We want to shape Fangoria into the kind of mag­a­zine that awak­ens your spir­it of adven­ture and romance — and makes you feel like you can fly…”

- Fangoria pub­lish­er Kerry O’Quinn, in his edi­to­ri­al for the debut issue.

As the above quote illus­trates, Fangoria was a very dif­fer­ent beast at its incep­tion from the blood-streaked mag we all came to know and love.  In fact, the mag­a­zine was orig­i­nal­ly sup­posed to be named Fantastica but that led to a law­suit by Starlog rival Fantastic Films.  Said law­suit delayed the magazine’s launch for sev­er­al months and led to the eleven­th-hour adop­tion of the moniker Fangoria.  The fin­ished pro­duct was ini­tial­ly intend­ed to cov­er a broad spec­trum of fan­ta­sy fare, with hor­ror only being one col­or of a larg­er palet­te.

Thus, arti­cles about hor­ror flicks like Dawn Of The Dead are out­num­bered almost two-to-one by arti­cles on the likes of Watership Down and Battlestar Galactica in the magazine’s debut.  Like many first issues, Fangoria #1 has a very ten­ta­tive, only par­tial­ly real­ized qual­i­ty to it.  At least half the cov­er­age of then-cur­rent fare feels like the staff took press kits and repur­posed the syn­opses and stills to cre­ate half-heart­ed “fea­tures” that offer lit­tle more than sto­ry details and cast/crew info.  The sto­ries on The Amityville Horror, Wolfman and Alien all give this impres­sion.

However, there is some qual­i­ty read­ing in there for the patient fan.  A Christopher Lee inter­view finds the reluc­tant hor­ror icon grous­ing about being type­cast in his charm­ing­ly huffy way and there’s an excel­lent ret­ro­spec­tive arti­cle on the mak­ing of The Creature From The Black Lagoon that includes some nice inter­view bits with the orig­i­nal crea­ture him­self, Ricou Browning.  There’s also a brief but infor­ma­tive overview of the Godzilla series by megafan Ed Godziszewski.

Two oth­er fea­tures offer impor­tant hints at the magazine’s future.  The obvi­ous one is a nice lit­tle Tom Savini inter­view, which dou­bles as a fea­ture on the make­up effects for Dawn Of The Dead.  It’s the most inter­est­ing of the hor­ror-cen­tric fea­tures and received such an enthu­si­as­tic respon­se from the magazine’s ear­ly fans that it ulti­mate­ly led to Fangoria adopt­ing a more hor­ror-cen­tric approach.

The less obvi­ous­ly prophet­ic arti­cle is one that com­pares and con­trasts the films Prophecy and Nightwing by future Fangoria edi­tor Bob Martin.  It was obvi­ous­ly intend­ed to be a puff-piece pro­mo like the oth­er glo­ri­fied plot syn­opses namechecked a few para­graphs above but Martin clev­er­ly twists the premise of that puff-piece style, using it as a chance to tweak Hollywood stu­dios for imi­tat­ing each other’s trends.  It’s a clev­er lit­tle piece that dis­plays the wit and savvy that would endear “Uncle Bob” Martin to the magazine’s fan­base.

A final note of inter­est: The ads in this issue are most­ly sci-fi ori­ent­ed but there’s one guar­an­teed to bring nos­tal­gic tears to the eyes of a hor­ror fan.  Said ad is a big one-pager pro­mot­ing six mon­ster-make­up kits that were cre­at­ed by the god­fa­ther of mod­ern make­up effects him­self, Dick Smith.  To have pro­fes­sion­al kits like the­se at one’s fin­ger­tips must have been pure hor­ror heav­en for mon­ster-obsessed kids of that era.  And the most expen­sive kit was only twen­ty bucks!