Bye Bye Reprobate, Hello Desperate Livin ...

Bye Bye Reprobate, Hello Desperate Living

Apr 01, 2024

In 1963, 13-year-old Gary J. Svelha published the first issue of his fanzine Gore Creatures, a scrappy hand-made publication with a 20-copy print run. Gore Creatures was a great name for something that was a teenage hobby that no one expected to go anywhere, but over the years the zine grew and became increasingly professional in style. The Famous Monsters-inspired name quickly became a liability in terms of the zine being taken seriously by fans and the film industry alike. Perhaps more to the point, it no longer reflected what Svelha was doing or where he was at as a person. With the 26th issue in 1978, Gore Creatures was renamed Midnight Marquee, the name that is still used for the magazine and the book publishing company today.

I tell this story because it is a great example of how titles sometimes need to evolve and change to represent where a publication, a business or a website is now. Gore Creatures was a great title – ahead of its time even, given the gore-fixated horror press of the 1980s, and perhaps more fun than Midnight Marquee – but I imagine that it increasingly became a bit of an embarrassment for Svelha, one that perhaps restricted what he wanted to do.

When we launched The Reprobate back in 2016, the project was conceived as something rather different from the website that you are reading now. The Reprobate was a print publication and the website was initially supposed to be the online presence of both the magazine and Reprobate Press, the publishing company. As long-time readers will know, The Reprobate did not last in print – the print retail world is not what it was and launching anything without substantial financial backing is very difficult. On the other hand, the website grew and grew and quickly became our main focus. There was only one problem – the name.

The Reprobate in print was a very different beast from The Reprobate online. But the publisher’s website rapidly blurred into an online magazine or blog or whatever you choose to call these things (personally, I hate ‘blog’ as a description of what we do, but there you go), one that shared the name of the long-dead magazine. And that was fine, except that I never felt completely comfortable with it. Like Gore Creatures, it was a great name that nevertheless didn’t really seem to represent what we did – and, for some people, probably had negative connotations. I’m aware that some people really like the name – when I’ve talked about this to friends and colleagues, there has been the suggestion that changing it would be madness, even from people who have successfully renamed their own projects. But over the last year, the need to change has become more obvious to me, and as we begin to refocus what we do as a website and a ‘brand’, it feels as though the time is right for a fresh start.

So, it is goodbye to The Reprobate and hello to Desperate Living. Yeah, that John Waters influence is never far away.

At some point on April 1st 2024, we’ll be making the switch. It won’t be particularly dramatic (at least we hope not!) and you shouldn’t expect some dramatic refocus – we’ll probably be running more short film and music reviews alongside our deep dive features and we’ll be shooting and posting a lot more video content – things that we have already been creeping towards. But there isn’t going to be a major change of direction or a commercial sell-out – believe me, if that was ever going to happen, it would’ve done so already. We are still looking at options to make the site financially stable, and we’ll get into that down the road – but the whole idea for now is to bring you more content, more variety and more obscure nonsense.

This should be a fairly seamless change – the URL will continue to operate indefinitely, so those of you who have the site bookmarked or find old links have nothing to worry about – you’ll still end up here. We’ll keep the old name on social media for a little while and Reprobate Press will continue as both the publisher of this website and an occasional print operation. Bear with us in case of teething trouble and feel free to report any problems that you encounter. Feel free to complain about the change if you must. Hell, continue to call us The Reprobate if you want to, just as everyone still calls ‘X’ Twitter. But otherwise – is the name to use from now on.

This is a step into the unknown – I’ve been running this site for eight years, which officially makes it the longest-running project that I’ve ever done, and I am in no hurry to bugger it all up. I won’t tell you how long we’ve been planning this, and I am very nervous about making any changes. But the time feels right. And if it all goes badly wrong, we’ll just revert to the old title and old layout, pretending that this never happened.

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