My Favorite Magazines:
The Starlog Project
Starlog issues: 1-20 | 21-40 | 41-60 | 61-80 | 81-100 | 101-120 | 121-140 | 141-160 | 161-180 | 181-200 | 201-220 | 221-240 | 241-260 | 261-280 | 281-300 | 301-320 | 321-340 | 341-460 | 361-374
Other magazines: Starlog Project | Future Life
|Starlog magazine was published from 1976 through 2009, primarily by O'Quinn
Studios (eventually renamed Starlog Group), though it went through two sales in the last few years of its life, first to The Creative Group and then, upon that company's bankruptcy, to The Brooklyn Company, which continues to publish sister magazine Fangoria.
Starlog #61, August 1982: The Wrath of Khan
It was an unlikely resurrection, this second Star Trek movie. The first one was critically panned, not least by Starlog's writers (see Starlog #33), and it was one of the most expensive films ever. So when Paramount decided to try again, they shunted aside Gene Roddenberry, gave the film to the studio's TV division (to make it more cheaply) ... and ended up with a modern classic in the space film genre. IMHO.
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.50
Great cover photo and a strong article lineup help make this a good issue of the magazine. In fact, come to think of it, except for issue #56, Starlog's been on a roll lately. And an unrelated thought: Ever notice that in the same season, George Lucas was about to change the name of his upcoming Star Wars film from The Revenge of the Jedi to The Return of the Jedi, and Paramount changed the name of its new Star Trek film from The Vengeance of Khan to The Wrath of Khan? Revenge/vengeance -- much the same word.
The rundown: Kerry O'Quinn, in "Here's One for Mom," gives us a sense of the parents who raised and inspired him; Communications letters include response to the recent Battlestar Galactica coverage, hopes and fears for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, more anniversary greetings (Gene Roddenberry, Jim Danforth, Gerry Anderson & Christopher Burr, and more), someone falls for a Starlog April Fools joke, and more; in Log Entries, short news items include a roundup of summer SF books, a peek at the book The Atomic Cafe, Mork & Mindy is canceled, and more; the Spotlight page highlights Blade Runner special effects.
Ed Naha continues his look at "The Re-Making of Star Trek"; Steve Swires interviews Trek's Walter Koenig; Bjo Trimble explores the fan fantasy (er, fantasy?) of buying the Star Trek franchise; James Van Hise interviews The Road Warrior's Byron Kennedy and George Miller; Ron Miller highlights the planetary artwork of Chesley Bonnestell; Robert Greenberger interviews Conan actress Sandahl Bergman; James Van Hise interviews Sean Young, "Rachel" in Blade Runner; David Gerrold's Soaring column revisits Star Trek -- The Motion Picture and explores the transformation that Spock underwent in that film; Don McGregor looks at the props and vehicles used in Megaforce; Howard T. Brody examines the building of Disney's EPCOT Center (a continuation of a series of EPCOT articles begun in the now-discontinued sister magazine Future Life); James Van Hise sneak previews Revenge of the Jedi (as it's still being called), complete with photos from the location shoot; Steve Swires interviews The Thing producer Stuart Cohen; and Howard Zimmerman wraps it up in his Lastword column by talking about the magazine's two-page poster series.
"I'm still getting mail from people identifying the 'mystery photo' from issue #58 as Carol Burnett in Choo Choo and the Philly Flash. Yes, that is the correct answer; yes, it was an April Fools joke; and no, you cannot get a star named after yourselves. That was part of the joke, but some of you seem to have taken it seriously."
–Howard Zimmerman, editor, Lastword
Starlog #62, September 1982: Tron Tron Tron!
When I worked in the publishing department of a firm in Chicago in the 1990s, I was also involved in our web site and its database. The database was created and maintained by an outside firm, and on occasion I had to go into it to retrieve or change some data. The password? Basically, it was TRON. That was the first time I realized that this early-'80s Disney movie wasn't just a flash in the pan, that it had a following many years later. With issue #62, the original Tron is featured on the cover, using what is really a collage of several different images of characters, scenery, and vehicles.
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.50
In addition to the Tron coverage (and kind of connected to it, when you think of it), we see the first appearance of what would be a steady stream of video game advertising in the magazine. Starlog never did rely much on advertising (which is part of the reason its cover price tended to be relatively high), but it did benefit for a time from TSR Hobbies, Atari, and the like. Also this issue: An old friend of the magazine returns to pen an article -- writer and actor Walter Koenig. This was not his first, nor would it be his last, contribution to Starlog.
