything, see the trailers on the internet, see the individual website of each and every product you're going to buy. There little mystery anymore in being a child. It's all about access, about knowing everything because it's all there.

    The newest wave in technology will be 3-D printers. They're printers that print objects, not documents. You want something? Press a button and a machine in the corner of your office will make it. Watch for them. They're coming. We'll be able to print out our kids' Christmas gifts the night of December 24th. You won't have to describe something for your son or daughter - you can just ask the internet to produce of picture or video of it, or just have it made at the press of a button. 

     But when I was little, I read an ad in a comic book and sent away for Frankenstein's monster. I believed it. It wasn't true, but I believed it. A while ago, there was mystery and now we no longer have it. 


  1. (The folds never went away) I read that and felt your pain! I can just imagine your excitement during all those weeks of waiting and your disappointment when ‘Frank’ arrived. I love reading your posts.

  2. Wow, thanks Barbara! This was a story I've told to my kids many times. Today I found the ad on the net and showed them. I guess telling them wasn't good enough, which was kind of my whole point :( I fell victim to my criticism!

  3. I LOVED sea monkies. Anytime I got money for chores, birthdays or Christmas, I bought those damn things.
    I feel your pain on the monster. I waited forever for those stupid monkies to be be like the ones on the package :-(

  4. I remember this particular ad in the comics and oh how I
    wanted it but it was not meant to be and as it turned out...it was a good thing. Besides (and I hope you can agree....the frankenstein in my head was bigger and better than some company could send me.

    1. It wasn't the size, but... well, I was expecting more than a glorified poster. But it was only $1.35...

  5. We were just discussing this very topic when the whole family was over for Thanksgiving. My mom let me spend my hard-earned chore and kool-aid stand money to buy SeaMonkeys. At the age of ten, I learned the hard lesson of 'caveat emptor' and 'brine shrimp can't wear crowns'. Thank you for your description of the Frankenstein you received -- you saved me a buck thirty five -- because he was my next purchase! :-) If there is any good news from all of this, my older brother did send away for the 'bunch of fabric sew-on patches for 99¢' and they actually were pretty awesome. We spent a long time sewing them on his denim jacket, but when we were done he looked like one cool dude. Thanks again for the time-travel! :-)