Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Starlog Magazine


Not to brag but I knew who Kevin Flynn, Snake Plissken, Ellen Ripley, Mad Max and Rick Deckard were long before they made their first appearances onto movie screens the world over and into the collective unconscious of popular culture. I listened to what people like John Carpenter, Ray Bradbury, Gene Rodenberry, Ann C. Crispin, Terry Gilliam and Stephen Spielberg had to say about their latest projects while I plotted and planned at just how I was going to get to a movie theater or a bookstore in South Jersey that would actually peddle the wares they were creating.

“Evil Chicken, just how did you find out about this stuff before it came out?”

Gentle Reader, I was a fan of Starlog Magazine, that’s how. Sure Forrest J. Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland was a primary influence on the publication but I grew up reading Starlog. Starlog published glossy wonder and I ate up each and every page. I remember bugging the magazine guy on the first Tuesday of every month to see if the new issue of Starlog had arrived. Starlog was, for this Geek and a great many others, the bee’s knees. The magazine was around for almost 33 years, which is some feat when one considers that nature of the publishing industry these days. After all, Newsweek Magazine was bought yesterday for the grand total of $1.00. Starlog, however, was always near and dear to my heart. You see, back when a world wide computer network was nothing but science fiction Starlog was one of the only fountains for a Geek to drink from – it was a literal oasis in the publishing world. This magazine fed an entire generation of fanboys, including yours truly. Starlog fanned the flames of wonder.

And now, it’s gone.

I believe that it was the internet that killed Starlog. I remember heading to their site and hoping beyond hope that they would embrace this new technology to work in tandem with their print version. Alas, this was never the case. Their web site never took into account the vast changes in media that were taking place. On the internet readers could now comment and become a part of the conversation about all things geek. If there was an interview with a leading science fiction author or a report from a movie set or hints being dropped about what the next ‘Star Trek’ film was going to be about all fans had to do was drop a name onto a search engine and press ‘Enter’. This eliminated the wait for next month’s issue. Now information was instantaneous, plentiful and, depending on where one found it, accurate. The Starlog website never adapted which is ironic for a magazine that so prominently promoted the future to remain fixed in the past. Some magazines made the jump such as Wired (http://www.wired.com/) and others did not such as OMNI (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omni_(magazine)) and, sadly, Starlog (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starlog).

The first issue was published in August of 1976 and the final issue, #375, was published in April of 2009. I want to believe that Starlog is only in hibernation. I would love to see a multimedia version of a resurrected Starlog come to pass which would be launched electronically and in print; with a web presence and a go-to show on G4 or the SyFy Channel – all the Geek news that’s fit to print, blog or broadcast. The rights to Starlog are currently held by “The Brooklyn Company INC”, the same people who publish Fangoria (which was a sister publication to Starlog). I mention this tidbit as a means of introduction to the good people at The Brooklyn Company INC…

Please consider this blog the preamble to my resume. I am Evil Chicken and if you ever want to reboot Starlog... I am your man.

2 comments:

Evil Chicken said...

Yep.

I'm late on this one.

That being said I really miss the idea that this is not being published anymore.

Any other fans out there?

John Z. said...

Evil Chicken: Nice thoughts; thanks for posting this.

There are other fans out there – lots of them. I hear from them all the time (from around the world) when they write to me as a result of my ongoing chronicling of every issue of Starlog.

I think I might quibble a bit when you say the internet killed Starlog. There were a lot of things (ultimately, the publisher lost his financing, according to an interview I read with editor of a different magazine published by the same company). But you're right that Starlog missed the boat on the internet, and it was one more thing added to the list of problems that drove the magazine into the ground. I write about many of them in this January 2009 overview of Starlog's problems, which I'm told got shared around the Starlog offices.

Will it ever return? Or will British SF mags like SFX and Sci Fi Now successfully colonize American newsstands? We'll see.