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David Everitt, the third Editor of FANGORIA, who died May 7 of ALS (see obituary here), was a professional. That’s the highest praise I can give him: a true pro.
He would probably appreciate the sentiment, but undoubtedly not the sentimentality. So I apologize for the latter. But then, I bet, he would be quoting the Duke (our beloved John Wayne): “Never apologize. It’s a sign of weakness.”
So let me offer a few words about my old colleague—without, I hope, indulging in too much sentimentality. Or apologizing.
First, to review ancient FANGORIA history for those who came in late: Begun as FANTASTICA (its first issue long postponed by a lawsuit over the name), the magazine emerged in 1979 as FANGORIA. Ed Naha, later the screenwriter of HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS and DOLLS, edited #1 under a pseudonym (“Joe Bonham”), but the delay caused some uncredited rejiggering of that issue’s time-sensitive contents by STARLOG staffer “Uncle” Bob Martin. In turn, Martin officially became FANGORIA’s editor with issue #2, eventually aided by first Bob Woods and then Bob Greenberger as managing editor. When Greenberger moved on to create COMICS SCENE magazine for the company in 1981, Everitt was enlisted as managing editor.
And here’s where I come in (literally). While on the set of SWAMP THING in May 1981, Martin told his fellow journalists (including me) that Greenberger was starting COMICS SCENE. It was a possible freelance market for me, one that wouldn’t conflict with my staff job on MEDIASCENE PREVUE. More than a year later (and after I had sold him some stories for CS), Greenberger informed me of a job vacancy at STARLOG. I ended up as its managing editor, beginning in October 1982.
That’s when I met Everitt. At the time, the Starlog Group (a.k.a. O’Quinn Studios) had about 25 employees—and five of us (20 percent!) were named David. Besides Everitt and me, this Brotherhood of the Dave also included STARLOG special FX editor David Hutchison (a.k.a. Hutch, he was still at the company when he died in 2000), assistant editor David Hirsch (who left in 1983 to become an optometrist) and David Elrich (freelance editor of our boxing mag, FIGHT GAME). This abundance of Daves caused no end of confusion—and resulted in frequent references to each other by last names only. I may have called him Everitt (or even Mr. Everitt) as often as I called him Dave.
As you entered our company suite there on the eighth floor of 475 Park Avenue South in NYC, past the receptionist, the very first office was STARLOG (shared by editor Howard Zimmerman and me). Right next to us was the FANGORIA office (Martin and Everitt). That’s how I got to know Everitt. He was often close at hand.
Well, I vowed to downplay the sentimentality here, so let me just say: Dave was a great guy with a wicked sense of humor. He didn’t suffer fools gladly, but he was often bemused by them. His eyes would twinkle as he took in the latest bizarre publicist action, strange contributor excuse or wacky management move. Sometimes he would respond with anger, but more often it was a deadpan quip that found the humor in whatever this latest offense against magazine editors happened to be.
By this time, Everitt and Martin were equals—co-editors of FANGORIA, each writing three stories for every issue. Martin has offered his own memories (see them here http://www.fangoria.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=892:former-fangoria-editor-uncle-bob-martin-remembers-david-everitt&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=167). I don’t think it’s telling tales out of school—especially after almost three decades—but in those days, they didn’t always agree on what was right for FANGORIA. I remember that well—after all, they were next door, the walls were thin and the doors open—but I don’t recall any specific details of editorial disagreements.
In truth, Everitt and Martin were kind of an editorial odd couple. Everitt arrived every morning circa 9 a.m., well-dressed (not the case with many of the company’s staffers) and ready to work. The consummate professional. His part of the FANGORIA office was extremely neat. Martin, on the other hand, toiled at a chaotic, paper-covered desk a few feet away (nonetheless, he was the first editor I knew who was smart enough to buy his own computer and use it while Everitt and the rest of us still wrestled with electric typewriters). Martin wouldn’t show up until 11 a.m. or noon, but that was because it made it easier to deal by phone with LA (which didn’t open for business till after noon NYC time). Due to that later start, he routinely worked until 7 or 8 p.m. Everitt was off promptly at 5 p.m. for home to be with his wife.