The rundown: Kerry O'Quinn uses his From the Bridge column to discuss how people's views toward eclipses changed as they gained more knowledge about the phenomenon; Communications letters include reader views on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, E.T. and Poltergeist, additional followup to Howard Zimmerman's call to support Greenpeace to save the oceans, and more; Log Entries short items include first word on Superman III and the Twilight Zone movie, a wee controversy over Caroline Munro's voice being dubbed in The Last Horror Film, actress Sarah Douglas from Superman II visits the Starlog offices, and more; and the Spotlight page highlights winners of a Quest for Fire contest.
Robert Greenberger interviews Ricardo Montalban, who played Khan Noonian Singh in the Trek sequel; Walter Koenig asks "Where Have You Gone, Gene Roddenberry?"; David Hutchison chats with composer Basil Poledouris about scoring Conan the Barbarian; Bjo Trimble's Fan Scene explores the world of fan letter-writing to Hollywood heroes; the Quest page features the sketches and blueprints of Bill Earle; a two-page spread commemorates the re-release of Star Wars: A New Hope with color photos from the movie; the centerfold two-page poster is from Superman; another two pages feature color paintings by Ralph McQuarrie from the upcoming Star Wars: Revenge of the Jedi; David Hirsch examines the new season of Britain's Doctor Who by talking with the producer, John Nathan-Turner, and new actor Peter Davison; Robert Greenberger interviews Star Trek's James Doohan; Steve Swires interviews actor Kenneth Tobey, who talks about his starring role in the Howard Hawks 1951 version of The Thing; David Hutchison looks at how Disney created the innovative special effects in Tron; David Gerrold continues his look at "The Transformation of Spock" in his Soaring column; and Howard Zimmerman gives some capsule reviews of big SF films (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Conan, The Thing, E.T., etc.) in his Lastword column.
"He tasks me -- and I'll have him. I'll chase him round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares maelstrom and round Perdition's flames before I give him up!"
–Khan Noonian Singh (played by Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), printed at the beginning of the article by Robert Greenberger, "The Charm of Khan: An Interview with Ricardo Montalban"
Starlog #63, October 1983: Spielberg tells Starlog, "Talk to the Hand"
Starlog #63 contains one of the most extraordinary editorials in its nearly 400-issue history. Publisher Kerry O'Quinn explains at length why Starlog -- at that time, the leading science-fiction magazine on the planet -- is only now (well, "now" being the October 1983 issue) getting around to covering Steven Spielberg's E.T., several months after most people have seen the movie and mainstream publications have all had their coverage. O'Quinn writes that the magazine struggled for a long time to get pretty much anything from Spielberg's offices, but the editors were all told that Spielberg himself approves all distribution of photos, etc., to the press, and he wasn't budging on this. The editorial was very unusual, because O'Quinn is famous for being Mr. Positive; Starlog itself was well known throughout its life for having a very good working relationship with Hollywood studies; yet here is Kerry O'Quinn not even hiding his bitterness at having his magazine get the cold shoulder while magazines such as People get E.T. interviews and photos.
He notes that one of his staffers makes the point that it's not just Starlog that's getting the brush-off; its competitors in the science-fiction media are also coming up empty. The reasoning, as far as O'Quinn and his team could guess, was that the studio was giving short shrift to the genre press on the assumption that their readers were going to show up for the movie no matter what, while the mainstream press needed to be courted to ensure a blockbuster.
I think -- and this is really my guess; I don't have any insider knowledge on this -- O'Quinn's frustration was particularly acute because a magazine like Starlog thrives or shrivels on the basis of how many big genre films there are. That's what drives tens of thousands of extra newsstand sales of an issue; the previous year was a relatively weak one for SF films, and Starlog's circulation fell by about a third. It rebounds a bit this year, as we'll see soon, but then again this is also the year of Blade Runner, anticipation for Star Trek, etc. ... The inability to climb aboard the E.T. bandwagon wasn't just about being dissed by a major industry player; it was about a lot of lost money that is very dear to small publishers. Now that Starlog finally had some E.T. press material, it is therefore not that surprising that it put the friendly space alien on its cover for two consecutive issues -- in its early years, Starlog almost never put the same film or TV program on its cover for two consecutive issues.
