Author John Szpunar’s “Xerox Ferox” presents itself not only as a chronicle of the horror fan magazine, but how author Chas Balun changed the horror world. Balun died in 2009 after a long fight with cancer, and left a large hole in the world of horror journalism. As well, he also left behind a long line of friends that he affected. “Xerox Ferox” doesn’t just explore the inherent passion behind horror fandom but how Balun changed horror fans’ lives forever.
Author Szpunar compiles a long list of interviews from various periods in his career to reveal how horror bred a whole new underground of journalists and artists. Long before the internet, the horror fan base was considered mostly the black sheep of film worship, and a huge base of talented fans sought out to show how much they worshipped the genre. From newsletters, to comic books, leading right in to Deep Red and Fangoria, author Szpunar pinpoints where it all began. The new fan base of writers that spent their own time and money expressing their love for the horror world, and they helped usher in a new world of horror that their once beloved magazine Famous Monsters wouldn’t touch.
Many of the writers that changed the way we look at horror began as freelancers that hoped to focus on horror movies that most mainstream newspapers or critics wouldn’t feature. The fan base also attracted many artists and underground critics, who used ancient means of publishing just to get the information to their fellow horror fans that wasn’t getting to them through the mainstream. From Steve Bissette, and Michael Gingold, to Jim Vanbebber and Roy Frumkes, much of “Xerox Ferox” really digs deep down to explore how these horror fans wanted to change the way horror was covered and how it was viewed by the general public.
They created their own fanzines, and printed their own copies of books before the age of xeroxing to get the word out to their subscribers. Many of the writers discuss some of the amazing fanzines that influenced their love for the genre, while talking about the cheaply constructed cash ins that they took great pains to avoid copying. “Xerox Ferox” is an excellent compilation of very informative and engrossing interviews that every aspiring horror journalist and horror fanatic should read. Before the internet there was the revolution of the fanzine and it’s all recorded in this fantastic chronicle.