Saturday, November 5, 2016

IS THE PRINT MONSTER MAGAZINE DEAD?


It wasn't that long ago that just about every month I would bring home an armload of monster 'zines from my local brick 'n mortar B&N. Now I have a difficult time justifying even a couple anymore. Why?

The cover price is the major culprit here. In the last few years, the cost of these, and any other magazine for that matter, has jumped to wallet-emptying proportions. It's one thing deliberating over whether or not to shell out a hard-earned 10 bucks for, say, the latest RUE MORGUE, and altogether another to lay down $12.95 for the pint-sized VIDEO WATCHDOG.

My choices in the matter have considerably lessened of late, as a number of monster magazines have either suspended publishing or disappeared off the shelf entirely.

The biggest hit has been the announcement of the discontinued print publishing of the venerable FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND (see below). Now, this has happened before, but it is unlikely any time soon that current own Phil Kim will sell off the rights because there still remains the faint revenue-inducing patina of name recognition. So, #288 looks like the last of the hold-in-your-hand issues we may ever experience since the bygone days of the 1960s Monster Craze. Instead, we will be getting the occasional "monster art" issue which sounds like it will be akin to the DARK ARTS specials that FM published a few years ago. While it may be an attractive looking 'zine, it will have absolutely nothing to do with what we once knew of Forry's Fabulous Folly.


FAMOUS MONSTERS' "Gallery" art 'zine.

Next on the hit list is VIDEO WATCHDOG. Critically hailed as the premier 'zine of horror film reviews and which boasted one of the most impressive line-up of writers of any genre magazine, VW as a print magazine is history (see below).

Then, earlier this year there was the firing of long-time editor of FANGORIA, Michael Gingold (see below). Since then, Fango has floundered, managing only an issue or two during the "restructuring period". I have a feeling that's going to be it and we'll see the magazine that has been with us since 1978 go digital as well. In any case, the magazine will look totally different, as art director Bill Mohalley was fired along with Gingold.

VIDEO WATCHDOG'S first issue.

SCARY MONSTERS lasted for 100 issues before Dennis Druktenis sold his 'zine to an online monster merchandiser. Two issues have been published -- on time, I might add -- at a reasonable price for the usually massive page count. Time will tell on the longevity of this 'zine.

Other 'zines have seen print in fits and starts for months, the most noticeable being DIABOLIQUE. Another quality publication, it's fate is in the meantime being kept behind castle walls. Also irregularly published is Ray Ferry's FREAKY MONSTERS, the closest thing we have to a vintage-looking FAMOUS MONSTERS we have left (maybe with the inclusion of MONSTER BASH).

All put together, the state of the print monster magazine is not looking good. Among the vanquished, a few titles seem still vibrant (HORRORHOUND, still only $6.99, and the U.K's CLASSIC MONSTERS OF THE MOVIES which is looking more like the heir apparent to MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT with every issue). But who knows? Like all the fallen, we could get an announcement out of the blue, heralding yet another death knell.

I'm am remaining guardedly optimistic about the monster print 'zine, but with costs going up and distributors folding up their tents at a record pace, the future is in the hands of us, the readers.

So, support your favorite monster mag -- or maybe two -- and let the people who put their life's blood into them know that us monster fans still care.

FAMOUS MONSTERS becoming a monster art magazine
David Weiner, executive editor of Famous Monsters, on Facebook:

FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND Editor, David Weiner.
All good things must come to an end... I am parting ways with Famous Monsters once I deliver my last issue, FM #288, which comes out in October. I am now in search of new job opportunities and adventures.

After seven memorable magazine entries under my stewardship as its executive editor, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine -- in its current format -- is ending.

Moving forward, the publisher has a new concept: FM will continue on quarterly with a new format as an art-driven publication, showcasing the art of 8-12 artists and their work, with each artist getting an interview page.

