Who Is Ben Cortman?

Ben Cortman

Fangoria issue #319 – the controversial DJANGORIA issue – is notable now for 3 writers who appeared in it. The issue features work by the disgraced Lianne Spiderbaby, an exclusive essay by none other than Quentin Tarantino and a luscious preview of the film “Blood for Irina” by underappreciated talent Ben Cortman.

Cortman offers up a tender, thoughtful preview of the Chris Alexander film that is full of flourish and kind comparison to cinema masters:

There is something special about the works of Jean Rollin and Jess Franco, and it isn’t just overt sex; rather, it’s the evidence of obsession, of poetry – the way the camera lingers on images and studies them. This is true of many European filmmakers, and it’s an aesthetic that is alive in Blood for Irina, a new “experimental psychodrama” from none other than FANGORIA editor Chris Alexander…

He includes some exclusive interview material with Chris Alexander himself, who had this, among other things, to say about his film:

I knew my parameters and made exactly the movie I wanted to make within them. An immersive nod to my favourite filmmakers, but something personal all the same.

In fine journalistic fashion Cortman gives us some facts about Alexander:

Filmed in five days outside Toronto (where Alexander makes his home and office)…

He’s very sure to tell us Chris Alexander’s contributions to the film and to describe it in passionate, romantic terms. Cortman was moved by this movie and by Chris Alexander challenging film convention:

Slow, sad, bloody and focusing on atmosphere, dread and character arcs rather than narrative contrivance and shock, Irina was not only written and directed but co-shot, edited and even scored by Alexander with music being an essential component.

A quote from Alexander closes out the piece speaking on his soundtrack work:

The film was built around a certain mood and emotion I was trying to achieve. Part of that, of course, stemmed from the melancholy tone of some of the best of Franco, Rollin, Harry Kumel and even David Lynch, but a major part of the film’s DNA rests in the work of Werner Herzog, specifically his 1979 remake of Nosferatu…

It’s a preview crafted with real care and obvious admiration for the film in question. A virtuoso outing by bright new media talent Ben Cortman. So who exactly is he?

The Mortuary web forums were the official internet forums of Rue Morgue magazine for a time. They remain the unofficial Rue Morgue forum to this day. Prior to being the Editor in Chief of Fangoria Chris Alexander wrote for Rue Morgue both in print and online. He was an active participant on the Mortuary forums, going by the name of Schizoid Cinephile he contributed a total of 850 posts to the site. The public profile of Schizoid Cinephile  clearly indicates it was the forum identity of Chris Alexander including linking to his personal website.

mortuaryprofile

What does any of this have to do with Ben Cortman?

On March 10 2006, Chris Alexander (posting as Schizoid Cinephile) made the following post to The Mortuary in response to a comment about an article written by Ben Cortman. It seems even then Cortman was the subject of discussion:

mortuarypost

It is well known that Chris Alexander is a fan of Richard Matheson. You can read his heartfelt tribute to the authour on the Fangoria website. Some key quotes:

A decade ago, one of my first assignments at Canadian horror magazine RUE MORGUE was to interview Matheson, who is and always will be my favorite writer of all time.

I AM LEGEND changed my life. It still changes my life. It is the best work of existential horror ever written and yet no one has ever accurately adapted it.

Ben Cortman is a character in I AM LEGEND. From Wikipedia:

Neville survives by barricading himself by sunset inside his house, further protected by garlic, mirrors, and crucifixes. Swarms of vampires, led by Neville’s neighbor, Ben Cortman, regularly surround his house, trying to find ways to get inside

Sources inside Rue Morgue Magazine have confirmed that Chris Alexander used Ben Cortman as a pen name during his tenure there.

So who is the Ben Cortman who wrote so eloquently about the Chris Alexander film Blood for Irina in the pages of the Chris Alexander edited Fangoria Magazine?

We’re 100% certain it is none other than Chris Alexander.

Chris Alexander

Chris Alexander was contacted to comment on this story and did not respond by the time we went to publication. We’d like to express that the invitation is extended to Mr. Alexander to contact us at any time or to once again make use of the commenting features of this website to provide his perspective.

Editors note in the interest of full disclosure: The authour of this article held a web column at Fangoria for almost 3 years and had an interview appear in print in Fangoria issue #326.