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.50
Sure, the E.T. controversy is reason enough to remember this issue, but it is also the issue that contains a letter to the editor from yours truly -- my first. Okay, it's not exactly a Shakespearean text. I'm still not sure how I'd make a letter of praise about their good subscription service sound like poetry (write it in haiku?), but it's there nonetheless.
The rundown: In his From the Bridge column, "The Pix Are in the Mail," Kerry O'Quinn gets uncharacteristically angry at a movie studio and a film legend: Steven Spielberg; in the Communications pages, letters include some readers who are upset at perceived attacks on fandom by the magazine's columnists, writer Michael A. Banks responds to O'Quinn's editorial from the recent anniversary issue, an incredibly wise and talented teenage me writes a heartbreaking letter of staggering genius about a replacement copy he received for a damaged subscription issue of Starlog, and more; short news items in Log Entries include the impending marriage on The Greatest American Hero, first word on the fiasco that was the Ultimate Fantasy convention, James Van Hise produces a parody of Starlog, and more.
Ed Naha goes "Inside E.T." for the magazine's first feature on the film, speaking with Steven Spielberg and SFX creator Carlo Rambaldi; Tom Sciacca chats with composer James Horner about the score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (and addresses why bagpipes were used for Spock's funeral scene); David Gerrold gives his reactions to the Trek movie, which he viewed with his pal Harlan Ellison and a few others ("We all agreed that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is the very best Star Trek movie ever made. In fact, Harlan Ellison and I are even willing to go beyond that. We're agreed that this movie is also the third-best Star Trek episode ever made."); Jeff Szalay interviews Leonard Nimoy; the centerfold is given over to a big announcement of the magazine's "Science Fiction Celebrity Treasure Hunt" contest; Ed Naha describes the making of the Klaus Kinski film Android; Bjo Trimble answers letters in her Fan Scene column; James Van Hise interviews Blade Runner's Rutger Hauer; Quest features a page-and-a-half of illustrations by P.J. Murray and a humorous short-short story by James Reese; Ed Naha interviews the star of The Thing and Escape from New York ("Kurt Russell Has SomeTHING on His Mind"); Karen E. Willson interviews Sylvio Tabet, executive producer of The Beastmaster (illustrated with photos that make one assume that star Marc Singer must have gotten very cold in what passes for his costume); and Howard Zimmerman contrasts E.T. and Tron in his Lastword column.
"It's disillusioning to me. One of the people I admired has fallen in my eyes, just when he reached the top in the eyes of the critics. In his business dealings he seems to have forgotten his roots, his youth, his days as a fan, and learned how to play games in Hollywood (the place Lucas called 'an abomination'). I think it's a dirty, rotten, lousy, crass way for him to treat his most sincere and impressionable admirers -- you!"
–Kerry O'Quinn, publisher, From the Bridge: "The Pix Are in the Mail"
Starlog #64, November 1982: Now Let Me Tell You What I Really Think
In its past six and a half years, Starlog only rarely included movie reviews. The most famous, of course, was Harlan Ellison's extensive taking-apart of Star Trek -- The Motion Picture. But there were others, such as David Gerrold on The Empire Strikes Back or various editorials from editor Howard Zimmerman and publisher Kerry O'Quinn. But for issue #64, the magazine changed policy in a big way, putting out an extra-pages issue featuring many reviews of the past summer's science-fiction films, written by big names in the field as well as some of the magazine's senior staff. The magazine had always had -- and largely would continue to have -- a policy of reporting on SF media, having commentary on it, but not being a review magazine; in other words, let the readers decide on their own if they liked a movie or TV show or book. They explain their seasonal change of heart with this issue by noting that by mid-fall, people have already had lots of chances to see all of the films reviewed in this special issue, so they weren't likely to be affecting someone's enjoyment (or dismay) in the audience, but could offer additional thoughts that would enrich the reader's contemplation of the film. I've always thought that was a sensible approach, and I wish they had continued it after the three years in which they published these special review issues.
And for those of you minutiae-watchers, this is the first issue of the magazine that sports the little "Starlog Press" circular "S" logo that would adorn the covers of almost all (but not all) Starlog Group magazines for nearly the next three decades.
