'Scary Monsters Magazine' makes new home in Crawford County

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
Vicki and Don Smeraldi are the owners of Scary Monster Magazine. This magazine celebrates the history of movie monsters throughout the decades.

A move described as "do or die" for the owners of a monster movie magazine brought Vicki and Don Smeraldi to Crawford County from California. 

Based out of Kibler, the award-winning "Scary Monsters Magazine," a classic horror fan publication, with more than 6,000 subscribers features stories, history, art, and interviews spanning the decades of monsters from the silver screen. 

During the pandemic, prices were rising for paper as mills were closing down, and the high cost of living in California pushed the Smeraldi's to Arkansas.

"In order to keep the magazine going, we chose small-business-friendly Arkansas," Vicki Smeraldi said. "A major attraction is Arkansas' central location, which makes shipping out magazines and collectibles through the postal service so much more economical."

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 "Scary Monsters" has been in publication since 1991 and will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in October.

"We are strictly a classic horror and sci-fi magazine," Vicki Smeraldi said. "No slice and dice, I like to say we specialize in wholesome monsters."

"Scary Monsters" recently won, for the fourth year in a row, a Rondo Award for Best Classic Magazine. 

The cover of an upcoming edition of Scary Monsters focused on hauntings in film.

The Rondo Awards, named after Rondo Hatton – an obscure B-movie villain of the 1940s – honor the best in classic horror research, creativity, and film preservation.

Their main audience is who Vicki Smeraldi refers to as "monster kids," those who grew up in the era of the 50s and 60s with movies like "Frankenstein," "Dracula," and B-movie monsters.

"I could make a whole issue to our letters we get from readers," Vicki Smeraldi said.

The magazine's fan base is mostly people in their 60s and upwards. One piece of artwork from a recent issue was submitted by a 92-year-old reader.

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The magazine has more than 50 different contributors for columns, short stories, and interviews. 

"We have a lot of UK writers, Canadian writers, and Australian writers. It's really a who's who among experts in classic horror and sci-fi movies," Smeraldi said.

Issues follow a specific theme like their upcoming 122nd issue, "Never Say Die," which explores the mad scientists of cinema who aimed to cheat death by discovering their own versions of the fountain of youth.

Containing more than 100 pages of content and original art, the pages themselves are made in a classic pulp style reminiscent of early dime novels and fiction magazines.

"I like to say we specialize in time travel every time you turn the page," Vicki said. "It's like being transported back to the first time you saw the movie."

Throughout the years, the Smeraldis have had the chance the meet many people important to the monster movie world. Recently, they had an interview with Lynn Lugosi Sparks, the granddaughter of Bela Lugosi who was the original Dracula in the 1930s.

Other notable people are Rico Browning, the original swimmer who was in the Creature from the Black Lagoon costume, Bela Lugosi Jr., Sara Karloff, and the family of Lon Chaney who portrayed the Phantom of the Opera. 

"There's just so many people that's been involved with the magazine," Vicki said.

"Scary Monsters Magazine" is printed five times a year and can be ordered online at mymoviemonsters.com. The books can also be found at all Books-a-Million and Barnes & Noble locations. Each issue is $10 for a physical copy or $5 for the digital version.