I read the news today oh boy…
Chris Alexander is moving on as Editor in Chief at Fangoria. You can read his departure announcement here, which is a masterwork of self-congratulation. I believe I am even included in the line about “colourful enemies”, of course that could just be my delusions again.
Without question I believe Chris left a profound mark upon Fangoria. He rejuvenated it from some truly dismal years where Tony Timpone was really struggling with a vision and the company was going through a bankruptcy. He brought a vitality back to it which I feel was infectious. I know, I was infected by it for 3 years of my life where I wrote for him. He came off a Young Turk, eager to shake things up and not afraid to bloody some noses. He has a style and a charisma that is undeniable and he has a work ethic which is tireless. He’s the Biggie Smalls of horror media – everyday hustling. There is a real blue collar vibe to the guy – he called us “working class writers” once and that is definitely true about him. Beneath all the flash and the sizzle and the comedically large ties there is a guy with his nose to a grindstone, working the phones and turning in copy.
His copy wasn’t dull workaday stuff either – putting substance aside there is a real melody to his wordplay. It is exuberant, enthusiastic. It wants to show you things it thinks are really cool.
These are all reasons I respect Chris Alexander.
His tenure hasn’t always lived up to the hype, nor I believe to his own best intentions. Chris also represents an era of severe ethical struggle in media – the convergence of old print media and the new digital era and all the pitfalls that come with it. How Alexander navigated many of these ethical issues is the legacy I’d like to highlight here. His tactics were certainly unconventional so why don’t we take a quick look back at some of the greatest hits of Chris Alexander – Media Ethics Edition. Throw this song on in the background and let it gestate.
Some of Chris Alexander’s Greatest Ethical Hits – A Roundup of the dark side of Fangoria during his tenure
- That time he made up a whole fake persona to write articles about projects he was “too close to”. Like his own movie, Blood for Irina, which he wrote about under this pseudonym in the pages of Fangoria.
- All the times he used fake profiles to attack his enemies and promote himself. We will probably never know how many different accounts he has and what he does with them.
That time he published a plagiarist for ages and promoted her as the greatest thing since himself. Then he never published retractions, never published an editorial in print on the subject and washed his hands of all responsibility once she got caught.He also didn’t act on information he was given about her plagiarism until it was in the media at large.
- That time he published a completely untrue and libellous rant about me on Facebook and had strangers, minor celebrities and relatives line up to take kicks at me and pronounce me a failure. I still regret not suing him for this because it sincerely did a lot of harm and he admits none of it was true, he was just angry and lashing out.
- Fangoria flushed over a decade worth of online writing down the tubes when they scuttled their own archives under very mysterious circumstances. Some believed it was to keep people from using the archives to dig for more plagiarism and scandal. I’ve heard an account which is shocking for different reasons but I’ve never been able to get a second source on it or a primary source willing to go on record.
- Then there was the time he “investigated” the Wizard Video big box scandal, exonerated Charles Band based on the word of Charles Band and was hired to “curate” his magazine less than a year later.
- Back in the Rue Morgue Radio days he reviewed (and mercilessly trashed) Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN remake – and got busted out for never having actually seen it, which is something Chris apparently does a lot of. Not seeing movies and then reviewing them professionally. Bonus Balls: He published a Fangoria: Legends issue about Zombie.
There was a time where Chris got upset that a film festival wouldn’t accept his movie, BLOOD FOR IRINA, and he refused to let any coverage of the festival into the magazine or website. I had planned a story about this but never got to it but it reveals how this position can be used to strong arm people and “open doors” as Chris was fond of saying. And if it didn’t work like a key I guess he was fine using it as a battering ram.
There is more, of course, but so much remains trapped in the rumour mill with little hope of getting sources to speak on the the record or confirm background. Maybe that will change now that Chris is moving on to a new career?
Chris Alexander was very much an editor for the times in which we live. Whether this is genius or madness will largely depend on how you feel about the current media landscape. I wish him the best in his new ventures and can only say there are large shoes to fill at Fangoria.
I knew I said this blog was over but THIS is the truly fitting capstone to it. Rue Morgue is lost in the weeds, ripping off writers, Chris Alexander is stepping down as EIC at Fangoria and making movies with Peter Murphy. This is us just a few short years out from Spiderbaby and our brief flirtation with the idea that publications ought to be ethical somehow.
Just as I finished this we got news of where Chris is going next:
Congratulations to Chris Alexander and to Shock Till You Drop! I’m sure Chris will bring the same level of integrity to your website as he did to the beloved Fangoria franchise.
Regardless of what we think of Chris and his actions, one thing remains true – he gave me my start as a writer. I felt he did it out of good faith at the time, that’s how I will continue to see it. I will always be grateful to Chris for that shot. I will also always be grateful to Chris for challenging me with his antics and helping me find my own way as a writer. He helped shape me, for better or for worse.