Sunday, April 12, 2009

I weep for the future coverage of upcoming films about the future

I just learned that the venerable "Starlog" magazine is ceasing publication as of it's latest issue, numbered 375. Like seemingly everything nowadays, it is becoming a web-only entity. Hang on for a few seconds as I shed some nostalgic tears and shake my fist at cruel and uncaring Crom, perched on his throne in the sky.

OK, I'm back. For those of you unfamiliar with Starlog magazine, it was quite an important publication back in the day - important that is, if you were concerned and/or obsessed with science fiction - fantasy films and TV shows. And who among us wasn't obsessed with those things? No man I'd care to drink with, that's for sure.

The magazine started in 1976, and quickly gained prominence among fans of the genre. You young 'uns weened on the teat of the web have to remember that it was pretty hard to find info on such topics back then, so a magazine with color photos of "Star Wars" and "Superman: The Movie" would actually sell a respectable amounts of copies. But Starlog didn't just have photos - it featured behind the scenes articles and interviews with the people responsible for current and forthcoming features. So a while before "Blade Runner" was released, you could pick up an issue of Starlog that had interviews with the screenwriters, kick-ass production designer Syd Mead and author Philip K. Dick to boot. And yes, this was indeed a big deal to me in 8th grade.

Just look at the cover of that issue - it's packed to the gills with cool shit. You have the "Blade Runner" coverage I mentioned, plus an article above the masthead titled "Should Spock Die?" (let it not be said that Starlog was afraid to tackle the tough questions), coverage of "John Carpenter's The Thing" and, as a bonus, John W. Campbell's classic short-story "Who Goes There," which is the what "The Thing" was based on, a free spaceship blueprint, and much, much more. Worth every nickel of the $2.50 cover price, I'm sure you'll agree.

They were the go-to source for advance word on classics like "Alien" and "Altered States" as well as dreck like "The Black Hole" and "Heartbeeps." They also launched a spin-off with "Fangoria" magazine, which was basically Starlog for the horror and gore crowd. The first issue of that had Godzilla on the cover and sizable article on George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead," which made for a fine debut in my book.

Farewell, magazine-format Starlog. I will miss your ads for sci-fi movie soundtracks and spaceship and robot blueprints. But I still have some of my old copies to cling to, as well as the below additions from their fine "Starlog Photo Guidebook" series - "Robots" and "Special Effects":


The Crimson Executioner said...

I will never forgive Starlog for convincing me to see Megaforce.They actually gave that a good review. Any movie that sucks when you are 13 almost certainly sucks when you are 40. They did give quite a bit of press to Sword and the Sorceror, so I guess we're even

Dr. Charles Nostrand said...

Sorry about that. If memory serves, they ran full page color ads for that piece of cinematic dung on the back cover for like 5 issues in a row - probably some sort of payola deal in which they had to give it a positive nod.

I wasn't fooled though - the fact that it starred Barry Bostwick in a headband was enough to send me running in the other direction.