Below are shots of the masthead of Fangoria #319 which show Ben Cortman as a contributing writer and shots of the headline and byline of the piece he wrote.

masthead

article headline

byline


Comments

Who Is Ben Cortman? — 15 Comments

  1. Dave,you need to get a life,dude. Attacking the hand that offered to help many times is a sign of having no class. I suggest reading between the lines and take a journalism or creative writing class instead of wasting your time attacking good people.

  2. What a response. Shame it is on fakebook which cheapens it and adds little to this story.

    I’m weirded out by the idea that one is supposed to work for free for a magazine for two years to know what the industry is all about – when obviously that ended up being a huge embarrassment of plagarism – then another works for free with no guidance and is raked over the coals for questioning the magazine’s methods. If you wanted to help someone seriously get into writing, you install them as an intern or have them submit a pitch.

    I don’t think Dave P. is on a “very bitter public trail” to bring Fangoria down. It is perfectly fair to question these things.

    One thing that strikes me about all of this is the lack of integrity. No journalist that uses a pen name does so in bad faith. Writing a review of your own work is not a “quickie throwaway piece” when written for a journal of record, which Fangoria is.

  3. Dear Lydia –

    As I have been following with amusement Mr. Pace’s slow-burning earth scorching, I thought it best to illuminate.

    “What a response. Shame it is on fakebook which cheapens it and adds little to this story.”

    It is on my personal Fakebook because the attack is personal.

    “I’m weirded out by the idea that one is supposed to work for free for a magazine for two years to know what the industry is all about – when obviously that ended up being a huge embarrassment of plagarism – then another works for free with no guidance and is raked over the coals for questioning the magazine’s methods.”

    You missed my point. Lianne worked for free – in total, 7 pieces published in print during that period – because she wanted experience to help write a book…”the” book that never was to be. Fans liked her. She did all her own interviews. I published when the interview fit. Rejected those deemed subpar. The point is, Mr. Pace launched this crusade because he felt that a plagiarist made money and he did not. Untrue. If Mr. Pace worked for this company, he would have known this. He did not work for this company. He was never staff. Though he was given ample opportunity to write for the magazine and do other things, none which materialized.

    “If you wanted to help someone seriously get into writing, you install them as an intern or have them submit a pitch.”

    Pace wanted a blog. I let him have one and supported him, even when I thought better of it. He used that to feather a nest. His plans did not work out and you see the bitter seeds sewn…he was not an intern. I don’t need an intern. And he could have stopped blogging at any time. Or if he was unhappy, he could have discussed. Instead…well, here we are.

    “I don’t think Dave P. is on a “very bitter public trail” to bring Fangoria down. It is perfectly fair to question these things.”

    Question what, exactly? Corruption in horror print media? He used me. Not the other way around. And the truth is he has never, ever been employed as a writer anywhere. He writes, yes. So does everyone. He is not a professional. How then can his insight be credible? If you need an itemized list of all the things I green lit for Mr. Pace to do using the name of the company I represent, I can provide. Or you can google them. He had “privileged” opportunities that many would have dreamed of having and it was no ones fault but his own that his motor did not turn over.

    Now here we are.

    Whatever trip Dave Pace is on, godspeed.

    But in the interest of the quest for “truth”, it is essential his readers are aware of his history with the periodical he is aiming to dissect.

    And true, I have refused thus far to speak directly with Mr. Pace. But should any other readers of this blog or elsewhere, opt to speak to me directly, I am more than happy to answer questions about Mr. Pace, FANGORIA, the honorable Mr. Ben Cortman or any other question that you demand answers for.

    I am at chris@fangoria.com

    One thing that strikes me about all of this is the lack of integrity. No journalist that uses a pen name does so in bad faith. Writing a review of your own work is not a “quickie throwaway piece” when written for a journal of record, which Fangoria is.

    All editors use pseudonyms. All prolific writers do. I do and have never, ever hid this. Ever. Instead of getting a version presented out of context in a blog by someone who has a very visible agenda, I encourage you to pick up FANGORIA #319 – a very good issue, in fact – and read the piece on my indie film BLOOD FOR IRINA. It is a 400 word entry in the Monster Invasion cycle wherein we preview upcoming films and music, indie and otherwise. As I wanted to put the work I toiled on in my spare time in the pages of the magazine I toil for endlessly, I opted to do it in the quietest, smallest way. Not a feature article. Not the cover. Not a review. A preview. Which is exactly what the MI section is. In fact, whenever any FANGORIA core staff makes good and does something outside of the company, we allow a small preview. Since I write much of the magazine, having Cortman write mine was simply a matter of convenience, considering the clock ticks loudly as our deadlines loom.