100 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.95
This is also the issue in which Starlog does a long-form report on Ultimate Fantasy, an attempted spectacular science-fiction convention in Texas that featured lots of cast and crew members from the Star Trek franchise and even boasted Starlog publisher Kerry O'Quinn as MC. But the event was a bust, poorly organized and poorly attended, and Starlog includes three separate articles in this issue explaining what happened, how everyone involved dealt with it, and why things like this take place. One note: In some quick online research, I find that Jerry Wilhite, the gentleman who planned the event and expected to be made rich from it, is now a Christian minister.
The rundown: Kerry O'Quinn's From the Bridge column kicks off the issue with "The Con of Wrath," giving some background of what he was promised about the Ultimate Fantasy convention and how Starlog probably got snookered more than anyone; Communications letters include TV producer Alan Spencer on Star Trek, various readers on Blade Runner, E.T., Conan, and Trek, and more; Log Entries short news items include a preview of George Romero and Stephen King's Creepshow anthology movie, word of Airplane II, news from Kenneth Tobey, and more.
David Hutchison describes the creation of the "Genesis effect" SFX in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; Bjo Trimble provides plans for convention mass letter-writing efforts to support the space program; Robert Greenberger interviews The Greatest American Hero producer Frank Lupo, writer Babs Greyhoskey, and story editor Patrick Hasburgh; Susan Adamo interviews Peter Barton, the young actor starring in The Powers of Matthew Star; David Hirsch compiles an episode guide to Doctor Who's 1982 season; and David Hirsch reviews the film scores to the summer SF lineup.
A one-page introduction leads off the summer film review section and introduces the reviewers; Alan Spencer pens a list of spurious secrets of Hollywood; David Gerrold reviews Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; Robert Greenberger reviews Conan the Barbarian; cartoonist Phil Foglio contributes a page of SF cinema-themed comic strips; Alan Dean Foster gives us his thoughts on E.T.; Norman Spinrad reviews Blade Runner; Ed Naha tells us what he thinks of Tron; Ron Goulart grades Poltergeist; Alan Spencer (yes, his third appearance in this issue) reviews the new production of The Thing (with a sidebar written by Steve Swires, in which Kenneth Tobey, actor in the 1951 version of The Thing, gives his comments on the remake); another page by Phil Foglio continues his cartoon look at summer cinema; and Fangoria editor Bob Martin reviews The Road Warrior, and he writes one of my favorite lines of the issue: "And since I begged the editor of this magazine for the opportunity to say some nice things about the film (after all, it is the only film I know of that closes with a grateful acknowledgement to Mack Trucks), I am definitely going to take advantage of the opportunity."
Steve Swires interviews Tron and Time Bandits star David Warner; Martha Bonds writes a long article (sprawled over 10 pages), "Ultimate Fantasy Report," giving a behind-the-scenes look at the failed convention; Kerry O'Quinn pens his own report, "From My Eyes Only," about what it was like to be caught in the center of the hurricane; and Howard Zimmerman wraps up this great issue with yet more thoughts on E.T., plus some explanation for why "a magazine that never prints reviews is printing eight of them in one issue."
"Whether you love or hate E.T., it can't be denied that it works on its audience. Spielberg and Mathison have told the tale they intended to tell. Me, I loved it, because I've shared the same dream since I was a boy. There are times when adult cynicism needs to be put aside and we all need to feel like a kid again."
–Alan Dean Foster, reviewer, "E.T., The Extraterrestrial"
Starlog #65, December 1982: Jedi Fever
Change is afoot at Starlog. On the staffing side, Milburn Smith joins the company as assistant publisher, and this is managing editor Susan Adamo's last issue before she moves on to Video Games magazine. The latest photo guidebook is released: Fantastic 3-D. And 16 pages of this issue are converted to full color, apparently to accommodate three color Parker Brothers video game ads. It's also the time of year for publishing the annual postal statement of ownership and circulation: The total paid circulation for the issue closest to the statement's filing deadline is listed as 119,634 (up from last year's 108,970), including the number of paid subscriptions of 16,815 (down from 18,550 the previous year).
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.50
It's the second time in a little more than two years that Mark Hamill graces the cover of Starlog from the set of Dagobah, Yoda's home planet. He first did it back in issue #40, and here again he does it, though the photo this time is frankly kind of dark and a bit grainy.
