As it turns out, it was. To later day Fango fans, Tony Timpone has been the face of Fango for their entire lives. While Martin was brash, creative, and innovative, Timpone was a level-headed but passionate steward of the biggest brand in horror journalism. While Fango would not have existed as we know it without Martin's eccentric touch (with credit for its distinctive edge going also to Martin's co-editor for much of his run, Dave Everitt), neither would it have lasted for over thirty years now without Timpone's dedicated guidance. Martin had the good fortune to be Fango's editor during one of the biggest boom periods in horror history. Timpone, on the other hand, was dealt a much tougher hand. As Timpone took the reins of Fango, horror was under assault by the MPAA with new releases regularly being censored of all but the most timid acts of violence. On top of that (or perhaps because of it), the slasher boom had passed and horror's commercial fortunes began to dry up. Horror, which always had a shaky reputation even in good times, was now really unwelcome. But Fango doggedly rode out these lean years, with Timpone and managing editor Michael Gingold tirelessly waving the flag on behalf of horror fans.
While horror had rallied as a commercial force as the new millennium dawned and the genre was flush with hits again, another force was on hand to frustrate Fango's future - the rise of the internet culture. Whereas for years horror fans who wanted to stay informed needed to turn to Fango and other periodicals, now information and opinions were instantly accessible. But under Timpone's direction, Fango has managed to persevere through this challenge as well.
Whether the magazine could've met these recent challenges better than it has is a matter of debate but the fact is, Tony Timpone has steered FANGORIA through thick and thin. But now his stewardship of the magazine is ending. And whereas in 1986, the changing of the guard was something that was sprung on surprised fans in the pages in the magazine itself, in our internet age information travels much differently. While we are not privvy to all the details behind the upcoming change, what is known is that the April issue of FANGORIA will be Timpone's last as editor with writer Chris Alexander taking the helm afterwards.
I have mixed feelings about this news - but mostly very positive feelings. By 'mixed' I mean only that it's strange to know that the man who has been the keeper of Fango's flame for so many years is finally stepping aside. Some of my greatest memories as a fan were attending Fango's annual Weekend of Horrors with Tony always there in his familiar suit and tie (will we ever see another editor for a horror mag stick with such a conservative image - probably not, but I loved that Tony always stood out among the sea of pierced, tattooed, and black T-shirted fans) orchestrating the event as master of ceremonies. And when horror was under fire from conservative groups, Tony was a regular fixture on talk shows, calmly defending the genre's right to be provocative, edgy, and offensive. Regardless of whatever ups and downs have occurred during Timpone's tenure, editing Fango must've been very good for him because twenty four years later, he somehow looks exactly the same. That's either the sign of someone who's in love with their work and their life, or it's a case of uncannily blessed genetics, or both. Either way, I think it's safe to say that FANGORIA and Tony Timpone have been very good to each other.
But while I'm sad to see Timpone go, I'm extremely excited to see what Chris Alexander will do as Fango's first new editor in almost a quarter century. This will truly be a new era for the magazine and that's a wild thought to consider. I love Chris' writing - it's passionate, free-wheeling and not cynical in the least and it's the main reason I bought Rue Morgue when he was working as a writer there - and I always felt that his talents hadn't been properly put to use at Fango. What 'his' Fango will be like is something that only time will reveal but I have a feeling that Chris will be more of the Uncle Bob mold than of Tony Timpone. Besides being a fan of his writing, what interests me most about Chris taking charge of Fango is that for the first time, the magazine will be helmed by someone who grew up as a fan of the magazine, who's sensibilities were shaped during its golden era. As such, I hope his tenure as editor will be a combination of renewed risk-taking along with a respect for tradition. His early thoughts on his new position - as expressed to Shock Till You Drop - have me encouraged. Name-checking Chas. Balun is never a bad thing.
As Fango approaches its historic 300th issue (!), I hope its new leadership will be giving fans good reason to celebrate. Oh, and one more thing - BRING BACK THE FILM STRIP!!!