    Again, had Mr. Pace any knowledge on the mechanisms of how any magazine works he would know this too.

    If that strikes you or Mr. Pace or anyone else as “underhanded” well…take it up with Mr. Cortman. He is a fan of my work…my greatest fan, perhaps…

    • I’ve read what has been posted elsewhere but wanted to add here a thank you for your reply.

      When BFI was screened here I did read the bit in Fangoria. Since (like any reader) I trust the job of editors and publishers to print stories from reputable sources, you can understand my interest in now knowing who Mr. Cortman was.

      I might spend a lot of time online, but scouring it to verify the identity of a writer appearing in a magazine I may cite isn’t my job. Or should it be? Since you say all editors use pen names this brings other magazines into a question no one should have ever had to ask.

    • As someone who does peruse Fangoria, though isn’t as entwined in the goings-on with staff and writers, I did not know you were Cortman. With all due respect, I disagree with your defense for writing your own preview. This isn’t much different than writers and filmmakers who right their own fake reviews on Amazon – an act that is quite frowned upon.

      It was a preview, but was very eloquently written, and obviously designed to entice readers to give the film a shot. For that reason, I wonder why you didn’t just have another staffer (or even wannabe unpaid writer) write it and simply allow you to edit it for any glaring mistakes?

      Yes, writers use pseudonyms, but anyone who has issue with you writing about your own film under one, especially if they didn’t know it was you, has a point. Put Dave’s issue entirely aside, because it’s clear he has an agenda. For the other readers? Well, certainly you can see why they might think it’s bad form. Go look at “self” reviews under fake names on Amazon and see what they have to say.

      Cortman said:
      [All editors use pseudonyms. All prolific writers do. I do and have never, ever hid this. Ever. Instead of getting a version presented out of context in a blog by someone who has a very visible agenda, I encourage you to pick up FANGORIA #319 – a very good issue, in fact – and read the piece on my indie film BLOOD FOR IRINA. It is a 400 word entry in the Monster Invasion cycle wherein we preview upcoming films and music, indie and otherwise. As I wanted to put the work I toiled on in my spare time in the pages of the magazine I toil for endlessly, I opted to do it in the quietest, smallest way. Not a feature article. Not the cover. Not a review. A preview. Which is exactly what the MI section is. In fact, whenever any FANGORIA core staff makes good and does something outside of the company, we allow a small preview. Since I write much of the magazine, having Cortman write mine was simply a matter of convenience, considering the clock ticks loudly as our deadlines loom.]

  4. Pingback: Why Ben Cortman is News and My Personal Life is Not – A Primer for Those Who Should Know Better | La Politique Psychotronique

  5. Hmmmmm…. Pamela Hazelton… Aren’t you the woman that is helping her husband steal another creators work right now?

    Didn’t your husband try to steal his previous partner’s female character, Dawn, also? We understand Mr. Linsner went on the record extensively about your husband trying to steal his character behind his back.

    Didn’t your husband also get sued in court for miss appropriating a model’s image for a comic book cover? The model from the very first GodSmack Album?

    Isn’t your husband KNOWN for writing one step above child pornography under a entire slew of fake names for legal adult magazines like Babyface?

    In fact, doesn’t your own company supply much of the writers for those same kinds of Adult Film magazines, ones that are “Barely Legal”? Do you not do this secretly from your mainstream customers?

    Not surprising you are here chiming in on Mr. Alexander’s lies & distortions of the truth.

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_can_you_tell_if_someone_is_a_pathological_liar

  6. I don’t see much of a difference between Chris Alexander writing his own puff piece or assigning someone on his staff to write it?

    I remember a long time ago when Fangoria wrote a glowing article about the Clint Howard film “Ice Cream Man”. I thought the film looked like garbage and that Fangoria was full of shit for writing such a positive article about it. Years later I decided “Ice Cream Man” was a film I must see and sought it out and enjoyed it very much.

    Fangoria has always been super positive in what it publishes and I think this is good for the genre when I compare to other journalists who are over negative.

    • The issue is he lied to readers who thought it was written by a third party. If he wrote it himself there wouldn’t be an issue.

  7. Pingback: Behind the Curtain: How Two Top Horror Editors Took On Conflict in Coverage | La Politique Psychotronique

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