Friday, April 30, 2010

Fangoria Fans Finally Find an Online Project of Their Own

As my Starlog Project (in this blog and on its permanent site has grown (currently at issue #83), I've seen the enthusiasm people have for this classic science-fiction magazine they read as a child, as a teen, and well into their adult lives. It has also been enjoyable for me to go through these 30-year-old magazines and chronicle their content, design, the big movies and TV shows they covered, and more.

In an earlier post on this blog, I noted that I probably wouldn't have time to do a similar project for Starlog's sister magazine Fangoria, but I knew there were many -- dare I say rabid? -- fans of Fangoria, and surely one of them would do that magazine proud by chronicling its many issues. Now it looks like Don Guarisco is doing just that over at Schlockmania. Guarisco writes a comprehensive and entertaining profile of each issue, putting it in perspective for its time and describing the articles; he's not afraid to call the magazine on the carpet when he thinks they underperformed (or just weirdly performed -- anyone really want Disney's The Black Hole covered in Fango?). He's on issue #4 at the time of this writing, so it's still early days. If you're a reader of Fangoria or were in the past, now's a great time to climb aboard this nostalgia train.

I'm glad to see someone's taken on the Fangoria project.

So that's one thing I can cross off my to-do list ...


Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Short-Sighted Pressures Concerning the Greek Finance Mess

So after decades of financial mismanagement and irresponsible labor deals (such as, oh, retirements at the age of 55), Greece is on the rocks financially. As anyone knows who's been following world news lately, Europe has been furiously (in both senses of the word) trying to come to agreement on how to stop the threat to the entire eurozone that is caused by lenders and investors losing confidence in Greece.

Standing at the center of the storm is ... no, not Greece. It seems to be getting treated the way one treats a downtrodden member of society who did nothing to cause his or her own troubles. The center of the storm is Berlin, where Chancellor Angela Merkel has been pledging her support for a package for Greece while saying nothing would be signed until Greece comes up with a credible plan to fix the way it does business. If we can't support tough love in the midst of a global downturn, how will it ever be imposed when things are good and people's attention wanders to dreams of easy money again?

Unfortunately, the media -- especially the financial media, which seems to have learned nothing from the past 18 months -- is acting as if Merkel is selfishly pandering to conservative German public opinion, which overwhelmingly opposes any bailout.

Just one example is Christopher Noble at Rupert Murdoch's Marketwatch. In a recent column, Noble blames Merkel for almost single-handedly putting the entire eurozone at risk. Noble mixes in some History Channel-level understanding of history, complaining that Germany is driven to be tough on eurozone financial failures because Germany so wants to be normal again after World War II. (In one particularly ridiculous paragraph, he blames the 1990s' Balkan Wars on Germany.)

Noble might be a particularly ignoble example, but he's part of the majority of the news commentary on the Greek financial crisis that we're being fed in the U.S. Even my beloved Financial Times -- which I love because it generally doesn't drink the kool-aid -- has frequently attacked Germany for being hard-line about a Greek bailout.

Think about this: We are just now starting to realize some upside after this horrendous near-depression that most of the world was dragged into. What dragged us there? Lax lending standards, a dearth of transparency in economic transactions, corruption, weak or nonexistent regulation, a get-rich-now-worry-about-the-details-later attitude. You have heard about the NINJA loans in the subprime lending schemes? No income, no job, no assets. Yet such loans were given to people to buy homes during the housing bubble. It made the lender happy (he could book the loan, get the commission, then sell the loan to Wall Street where suckers were eager to buy it, even if the ratings agencies weren't properly rating the securitized loan packages) and it made the buyer happy (for stupidly thinking the home value would rise forever). Of course, when that house of cards collapsed, nearly everyone lost, even those of us who bought neither homes nor housing securities.

Well, Greece is the ultimate NINJA borrower. Financially irresponsible, refuses to take responsibility for the mess it made, yet it is (to mix American recession metaphors) too big to fail, so Europe has to take painful action.

I recently had a conversation with a Greek man who lives part of the year in Greece, part in the United States. He loves both countries dearly, and I think it pains him to see what's happening to Greece. Yet even he mixed his complaints about Germany with an acknowledgment that Greece has mismanaged its finances and labor market, and that it has little in the way of economic power. Tourism and some agriculture. That's it. There is a popular theme in Greece that says Germany should bail it out (to the tune of tens of billions of dollars) not with loans but with reparations for the bombing of Greece nearly 70 years ago in World War II. (At the risk of indelicateness, Germany bombed a hell of a lot of countries during that war, and the other countries have managed to build real economies in the time since; more important, Germany has ensconced itself in the European Union and eurozone -- and has spent billions to support the weaker members of those systems -- as a direct consequence of its shameful actions in WWII.)

There is reason for optimism.

As my Greek friend and I agreed, Greece will come out of this. I think they've got a good prime minister in Geórgios Papandréou, who assumed power just as the world financial crash was occurring. His irresponsible predecessors made his job even worse, but of course Greek government financial mismanagement goes back a long time and includes more than one party. He seems to understand what needs to be done; whether political realities in his country will allow him to do it remains to be seen

But Greece, if it's smart and makes the changes needed to become competitive (raising its retirement age to Western norms, for starters), will come out of this stronger than before. And they'll have Angela Merkel in part to thank for that. Though they won't.

The Starlog Project: Starlog #83, June 1984: Indy's Back

The first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, kind of came from out of nowhere, even though it was put together by two of the biggest names in filmdom: Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. It didn't even get its own cover on Starlog, despite the many fantastical and magical elements to the story (two words: melting face); it did share a cover with The Empire Strikes Back back in issue #51. But everyone was on to the game by the time Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom came out, so here it debuts with a Starlog cover.

Starlog #83
70 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.95

Cover note: Occasionally, a letter writer would complain to Starlog that its covers have more and more text on them. Magazine purists (which I am in many ways, but not in this) often want to strip a cover of most or all cover text except the logo. But Starlog was a newsstand magazine, and if it didn't have something on the cover to induce someone to pick it up and look through it, they were unlikely to buy it. Thus, everything from the big Indy film to a letters pages controversy ("Lorenzo Semple's Hate Mail") gets plugged on the cover.

The rundown: In From the Bridge, publisher Kerry O'Quinn shares a letter from an aspiring filmmaker from South America who has an eagerness for working in the United States; Communications letters include those above-mentioned responses to screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr.'s tart comments on other filmmakers, including Irvin Kershner, and hey -- there are letters responding to the interview with Kershner in issue #79, where he responded to Semple and other critics; short news items in Log Entries include a look at Doug Trumbull's Showscan movie projection system, a report on 13 half-hour adaptations of Ray Bradbury stories for public radio, a look at the Destroyer series of novels, an announcement of Fangoria editor David Everitt's co-written book Not-the-A-Team Beauty Book, an obituary for Kenneth Strickfaden, and more.