The rundown: Kerry O'Quinn gets back in his usual mode (after a couple issues delving into dysfunctional SF conventions and uncooperative movie studios) with a description of his trip to the Johnson Space Center in Houston (in the company of Nichelle Nichols, Harve Bennett, and others); letters in the Communications pages include an Ohio teacher who suffered a religious right-wing backlash for some SF/fantasy-inspired moments in her classroom, lots of thoughts about various aspects of Star Trek, a Swedish fan explains how The Empire Strikes Back was censored and edited in his country, and more; Log Entries short items include news of Superman III, Walter M. Miller's A Canticle for Liebowitz heads to public radio, the 1982 Hugo winners are announced, and more.
Mark Hamill is interviewed by Susan Adamo in the radio studio where he recorded The Empire Strikes Back for public radio; Ed Naha -- former senior writer/associate editor/etc. at Starlog, former co-editor of Future Life, and founding editor (under a pseudonym) of Fangoria -- begins a regular column in Starlog called Hollywood Babylon, with a behind-the-scenes look at life and business in Tinseltown; David Gerrold's Soaring column examines some of the ways fans critique Trek films; Alfred Webre interviews Arthur C. Clarke (about UNISPACE '82, 2010: Odyssey Two, and more; the centerfold two-page poster is from Raiders of the Lost Ark; Ed Naha previews Dance of the Dwarfs; Bjo Trimble's Fan Scene covers "The 10-Foot Star Trek Poll," a survey of Trek fans; Joe Copeland writes the story of his experiences as Mark Hamill's stand-in during the Arizona desert shooting for Return (though then still called Revenge) of the Jedi -- complete with a photo of him wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with Blue Harvest, the fake name of the film given out to mislead fans and the press during shooting; David Hutchison explores "E.T. -- The Little FX Movie that Made Good"; John Dods profiles Tim Hildebrandt following his professional breakup with his brother Greg; an unbylined article describes in text and photos "The World of The Dark Crystal"; and Howard Zimmerman's Lastword revisits the Spielberg-Starlog spat over E.T. coverage and also says good-bye to Susan Adamo.
"A growing friction between the brothers had begun to show in their work. Then the titans clashed. What has happened? Everyone involved had a different answer. 'No comment!' says Tim's wife Rita, '-- but someday I'm going to write a book!' 'It was not a friendly thing' offers Tim. Were there artistic differences? 'No, not many,' says Time. Greg agrees."
–John Dods, writer, "An Artist Unleashed: The New Career of Tim Hildebrandt"
Starlog #66, January 1983: The Dark Crystal Arrives
A new face shows up in the Starlog offices and assumes the title of managing editor with this issue: David McDonnell, a contributor to Comics Scene who would now stick with Starlog until the bitter end in 2009, the vast majority of that time as the title's editor. Oh, one other thing: They've finally made Starlog a registered trademark.
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.50
The E.T. controversy continues this issue, with readers responding en masse to the magazine's complaints about how it was treated by Steven Spielberg's office and denied materials to cover the movie.
The rundown: Kerry O'Quinn uses the example of SF fans behind the Iron Curtain to rally science-fiction fans to a commitment to freedom of thought and action; Communications letters include a slew of readers criticizing or praising Kerry O'Quinn's issue #63 editorial about Spielberg's treatment of the magazine and its readers, responses to recent reviews in the magazine of Poltergeist and Blade Runner, and a letter from Leonard Nimoy about the Ultimate Fantasy debacle; Log Entries short news items include a preview of genre films expected in 1983, a one-act play starring Mark Lenard and Walter Koenig, a possible Lost in Space movie, merchandising The Dark Crystal, a new Gerry Anderson television series (Terrahawks), and more.
David Hutchison talks with producer Gary Kurtz about The Dark Crystal, the Jim Henson fantasy; Ed Naha's Hollywood Babylon column looks at -- and gets beyond -- the B.S. flung around the science-fiction film promotional world; Chris Henderson interviews the great Frank Herbert about his work and Hollywood adaptations of SF; Robert Greenberger interviews producer Frank Marshall about the Indiana Jones movies, The Last Picture Show, E.T., and more; Howard Zimmerman interviews Brian Froud, the fantasy artist whose designs helped create The Dark Crystal; Bill Cotter looks at The Time Tunnel telefilms; so Ed Naha wasn't the only one looking at B.S. this issue, David Gerrold also examines "The B.S. Filter" in his Soaring column; Susan Adamo recounts her trip to Chicago to cover Chicon IV and how she ended up with Kerry O'Quinn's suitcase; Ed Naha looks at Twice Upon a Time, an animated film from George Lucas and Alan Ladd Jr.; Bjo Trimble recounts the experience of Omacon-2; Robert Greenberger reviews the box office performance of genre films in the previous summer; and in his Lastword column, editor Howard Zimmerman presents his fourth annual Zimmerman Awards (including Most Unintentional Laughs: Conan).
