Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fangoria Flashbacks: Issue #2

Fangoria #2 October, 1979:   Bearing with Growing Pains

We begin our journey with issue #2.  The earliest issue I have, the sophomore effort for the magazine is a solid little number that is one of the few early issues that could possibly fit in with the ones that would come in later years.  Already some of the staples of the magazine are firmly in place with the distinctive film strip on the side of the cover and the logo which would stay pretty much the same for twenty years.

Also interesting to note is the main cover boy is the monster from Prophecy, a rather awful eco-horror flick directed by John Frankenheimer of all people.  The film strip promises a look at one of the best horror films of the era and a personal favorite of mine, Phantasm.

In terms of the actual content, it's a bit half-and-half as the early days of the magazine seemed unsure of what they wanted to focus on.  On the one hand, there are pieces on straight-up horror films like the two Dracula films that came out in 1979, Prophecy, the 1931 version o0f Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Phantasm along interviews with Robert Bloch and Richard Matheson in this issue and makeup F/X god Tom Savini in the first issue.  On the other, Starlog's influence seems to creep through as we are also given an odd selection of art, a solid yet somewhat out of place piece on War of the Worlds and an article on Dr. Who creatures.

The overall issue is well done and well put together but one can see the underlying internal dilemma the magazine was going through.  This will become more pronounced in the next few issues.

Notable Notes
  •  The first iteration of the editorial column is called Imagination Inc.  It will stay this way for the first fifty issues with Bob Martin as editor.
  • For the first six issues, the title of the magazine is preceded by 'Starlog Presents'.
  • In the letters column, there is one concerning an old Armor All ad that featured a really cool looking monster.  I have seen it and it is just as cool in a retro way as one would imagine it to be.  Seriously, you need to check it out.  It has a viking fighting an alien, come on!
  • Right after the main part of the quite good Phantasm article, there is a small article that is mainly pictures regarding an Italian space opera called The Humanoid which features Bond alumni Barbara Bach and Richard Kiel.  I can't imagine it being that good, though that's never been a deal breaker for me.
  • There's a neat little article about how Bela Lugosi was almost cast as The Creature in Frankenstein
  • As usual, the retrospective articles are fantastic, mainly the Richard Matheson interview.
  • Proving Hollywood has always done things in multiples, we get two Dracula film pieces with the Werner Herzog version of Nosferatu and the Frank Langella rendition of Dracula getting coverage.
  • I love looking at the Monster Invasion sections of these old issues, there are always a few chuckles to be had.  Granted, the notes about the upcoming Saturday morning cartoon lineup are better off in Starlog but still.
  • There's an odd little section called 'Fantastic Art' in the first few issues that is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.
Overall, this is one of the better early efforts for the magazine.  It has some good points but is a little rushed in some parts and uncertain of itself.  Sadly, things won't really kick into gear for a few more installments.

Coming Soon:  Stuck in a Rut

2 comments:

  1. Nice overview of this classic issue! I agree -- there's some good stuff in this issue (and I always rather liked the cover design of the first couple years of the magazine), but it would be a few issues before the magazine (as Uncle Bob Martin later put it) gave the ol' heave-ho to the SF and fantasy and devoted itself wholeheartedly to horror.

    Looking forward to your next installment.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You and all the other Prophecy haters out there are a really tiresome bunch.

    ReplyDelete

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I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.