Lenny Kaye's Space Age Games and Computers column sports its new title, which accurately describes what it covers; Sal Manna interviews Robin Curtis, who takes over for Kirstey Alley as Saavik in Star Trek III -- The Search for Spock; David Gerrold resurrects his quotemeister Solomon Short for a return visit to his column; Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier visit the set of V--The Conclusion; Starlog's British correspondent, Adam Pirani, visits the set of Doctor Who episode "Resurrection of the Daleks"; Thomas McKelvey Cleaver interviews producer Frank Marshall about Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; novelist Ann Crispin explains the art (and profession) of writing movie/TV tie-in novelizations, which she has done for both the Star Trek and the V universes; Steve Swires interviews producer Paul Aratow about Sheena, Queen of the Jungle; Thomas McKelvey Cleaver interviews Kate Capshaw, from Temple of Doom (and future wife of Steven Spielberg); C.J. Henderson interviews fantasy writer Fritz Leiber; Kim Howard Johnson makes a first appearance in Starlog's pages with an interview with special effects master Derek Meddings regarding Supergirl; and Howard Zimmerman wraps it all up in his Lastword column, where he gets a bit metaphysical.
"It's easier to open up about life and its problems when it's fiction. Almost any good story must come from this kind of searching. And, of course, what is even more interesting is when we read a good story by someone else, and it touches off our own thoughts about ourselves, and we see that there's something similar that we want to write. We all do it -- we'll see a good movie or read a good book, and we'll want to add something on -- something out of our own experience which makes the story more personal and more complete for us."
--Fritz Leiber, writer, interviewed by C.J. Henderson: "Fritz Leiber: America's Grand-Master of Fantasy"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #82, May 1984: Trek on a Roll

The stars line up for this issue of Starlog: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Max von Sydow, Ian McDiarmid, Christopher Lloyd, and more. It's even the third consecutive strong cover for the magazine. And with the much-anticipated return of Star Trek to the nation's theaters, the magazine has plenty of fodder for upcoming issues. In Starlog spinoff news: the third edition of the Starlog Scrapbook and the second edition of the Starlog Poster Magazine are out.

While writing this synopsis, I'm struck by the fact that the magazine filled the equivalent of three full pages (two full pages, two half-pages) with small-print letters from readers. It used to be a sign of a magazine's health if it had a lively letters page, and Starlog certainly had that. Today, of course, you can't make the same assumption; many people -- especially the most talkative -- prefer the instant gratification of online forums, so even popular and healthy magazines these days often have shrunken or no printed letters pages. A shame, I think, because a printed letters page is so much less likely to be taken over by one or two ill-behaved boors who can't bear to have anyone disagree with them. Alas, progress waits for no man ...

Starlog #82
70 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.95

The magazine renames its two-page foldout poster the Starlog Fantasy Classic (instead of the usual Starlog Science Fiction Classic) so it can feature an indisputably classic movie: The Wizard of Oz.

The rundown: In his From the Bridge column, Kerry O'Quinn's in full inspiration-overdrive mode again, offering his thoughts on young people who try to decide where to put their energy; in the Communications section, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi producer Howard Kazanjian responds to an earlier letter writer who complained that Jedi was passing along Christian theology (a laughable suggestion, frankly, considering the entire Star Wars series' debt to Buddhism), plus readers share their thoughts on The Day After, The Right Stuff, and the possibility that the Enterprise will be destroyed in Star Trek III -- The Search for Spock; Log Entries short news items include a report on the upcoming Supergirl movie, an overview of the merchandising for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, first word on the William Katt Disney flick Baby, a short interview with The Steps of the Sun author Walter Tevis, an obituary for former Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller, and more.

Lenny Kaye's Space Age Games column provides a roundup of a number of new video games, as well as some thoughts on "The Incredible Shrinking Computer" (which was, by the way, the title of a two-part article Kerry O'Quinn wrote for now-defunct Future Life magazine five years earlier); Lee Goldberg interviews the multi-talented Christopher Lloyd about his work in Buckaroo Banzai and Star Trek -- The Search for Spock; Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier interview Ian McDiarmid, whose many acting credits include Star Wars' Emperor Palpatine; Patrick Daniel O'Neill interviews Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner; Sal Manna interviews Swedish actor Max von Sydow about his role in Dune; Robert Greenberger interviews V's Faye Grant; Brian Lowry reports on the SF comedy The Ice Pirates; Lowry also interviews Arnold Schwarzenegger about his role in Conan, King of Thieves (eventually renamed Conan the Destroyer); David Gerrold says "I can't write," but obviously means more and something different than what he says; David Hutchison pens the second of his multi-part look at the special effects of Return of the Jedi; and Howard Zimmerman examines The Ice Pirates and Isaac Asimov's The Robots of Dawn in his Lastword column.
"I've always liked Star Trek stylistically and visually. It's more of a thinker's adventure. It has action, but it's more of a thoughtful kind of dialogue than in most of these films. Ideas are presented and worked out. They think out their problems as they go along. ... No, Buckaroo Banzai does the same thing in a different way, the audience gets it less spelled out, it's less explicit. Buckaroo Banzai represents something more than it talks about. I'm not sure what, though."
--Christopher Lloyd, actor, interviewed by Lee Goldberg: Christopher Lloyd: Call Him Klingon"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #81, April 1984: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Flies

A fine issue, featuring a cover with Christopher Lambert from his new movie Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Alas, the cover also features one of the most tasteless blurbs in the magazine's history: "Veronica Cartwright: I Got Raped by the ALIEN!"

In staffing news, Robert Greenberger (who edited the short-lived Comics Scene during his tenure in the Starlog offices) is leaving for a job at DC Comics, and new associate editor Leslie Stackel comes aboard. Also, I think I neglected to mention the arrival some months back of Robert R. Rachoi as vice president and circulation director.

Starlog #81
70 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.95

I have no inside knowledge of this, but here's a thought: Starlog magazine was the cash cow of the Starlog family of periodicals. It had the highest or one of the highest circulations of any of its magazines (I could be wrong, but I think only Black Elegance and perhaps Country Rhythms would have higher circulations at some points), yet its cover price was higher than others. Consider, in this very issue of Starlog, we see the ad again for the new music magazine Rock Video, which has roughly the same number of pages as Starlog (though I think it even had more color pages than Starlog), yet its cover price was $2.25 versus Starlog's $2.95. A 12-issue subscription to Rock Video cost $21.98 (and you got a free t-shirt!), while a 12-issue subscription to Starlog cost $27.49 (with no t-shirt).

The rundown: In his From the Bridge column, Kerry O'Quinn touts the upcoming Starlog Festival convention series; Communications letters throw more fire on the Starlog-hates-Lost-in-Space controversy (I would witness this firsthand in the year 2000, when I attended a small SF convention in New York City and one of the pro-Lost speakers took a swipe at Starlog for its alleged anti-Lost bias -- these people hold a grudge!), express surprise at Kirstie Alley's absence from the new Star Trek movie, offer corrections to recent special effects articles, grade Brainstorm (including a letter from Richard Gordon, who I believe is the veteran movie producer brother to Fangoria columnist Alex Gordon), and more; Log Entries short news items include a preview of the Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah film Splash, a photo preview of upcoming genre films, lots of short headlines (such as Harlan Ellison leaving the film adaptation of Bug Jack Barron), and more.

