Friday, February 21, 2014

FM #2 Mask Mystery Solved!!!

A big thanks to the Toy Ranch for sharing this amazing story and photos of how one of the most perplexing modern monster mask mysteries was solved...

This mask, which adorned the cover of FM2, has puzzled mask collectors, monster fans, and Famous Monsters aficionados for years, but nothing about its origin has ever come to light until now.  This mask was not made of latex, but rather papier-mâché, which was a popular medium for masks into the 1960's.

The mask was made by....  (drumroll)   Violet Clark-Eddy (1903-1999)...

She was famous in her day as a mask artist. The Monroe County (Pennsylvania) Historical Association wrote,"Clark-Eddy moved to East Stroudsburg with her family in 1905, when she was two years old, and attended Stroudsburg High School. She enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where she studied sculpture for four years. She returned home and earned her B.S. from East Stroudsburg State Teachers College (now East Stroudsburg University) in 1934. Clark-Eddy’s chosen medium was papier-mâché. She began by making masks for use in local parades, and in 1934 she exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair. Her work has appeared in various television programs and movies, as well as Broadway, theater, and opera productions. Clark-Eddy’s masks have been exhibited at art galleries, colleges, and community associations across the United States. Founder of the Stroudsburg School of Art and the Three Arts Club of Stroudsburg (now the Pocono Arts Group), she was once quoted as saying, “My heart is in doing likenesses of all people in all walks of life.”

Clark-Eddy's masks were also featured in the Time Life Encyclopedia of Collectibles, and appeared on the cover of the Oct 1, 1934 issue of Time Magazine...

She was known as the "Woman of 1000 Faces" and she had ties to Don Post, Sr who began his career working in the papier-mâché medium. A sign advertising her work along with Don Post's was also part of her estate...

Often a papier-mâché mask is a one-off, however along with the mask, a plaster mold was found. Violet had copies of several of her masks, and amazingly this one "Werewolf" survived...

But what was this mask, and how did it end up on the cover of FM2?  Famous Monsters began in Philadelphia, before moving to New York in the 1960's. Jim Warren was asked what he remembered of the mask in 2005, and said he bought the mask at a corner store. The photo was taken in his apartment, and he didn't remember anything else about it.

The mask is titled and signed on the back. It's called "Strength for Everyman".

This is a puzzling name, but a play from the 15th century called "The Summoning of Everyman", and usually called just "Everyman" has a character called "Strength".  The play had several runs on Broadway from 1903 through 1918, and several film versions, released in 1961, 2002, and 2007.

Wikipedia says, "The Somonyng of Everyman (The Summoning of Everyman), usually referred to simply as Everyman, is a late 15th-century English morality play. Like John Bunyan's 1678 Christian novel Pilgrim's Progress, Everyman uses allegorical characters to examine the question of Christian salvation and what Man must do to attain it. The premise is that the good and evil deeds of one's life will be tallied by God after death, as in a ledger book. The play is the allegorical accounting of the life of Everyman, who represents all mankind. In the course of the action, Everyman tries to convince other characters to accompany him in the hope of improving his account. All the characters are also allegorical, each personifying an abstract idea such as Fellowship, (material) Goods, and Knowledge. The conflict between good and evil is dramatised by the interactions between characters. Everyman is being singled out because it is difficult for him to find characters to accompany him on his pilgrimage. Everyman eventually realizes through this pilgrimage that he is essentially alone, despite all the personified characters that were supposed necessities and friends to him. Everyman learns that when you are brought to death and placed before God all you are left with is your own good deeds."

But to Warren, it was a monster mask, and he bought it to use for the cover of his magazine. Kirk Hammett's book, "Too Much Horror Business" includes a photo (page 9) made from a negative from that session in Warren's apartment that shows some different shading than appears on the magazine cover. The suit is charcoal, and the shading on the mask is not bright blue as it appears on the mag cover. The brighter blue was probably done by the stripper (not that kind of stripper!) in the pre-printing process. Whether the mask Warren used was sold new or was bought secondhand (possibly the one used for the play production for which it was made) is uncertain. The mask appears in an old photo of Ms Clark-Eddy, surrounded by women holding some of the masks she made. Movie stars, ethnicities, animals, and a big devil.

And that's how a papier-mâché mask by the Woman of 1000 Faces, made for a theatrical production of a 15th century morality play, became an iconic image for monster kids and fans. The mystery of the FM2 Werewolf has been solved!

This mask was found by Vxx's son, he recognized it as a mask that looked like one his Dad had made. Vxx was then able to purchase it along with the original plaster mold. The mask now lives at the Toy Ranch.

Tentative plans are to include it in a retrospective mask history exhibit at MaskFest, the 1st week in September, 2014. ...


  1. Kudos to Bobby for piecing that all together!

  2. What an amazing story ...I must say intriguing and historical ..the mystery is solved indeed!

  3. This is amazing! A tip of the hat to Toy Ranch for following this story through to its beginnings and unearthing the historical details. Mask history research at its finest!

  4. A tip of 1000 hats -- one for each of the 1000 faces, of course -- to VXX & son for their amazing journey of discovery & for sharing it with us. To think that D was the crafter of his beautiful repro mask, which served to immortalize this character (Devilman! as he calls it) into the 21st century, & then went on to discover & acquire the insanely rare original, is absurdly poetic justice. You couldn't write stuff like that!

  5. This has to be one of the most fascinating mask story revelations ever ! Excellent.