Chances are strong that if you were a horror movie fan over the past several decades, you probably read Fangoria. And that means you experienced the influence of Editor-in-Chief Michael Gingold, who has held a prominent role at the influential genre-focused monthly since 1988.
But that changed last week, when Gingold was promptly fired, in a decision that has yielded words of support from major figures throughout the horror community.
“Fangoria will never be the same w/o him,” tweeted director Guillermo del Toro. In an email to IndieWire, del Toro added that Gingold is “the torch carrier for the original spirit of a generation of horror, fantasy, and science fiction aficionados” and that “it is truly puzzling that someone thinks that such a bond has no value to the readers of Fangoria.”
Former Fangoria web editor Sam Zimmerman tweeted “Michael Gingold no longer at Fangoria is a little incomprehensible. He deserves much celebration and I owe him even more.” HitFix editor Drew McWeeny, a former editor at Ain’t It Cool News, tweeted “What a shock,” adding that “Few people have ever embodied a publication as completely as Michael Gingold did with Fangoria.”
Gingold was named associate editor of New York-based Fangoria in 1990 and managing editor in 1992, a title he held for 23 years until his promotion to Editor-in-Chief last year. Fangoria’s longtime art director Bill Mohalley has also been let go.
Ken Hanley, who joined Fangoria as an editorial assistant in the fall of 2012 and most recently held the title of Managing Editor, has been named as the magazine’s new Editor-in-Chief. “Mike Gingold is one of the classiest and hard-working men in horror journalism,” Hanley told IndieWire. “It’s going to be extremely difficult to fill his shoes.”
In a post on Fangoria’s website, Hanley wrote that the magazine “will be restructuring to bring in new blood, including at least two exceptional women in the horror journalism field.” Fangoria posted an announcement about new members of its staff on Wednesday.
In an interview with IndieWire, Gingold declined to discuss the details of his termination, but said that his discussions with Fangoria president and owner Tom DeFeo “were mostly financial in nature.” DeFeo did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. News of Gingold’s termination has triggered an outpouring of support online from Fangoria readers, horror fans and filmmakers.
Others who have known and worked with Gingold have expressed sentiments bordering on outrage. “Absolutely disgusted to learn that the president of Fangoria has let Michael Gingold go,” Mitch Davis, co-director of the Fantasia International Film Festival, wrote in a Facebook post. In an email to IndieWire, Davis noted that in recent years, several beloved Fangoria contributors have walked from the publication. That includes longtime editor Chris Alexander, who stepped down last fall to become managing editor of the horror site Shock Till You Drop.
“With the magazine’s president discarding seasoned writers with so many years of history, knowledge and trust among fans, it’s hard to imagine a bright future [for Fangoria],” Davis wrote. “Michael has dedicated his entire adult life to shaping how genre cinema is experienced and discussed, and he’s shined a light on so many brilliant emerging talents that I can’t imagine Fangoria being anything near the same without him.”
On Twitter, del Toro recalled submitting his early short film “Geometra” to Fangoria’s affiliated publication Starlog and receiving a handwritten note of encouragement from Gingold. “This went a long way in encouraging me to keep going,” del Toro told IndieWire. “Michael’s note meant the world to me.” Were it not for Gingold’s reply, del Toro added, “Geometra” would have amounted to a “message in a bottle.” To this day, the director added, “the man remains a champion of genre filmmaking.”
In recent years, Fangoria has struggled to sustain itself due to dwindling revenue from print advertisers, said Tony Timpone, who served as the magazines Editor-in-Chief from 1987 to 2010 and still serves as Editor Emeritus. “The magazine used to be packed full of ads, and we’ve lost a lot of our advertising with the collapse of the DVD business,” Timpone told IndieWire, adding that Fangoria has been trying to transition to a bi-monthly publishing schedule but hasn’t put out a print edition since its distributor went out of business in 2015.
“It’s no secret that Fangoria has had financial troubles, but they can be attributed to many of the troubles associated with running a print medium in general,” Hanley told IndieWire. “With distributors and fulfillment houses folding and advertisers turning to web, it’s amazing there are any magazines remaining at all.”
Since taking over as Editor-in-Chief, Gingold put out several digital-only issues of the publication. He is currently pursuing a number of different writing projects, including a collaboration on a horror feature film script with filmmaker Dante Tomaselli. Four of Gingold’s previous horror screenplays have been produced, most notably 2006’s “Shadow: Dead Riot” and 2003’s “Leeches!”
“While I’m not sure where I’m going in terms of full-time employment right now, there’s a lot of stuff that I’m working on that I’m very excited about,” he said, adding that the outpouring of support he’s received since leaving Fangoria has been phenomenal.
“I’ve always tried to champion independent filmmakers and illuminate all the different corners of the genre,” he said. “It’s great to know that my work has touched so many people.”
Additional reporting by Eric Kohn. This article has been updated with quotes from Fangoria’s Ken Hanley.