Lenny Kaye's Space Age Games gives a lot of attention to Coleco, and it also peers inside home computers; Robert Greenberger interviews Hugh Hudson, director of the new Tarzan film; Milburn Smith chronicles Tarzan's many book, film and television productions; Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier preview Dreamscape; Milburn Smith lists the science fiction, fantasy and horror films that won Academy Awards from 1931 to 1982 (and, it should be noted, Starlog produced a one-shot special magazine in 1983 about the Academy Awards, though it never repeated the feat); David McDonnell highlights artist Mark E. Rogers' The Adventures of Samurai Cat book; Lee Goldberg looks at the "death duel" between a TV adaptation of Blue Thunder and the competing series Airwolf, which it cheekily calls an "original imitation"; Howard Zimmerman reports from the World Fantasy Convention in Chicago; Lee Goldberg visits the set of Buckaroo Banzai, a film destined for cult status (and a favorite of the Starlog staff); William B. Thompson interviews novelist Alan Dean Foster, who did the novelization for The Last Starfighter; David Gerrold reports on the status of the rough cut of Star Trek III -- The Search for Spock; Thomas McKelvey Cleaver interviews The Right Stuff's Fred Ward; Robert Greenberger interviews Veronica Cartwright (Alien, The Right Stuff); in his Lastword column, editor Howard Zimmerman says good-bye to Robert Greenberger and comments on plans for a space station.
"I know when I'm getting close to camp, ... and I have actors who, by virtue of their own talents, prevent me from going over that line. You could have cast this film in a certain way which would have made it impossible not to be campy."
--W.D. Richter, director, interviewed by Lee Goldberg: "On the Set of Buckaroo Banzai"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

The Starlog Project: Starlog #80, March 1984: You, too, Can Be a Jedi Knight

Faithful readers of this compendium know I'm a sucker for space opera, and that includes spaceship photos on the cover of Starlog. So you can easily guess whether I'd like this cover of #80, which features a space battle from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. A classic cover.

Meanwhile, there's some developments in the Starlog universe: The company advertises for the first time its newest magazine, Rock Video -- a magazine covering, well, the name says it all, right? A rather well-done attempt to cash in on the music video craze, Rock Video would undergo two name changes (Rock Video Idols, and Hard Rock), and eventually another company would take over the magazine and produce it (I think they called it Rock Fever, but I'm not sure, and if I'm correct, then I still don't know if it was related to an earlier publication called Rock Fever). Also advertised for the first time this issue is the Starlog Festival, the Creation Convention-produced events drawing on the connections and staffs of Starlog, Fangoria, and Cinemagic. Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston are the first cities to host the Starlog Festivals. (This would soon spin off the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors, which would run for decades.

Starlog #80
70 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.95

Two issues in a row with a real, classic film represented in the Starlog Science Fiction Classic foldout poster. Amazing. This month, it's The Day the Earth Stood Still. No, not the Keanu Reeves one.

The rundown: Responding to the anti-nuclear film The Day After, Kerry O'Quinn devotes his From the Bridge column to arguing that there are worse things in the world than nuclear weapons -- such as communism; letters in the Communications pages include lots of spirited reactions to Norman Spinrad's review of Return of the Jedi (with an extended reply by the author), a note of appreciation from Maurice Binder, and more; short news items in Log Entries include a mini profile of author Tim Powers and his new book The Anubis Gates, a check-in with author George R.R. Martin, a look at Revell's Power Lords toy line, and more.

David Hutchison checks in with part one of his look at the special effects of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi; Mike Clark profiles Steven Paul, director of the Kurt Vonnegut adaptation Slapstick; Lee Goldberg interviews Billy Dee Williams about his role in the Star Wars trilogy; there's another page of Jedi cartoons; David Gerrold sings the praises of fellow author Anne McCaffrey in his column; Brian Lowry explores the making of The Last Starfighter; Lenny Kay's Space Age Games column covers a number of games, including Slither, Time Pilot, Solar Fox, Blueprint, Laser Gates, and Quick Step; Robert Greenberger visits the set of Star Trek III -- The Search for Spock; Lee Goldberg goes to the set of the Tim Hutton movie Iceman; Patrick Daniel O'Neill interviews Doctor Who villain actor Anthony Ainley; Howard Zimmerman profiles artist Tom Cross and some of his fantasy paintings; and Zimmerman's Lastword column compares the Orwellian 1984 with the actual 1984.
"We were working the creature at the bottom of a gorge, ... so we got no breeze. Sand constantly fell down upon us. And we were covered with this glue from the costume. I almost cracked on that one. I think I cried then, it was so terrible."
--Phil Tippett, special effects professional, quoted by David Hutchison: "The Special Effects of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Part One: An Achievement in Enchantment"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #79, February 1984: Get Your KITT On

We're definitely in the mid-1980s here, with the original Knight Rider on the cover. David Hasselhoff, last featured in these pages in issue #18 for his work in Stella Star, takes center stage in the role that would define him, at least until Baywatch.

Some design notes: I'll spare you my extended thoughts on this cover, but the short version is that it's a bad one. Can anyone explain to me what's happening to the green background to the left of the "S" and the "T" in the Starlog logo? And why did they increase the size of the logo, one month after they shrank it, only to (as we'll see soon enough) shrink it again for the next issue?

Starlog #79
70 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.95

This time, the Starlog Science Fiction Classic two-page foldout poster is indeed a classic; George Pal's War of the Worlds.

The rundown: Kerry O'Quinn's From the Bridge column praises the music of Star Wars (reprinted from the liner notes for the LP The Star Wars Trilogy); Communications letters include lots of feedback on Return of the Jedi's music, comment from a 15-year-old film buff, lots of reactions to recent Bond coverage, and someone sent Kerry O'Quinn a tile from the space shuttle; Log Entries short news items include a roundup of fantasy films for 1984, Arthur C. Clarke plans a third Odyssey novel, artist David Mattingly discusses his 100th book cover painting, Starlog signs a deal with Creation Conventions to stage a series of Starlog festivals, and more.

Steve Swires interviews actress Fiona Lewis about Strange Invaders; Bill Cotter interviews Knight Rider himself, David Hasselhoff (with a sidebar looking under the hood of KITT); Patrick Daniel O'Neill interviews third Doctor Jon Pertwee (with a sidebar episode guide of Pertwee's adventures); Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier interview actress Candy Clark about Blue Thunder, doubling as David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth, and more; Lenny Kaye's Space Age Games looks at home computers; Robert Greenberger talks to co-creator Phil DeGuere about his Whiz Kids TV series; artist Ron Miller celebrates Chesley Bonestell's birthday; Steve Swires interviews director Irvin Kershner and gets his reaction to recent criticisms from Lorenzo Semple, Jr., and others; Howard Zimmerman reports on the 41st Annual World Science Fiction Convention (with photos by Deborah Upton); Robert Greenberger interviews Dennis Quaid about The Right Stuff and his other work; David Gerrold's column (renamed simply "David Gerrold" -- no more "Soaring") explores The Right Stuff and explains what it did wrong; Robert Greenberger -- back for more -- interviews actor Kevin McCarthy about Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the Twilight Zone movie; and Howard Zimmerman presents his annual Zimmerman Awards (including "Best performance in a weird role winner Fiona Lewis from Strange Invaders).
"When Knight Rider was first announced, it was greeted with a high degree of skepticism. Some wags dubbed it My Mother the Car Meets the Dukes of Hazzard or Mr. Ed on Wheels. The actor remembers those days with some bitterness, bringing up such quotes as '"David Hasselhoff plays a hood ornament." That was Tom Shales of the Washington Post. Everybody said things like that one -- even Edward Mulhare. He'll probably deny it now, but he said he expected the show to run three weeks and flop.' Although he smiles pleasantly as he speaks, clearly he is bothered by the barbs, for he grows more excited. 'You know, I read all this stuff and said, "Hey, we got bad reviews. That means we're gonna be a hit." I don't know why, but it seems to be a foumula every time.'"
--Bill Cotter, writer: "David Hasselhoff: Crusading as the Knight Rider"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #78, January 1984: A Fine Mess

Yes, just one issue after I praise the magazine for its strong cover design, along comes this mess of a cover. What's supposed to be the central image you get when you look at this cover? What the heck is the top  photo showing, anyway? (The bubble-like photo, that is, not the one next to the logo -- I know that one's Mickey.) And the bottom photo, the one that merges with a strange black shape on the left. There are so many things wrong with this cover. It's a shame, too, because the issue it fronts is a pretty good one.