Those were the basic yin-yang differences between Dave and “Uncle” Bob: one neat, one not; one on time, the other later—but both terrific writers. Their philosophical differences and any disagreements that arose from them—let’s just term that “creative tension”—helped make FANGORIA a better magazine. It was a cool place to be, this publication that celebrated indie horror and makeup artistry, not to mention great character actor Dick Miller (whose idolization Everitt engineered) and Mexican wrestling heroes (a Martin contribution). Those were the Golden Days for FANGORIA.
Other than family, Everitt also filled his time by writing books, some in collaboration with his cousin, college professor and true-crime expert Harold Schechter. I have several Western paperback novels Everitt penned, as well as such Everitt-Schechter teamings as a spoof guide to THE A-TEAM, THE MANLY HANDBOOK, THE MANLY MOVIE GUIDE and THE A-Z GUIDE TO SERIAL KILLERS. I’ve read some but not all (I really do have several thousand unread paperbacks and hardcovers piled up in my apartment awaiting a rainy day). I guess the two I’m most intrigued by are KING OF THE HALF-HOUR: NAT HIKEN & THE GOLDEN AGE OF TV COMEDY (about the creator of SGT. BILKO) and REMEMBERING SAM (a memoir tracing his mother’s WWII relationship with her first husband). Guess what! Those two I don’t have copies of. Go figure.
I want to say yes, but I’m unsure now if Dave ever went to any of the later FANGORIA’s Weekend of Horrors conventions (having attended so many cons myself, they all sorta blend into one another in memory). But I do know he appeared as FANGORIA’s rep at the very first STARLOG Festival, held in Chicago in April 1984. Instead of taking a plane, he (and I think his wife) drove from New York to Illinois. Everitt was bemused by the con experience—naahh, let me be more candid about that. He didn’t much care for all that tomfoolery.
In May 1985, Martin left FANGORIA, moving down the hall to a sister publication (HARD ROCK) that needed editorial rescue. Everitt was now solo at FANGORIA (the only person in the magazine’s 30-year history to ever be managing editor, co-editor and editor). Around this time, assistant publisher Milburn Smith and I hired young Anthony Timpone (who had sold two stories to me for STARLOG). We billeted him in the FANGORIA office. He was a Fango fan, a horror buff and a brand-new college grad. Besides, an empty desk and chair were sitting right there.
As an assistant editor, Timpone helped out on all our magazines, but especially FANGORIA. For six weeks or so, he got a first-hand view at crafting horror in entertainment from Everitt. That was a good thing, a very good thing.
And then, for Everitt, it was suddenly time to move on. He had an offer from a video trade magazine (VIDEOGRAPHY or maybe VIDEO BUSINESS?) and responsibilities to his growing family. In 1985 (and all the years thereafter), salaries at the Starlog Group weren’t especially high. So, after taking over as sole editor of FANGORIA #48, he left in the middle of production of issue #50. I succeeded him as temporary interim editor with a publisher-mandated, year-plus-long mission to train Timpone to become FANGORIA’s editor.
I’m pleased to say that when I revealed this succession scenario (which, I must note, had been my suggestion to the powers that be), Dave was all for it. He thought Tony was an excellent choice, a boy born for the job. And he wanted FANGORIA to continue.
In the years since then, I occasionally chatted on the phone with Dave. We went to lunch several times with Tony and FANGORIA contributor Tim Ferrante. That was always such fun, with talk of movie Westerns, co-worker antics and manly pursuits dominating the table.
That’s how I want to remember Dave Everitt. The true professional editorial soldier. Like John Wayne clutching a gold watch near the end of SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON. Look—there’s a sentiment inside: “Lest we forget.”
Have to end this here. Manly men can’t use Kleenex.
David McDonnell, the longtime editor of STARLOG (beginning April 1985), also served as the fourth editor of FANGORIA (July 1985-November 1986, issues #50-#62). He remained a FANGORIA contributing editor until his exit from STARLOG and the company in December 2009.
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