20th Anniversary of Tangents

Dickie Typoe goes on Tangents after 20-year hiatus

Written by Molly Shores
Interview by Dianna Augustine

Some of you may be unaware, but there was once a Charlotte-based magazine called Tangents, run by the infamous mogul Dickie Typoe. It began in 1995, filling pages with local bands, news and the overall weirdness that has always occupied our city, just below the dense facade of bankers and good-ol-boys. Some archives still sit, framed, at the downtown library in the Carolina Room. While those are sitting, a time capsule of what Charlotte once was, Tangents’ staff has returned. Twenty years later, they’re back once more to bring us what they did so well.

Tangents lived from September of ‘95 to the Summer of ‘98, a rag-tag group of artists formulated the process and executed the plan to create a solid publication about all things Charlotte, without holding back. For nearly 36 months they brought Charlotte (and Atlanta and New York) humorous, insightful and sometimes brooding coverage. The team consisted of Greg Russell, Carl Fulmer, Cindy Sites, Dann Dunn, Daniel Coston, Erin Hubbs and Dickie Typoe (who captained the ship).

We spoke with Daniel Coston about the scoop on Tangents:

Photo by: Dianna Augustine

S16: How have the changes in music and media changed how you approached this 20th anniversary edition of Tangents?

Coston: I think that I hoped that other people would like the magazine, and that would lead to further success. But after 20 years, you realize that while it’s nice if people like what you’re doing, you ultimately have to create something that you are happy with. And for me, that was the starting point for doing a surprise 20th anniversary edition. Do I want to see this happen? Yes.

I also wanted to see if we could create word-of-mouth buzz about our “return” via social media, one person at a time. Back then, you showed the magazine to everyone that you met on the street. Now, you or someone posts something, and it grows from there. As we were finishing this issue, Berkeley Breathed revived Bloom County in much the same way. It becomes a joyous surprise, and a little different for each individual, like the extra present at Christmas that didn’t expect. I wanted to create that, again.

S16: What can we expect to see in this 20th anniversary piece?

Coston: A look back on the music and arts in Charlotte during our original run, and what is going on now. A lot of art and essays from our original core staff, as well as new artists. Plus, a lot of the irreverent humor that some loved, and other cringed about. It’s all there, for better or worse, depending on your point of view.

S16: What made you feel compelled to do this issue?

Coston: Tangents had slowly dwindled and died over the summer of 1998. We actually had a whole issue that never came out. Plus, we did try to re-start Tangents as an online magazine in 2010, but that faded away, again. I wanted to do the farewell issue that we had never gotten to do. Plus, I wanted to see if we do something spontaneous (as much as print media is ever “spontaneous”) for our 20th anniversary, and say, “This was, and is us. And we’re proud of that.”

S16: Some of the full prints were fictitious themes that had hilarious overtones and just whimsical writing and artwork – do you miss the fun of it all?

Coston: Yes, I have missed that. Just seeing what came out of our heads, and seeing if we could pull it off. Someone would make an offhead joke in March about doing an April Fool’s Issue in the style and content of the Weekly World News. Three weeks later, it was on the newsstands. For all the humor sites and blogs now in existence, it does seem like that there is less opportunity to create something in print that catches people off-guard, and keep people guessing as to what is coming next. There is hardly any element of surprise in media, anymore. Everyone knows everything, immediately. And I wanted to see that spark appear again, if only for a little while.

S16: Where are they now: Do you know what most from Tangents’ original staff are up to now? Especially Dickie Typoe… In scouring the internet for Tangents info I came upon this “One result of such a group effort was the magazine’s mascot Dickie Typoe, who was featured on every cover and on the masthead. He often appeared in fictitious stories which fleshed out his background as a rich Dutch pornographer who was the ruthless owner of Tangents.”

Coston: Dickie Typoe lives! His piece about Tangents, and what happened since 1998 leads off the new issue. As for him being fictional, well, as often happens in media, the truth is what you make of it. The original editors of the magazine- Carl Fulmer, Cindy Sites, and Lewd- all had a hand in this issue. They are all still in Charlotte, and working on various things. I contributed a good deal of material, as well as our original humor writer, J. F. Keaton. Other founding members, such as Dann Dunn, also contributed to this issue. The other staffers are scattered throughout the US, but may contribute to our new website, tangentsmag.com.

S16: What is next for Tangents? Will we see a resurgence of what is going on, or is this another one we will see a full on book about soon?  Possibly it should be a running column. Do tell!

Coston: Yes, we are talking about putting together a book of Tangents material, from the various eras. We were, and still are, a collective of people that are very diverse, and I think that the book will reflect that. As for future issues, I’m not one to say at this point. Again, I like the air of mystery about such things. The future is un-written. Stay tuned.

A statement from Dickie Typoe:

Hell yes, I exist! Do you believe in little green gnomes that magically update social media every time a celebrity farts? Do you believe in life after love? My goal with this new issue is to finally make Tangents Magazine as popular in Charlotte as it is across the world. You will bow down before me, Charlotte. Bow down! I promise that I’ll play nice this time. Not.

The biggest reason that we create, via writing, painting, music or more, is so that a piece of us be immortalized. Businesses, relationships, tests may fail but our creations will take on a life of their own: memes, hung on a wall, or set upon a bookshelf. It may seem futile, in this day and age, to create anything. “It’s been done before,” or “it’ll be buried in the rest of the world’s creations,” but how do you think creators felt when the Guttenburg press was invented, or when humans first set finger to cave wall? It’s as much about the immortalized product as it is the process, which enriches our lives and (we hope) at least one life around us. Stepping stones or life-goals, our projects are not busywork, they are art. Shutter 16 is one work of art we’re still cultivating, day after day, and one predecessor is Tangents magazine, a short-lived, but everlasting local publication. Perhaps they’ll return with another issue, but if not, we’re glad to see this publication return for one last hoorah.

*photo of magazine by Molly Shores
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