Sunday, June 28, 2009

Magazine Memories: Fangoria in the Provinces

When I was a youngling (to cite Yoda) growing up in the metropolis of Manitowoc, Wisconsin (population 35,000), I was intrigued in my very early teen years by a freaky little magazine I'd see on the newsstands of the local Copps grocery/department store (you hadda be there) called Fangoria. I had also seen it on the stands at my favorite bookstore/newsstand/Hallmark-cards store downtown (again, only 35,000 peeps) where I pretty much spent all of the money I made every two weeks delivering the Herald-Times-Reporter. (I was very good at newspaper delivery, BTW, and may have peaked there, professionally.)

Anywho, as a geeky Starlog-reading, science fiction aficionado, I knew about Fango, its sister publication, but I was kinda scared to buy a copy. It had photos on its cover of people covered with (fake) blood and wielding chainsaws. You know, nice boys didn't buy such magazines. And there at the Copps magazine rack was Fangoria number 8 with a decomposed corpse's skull on the cover. I wanted to buy that magazine, because I knew it must contain stuff I shouldn't know about. But I didn't (mostly limited by my small weekly allowance, which -- once you have bought your requisite allotment of weekly candy -- really didn't stretch too far in those days of trickle-down economics and the Reagan recession).

I did start reading Fango the next year, with #15, which featured a slightly safer Halloween 2 cover. (Which I bought at the Hallmark store, making sure it was carefully covered in the shopping bag and feeling like someone who'd just bought Playgirl or Inches.) But I still mentally back-date my Fango allegiance to that gross Zombie cover of #8, and, to be perfectly frank, I have silently graded every single cover of Fango since then against that cover. Probably the best horror film magazine cover ever, though the Motel Hell cover the very next issue comes close, and I still hadn't worked up enough courage to buy it.

These thoughts all came back to me as a result of reading "Fangoria: The Scarlet Years" on the Horrorphile blog. If you share any of that 1980s' experience with trend-setting horror magazines, I heartily recommend that blog posting. It's a great reminder of the power that a thin little magazine that is head-over-heels devoted to covering a subject well can have on its audience, especially if its audience is made up of young people looking for something that shows them something just a bit out of the ordinary.
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