Everything about FM has been a labor of love for me, from creating and managing the bi-monthly magazine to being the face of FM at Comic-Con, our film festival, events requiring hosting and panel moderation, for our podcast, our successful Kickstarter, and so much more.

But with a major format change turning the magazine into something entirely different than the Hollywood genre pop-culture/interview-driven content I've enjoyed creating -- inspired by the long-standing format that FM founder Forrest J Ackerman pioneered, which I've loved ever since I was a kid -- it was time to renegotiate or exit amicably.

Renegotiation turned out not to be an option, so I am exiting amicably.

As a company and a brand, Famous Monsters continues to thrive in other fields, from comics, art publication, live events, to merchandising and other forms of mass media.

It's fitting that my last issue of FM will be our tribute to Forry Ackerman on the occasion of his centennial birthday.

I am interested to see how fans of the magazine respond to the new art-driven format of FM. It’s been an absolute privilege to carry the torch for this stretch of FM. I have been proud to call myself editor of one of the greatest magazines ever published.

So, down to brass tacks: If anyone knows of a job opportunity that you think might be a good fit for me in entertainment (creative content-driven, ideally with an entertainment writing/journalism/interview foundation) that is L.A.-based, I am open to suggestions/recommendations.

-- David Weiner

Forry Ackerman at his desk.

Thoughts on the passing of "Famous Monsters" magazine
Former FM editor Ed Blair on Facebook:
 
Today, while out having a quiet lunch, my phone practically came to life as I was inundated with messages asking me about the shuttering of FM as a magazine. I hadn't heard the news, but I was directed to current Editor David Weiner's FB post detailing that FM as we know it would cease to exist and thus become a quarterly art book akin to the "Dark Arts" books we made 4-5 years ago. My first emotion was sadness, as I'm sure it was for so many others. It felt like a chapter in my life had come to end, one I didn't even know was still open. There's a palpable sense of loss, having steered the ship for 6 years and over 30 issues. After watching what has unfolded at Fangoria, as a monster fan, it's tough to see this.

Of all the things I was involved with during my tenure, taking the reins of that beloved magazine was my favorite and most fulfilling. I, along with so many others, poured everything into that magazine, as I know David did. I'm not sure if it's poetic or just plain cruel that the magazine is ending on what would have been founding editor Forrest J Ackerman's 100th birthday. Maybe it's a mixture of the two.

I have seen that the FM official statement talks about bad economies and new media and that FM will still be relevant, just in its different forms. I had always argued that the magazine was the beating heart of FM, that everything had to flow from its pages outward. That without the magazine everything else was just noise. I still believe that, but it doesn't mean I'm right. For the sake of history and for the love of monsters and all that it stands for, I hope I'm wrong, and that FM is able to right the ship and find its course in this brave new world.

I left FM over a year ago so I really don't have any details to add. The discussions about turning the magazine into an art book date back several years, a move I strenuously argued against, but I wasn't surprised at that path that had been chosen. I was just surprised by the timing of it all. David had really taken the magazine to an incredible place, landing exclusives and features that were as good as big boys like EMPIRE and EW. The covers, like Harryhausen's Medusa or ALIENS were as good as they've ever been. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

There have been a lot of questions and prognostications since David posted the news. I even read speculation that I would return to the magazine. While I appreciate the sentiment, my FM days are well and truly behind me. It was a wild six-year ride, but the feelings of finality on that subject are mutual. I will always have love for FM Magazine. What it stood for, what Forry Ackerman brought to the world and the goodwill he created. The generations of creators that it influenced and who have, in turn, shone their lights so brightly on the world. Whatever happens to FM moving forward, whether the new format is a success or not, it will always live on. Not only in the hearts and minds of those who embrace it, but in the creative works of all the Monster Kids who took their love of the strange and turned it into beautiful art for all of us to enjoy. It's bigger than any one of us and has cemented its legacy. And in so being, it becomes our responsibility to champion the classics, to tell fangtastic new stories, to find the new generations while keeping the classics forever in front of new audiences. As long as we love. . .