"And so, time after time, you see quotes like: 'Well, we like to think that, despite the fact that we spent $40 million on effects, Planet of the Runaway Rocketships is a movie about people.' (Translation: 104 minutes of exhaust effects, 12 minutes of dialogue -- consisting largely of the phrase 'Look out!')"
–Ed Naha, columnist, Hollywood Babylon: "Beauty & the Business"
Starlog #67, February 1983: Not-So-Superman
Superman returns to the cover of Starlog with this issue.
Unfortunately, it looks like Bob Guccione filmed Supes through a heavily vaselined lens. Or someone took the photo during an earthquake. Or the photographer snapped the shot right after a nuclear weapon exploded, with the radiation and heat waves making clear sight impossible. In other words, the cover photo is awful. Blurry. Unclear. Maybe they had a nice Ansel Adams picture all set to go, and at the last minute, Annie Leibovitz calls and a bidding war ensues for some high-quality photos of a science-fiction celebrity. Millions of dollars are bandied back and forth between the publishers and the representatives for Leibovitz and Adams. A huge brouhaha follows; the three parties begin fighting -- first arguing, then physically assaulting each other, finally resorting to explosives. Things blow up. Smoke and grit waft over the scene.
That's when they took the cover photo.
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.50
This issue is also notable for a good first: the first contribution by Lee Goldberg, a writer who would go on to a notable career in Hollywood himself. Here we get his first article, an interview with "The Man Who Killed Spock!" (that's Jack Sowards, for you non-Trekkies).
The rundown: In his From the Bridge column, Kerry O'Quinn reviews the past year (1982) at Starlog (including his sort-of meeting Paul McCartney when the singer was brought around by the editor of Country Rhythms); Communications letters include reader reviews of the reviewers (from the special movie-reviews issue, #64), a note that the magazine is changing the name of Ed Naha's column from Hollywood Babylon to L.A. Offbeat because it sounds like a legal trigger-happy author -- the appropriately named Kenneth Anger -- wrote a book by the name Hollywood Babylon (and for heavens sake, Mr. Anger was apparently not bright enough to understand that the use of the title in a different medium would actually only help him, but what the heck), a smattering of further reader comments on the Spielberg-Starlog-E.T. imbroglio, and more; and Log Entries short news items include a report on the CBS sword-and-sorcery show Wizards and Warriors, Leonard Nimoy's Lights! Camera! Action!, a plan to film the second trilogy (the first trilogy?) of the nine-(yes, nine) film Star Wars series in reverse order, Forrest J. Ackerman resigns from Famous Monsters of Filmland, and more.
Andrew Mayfair sorta spoofs the spoof Airplane II: The Sequel, with a fake interview with Steve McCrosky; in Space Age Games, Bob Martin surveys the computers that support video gaming (we're talking Mattel Intellivision, Atari VCS 2600, and that sort); Lee Goldberg interviews Star Trek II screenwriter Jack Sowards; Ed Naha's L.A. Offbeat column looks at the Hollywood writing sausage machine; Don McGregor talks with Steven Lisberger, the director of Disney's Tron; the two-page poster in the centerfold is E.T -- The Extraterrestrial; Robert Greenberger talks with Superman III executive producer Ilya Salkind and producer Pierre Spengler about why the heck they put Richard Pryor in the film (plus a sidebar that looks at the "facelift" for the Superman comic books); Bjo Trimble's Fan Scene explores the Fandom Directory; Steve Swires visits the set of Strange Invaders; Jeff Szalay and E.P. Dowd look at Warlords of the 21st Century (a.k.a. Battletruck); David Hutchison looks at how the Genesis Cave (a.k.a. the Eden Cave) was created in Star Trek II -- The Wrath of Khan; David Gerrold's Soaring looks at violence and games in Star Trek ("The Fan Who Molded Himself" -- give yourself credit if you get the pun); and editor Howard Zimmerman wraps it all up in his Lastword column with a look at some SF books news, and he welcomes aboard new managing editor David McDonnell.