Starlog #78
70 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.95

There's an amusing little error in this issue of "The Magazine of the Future": At the top of the contents page, it lists the issue date as "January 1983," though it's really January 1984. (It's correct on all of the page footers, though.)

The rundown: The Starlog Science Fiction Classic two-page poster is Mel Gibson in a shot from The Road Warrior; Kerry O'Quinn's From the Bridge column responds to a reader who was really shaken up by the death of Spock in Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan; Communications letters include Buster Crabbe's widow, Virginia, plus numerous readers reviewing Superman III, a real hero writes from Milwaukee, and more; short news items in Log Entries include a report on the box office performance of the year's genre films (Return of the Jedi and WarGames were hits, Something Wicked This Way Comes not so much), Booklog premieres with news from the world of print, 40-year-old Colin Baker is chosen as the new Doctor Who, author Roger Zelazny gets chatted up, and more.

Robert Greenberger interviews Nicholas Meyer about his controversial post-nuclear holocaust telefilm The Day After; Brian Lowry interviews former Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno about working as Hercules; Lenny Kaye's Space Age Games column looks at some video game developers and marketers; David R. Smith explores the history of the Mickey Mouse wristwatch; David Hutchison interviews Arthur C. Clarke (including a sidebar on Clarke's interaction with Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford when the latter two were in Sri Lanka filming Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom); Hutchison also explores the special effects of Doug Trumbull's Brainstorm (with a sidebar on the expansion of Trumbull's special effects company); an unbylined article (with REALLY BIG TYPE) previews the Disney cartoon Christmas Carol featuring Mickey Mouse; an actor from whom we'll be hearing a lot in coming years, Lance Henricksen, is interviewed by Thomas McKelvey Cleaver; Fangoria editor David Everitt interviews The Right Stuff's Scott Glenn; David Gerrold announces -- and publishes -- the winning entries in his essay contest (winners are Pamela Howard, Danny Beaty, and Margaret Brumm); Steve Swires interviews Strange Invaders director Michael Laughlin; and Howard Zimmerman's Lastword features some reaction to his earlier complaint that Starlog can't win a Hugo award.
"The aliens actually like living here. They've been studying us for 25 years, and would prefer to stay if they could. They really don't mean anyone any harm. They don't kill anybody – just zap them into blue balls. But they know they can return these victims to human form when they're ready to leave for their home planet. It's a beautiful transcendental idea – to be able to put everything back as it was at the beginning."
–Michael Laughlin, writer/director, interviewed by Steve Swires: "Michael Laughlin: Attack of the Killer Cliches"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Frank Frazetta Family Feud Ends

An intense feud between the children of famed fantasy artist Frank Frazetta has apparently been settled amicably. The siblings had been at each others' throats (metaphorically) over control of their father's vast collection of paintings, which is valued in the tens of millions of dollars. The nadir of their fight probably came when one of the sons was caught with a backhoe allegedly trying to break into the Frazetta museum to get at some of the paintings.

Read the whole story here.

For decades, Frank Frazetta created amazing fantasy art for everything from Conan comics to Creepy covers to promotional art for Battlestar Galactica (such as the painting of female Viper pilots used in a TV Guide above).

The Starlog Project: Starlog #77, December 1983: The Right Stuff

Starlog goes through a mini-transformation once again, this time adding back a lot of color pages, so the magazine is once again about half-and-half glossy/non-glossy pages. On a design note, the magazine's logo is shrunk so that it no longer stretches across the entire cover. It's an unfortunate move, but it's an understandable one; the portions of the cover that get seen the most on newsstands are the top and the left-hand side, so this allows them to feature more content right at the top. And Starlog is primarily a newsstand-driven magazine. Except for occasional and infrequent returns of the full-cover logo, the magazine would retain the smaller logo for the rest of its run (well, until the very last few issues, when a redesigned logo once again stretched across the cover).

It's also time for the annual postal statement of ownership and circulation, and it was clearly a very good year for the magazine: Despite the hefty increase in cover price from $2.50 to $2.95, the total paid circulation for the issue closest to the statement's filing deadline is listed as 227,420 (nearly double last year's 119,634), including the number of paid subscriptions of 18,100 (up from 16,815 last time). With readership soaring, it's no surprise the company was able to add a lot of color pages back into the mix.

Starlog continued expanding in other ways, too: licensed movie magazines continue to proliferate (including one for the Tom Selleck adventure High Road to China), and the fourth volume of The Best of Starlog is released.

Starlog #77
70 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.95

Anyone remember my notes for some earlier issues in which I chided the magazine for some less-than-seamless use of cover images that didn't fit the entire cover? The magazine had done some easily spotted doctoring to add background to the cover and fill it up. Well, this issue's cover shows that they know how to do it right. It's a great cover; dramatic and a fitting representation of the featured movie (The Right Stuff).

The rundown: I don't know why they didn't just rename the Starlog Science Fiction Classic poster series. Once again, they feature a movie -- The Right Stuff -- that hasn't been out long enough to be a classic. Might be a great movie, don't get me wrong. Whatever. In his From the Bridge column, publisher Kerry O'Quinn recounts the first time he met Arthur C. Clarke, on a 1973 cruise ship devoted to solar eclipses; Brian Daley is one of the letter writers in Communications, as is Ron Miller (reflecting on artist Roy Krenkel), readers commenting on Spacehunter and Something Wicked This Way Comes, and more; Log Entries short news includes a look at the novel-vs-film of The Right Stuff, the announcement that winners of the next SF Short Film Search would be featured on the Night Flight cable TV program, Atari has a Star Wars arcade game, the casts of Batman and Lost in Space play Family Feud, an update on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and more.

In his Space Age Games column, Lenny Kaye continues his exploration of role-playing games; Ed Naha (by the way, no longer listed as a Starlog columnist, though his bio in this issue notes that he is writing a column for Heavy Metal magazine) interviews Phil Kaufman, director of The Right Stuff; Patrick Daniel O'Neill interviews former Doctor Who Tom Baker (and includes a sidebar on former Who companion Elisabeth Sladen); we get two more pages of Return of the Jedi comics; David Hutchison looks at a computer animation project at Disney, and talks with project leaders John Lasseter and Glen Keane; Hutchison also interviews Brainstorm director Doug Trumbull; Robert Greenberger interviews Chuck Yeager; Greenberger also interviews Scatman Crothers about his role in the Twilight Zone movie; Paul Mandell concludes his multi-part look at the late Superman actor George Reeves; Lee Goldberg talks with Chevy Chase, Bud Yorkin, and Vince Edwards about Deal of the Century; and Howard Zimmerman wraps it all up in his Lastword column with a note about an upcoming listing of fan clubs, some corrections, and his initial reactions to WorldCon.
"Many people talk about 'star wars,' but there isn't an awful lot to fight for in space. Just to go up there to fight is very expensive. To establish a so-called space colony, to me, is a fantasy. It's not an easy thing to develop and that's a long ways away. There is some metalwork and research which can be done under zero-g conditions and can't be done on earth, but there aren't any big breakthroughs coming."
--Chuck Yeager, brigadier general and test pilot, interviewed by Robert Greenberger: "Chuck Yeager: The Right Stuff"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #76, November 1983: On Top of It All

This is the second of Starlog's annual movie review issues, a 100-page extra-special magazine featuring reviews of the previous summer's big science-fiction and fantasy movies. I continue to think this was a great idea, and the magazine collected some great reviews from its top staffers as well as some of the top names in the SF field (such as Norman Spinrad, Robert Bloch, Alan Dean Foster, David Gerrold, and more). Damn good issue.