  . . . Famous Monsters shall not die.


VIDEO WATCHDOG'S Tim and Donna Lucas.
Video Watchdog ends print run publication
From the VIDEO WATCHDOG website:

More bad news for genre magazines, and film scholarship, today as Tim and Donna Lucas announce that VIDEO WATCHDOG will end puiblication as a print magazine after 27 years.

"After trying many creative ways to generate sales to compensate for newsstand losses and lack of advertising support, rising shipping and postage costs, and a depressed economy, it is simply no longer possible to keep Video Watchdog moving forward,'' the couple says at the Video Watchblog website.

With regret, we must announce that after 27 wonderful years we are no longer able to publish new print editions of Video Watchdog.

Some of you have been with us since the early days of "desktop publishing," when bookstores carried a wide variety of offbeat publications catering to all kinds of niche readerships. It was an exciting time, one in which Video Watchdog thrived.

From the time of our first pre-publication ads in 1989, The Perfectionist's Guide to Fantastic Video has never stopped evolving growing from 60 to 64 to 80 pages in its black-and-white configuration, blossoming into full-color with issue 100, and introducing interactive digital versions of each issue in 2013. We can confidently state that our most recent issues were among the best we ever published.

Over the last quarter century, we have always depended on newsstand sales, subscriptions, advertising, and because all of that was still not fully sustaining side projects in order to continue publishing. We were able to make ends meet so long as all of these facets were working together but, in recent years, it has become a losing battle. There are many reasons for this: the diminishing number of retail outlets, the sad state of print distribution, the easy availability of free information and critical writing via the Internet, and the now-widespread availability on Blu-ray and DVD of so many of the once-obscure titles Video Watchdog was among the first to tell you about.

After trying many creative ways to generate sales to compensate for newsstand losses and lack of advertising support, rising shipping and postage costs, and a depressed economy, it is simply no longer possible to keep Video Watchdog moving forward.

Looking back, we take great pride in the fact that, in our time, Video Watchdog was able to present the writing and original art of the genre's most talented writers, artists, and thinkers; that it attracted the attention and respect of so many of the great contemporary masters of cinema (from Scorsese to Del Toro); and that its coverage inspired a number of people to enter the film and video businesses to promote film restoration and preservation from the inside.

We are deeply grateful for the contributors and audience that enabled us to sustain our publication for so long. The coming months will be difficult as we try to figure out what's next for us, and what awaits Video Watchdog and its readership.

Please bear with us during this uncertain time, and we will keep you informed of further developments as they become more definitive.

Tim and Donna Lucas
Publishers

FANGORIA'S ex-Editor, Michael Gingold.

Fangoria Editor-in-Chief Michael Gingold fired after 28 Years – Guillermo del Toro and others offer support
From IndiWire.com
The horror publication has dismissed former Editor-in-Chief Michael Gingold and longtime art director Bill Mohalley, and hasn't published a print edition in months.

Graham Winfrey
Jun 1, 2016 12:17 pm

Chances are strong that if you were a horror movie fan over the past several decades, you probably read Fangoria. And that means you experienced the influence of Editor-in-Chief Michael Gingold, who has held a prominent role at the influential genre-focused monthly since 1988.

But that changed last week, when Gingold was promptly fired, in a decision that has yielded words of support from major figures throughout the horror community.

“Fangoria will never be the same w/o him,” tweeted director Guillermo del Toro. In an email to IndieWire, del Toro added that Gingold is “the torch carrier for the original spirit of a generation of horror, fantasy, and science fiction aficionados” and that “it is truly puzzling that someone thinks that such a bond has no value to the readers of Fangoria.”

Former Fangoria web editor Sam Zimmerman tweeted “Michael Gingold no longer at Fangoria is a little incomprehensible. He deserves much celebration and I owe him even more.” HitFix editor Drew McWeeny, a former editor at Ain’t It Cool News, tweeted “What a shock,” adding that “Few people have ever embodied a publication as completely as Michael Gingold did with Fangoria.”

