For horror fans growing up any time between the ‘80s and the mid-2010s, Fangoria magazine was essential. Searching Twitter for references to “My first Fangoria” proves the specificity and affection with which lifers remember their gateway issue, their first exposure to a darker, more exciting world that stoked their imaginations and gave them something to look forward to at the multiplex or the video store:
Then, a few years back, Fangoria started publishing with less and less regularity, until it looked like it might be gone forever. Then, just over a year later came the surprising news that not only was Fangoria under new management, but that it would be rebooting as a print-only publication, a move that that would have been risky a decade ago. Who would be so foolhardy, so reckless, so single-mindedly devoted to their own myopic obsessions that they would completely disregard conventional wisdom and embark upon the project of (re-)launching a print magazine in 2018?
Meet Phil Nobile, Jr., Fangoria’s new editor-in-chief and creative director. Nobile is a former editor-at-large of Birth.Movies.Death—where he wrote the 007-centric column Bond Talk After Dark—and writer-producer of the 2010 documentary Halloween: The Inside Story. Nobile has said that his goal for Fangoria is to try to re-capture some of the magic of receiving a glossy magazine in the mail and poring over it until it fell apart, what he calls the “special ritual” of fandom. As he said in a press release announcing Fangoria’s sale to Texas-based production company Cinestate: “Fangoria is something you hold in your hands, something you spend a bit of time with in the real world. That’s what it was for decades, and that’s what we’re going to make it again.” The A.V. Club contacted Nobile in advance of Fangoria’s re-launch, and he gave us a few hints on what to expect from the magazine now that it’s been brought back from the dead.
The A.V. Club: Print-only is a risky move in the current publishing market, as I’m sure you’ve been told a million times. Are you nervous about that?
Phil Nobile, Jr.: We’ve heard the war stories from the folks in the trenches during the previous iteration of Fangoria, and I think our approach—in terms of marketing a product—won’t really map to their experience. The last team running Fangoria busted their asses to get a quality magazine on the newsstands ten times a year, and they were competing with an online news cycle to boot.
Ours will be a quarterly, which gives us room to breathe, and time to curate and produce something people will go out of their way to have. Writing at Birth.Movies.Death I saw, via its print-edition magazine, that there really was a market for folks who still wanted to hold a magazine in their hands, to not depend on a device for this one bit of content. You just have to make it something they can’t get online, so that’s been our primary creative challenge here. So far, so good.
AVC: What will the new Fangoria’s relationship be to the old Fangoria, both in terms of tone and the scope of your content?
PNJ: When you say “the old Fangoria,” you could be talking about three or four different eras. My “old Fangoria” was the ‘80s, and back then the magazine had an irreverent, almost illicit quality to it. To me, that’s an important legacy to acknowledge. The ‘90s version of the magazine felt glossier, more studio friendly, and that period too must be acknowledged. The magazine evolved again in the ‘00s and the ‘10s, and that era gave rise to some great writers and tastemakers who are out writing for other great publications today. (Tony Timpone and Mike Gingold, the main creative forces behind the magazine in the ‘90s and 2000s, both have recurring columns in the new Fangoria.)
That’s four decades of readers who will all be looking for “their” Fangoria in the new magazine. So that’s a challenge as well, and something that’s important to us. My mission statement has been to reproduce in today’s reader the feeling they had hunting down and reading the magazine when they were younger. For me, as a kid, Fangoria was coveted, a little hard to come by, full of insight and information about horror filmmaking, and it didn’t talk down to me. That’s the tone I want to recapture.
As for scope of content, in the ‘80s Fangoria was the only magazine of its kind. Of course the landscape is entirely different now, and there’s so much Fangoria DNA in the horror culture—if we simply reproduced the Fangoria of 1990 or 2000 or 2010 we’d be behind the curve. So we need to wave in some new voices, people you wouldn’t have expected to see in Fangoria. As we shift to a quarterly, we need to be more choosy about articles: News and reviews are out the window with a quarterly, so what do we focus on? Long-form articles, deep history, first-person accounts of horror filmmaking. A fiction section. Untold, exclusive stories from the making of the horror classics.
The other thing that’s been interesting to see is [how] former contributors are now shaping the genre. [For example,] Ryan Turek is at Blumhouse; Sam Zimmerman is at Shudder; Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Axelle Carolyn are off making the new Sabrina series. And these folks have all been amazingly supportive of the return. I think the industry is behind Fangoria in a way it wasn’t 35 years ago. We’ve somehow become an institution! I’d like to lean into that aspect a bit. Still gory, still fun, still irreverent, but maybe just a little respectable.
AVC: What are your plans for the Fangoria archives? How about the related brands, Gorezone and Starlog?
PNJ: With our catalog of back issues, we’re having discussions about the best way to make them available to readers. My own Fangoria collection dates back about 35 years and is getting pretty banged up, so I have an ulterior motive toward releasing handsome archive editions. If you mean the online articles, we’re in the process of restoring them with help from Mike Gingold, and they’ll be available on a special site soon. Gorezone and Starlog are very much on our minds, and when we firm up those plans we’ll be excited to announce them. But lots of folks are asking, so we’re on it.
The new, just a little bit respectable Fangoria is now open for business, and is taking subscriptions on its website as of today, May 1. The first issue is scheduled for October. Fangoria’s new owners are also offering a complimentary one-year subscription for people who ordered print subscriptions under the magazine’s old ownership and failed to receive their issues; you can read the details on that here.