Starlog #76
100 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.95

Note to Starlog editors and publishers: Stop apologizing and explaining your special issue. Both publisher Kerry O'Quinn and editor Howard Zimmerman expend all or part of their columns this issue explaining for the who-knows-how-many-'th time why a magazine that doesn't print movie reviews is devoting an issue to them. No one cares; we just want to enjoy the magazine. Don't apologize for reviews. Don't explain color photos. Don't try to get us to forgive you for entertaining and informing us.

Anyway, the rundown: Kerry O'Quinn's From the Bridge column tells us all we didn't want to know about why this magazine doesn't print movie reviews, so go enjoy the movie reviews this issue; you might not think an entire four-page letters section devoted to one topic would be interesting, but this issue will prove otherwise -- the Communications section is entirely devoted to readers' letters featuring their -- um -- reviews of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi; short news items in Log Entries include the winners of the Saturn awards, Peter Davison exits Doctor Who, Leonard Nimoy talks Star Trek III at the Spacetrek II convention, Star Trek comics, a brief report on Phil DeGuere's Whiz Kids, checking in with David Cronenberg, and more.

Novelist Norman Spinrad reviews Star Wars: Return of the Jedi; Jeff Rovin provides a final interview with Buster Crabbe before his recent death; David Gerrold reviews Superman III; novelist and comics historian Ron Goulart reviews Twilight Zone the Movie; four pages of comics from professionals and amateurs alike celebrate (or mock) Return of the Jedi; Howard Zimmerman looks at (and features the art of) artist Murray Tinkelman; Ed Naha goes behind the scenes of the making of Krull; the great writer Robert Bloch reviews the Matthew Broderick teen video game/nuclear holocaust film WarGames; it's part two of Paul Mandell's look at George Reeve's time as Superman on TV in the 1950s; Lenny Kaye's Space Age Games column looks at role-playing games; David Hutchison examines the special effects of Something Wicked This Way Comes; speaking of the Ray Bradbury-created Wicked, novelist Alan Dean Foster reviews the film adaptation of Bradbury's story Something Wicked This Way Comes; novelist Lawrence Watt-Evans reviews Krull; Ed Naha profiles actress Sybil Danning; David McDonnell provides a movie review omnibus for films not covered in the longer reviews (The Hunger, Octopussy, Psycho II, Jaws 3-D, Videodrome, Blue Thunder, The Man with Two Brains, Strange Invaders); David Hutchison reviews Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone; and editor Howard Zimmerman goes all wobbly about publishing movie reviews in his Lastword column.
"Not to leave you in suspense, let me say at the outset that, in this reviewer's opinion, Return of the Jedi is a bad film. It is bad on almost every possible level. As science fiction, it is massively illogical. As drama, it is anti-dramatic. As action-adventure, it manages to make about two hours of almost continuous fast action and spectacular effects boring. And as the capper to the Star Wars trilogy, it is a dreadful letdown which betrays most of what virtues the first two films in the trilogy had."
–Norman Spinrad, writer, "Special Review: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Timothy Ferris and the Debt of Democracy to Science

This is a very important and fascinating speech and audience question-and-answer session featuring science writer Timothy Ferris. I love it when I find someone who makes a clear and powerful case for liberal democracy. Ferris is such a person.

The Starlog Project: Starlog #75, October 1983: Excuse Me While I Change into Something a Little More Comfortable

This is a real year of transformation for Starlog. Multiple changes in paper quality, page count, amount of color, etc. And this is the last issue of the current, 74-page iteration. Next issue, of course, is another special 100-page movie review issue. But after that, things change again (don't worry, it's for better).

Starlog #75
74 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.95

The 11th "Starlog Science Fiction Classic" is another current film, Twilight Zone the Movie, so it's by definition not a classic (at least not as of September-October 1983). In fact, this issue even has an article on the movie's premiere, so how can it be a classic? Or am I just tilting at windmills ...

The rundown: Kerry O'Quinn's From the Bridge column responds to a reader's letter concerning getting a job at Starlog (short answer: do something else first); reader letters in Communications include lots of fallout from Ed Naha's column in issue #69 regarding the anti-nuke film The Day After (correspondents include former Starlog editor David Houston, who defends nuclear weapons as a necessary deterrent against communism), reader praise for David Gerrold's A Matter for Men, lots of conflicting views of the V mini-series, and more; Log Entries short news includes the cessation of sister magazine Comics Scene's short life, a sneak peek at Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, short obituaries for James F. Butterfield and Art Cruickshank, a nice one-page report on the progress of the unmanned space probe Pioneer 10, and more.

Richard Schenkman interviews Barbara Carrera, who plays Fatima Blush in the Bond film Never Say Never Again; Paul Mandell contributes the first part of his retrospective of 1950s Superman George Reeves' work; Lenny Kaye's Space Age Games column continues his look at arcade games; Lee Goldberg profiles "The Forgotten James Bond," George Lazenby, and includes a sidebar on Barry Nelson, "The First James Bond"; Sal Manna interviews the great Ralph McQuarrie and showcases his color concept illustrations from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi; David McDonnell interviews John Lithgow about his work in the Twilight Zone movie, The World According to Garp, Blow Out, and more; Steve Swires wraps up his two-part interview with outspoken screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr. (who includes a mea culpa for the Flash Gordon film); Starlog reports on the world premiere of Twilight Zone the Movie in Rod Serling's hometown, with reporting by Robert Greenberger and photos by Deborah Upton; Don McGregor concludes his two-part interview with Bond titles creator Maurice Binder; it's definitely an issue for conclusions: David Gerrold concludes his four-part excerpt of his groundbreaking novel A Matter for Men, and he pens an introduction while Alex Nino provides the illustrations (including the final, full-page, full-color one); Ed Naha interviews actress Nancy Allen; and Howard Zimmerman uses his Lastword column to report on some of the controversy over Return of the Jedi, and he complains that the Hugo awards have no category in which Starlog can be recognized.
"What [George] Lucas said was that he personally will not be producing or directing [further Star Wars films]. He has already written the outlines to the two remaining trilogies. No matter how far removed he may be from the daily, on-line production, rest assured that Star Wars chapters one, two, three, seven, eight and nine will still be true to Lucas' vision."
--Howard Zimmerman, editor, Lastword
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Jaws 3-D -- in French

I don't speak or read a word in French, so the only parts of the article I'm linking to here that I understand are the ones in English, such as John Z. and Weimar World Service and Starlog.

