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My hand shook precariously as I tried to write out my name on the sign-in sheet in the lobby of 250 West 49th street. I couldn’t believe that I was about to meet one of the men behind biggest magazine in horror, Tony Timpone.
Much less believable was that I, a student from Orange County, CA, was in New York solely for the purpose of having an opportunity to interview this man for a school paper I was doing in my Journalism class. Moments after branding my name, or as close to “Tyler Dean” as I could get—I think it ended looking like “Kyle Dral”—I found the elevator that would take me to the heart of our beloved magazine.
After a longer-than-seemed-possible ride, I got off on the third floor and made my way to the correct suite, finding myself facing a plain wooden door with the FANGORIA skull emblem staring back at me. Now, Tony doesn’t know this, but I stood on the other side of that door for a good three minutes. But three minutes is all it took for me to pull myself together as I suddenly and without hesitation, grabbed the door handle and let myself in.
I don’t really know what I expected to find when I strolled into the FANGORIA office. In my wildest of preconceptions, I expected to find a sort of horror asylum where the floors are marble, everyone’s wearing a suit and glass shelves displaying various horror paraphernalia abound. However, I have a ridiculous imagination, and this was just another example supporting that fact. What I found instead of my ridiculous inclinations was what anyone, but me, would have probably expected. I walked into the waiting room to find that the walls had been painted to make it look like blood was dripping down its sides. To my left was a black couch emblazoned with the signature FANGORIA logo. The room also had several magazines encased in frames, one being an older issue of FANGORIA back when it was briefly referred to as FANTASTICA. However, the centerpiece of the room was a giant painting that Clive Barker had done for FANGORIA’s 30th anniversary Collector’s Edition, with two copies of the aforementioned magazine encased on either side. Below that, to my delight, was a glass shelf!
Not exactly sure what I should do next—there wasn’t anyone in the waiting room or behind a glass window taking appointments—I pushed a doorbell button that was sure to alert the secretary, who I could hear talking on the phone in the next room over. A loud acknowledgment from the disembodied voice led me to one of six offices, this one being directly in front of the waiting room in which I was standing. The lady, Dee, asked me why I was there, and when I told her she got Mr. Timpone on the line and informed him that I was there. Only a few moments later, a beaming young man strode toward me from an office to my right, hand extended. By this time, my nervousness had wavered a little bit and his forthcoming attitude instantly put me at ease. I’d gone over how my interview was going to go a million times in my head: introduce myself, let him know that the interview was private and that he needn’t worry about any information going anywhere but to my professor, etc. Needless to say, I was extremely grateful and impressed when Tony leapt right into giving me a tour of the office.
First, Tony introduced me to two other men who worked in the Fango office, Michael Gingold and Samuel Zimmerman, who serve as managing editor and contributing editor, respectively. If you’re reading this online, then you’ve seen Sam’s handiwork as some of his responsibilities include working on improving the website. In the next room, I met executive art director Bill Mohalley, the person responsible for the strategic placement of photos and text in the magazine, as well as the covers. I gushed a little here, noting how my first Fango issue (#282; LAID TO REST cover) shocked me with its graphic layout (love at first sight). Next, Tony took me to the archive room, which was basically a FANGORIA collector’s dream. Stacks and stacks (and stacks) of countless magazines lined the walls. Although my nervousness was doing a terrible job at keeping my fan boy side from spewing word vomit all over Tony, at the first sign of me having any equal footing on a topic he would bring up, I was able to keep myself from thumbing through the innumerable magazines lying before me. I wished I’d asked to take a picture, though. It was only fitting and necessary for my paper that I learn about FANGORIA’s history within the confines of a room filled with horror film legends.
Not knowing much about FANGORIA’s roots, Tony informed me regarding STARLOG, the late science fiction magazine, and its creators Norman Jacobs and Kerry O’Quinn. It was hard to believe that a magazine dealing in the realm of STAR TREK and STAR WARS would be what ultimately Fango hails from. But as Tony told me, it was hard for the sci-fi fans to get used to reading about exploding heads from DAWN OF THE DEAD, and so a different magazine was needed to appeal to both groups of fans. Also surprising to me (I just jumped on the FANGORIA ship last year, gimme a break) is just how far the magazine’s influence runs in the veins of modern society. Music groups wear T-shirts sporting the signature Fango logo, television shows (i.e. THE SIMPSONS, 30 ROCK) mention the magazine or use product placement and several movies, having been produced by Fango, broadcast the company’s involvement in the opening credits.
From probably the most appealing, and only, archive room I’ve ever seen in my entire 19 years on this Earth, Tony led us to the break room where we got down to the nitty gritty of the interview. Just to clarify, I wasn’t the one being interviewed. I was interviewing Tony for my Journalism class, which required us students to go out and find someone who we admired and who worked in a media related position (editor, anyone?). Again trying, and mostly failing, at keeping the fan boy inside, I proceeded to ask Tony questions ranging from FANGORIA’s estimated number of clients to what it takes in order to work for this well-known magazine. Can you believe there are almost 100,000 of you? That’s not even taking into account all your friends and family members who may have stumbled across that one issue you left on your bed, or the curious internet browser who happens to come across the FANGORIA website. Obvious perks to working alongside Tony and the magazine are being able to watch hundreds of blood-spraying, wound-inflicting and scream-inducing monstrosities, as well as being the first to see films in their early stages at pre-screenings. Is there anything negative about working for FANGORIA? Not as far as I could tell, and Tony didn’t know either.
It was at this point that Mr. Timpone had to take care of something really quick and left me to myself for a few moments. I took the alone time—maybe only a minute—to take in the break room. Filled with boxes, magazines, a mini-fridge and a life-size replica of a fanged phantom (I believe it was a Halloween prop of some sort), it hit me at that point just how amazingly simple the office was. Simple, yet it had a charm to it that gave me the same feeling I get when I go to the movies, order a large popcorn and settle in for two hours of watching people get hacked to death. Comfortable.
TO BE CONTINUED
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