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Carl T. Ford Interview

DAGON Magazine Editor

Carl T. Ford will be remembered by many as the owner and editor of DAGON, an early and influential British Call of Cthulhu/Lovecraftian fanzine. At its height DAGON ran to more than 1000 copies per issue, featuring articles and scenarios by the likes of Sandy Petersen, Mark Morrision, Marcus L. Rowland and Steve Hatherley along with the literature of Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley, Thomas Ligotti and Neil Gaiman - to name just a few. More than 10 years after its last publication Carl talks to Yog-Sothoth about his trials & tribulations as the power behind one of the most famous CoC 'zines.

YSDC: Over time DAGON showcased more Lovecraftian literature. Did your interest in the game wane?

CTF: Yes, unfortunately there are many reasons for this. Chaosium seemed to lose the plot a bit and instead of just publishing decent material started milking the genre for all it was worth. Games Workshop started dropping gaming material that didn't have a house logo on it and I felt the gaming scene was becoming that of a battleground between companies wishing to make a fast buck. On top of this my regular gaming group split up following the unfortunate death of a very close friend who was a pivotal part of our group. I don't think any of us got over the shock and the gaming sessions stopped. I started reading more and more horror fiction and wanted to showcase works by authors that I felt deserved a wider audience, such as Thomas Ligotti and Des Lewis. So the magazine evolved.

YSDC: DAGON came to a premature end in 1990. Can you tell us what happened?

CTF: Unfortunately the work load got too big for me to do all by myself. My poor mum was having to cart trolleys of post down to the Post Office while I was at work, and I was up all hours, with only the ghouls for company, banging away at the typewriter, editing, answering mail and typing up articles. This coincided with a couple of serious illnesses and I felt I was getting a little stressed having to do this and a full time day job especially when I wasn't making any money out of DAGON. I was halfway through preparing publication of a big tribute to HPL with dozens of contributions from horror authors about their favourite Lovecraft story, when the printer I was using went bust. I lost a fair bit of money as I had paid for the typesetting and reprographics etc. and my passion for publishing dwindled. To this day I'm unsure whether I made the right decision I stayed chained to a thankless full time job and missed the explosion of HPL in the arts that followed shortly after DAGON's fold. Maybe it could have made it professionaly, maybe not.

YSDC: Will DAGON rise again?

CTF: To be honest I'd like to do a one off special but it would be dependent on how the new magazine venture goes. If that does well and I recover my money I may be tempted. I do have a lot of good stuff still in the files, that I never got around to publishing, so who knows?

YSDC: What advice would you give aspiring authors or editors?

CTF: Don't go in it for the bread. It takes years of hard work before you get recognized unless you're extremely lucky. If you're doing it for love then send submissions to a few fan magazines, they won't be able to pay much (if at all) but they will continue to use you as they grow and your name will be seen by the professional markets as time goes on. Nowadays, there's the web which is so useful for writers and publishers it's untrue. Subsequently there's an over-abundance of fiction and art some of it good, and most of it shite. It's an easy way to promote yourself so build up a network of contacts. If you've got an idea that you feel is original stick with it and get it out there.... but no more Cthulhoid fiction please.

YSDC: What are your favourite films?

CTF: How many pages can I have? I adore movies; some are true classics such as Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy. I'm very fond of the work of Alejandro Jodorowsky especially Santa Sangre, Alejandro Amenabar, Bigas Luna, David Lynch (who is one of the few directors whose films seem to get better) and David Cronenberg. On the trash horror front I enjoy early Fulci - The Beyond, The New York Ripper (for its sheer audacity), the Templar Knights films by Amando de Ossorio, Dante's The Howling, Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator and any porn directed by Gregory Dark. I could go on for ever.

YSDC: What would a typical day be like for you?

CTF: Write some e-mails and bugger about on the web, do some research into obscure cult horror films for the new mag, and maybe catch up with my girlfriend, Amanda, who is currently thousands of miles away working as a nurse in New Zealand.

YSDC: What would you like your Epitaph to read?

CTF: If it was considered risqué - he risked it!

YSDC: Carl T. Ford, thank you.