Gingold was named associate editor of New York-based Fangoria in 1990 and managing editor in 1992, a title he held for 23 years until his promotion to Editor-in-Chief last year. Fangoria’s longtime art director Bill Mohalley has also been let go.

Ken Hanley, who joined Fangoria as an editorial assistant in the fall of 2012 and most recently held the title of Managing Editor, has been named as the magazine’s new Editor-in-Chief. “Mike Gingold is one of the classiest and hard-working men in horror journalism,” Hanley told IndieWire. “It’s going to be extremely difficult to fill his shoes.”

In a post on Fangoria’s website, Hanley wrote that the magazine “will be restructuring to bring in new blood, including at least two exceptional women in the horror journalism field.” Fangoria posted an announcement about new members of its staff on Wednesday.

In an interview with IndieWire, Gingold declined to discuss the details of his termination, but said that his discussions with Fangoria president and owner Tom DeFeo “were mostly financial in nature.” DeFeo did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. News of Gingold’s termination has triggered an outpouring of support online from Fangoria readers, horror fans and filmmakers.

Others who have known and worked with Gingold have expressed sentiments bordering on outrage. “Absolutely disgusted to learn that the president of Fangoria has let Michael Gingold go,” Mitch Davis, co-director of the Fantasia International Film Festival, wrote in a Facebook post. In an email to IndieWire, Davis noted that in recent years, several beloved Fangoria contributors have walked from the publication. That includes longtime editor Chris Alexander, who stepped down last fall to become managing editor of the horror site Shock Till You Drop.

“With the magazine’s president discarding seasoned writers with so many years of history, knowledge and trust among fans, it’s hard to imagine a bright future [for Fangoria],” Davis wrote. “Michael has dedicated his entire adult life to shaping how genre cinema is experienced and discussed, and he’s shined a light on so many brilliant emerging talents that I can’t imagine Fangoria being anything near the same without him.”

On Twitter, del Toro recalled submitting his early short film “Geometra” to Fangoria’s affiliated publication Starlog and receiving a handwritten note of encouragement from Gingold. “This went a long way in encouraging me to keep going,” del Toro told IndieWire. “Michael’s note meant the world to me.” Were it not for Gingold’s reply, del Toro added, “Geometra” would have amounted to a “message in a bottle.” To this day, the director added, “the man remains a champion of genre filmmaking.”

In recent years, Fangoria has struggled to sustain itself due to dwindling revenue from print advertisers, said Tony Timpone, who served as the magazines Editor-in-Chief from 1987 to 2010 and still serves as Editor Emeritus. “The magazine used to be packed full of ads, and we’ve lost a lot of our advertising with the collapse of the DVD business,” Timpone told IndieWire, adding that Fangoria has been trying to transition to a bi-monthly publishing schedule but hasn’t put out a print edition since its distributor went out of business in 2015.

“It’s no secret that Fangoria has had financial troubles, but they can be attributed to many of the troubles associated with running a print medium in general,” Hanley told IndieWire. “With distributors and fulfillment houses folding and advertisers turning to web, it’s amazing there are any magazines remaining at all.”

Since taking over as Editor-in-Chief, Gingold put out several digital-only issues of the publication. He is currently pursuing a number of different writing projects, including a collaboration on a horror feature film script with filmmaker Dante Tomaselli. Four of Gingold’s previous horror screenplays have been produced, most notably 2006’s “Shadow: Dead Riot” and 2003’s “Leeches!”

“While I’m not sure where I’m going in terms of full-time employment right now, there’s a lot of stuff that I’m working on that I’m very excited about,” he said, adding that the outpouring of support he’s received since leaving Fangoria has been phenomenal.

“I’ve always tried to champion independent filmmakers and illuminate all the different corners of the genre,” he said. “It’s great to know that my work has touched so many people.”

Additional reporting by Eric Kohn. This article has been updated with quotes from Fangoria’s Ken Hanley.

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