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An Interview with Rue Morgue's Editor-in-Chief Dave Alexander

by Dale Pierce

June 2016

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You are the current editor of Rue Morgue magazine. How long have you held this position?

 

I am the editor-in-chief of Rue Morgue. I've been the EiC since 2009. Before that I was the managing editor (from 2005 to 2009), and before that I was a freelancer writing for the mag when I lived in Edmonton.

 

For those unfamiliar with the magazine, tell readers about what it covers and consists of.

 

Rue Morgue is the world biggest horror-themed magazine, our focus is on "horror in culture and entertainment", which means we cover any- and everything in the horror genre and on its fringes -- movies, books, art, comics, video games, etc. That coverage encompasses categories such as classic, cult, foreign, monsters, gore, indie, mainstream, new classic and under-the-radar stuff.

 

Do you find it difficult to operate as  traditional magazine when so much emphasis is being placed online instead? 

 

We have seen a shrink in our print advertising, which has affected the magazine, however, we have made up for it through advertising on our website, at our events, sponsorship and via our social networks. Research shows that the deepest level of engagement is still through print ads; for example, one study showed that the average time spent on a click-ad is 2-3 seconds, whereas the average time spend with a print ad is about ten times that much. A mix of print and digital is currently the best way to reach the horror audience.

 

There is, however, a webpage for the magazine, right?

 

Yes, we run plenty of original content on it - http://www.rue-morgue.com

 

Are you mainly staff-written or do you also use some guest writers and freelancers? 

 

The majority of the magazine is written by freelancers.

 

What interested you in such a magazine? Have you, for example, ever worked in film yourself? 

 

I was obsessed by dinosaurs and monsters as a kid, read monster comics, then discovered the Universal Frankenstein and Dracula, which really helped set me on the path to being a monster kid. I really got interested investigating the genre when I was in university and discovered that not a lot of people were studying it, so there was plenty to unearth and discuss. I have degree in Film and Media Studies and dedicated a large portion of degree to focusing on horror cinema. While in university, a friend turned me onto Rue Morgue, which further stoked my interest, and when I was working as a full time freelance journalist, I approached them to get involved. Eventually I did. At the same time I was making short films, some of which were shown at festivals and won awards. I'm currently developing a horror-themed documentary TV show.

 

As an editor, what do you think "makes" a "good editor?" What are qualities you think an editor should have?

 

That's a broad question but a few examples: you need to be good with people and be able to work with them to lead them as a team; you need to understand who your readers are and how to connect with them, and often you have to be creative to come up with compelling story ideas and then being able to execute them within your resource, time and budget constraints.

 

On the other hand, what about flaws? What might make a "bad" or "poor editor" for lack of a better term?

 

People with egos who aren't team players, anyone who's lazy, and those who refuse to adapt to change, especially in the internet age. 

 

What do you look for in a good article?

 

Is it clear, concise, within the needed word count? Does is have a strong voice, a compelling angle and did the writer take the time to get the facts right?

 

Do you have any "norms" for deciding what gets run and what does not?

 

We're pretty open, but we know our viewpoint and style, so we stick to it. For example, we don't publish works of fiction.

 

What have been some of your most popular features?

 

Some of the most popular ones are in-depth retrospectives, such as Halloween cover stories about Cronenberg's The Fly, the 100th anniversary of Universal Studios, or the work of Clive Barker; fun round up articles, such as ones about the Top Alternative Horror Films, Horror Comics, Classic Horror Video Games, etc.; and culture features that take a look at something obscure you may not know existed, such as our recent piece on vintage anatomical models.

 

You also tend to like tribute features, no? For example you did one big feature recently on the actor who played The Tall Man in Phantasm, who passed recently.

 

Yes, we did a feature on the new Phantasm movie, which also contained a look at the restored original film, and features cast members paying tribute to Angus Scrimm, who played the series' iconic villain, The Tall Man.

 

What do you see down the road or have for future plans concerning the magazine? 

 

There's always a lot on the go, which we love. In terms of the world of Rue Morgue, there's our new convention coming up in July, The Dark Carnival (darkcarnivalexpo.com), which has been a lot of work but it's gonna be a blast. We've got more of the themed supplements coming out in our Rue Morgue library series, our monthly CineMacabre movie nights here in Toronto, new merch items and events we'll be sponsoring. For the mag itself, we've started working on the big Halloween issue, and we'll be bringing on some great new writers.

 

Do you have any unusual or funny stories to tell, as an editor, concerning behind the scenes tales or incidents while working in this position? 

 

Hmmm... most of 'em would get myself or others in trouble. Let's see... one of the coolest days I had while working at the magazine was visiting the site of the Kennedy assassination in Dallas with Tom Savini. He's obsessed by it and gave a few of us his personal, very detailed tour of the locations, discussing various theories, demonstrating what he thinks occurred and then taking us for lunch after. That was a pretty unusual afternoon, and total blast.

 

If there are any major changes you would like to make in the magazine, what would these be?

 

 

Feeling lucky ?
Want to search for books by
Rue Morgue
yourself ?

The links below
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I would love to expand the size of it because there's so much killer stuff happening in horror right now and only so many pages. However, to do that we need more support from advertisers.

 

Closing comments?

 

Thanks for the interview - much appreciated. Now go watch some horror movies!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Dale Pierce


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