Still, you can translate the page, and even if you don't translate, you'll see it's a nice writeup about some Jaws 3-D content featured in a recent edition of my Starlog index.

So, with thanks to that web site's Romain, I offer you -- especially the francophones among you -- a well-done, somewhat obsessive web site devoted to Jaws 3-D, which came out almost 30 years ago during a previous wave of 3-D films.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Discovering the Joys of ESPN 3 -- Go Vfb Stuttgart

While trying to check something on my cable setup the other day, I came across a note on my cable system's web site about ESPN 3, which is an online-only "channel" for subscribers to the cable system.

I went to the ESPN 3 web site, and found that it includes live and archived video of recent games of all kinds of sports. What pleased me most was seeing that it included German Bundesliga games. I got into watching the Bundesliga (that's the name of the German federal league in football, or as American's call it, soccer) almost 10 years ago when I first moved to the Bay Area and found that Fox had a channel that showed European football, including Bundesliga. Rupert Murdoch is, of course, partial to die Englisch sprechende folks in the UK, so the Fox channel mostly overdoses on all the ManU and Liverpool games you can choke on.

But when I first moved out here, the channel showed Bundesliga games, and I began watching. Wednesday and Sunday mornings, I developed a love for soccer for the first time in my life, and -- on a whim, because there's no real reason I should choose any German city to root for over another -- I made Vfb Stuttgart my "home" team, based on the slightly ridiculous reason that one branch of my ancestors came from the Württemberg area, which is now the Baden-Württemberg state of Germany. (My maternal grandmother came from the Berlin area, but Hertha Berlin, um, isn't playing so well ...)

So what?

Well, this isn't the most important blog post I'll ever make. But I'm just writing it to thank the good folks at ESPN for doing this, something that really expands the content that people can receive. Ever since the Fox channel stopped showing Bundesliga games, I've been unable to satisfy my interest in Stuttgart. That dissatisfaction has ended.

Seriously. Check your cable system for ESPN 3.

The Starlog Project: Starlog #74, September 1983: Jedi Creatures See, You Will

Eight and a half pages are filled with a look at the making of the many creatures in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. There are lots of color photos -- including three full-pagers -- from the movie, as well as the cover pix, of course.

On an unrelated note, a full-page color ad has been running in the magazine for a Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Video Game Watch, a $19.95 digital wristwatch that includes a teeny little space attack game on it. No, I never owned one (I'd have rather had the Starlog watch advertised a couple years earlier), but I found it amusing. It's so very 1983.

Starlog #74
74 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.95

The magazine's tenth "Starlog Science Fiction Classic" lives up to its name by actually being a classic film, and a rare one at that. It's Barbarella.

The rundown: In his From the Bridge column, Kerry O'Quinn relates how he befriended David Packer, who became one of the stars of the original V miniseries (and I don't know if he's the same David S. Packer who interviewed Mark Hamill in issue #40 -- my quick internet search didn't provide any clues); Don Glut is among the letter writers in Communications, where the esteemed writer chimes in with praise for his pal Dan O'Bannon, and other letters remember the late Buster Crabbe, discuss Videodrome, riff on Luke and Leah being brother and sister, praise O'Quinn's "I Feel Young" editorial from Starlog #71 from Harve Bennett, Leonard Nimoy, and others, and more; Log Entries is filled with short news items such as a report on the spoof SF matinee Loose Joints, a video game (Dragon's Lair) that was co-created by Don Bluth, a photographic report on a visit to the Starlog offices (well, the Park Avenue South streetside outside the skyscraper in which Starlog has its offices) by some vehicles and costumed creatures from Spacehunter (if you ever wanted to see publisher Norman Jacobs riding on a tank, this is it), separate short profiles/interviews of writers C.J. Cherryh and Samuel R. Delany, and more.

Don McGregor interviews Maurice Binder, the man who designed the iconic title sequences for James Bond films, including the latest, Octopussy; Steve Swires interviews Lorenzo Semple, Jr, who scripted the alternate Bond film Never Say Never Again; Ed Naha's L.A. Offbeat column features actress Molly Ringwald, the star of Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone; the third of David Gerrold's four-part excerpt from his new novel, A Matter for Men, includes another introduction by the author and illustrations by Alex Nino; Mike Clark and David Hutchison discover "The Men Who Made the Monsters" for Return of the Jedi; Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier preview the Matthew Broderick "Do you want to play a game?" film WarGames; Lenny Kaye's Space Age Games column looks at arcade games; Mike Clark and Bill Cotter cover Jaws 3-D director Joe Alves and producers Alan Landsburg and Rupert Hitzig; Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier interview Malcolm McDowell about his role in Blue Thunder (with a sidebar on Daniel Stern); Patrick Daniel O'Neill interviews Spacehunter actor Michael Ironside; and Howard Zimmerman wraps it all up in his Lastword column, where he explores the serious side of the WarGames film.
"Kersh [director Irvin Kershner] is the most notorious destroyer of scripts in Hollywood, ... Some people say he's the only person who can turn a 'go project' into a development deal when he starts working on the script -- which he has done a number of times. Quite a few people in Hollywood turn white at the very thought of Kersh becoming involved with a project. His habit is to immediately say the script is terrible and start rewriting it himself."
--Lorenzo Semple, Jr., interviewed by Steve Swires, "Lorenzo Semple, Jr.: Having Fun with James Bond in Never Say Never Again"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Damn Cool Video of Sun Storms, from NASA

I might be easy to satisfy, but -- President Obama, listen up -- this video is reason enough for me to support strong funding for NASA.

Stick with me; this makes sense: I have a photo on my work computer showing a mountain lion in a tree. It is from a Milwaukee-area news web site report on a mountain lion that was discovered wandering in some Milwaukee suburb a year or two ago. As a Wisconsin-born Californian, I was surprised; I didn't know the Badger state even had mountain lions. And just looking at the incredible large cat makes me happy; I don't want to pet it, I don't want to own it; I'm just thrilled that nature creates such incredible animals. (And I'm glad my own cat isn't that big. He'd kill me when I am late feeding him.)

Same thing with the sun. I think there's a very important feeling(and important thoughts) that one gets when one really sees the universe in its incredible power and beauty. Just enjoy it. There's so much in life that's ugly and hurtful. But there are giant cats on this planet of ours, and there are exciting space storms on the surface of our sun.

Full story here. Click on the link, scroll down the new page, to watch the video.

image: NAZA/Goddard

SFX Reviews Gay Superheroes

There are entire web sites devoted to the topic of gay (or gayish) superheroes. But if you want a good overview, check out this online article from UK science-fiction magazine SFX.

Gotta Side with Apple vs. Gawker

Once again, Jeff Bercovici at Daily Finance has it right: Apple could sue the pants off Gawker for what looks like obfuscation over the company's use of the "lost" prototype iPhone. I know the world is full of people whose morality goes no deeper than "finders keepers," but Bercovici's analysis and investigation of what really happened are pretty convincing.

Worth a read.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #73, August 1983: Superman Returns Again

It might just be my imagination, but the magazine feels as if it's printed on a slightly heavier stock of paper. This issue carries over the extra four color pages and the extra two inside-front cover foldout pages that we saw in #71. As I said in the issue #71 writeup: Things are looking up.

