FANGORIA: The History and Progression of a Horror Magazine

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When you think horror magazine, what is the first name that pops into your mind?  I know when I think horror magazine, I think FANGORIA.  I have recently been granted the opportunity to interview FANGORIA’s editor-in-chief Chris Alexander about the history and progression of today’s most popular source of horror news.

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FANGORIA has been an original magazine and “first in fright” since 1979, could you give us a little back history on how FANGORIA came to be?

“Sure. It was originally positioned as Starlog’s bid to ride the incoming Fantasy film tide for the impending release of the feature film adaptation of CONAN THE BARBARIAN and was called FANTASTICA. That wave never came as CONAN was delayed until 1982 and because of promised legal tangles with another magazine, the name was changed to FANGORIA.”

Who was the first published interview in FANGORIA with?

“I cannot say which one was written or laid out first, but I will say that our most important feature came in the form of a Tom Savini feature about the make-up effects in Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD. The first few issues of FANGORIA were received poorly but that feature was the one that had the kids talking. Because of this, EIC Bob Martin rolled with the gory horror angle and BANG suddenly FANGORIA took off and became the bible for splatter, special effects, horror and weird cinema.”

With the horror industry quickly evolving,  is it harder to to keep up with all that is going on in the genre?

“First of all, let’s be clear. There is no horror industry. There is a film industry, a magazine industry etc. Horror is hard to lock down…what is it? How do we define it? It’s not an industry, it’s a type of entertainment and because of this there are many, many international strains. The internet has opened up doors for filmmakers to internationally market their work. It’s a global focus and you are right…it aint easy to chart it all and some of the product is dire. So instead…you focus on what you like and what you think might have appeal to your readers. You try to dig up new material and also find fresh perspectives on classic films. We just have fun with it, really.”

When it comes to your readers, which is easier to please, the long-time or the new readers or do you think it’s about the same?

“It’s all about balance and finding a language that works for all audiences. Again, not easy! But there is a kind of clumsy science to it. I try to simply make the horror magazine that the 12 year old me would love as well as the 38 year old horror fan. We go with our instincts here.”

I have no doubt that FANGORIA will still be the most synonymous name in horror news for a long time to come.  Where do you see it going from here?

“Horror fans are sensual and love things they can touch and collect. The internet is tops for breaking news but the magazine will always be here for people to hold and have. It has a personality and is alive. We just brought back GOREZONE, our nasty little sister magazine.The brand FANGORIA will find its way onto films and digital media. It’s a name that is steeped in history and will always be with us. I’m not sure how long I’ll be Captain of the ship, but I intend to keep it far away from the rocks…”

Some personal questions for Chris

How did you get your start with FANGORIA?

“I was a columnist for the Canadian horror magazine Rue Morgue for many years and that allowed me to express myself, win a few fans and network. That networking lead me to freelancing for various film media and eventually it lead to freelancing for FANGORIA. Then in 2009, I got the call….I was asked if I wanted to explore taking the magazine in a new direction. It was a gift. One I still treasure.”

What is your favorite issue so far?

“That I have done? I love them all to a point. It’s more about which features I like better. I love my Nicolas Cage interview (in #310 and #311) because there was a whole adventure behind it. It reflects an amazing chapter of my life. As far as best issues, I think they all are wildly diverse enough to stand on their own. But lately I’m grooving the next issue, #325….there’s a tribute to my hero, Jess Franco and I’m very proud of that one. I try to buck trends more often than not and I love that there are things in FANGORIA that are ONLY in FANGORIA….no where else.”

Who has been your favorite interview?

“Again, Cage. Also loved Paul Koslo. Damien Echols. Barbara Steele. Gene Simmons. Roger Corman. The late Chas. Balun. My god….literally thousand of subjects, hundreds of heros….so much material and so many great conversations.”

With the horror genre becoming so popular, what advice can you give to all of the new writers out there?

“Find your voice and know your history. Write like music. Don’t be boring but don’t overstylize. And be true to your tastes. Use your words to share your joy about your subject. If you’re positive and excited your readers will be too….and success will follow.”

A huge thank you to editor-in-chief  Chris Alexander for such a great opportunity!

Don’t for get to pick up the latest issue of FANGORIA!

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All photos used in this article are from FANGORIA.com

 

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