"The changes that do bother Sowards were those made before the film began shooting. In Sowards' final draft, turned in to Harve Bennett on April 9, 1981 (two days before the writers' strike), Khan was depicted as a 'mystic' rather than, as Sowards puts it, 'Attila the Hun.' 'One of the things I had with the mystic approach -- which I liked better than the way it was done in the film -- was that Khan actually met Kirk face-to-face in the Genesis Cave,' Sowards says. 'I like that better than the two always being off in space together making phone calls.'"
–Lee Goldberg, writer, "Jack Sowards: The Man Who Killed Mr. Spock"
Starlog #68, March 1983: Double 007
Starlog bounces back pretty handily after last month's embarrassment of a blurry cover photo. This month, not only is the photo crisp and clear, but they've cheekily merged two Bond images -- in the days before Photoshop -- into one, thus making it look as if Roger Moore and Sean Connery are standing together (with Moore pointing his gun at his predecessor). Nice job.
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.50
Bob Martin ("Uncle Bob" to his readers and fans), the editor of sister magazine Fangoria, becomes a regular contributor to Starlog this month with his Space Age Games column, wherein we find out that the horror movie mag editor is a video game addict.
The rundown: Kerry O'Quinn recounts some of his "Tribbleations" with longtime columnist David Gerrold, who called him following O'Quinn's Spielberg and Ultimate Fantasy editorials to remind him that readers look to this publisher for positive, not negative, ideas; Communications letters include responses to David Gerrold's column about fan criticisms of Star Trek (with a further response from the author), some final (?) thoughts on the E.T. controversy, Norman Spinrad's reaction to reader criticisms of his Blade Runner review, and more; Log Entries short items include first news of David Cronenberg's Videodrome, a look at the life of Robert E. Howard, Revenge of the Jedi is officially changed to Return of the Jedi, filmmaker Verna Fields passes away, and more.
Don McGregor interviews Octopussy director John Glen; Ed Naha's L.A. Offbeat column chats with director L.Q. Jones about A Boy and His Dog, his famed film adaptation of Harlan Ellison's novella; Quest remembers the late Starfleet officer Spock with a collection of poetry and short fiction from Donna R. Bryant, Patricia Keen, Cathy Palmer, and Donna L. Harvey; Lee Goldberg interviews Richard Maibaum ("007's Puppetmaster") about Octupussy and various Bonds (and Robert Greenberger contributes a sidebar looking at the original Bond novels by Ian Fleming); David Gerrold gives his action plan for answering letters, including his use of canned paragraphs (a sidenote: I once wrote to Gerrold, and he was nice enough to reply; I'm sure the letter contained all or mostly canned text, but it was still nice that he responded; I'm sure he had plenty of work to occupy his time); Bob Martin's Space Age Games column debuts, and he pits E.T. against the Smurfs -- what more could you want? Well, probably Predator vs. the Smurfs; Bill Cotter examines the TV series Wizards and Warriors; Howard Schenkman visits the set of Sean Connery's Bond flick, Never Say Never Again; Bjo Trimble talks about her SF-notable-filled birthday party; Martha J. Bonds interviews Star Trek producer Harve Bennett; David Hutchison contributes the first of a multi-part report on his visit to Disney's new EPCOT Center in Walt Disney World; and Howard Zimmerman explains how James Bond fits into a science-fiction magazine.
"Though all of the pavillions are designed to appeal to the 'imagination,' they direct the imagination along specific themes -- land, energy, motion and so on. Imagination [pavillion] explores what might be called the 'tools' of the imagination -- color, sight, sound, shape ... an appeal to the senses, and how imagination harnesses these tools into its purest expression -- art."
–David Hutchson, science & SFX editor, "A Walking Tour: Part One -- Welcome to EPCOT Center"
Starlog #69, April 1983: Multiple Jedis
A few magazine insider notes on this issue: Starlog either switched printers or at least changed the paper stock it uses. Either way, the issue plumps up a bit more (that might sound strange; I mean it looks a bit less skinny, though the page count is the same as the previous month) and the uncoated (non-glossy) paper used for the black-and-white pages seems ... silkier. A bit smoother. Unfortunately, some of the black-and-white photos print very dark on this new paper.