Starlog #73
74 pages (including covers and unnumbered inside front-cover foldout)
Cover price: $2.95

Did anyone take a good cover photo of Superman from Superman III? We remember the blurry nightmare that was the Supe III cover of Starlog #67, don't we? And here again, with #73, we have ol' red-and-blue in a blurry, grainy cover photo. Granted, he apparently is being affected by some Kryptonite rays that are making him blurrier than normal, but, well, it's not a good photo. But at least it's a colorful cover.

The rundown: Once again the "Starlog Science Fiction Classic" poster is a just-released film -- you guessed it: Superman III. With a photo of the super-dude that's not blurry. Would have been a shame to put that one on the cover, huh? In his From the Bridge column, publisher Kerry O'Quinn makes a point I've remembered ever since: It's the tale of two different artists who visited the Starlog offices and viewed all of the original space art paintings lining the walls (I've been there; they had a lot); one of the artists was so impressed with the great paintings, he was saddened because he felt he'd never be that good; the other was so impressed, he was inspired to push himself even further. Shouldn't be hard to guess what Kerry "Reach for the Stars" O'Quinn was saying there, right? In the Communications pages, producer Richard Gordon praises Ed Naha's L.A. Offbeat column, actor/author Walter Koenig praises Starlog for bringing attention to his special project with Mark Lenard, some SF celebrities (Robert Foxworth, Howard Kazanjian, William F. Nolan, Don Bluth, etc.) belatedly praise Starlog on the occasion of its seventh anniversary, and more; short news items in Log Entries include a peek at The Twilight Zone movie, the merchandising of Krull, an obituary for Buster Crabbe, and more.

Da Marie Boyer and Patrick Daniel O'Neill interview David and Leslie Newman, screenwriters of the new Superman III film (which features an opening color photo of Superman that is also distinctly not blurry); Chris Henderson profiles the late fantasy illustrator Roy Krenkel; Lenny Kaye's Space Age Games column reviews Donkey Kong Junior, Donky Kong, Phoenix, and Be an Interplanetary Spy; Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier interview Roy Scheider about his work in Blue Thunder; Don McGregor interviews actor Robert Vaughn about The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Superman III; Richard Holliss and David McDonnell interview Octopussy's Maud Adams; Steve Swires completes his two-part interview with Mark Hamill, "Life After Star Wars"; part two of a three-part excerpt from David Gerrold's groundbreaking new novel, A Matter for Men, also features an introduction by the author and illustrations by Alex Nino; Ed Naha interviews Lysette Anthony about her acting role in Krull; there's a special Jaws 3-D contest; Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier interview Something Wicked This Way Comes' star Jason Robards; Steve Swires interviews Cliff Robertson about Charly and Brainstorm; Ed Naha's L.A. Offbeat looks at "Anthony Zerbe: Has Eyebrows, Will Menace"; and Howard Zimmerman's Lastword is on V, the NBC mini-series.
"You could call it a coincidence, but from virtually the instant I exposed the 'Hollywoodgate' scandal, I didn't work out there. ... Now, happily, I'm working again. It all began with Doug Trumbull. He got me started with Brainstorm, and now my telephone is ringing regularly."
--Cliff Robertson, actor, interviewed by Steve Swires: "Cliff Robertson: From Blacklist to Brainstorm -- Sometimes Nice Guys Do Finish First"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #72, July 1983: Seventh Anniversary Party

A rather unlikely ad appears near the end of this science-fiction magazine: the movie Porky's II: The Next Day, which is only science-fiction in the sense that it was considered a real motion picture. Starlog also announces two licensed movie magazines it's publishing this summer: the James Bond thriller Octopussy and the Superman III flick.

Starlog #72
100 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.95

This extra-page issue features some neat extras, such as the first installment of a three-part excerpt from David Gerrold's A Matter for Men novel, which itself was the first in a series of landmark novels chronicling the invasion of earth by the Chtorr. As always with Gerrold, it's all to give him a platform for discussing his philosophy of life (and one does occasionally get the sense that he spent a little too much time in 1970s-era pop psychology seminars, but what the heck? The Chtorr books are great, and Gerrold has interesting things to say about life). Oh, and because I know you really care: on page 96 of this issue is my second letter ever published in Starlog, in which I say good-bye to recently departed staffer David Hirsch. It just seemed like the thing to do.

The rundown: I guess we've seen the last of the contents-page anniversary collages; at least, there's not one in this issue. Instead, it's a big picture of E.T. In his From the Bridge column, publisher Kerry O'Quinn discusses reaching for the stars; Communications letters include birthday greetings from readers, response to the television debut of Star Trek – The Motion Picture, a brilliant letter praising David Hirsch, and more; Log Entries short news items include Steve Martin's The Man with Two Brains, the fifth annual SF Short Film Search, Norman Jacobs goes to the UK to acquire magazine licensing rights to the Octopussy film, the winners of the Starlog Treasure Hunt Contest, the Disney Channel debuts, and more.

Steve Swires interviews Mark Hamill; Ed Naha's L.A. Offbeat column looks at the making of the special effects for The Right Stuff; Charles Bogle interviews Roger Moore; David Gerrold's A Matter for Men is excerpted, with introductory notes by the author and illustrations by Alex Nino.

In the special full-color anniversary section, there's a photo review of the top SF films of the past year (E.T., Blade Runner, Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan, Tron, The Dark Crystal, The Thing, The Road Warrior, Airplane II, Conan the Barbarian, and Poltergeist); Robert Greenberger pens a review of science-fiction television of the past year; Greenberger also highlights the top toys of 1983; an unbylined short article begins a three-page look at fantasy art; actress June Lockhart is interviewed by Steve Swires; Ed Naha interviews William Shatner; Charles Bogle interviews Desmond Llewelyn, the actor who plays Q in James Bond films; Robert Greenberger interviews Annette O'Toole about her work in Superman III; Ed Naha profiles Sam Nicholson's Zenon Company, one of the special effects contributors to Star Trek -- The Motion Picture; and Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier interview the great Ray Bradbury about Something Wicked This Way Comes, which people born after 1990 only know about as a song in one of the Harry Potter movies.

Lenny Kay's Space Age Games column reviews Gorf, Wizard of Wor, Dragonfire, and Countermeasure; James Van Hise interviews Peter Srauss about his work in Spacehunter; four pages of anniversary greetings include everyone from George Takei ("Congratulations on your seven year trek. We're up to Warp Seven and holding steady. All the best wishes") to Alan Dean Foster to Howard Cruse and onward; and Howard Zimerman uses his Lastword column to share a few words about E.T. and the Oscars.
"As I leave the Right Stuff complex and head toward the airport and out of San Francisco for superslick L.A., I chuckle one last time at the vision of the spinning plane and the sterno cans. Madness. Insanity. Wizardry."
--Ed Naha, columnist, L.A. Offbeat: "The Right FX for The Right Stuff"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Get Your Star Wars Weather

Just click on it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #71, June 1983: The Year of the Jedi Continues

The cover date of this issue is June, but because magazines traditionally use a cover date one month ahead of the actual date the issue is on sale (the magazine seems fresher, see), this June issue of Starlog was actually on sale in May, when Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi debuted. Ewoks and all, the movie would be another smash hit for George Lucas and his team. It would also help Starlog feed its audience and circulation.

