10/21/21

GODZILLA by Ian Thorne (Crestwood House Monsters Series, 1977) PART ONE

 

It's hard to believe, but in the years this blog has been around, we haven't yet covered this important (even crucial) item on the list of vintage American Godzilla collectibles.  The timing is providential though, because I just added the "grail" version of this book to my own collection, which we will see better in Part Two, where we will look at variants!

The Crestwood House Monster Series began as a set of six books that were available to elementary schools in 1977.  The first books came in a boxed "Monster Reading Center" that included softcover copies of the titles, a teacher's guide, audio cassettes, and bookmarks for the class.




[ABOVE:  from the Richard Olson Collection (note original shipping box at left!)unattributed photo found on Google quite a while back.]
[first version of bookmark with original 6 titles.]
Here is an uber-rare example of one of the "refill packs" for the classroom reading center!

Were you surprised to read the words audio cassettes in the last paragraph? Lots of fans don't even know they exist, and apparently they were only made for the first six books.  (If you would like to hear one, don't miss the Bibliography section of links, below!)

[collection of Sean Linkenback]

Promotional posters were also offered for teachers to put in their classrooms.  Two of them include Godzilla (via his book cover):  the very early Dracula poster seen below, and the Mummy poster, issued when the series included 10 books.

[LEFT: unattributed image; RIGHT: Sicko-Psychotic blog (link in Bibliography).]

If your classroom didn't have the paperback editions, it was much more likely that your school library contained the hardcover one, which you could check out and take home! And many of us did, creating lots of fond memories that have resulted in steadily rising prices for all of the Monster Series books!


On the left is the hardcover most people are familiar with, but there was also a special "colorful" library edition that was made, which is extremely rare.  As I mentioned, I just obtained one, which we will see much more of next time.

And now to the book itself! As it turns out, "Ian Thorne" was a pen name for prolific author Julian May (1931-2017).  Unfortunately, the book is as famous for her factual mistakes as it is for its dearness to many schoolkids! (See links below for a thorough list of these errors).  

But of course, it was 1977, a time when there was precious little accurate Godzilla-related information to be had, and the book served as an important introduction to many young fans.  It also included lots of great photos, including some pretty rare ones, and even some of Toho's infamous paste-ups (Some of them were even provided by Famous Monsters' Forrest Ackerman!).


One particular page that was mind-blowing to young me was the diagram above, showing how kaiju films were made!

But enough talk about the book, you really should read it for yourself:


Meet back here next time, where we will look at variations, because they just wouldn't fit in this post.  Oh, and have a book report ready to present to the entire class!

Bibliography & Links of Interest:
Branded in the 80s (info on Monster Series and a look at the FRANKENSTEIN book).
Toho Kingdom (a great review of the GODZILLA book that lists out the many errors).
Classic Movie Monsters (one of the promo posters we didn't feature here).
Sicko-Psychotic (excellent article on Crestwood House with tons of info & photos).
Bits, Bytes, Oddities and Audio (this site has the DRACULA cassette for download and it's amazing!)

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