Sunday, January 25, 2009

The New Face Of Fango?

For 30 years, FANGORIA's covers have had a distinctive style with their signature title font, the film strip along the left hand side, and the pun-ish cover blurbs and captions (which I always took as a warm tribute to Forry Ackerman's Famous Monsters).

There may have been tweaks to that look along the way (the title font was modified early on and in recent years the film strip became represented by just a single line of sprocket holes) but up to the latest issue I just purchased with Jason Voorhees standing proud, Fango has stayed recognizable as the magazine I grew up with.

But with issue #281, that era is over. As shocking as it is to see such a radical change, I think it's a good move. It's long been easy to take Fango for granted - especially in the wake of newer competitors like Rue Morgue - so hopefully a new look will bring renewed attention to the world's #1 horror magazine. Of course, it's almost impossible for any horror mag to jump off the newsstands at readers like Fango once did. The times are too different and where Fango was once shocking to behold, its pioneering use of startling imagery has jaded us.

Back in 1980, seeing the Fulci Zombie cover for Fango #8 was a revelation - you knew the horror genre had turned a corner. This wasn't Famous Monsters territory anymore, it was a new magazine with a new sensibility for a new generation (credit goes to original Fango editor Bob Martin for making the mag decidedly different and saving it from going the way of Fantastic Films and other long lost genre mags of the time).

The days when fans had to rely on print publications to bring them into contact with other fans and to keep them informed on every horrific happening may be long gone (it's hard to remember back when Fango's Terror Teletype would be the first place you'd read about projects in development) but for me, FANGORIA will always be essential reading. I don't know if the inside layout will be altered along with this new cover look or if the editorial direction of Fango will see any change but I'm glad to see, as it enters its thirtieth year, that the magazine isn't just going through the motions.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. I'm glad to see Fango is trying to reinvent itself; it's been too static for too long--especially with competitors like Rue, HorrorHound, etc., who seem to have more vigor and freshness. I do hope the interior of Fango goes through some changes, too, and not just the layouts.

Maybe I'll start reading it again.

Jeff Allard said...

Yeah, personally I think Fango gets a bum rap. While Rue Morgue and Horror Hound put most of their focus on films of the past - the kind of established favorites that everyone loves - Fango has the somewhat thankless task of hyping new movies that may or may not be well-recieved. And on that count, it does an admirable job.

That said, a little reinvention wouldn't hurt.

R M said...

Jeff, thanks for the nice words about my role in finding Fango's distinctive worldview. Its nice to be remembered.
Of course, Fango has always been shaped by the successes and failures of past horror mags, especially the several to which I was addicted as a teen; when we used puns, of course we were thinking of Forry, and the filmstrip device was an intentional homage to the filmstrip cover motif Bhob Stewart and Cal Beck used for Castle of Frankenstein. Our news section often emulated the old Monster Times.
After all these years, I feel a little sentimental pang about Fangoria looking a bit less like my baby.

But it's been Tony Timpone's book for almost 25 years now, and I believe the new look could bring some fresh 21st Century energy to its pages.

ps: my facebook name is UncleBob Martin, if anyone wants to say hi.

Jeff Allard said...

Thanks for the insight into Fango's classic cover design, Uncle Bob! It must be tough to see Fango get so far away from the look you established but like you say, maybe the new look will draw more attention to its pages.