Okay, so that doesn't interest you. How about this: The Return of the Jedi cover photo once again is not sufficiently tall to fill the entire cover, so black bands are added at the top of the image and at the very bottom of the image, as the magazine has done a few times in the past.
Still not interested? Okay, then there's this: This issue, Starlog announces the release of the first edition of the Starlog Poster Magazine. "10 GIANT POSTERS" shouts the ad on page 25. There are many exclamation points in the ad, too. But it was a science-fiction geek-out moment for many of us back then, because it did deliver a ton of cool posters in one package. Starlog would go on to publish quite a few editions of the poster magazines, including a series of poster magazines for its horror movie sister mag, Fangoria. This month Starlog also releases the second volume of its Starlog Scrapbook photo magazine, featuring E.T. on the cover.
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.50
Now that the Star Wars sequel has finally been definitely named Return -- not Revenge -- of the Jedi, the fun can begin, as can Starlog's coverage of the movie, in earnest.
The rundown: Kerry O'Quinn probably was very pleased with the title for his From the Bridge column this month: "Out of My Drawers ...". But it's not what it sounds like; he instead is reaching into his drawers -- stop that line of thought right now! -- and sharing some of the newspaper clippings he's had stored in his desk drawers. Communications letters include Tron director Steven Lisberger, who takes the time to respond to reader reaction to his film, and other letters include support for a teacher facing censorship, thoughts on The Dark Crystal, and more; short news items in Log Entries include news of upcoming 3-D movies (Jaws 3-D, Space Hunter, and more), a peek at Blue Thunder, a profile of Matthew DeMeritt (who helped perform inside the E.T. suit for some later-discarded footage), Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta are teaming up to make the fantasy film Fire and Ice, Famous Monsters of Filmland (and Creepy, Eerie, Vampiralla, and 1994) have ceased publication, and more.
Jill Bauman provides a photo display from the Eighth Annual World Fantasy Convention; Ed Naha interviews Anthony Daniels about Return of the Jedi; Lee Goldberg interviews Tom Mankiewicz, about scripting Bond films, working on Superman, and involvement in an upcoming Batman movie; Ed Naha explores the controversy over the nuclear holocaust telefilm The Day After; Susan Adamo returns to the pages of Starlog to visit the studio where The Empire Strikes Back is being recorded for public radio; James Van Hise interviews James Kahn about his work in E.T. and on Poltergeist; Robert Greenberger interviews Jedi producer Howard Kazanjian; David Houston contributes "A Walking Tour: Part Two -- Welcome to EPCOT Center"; in her final Fan Scene column, Bjo Trimble says good-bye, her column a victim of her burgeoning interests elsewhere and O'Quinn's concern that the magazine had too many columnists; a three-page photo spread (in black-and-white) goes behind the scenes of the making of The Dark Crystal; David Gerrold announces an essay contest for Starlog readers to write his column; John Dods follows up his interview with Tim Hildebrandt by profiling estranged brother Greg Hildebrandt this issue; Bob Martin's Space Age Games throws some red meat to the SF crowd, looking at space war games; and editor Howard Zimmerman wraps it all up in his Lastword column with a farewell to Bjo Trimble.
"Nobody gets an easy ride in this picture. 3PO has moments of almost psychological tension in this film, moments where he's not sure what's happening or why. He also gets to be something that he always wanted to be. You know the way some people dream of becoming movie stars? Well, 3PO has a goal like that as well. In this movie, he finally achieves it."
–Anthony Daniels, interviewed by Ed Naha: "Anthony Daniels: The Man in the Golden Mask"
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.
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!
The rundown: 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
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, et.al.), 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.
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"
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.
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"
Starlog #72, 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.
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"
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.
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"
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).
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
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.
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"
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.
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"
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.
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"
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?
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"
Starlog #80, March 1984: You, too, Can Be a Jedi
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.
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"
This is a work in progress. Check back regularly for the rest of my ongoing compendium of Starlog -- the complete run, nearly 400 issues of the science fiction film/TV/books/etc. magazine.
In the meantime, as I continue adding them on this site, you can see the up-to-date project on my blog.
Copyright © 2010 John Zipperer, except for Starlog images and text, which is the property of Starlog.