A number of changes this issue, each of which would have big effects on the magazine's future. First, the cover price is hiked 45 cents. That no doubt helped deal with rising costs, but it also helped the magazine get some fuel as the economy pulled out of the deep early 1980s recession. Second, W.R. Mohalley takes over as the new art director. Mohalley joins Starlog from the now-defunct Warren magazine house (Famous Monsters of Filmland, Creepy,, and he remains, well, forever -- he's still at Fangoria., the only surviving Starlog publication. Third (though less momentous), Lenny Kaye takes over Bob Martin's duties writing the Space Age Games column.

Starlog #71
74 pages (including covers and unnumbered inside front cover fold-out)
Cover price: $2.95

While describing an issue published two years before #71, I noted in this compendium that we had seen the last 74-page issue for a while, and soon after that, the publishers drastically reduced the amount of color in the magazine. Well, aided by an improving economy and a sharp increase in the cover price, Starlog #71 begins a slow but steady rise; in this year and for a number of years following, we'll see the magazine add pages, color, and features. It's an almost unmitigated rise from here on in, until the magazine hits major turbulence in 2001. But we've got a while before we get there. For now, enjoy this issue, with four extra pages of color, and another two added color pages in the fold-out inside front cover (which is where the two-page posters now go).

The rundown: The editors are probably annoyed at themselves for calling their poster series "Starlog Science Fiction Classics," because it looks weird when they feature the brand-new film Return of the Jedi, as they do this issue. Can't really be a classic if it hasn't even been delivered to most theaters yet. Nonetheless, it's a cool poster (and arguably would have made a better cover photo than the one they used). In his From the Bridge column, publisher Kerry O'Quinn shares a letter from a fan who gets inspiration from science fiction; Communications letters include a correction from William F. Nolan, reader reaction to the double-Bond coverage, an angry letter writer goes after L.Q. Jones and Harlan Ellison, and more; short news items in Log Entries include an update on the third Star Trek movie (to be directed by Leonard Nimoy), three Scandinavian countries bar children from seeing E.T., Strange Invaders producer Walter Coblenz continues his chat from issue #67, and more; and Martha Bonds profiles actor Judson Scott in a two-page Spotlight column.

Steve Swires interviews Jack Schwartzman, producer of the Bond remake Never Say Never Again; Lee Goldberg interviews actor Michael Billington (UFO); James Duward profiles the busy movie prop makers at Modern Props, Inc.; Lenny Kaye kicks off his Space Age Games era with a defense of video game players; Lee Goldberg interviews Dan O'Bannon, who discusses his displeasure with Hollywood's treatment of his work (and, proving that the Starlog editors can identify a great pullquote when they see one, this O'Bannon morsel is highlighted in the article: "It was a perversion to my mother that someone should make money off science fiction and movies. I think she sees me as the equivalent of a successful hitman."); Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier preview NBC's V; Robert Greenberger interviews Carrie Fisher about the latest -- and her final -- Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi; Lee Goldberg interviews Jedi producer Richard Marquand; in his Soaring column, David Gerrold discusses the choices that make people heroes;  Chris Henderson previews Ray Bradbury's Dinosaur Tales, published by Byron Preiss Visual Publications (the company to which Starlog editor Howard Zimmerman would move in a couple years); Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier talk with director Jack Clayton about his film adaptation of Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes; Richard Holliss visits the set of the James Bond film Octopussy; Ed Naha's L.A. Offbeat column recounts his talk with Roger Corman; and Howard Zimmerman's Lastword column reviews Isaac Asimov's Foundation's Edge and Arthur C. Clarke's 2010: Odyssey Two (he liked them both, though Asimov's moreso).
"I'm so excited about all the aspects of production and I feel so good about the help and input I'm getting from the people surrounding me. ... We have a very general image of this motion picture -- just a general curve on the canvas on which we're going to paint. ... And I feel totally creative, excited and alive."
--Leonard Nimoy, director, Log Entries: "Leonard Nimoy Takes Command of Star Trek III"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Creepy #3 Finally About to Debut

Fangoria has a preview of some of the pages from the next (third) edition of Dark Horse's wonderful Creepy revival.

I still wish Dark Horse would increase the frequency of this title.

The Starlog Project: Starlog #70, May 1983: Can't Make up Our Minds

The cover of Starlog #70 features three different movies, even though I'm sure that what the editors and publishers would have liked to do is feature Return of the Jedi on the cover again. But, as noted in a previous post, the magazine rarely featured the same production on two consecutive covers (E.T.'s belated appearance on #63 and #64 being the sole exception so far, I think). So, if I am making the correct assumption, they had to give themselves a break from Jedi on the cover of #69. But don't worry; Jedi's back on the cover of #71. And #74, 76, and 80. So this really is the Year of the Jedi.

Starlog #70
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.50

What's a magazine to do when it has three small movies to hawk on the cover of an issue that you still need newsstand buyers to pick up? Split the cover between Space Hunter, Blue Thunder, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. That's one idea. And announce a new contest. That'll do it. And bring back Harlan Ellison!

In his From the Bridge column, Kerry O'Quinn answers a reader's letter critiquing the popularity of mindless SF films in the fan community (O'Quinn prescribes patience and a more tolerant attitude toward other fans); Communications letters include a lengthy response from Harlan Ellison to the recent interview with L.Q. Jones (who adapted Ellison's story into the film A Boy and His Dog), reader reactions to the two Bonds in Starlog #68, a pro-Nimoy letter from Japan, and more; Log Entries includes short items such as a calendar of 1983 genre movies, news of a delay in Star Trek III (which concludes with the line: "At present, the film's only official working title is Star Trek III, not In Search of Spock"), Harlan Ellison reports that he's handed in his draft of the script for Bug Jack Barron, Brainstorm resumes production more than a year after Natalie Wood's death, and more; a reader contest asks readers to predict who "the other" is in Return of the Jedi.

James Van Hise previews Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, a 3-D movie starring Molly Ringwald; Ed Naha interviews the immortal Christopher Lee, who's starring in the bizarre Return of Captain Invincible; Lee Goldberg interviews Michael Sloan, the writer and producer of The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.; Ed Naha looks at the special effects of the spoof Airplane II; Jeff Szalay previews Something Wicked This Way Comes, adapted by Ray Bradbury from his own story; Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier make their first of many appearances in the pages of Starlog with their report on Blue Thunder, speaking with director John Badham; Bob Martin's Space Age Games column presents "The Great Galactic Shoot-Out, Part Two"; Ed Naha's L.A. Offbeat column explains the business and hype of selling paperback books, such as his own The Suicide Plague); rock journalist Lisa Robinson (who would be a major contributor to future Starlog sister magazine Rock Video) interviews Blondie's Deborah Harry about her starring role in David Cronenberg's Videodrome; it's part three of David Hutchison's tour of EPCOT Center, in which he drinks a lot of beer and sings Bavarian song in the German portion of the park; David Gerrold serves up "GLOP," some leftover ideas of his (hey, that's by his admission); and Howard Zimmerman's Lastword column says good-bye to staffer David Hirsch.
"Having affection for L.Q. Jones is a lot like getting fond of a stammer you can't correct. No one stands in more delight at the film he made of my story 'A Boy and His Dog' than I (well, delight at about 97% of what he did). ...[T]he one aspect of the film version of 'A Boy and His Dog' that I have despised since I saw the rough cut long before the film was released is the last line. It is not the last line of the story, and corrupts the entire film, to my way of thinking. It is this last line, of L.Q. invention, that causes the justified backlash by women." 
--Harlan Ellison, writer, Communications
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