Grading the Horror ‘Zines

14 Sep

By, Vince A. Liaguno

We all have those cherished childhood memories of eagerly tearing in the course of the latest issue of Famous Monsters or Fangoria. We devoured every morsel of knowledge about upcoming releases, thrilled at how complex lighting tricks were executed, and marveled at gory movie stills. For lots of of us, those childhood reading habits have carried over into adulthood. Horror magazines are a connection to the genre we adore.

But within the ensuing years since Famous Monsters and Fangoria became staples of our monthly reading piles, a couple of notable players within the horror entertainment business have emerged and now compete for our hard-earned reading dollars. So which of them measure up? And the way do these pulse-pounding periodicals stack up against one another?

Dark Scribe Magazine recently sat down with current copies of Fangoria, Rue Morgue, GoreZone, and HorrorHound to grade their efforts. Who emerged top of the category – and who need to be sent back for some remedial work?

thCover-HorrorHound.jpgReport Card: HorrorHound

Who? HorrorHound, published by Jeremy Sheldon, is the brand new kid at the block with only a dozen issues under its belt.

Status: Student

Visual Appeal: For a comparatively new publication, HorrorHound has the look of a seasoned pro. From its visually appealing covers to its glossy interiors, the magazine invites readers in. Graphic design work and layout is remarkably top-notch for a fledgling publication. Grade: A

Content: HorrorHound boasts the strongest retro vibe of its competitors. In Issue #12, there’s a fascinating look back on the prolific VHS distributor Vestron Video; an excellent 12-page retrospective at the iconic Halloween film franchise; and another 5 pages dedicated to the staff’s picks for essentially the most underrated slasher films of the 1980’s. Grade: A+

Variety: There’s a lot more between the pages of HorrorHound than retrospectives, including: current movie and television news, convention reports, DVD releases, extensive feature articles on horror-related toys and collectibles, games and comic books, or even a novel film-related travelogue that includes location shots from various genre films – then and now. Grade: B+

Writing: Editors Nathan Hanneman and Aaron Crowell share primary writing responsibilities and maybe therein lies the largest weakness with HorrorHound. The grammar is cringe-worthy every now and then and the spelling and usage is atrocious in spots (“exasturbated” for “exacerbated”, “drones” rather than “droves”, “Never the less” rather than “nevertheless’). Maybe in preference to a “proof writer” the magazine would receive advantages from the services of a reliable proofreader. Worse, the magazine welcomes outside submissions, but pays writers with byline credit and sample issues. Grade: C-

Bibliophile Appeal: With this type of broad spectrum of topics covered, it’s puzzling why there’s not a book review or author interview in sight. The creative forces behind the magazine are clearly aiming for a various audience – with everything from films, toys, comics, and games covered – yet gloss over this crucial aspect of the genre. Grade: F

Summary: HorrorHound has something its competitors don’t appear to have – heart. A variety of it in reality. The magazine gets major kudos for acknowledging that there’s a whole audience of horror fans over the age of 30 with fascinating and lovingly detailed retrospectives. That said, with a canopy price of $6.95, readers expect a few of that very same attention paid to the writing and deserve a more professional presentation. DSM’s advice: buy a couple of freelance pieces at professional rates so as to add some flavor and varnish to the writing. Put money into a seasoned proofreader. Acknowledge that horror fans read, and include some book reviews and author interviews. Tap into your major strength – the retrospective – and do a variety on Richard Laymon or Bentley Little or that other guy named King. The effects might be phenomenal. SOMEWHAT fine-tuning and some tweaks within the right direction and we expect that HorrorHound could become the face of horror-related entertainment magazines.

Outlook: Tremendous potential. Be careful Fangoria!

thCover-Fangoria.jpgReport Card: Fangoria

Who? Fangoria, published by the Starlog Group, is the veteran of the gang. With 275 issues and counting, this Godfather of horror magazines is by far the slickest, most well-established in its field.

Status: Tenured Professor

Visual Appeal: Fangoria boasts top-of-the-line covers within the industry, with an always gruesome cover shot dominating its central frame and its (now iconic) left-hand film strip of smaller images and grabby headlines. What we love best about Fangoria’s covers is the magazine’s loyalty to its own brand – a visible consisten…

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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Magazine


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