Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #30, January 1980: The Year of Trek Continues

As we move further through Starlog's fourth year of publication, it becomes increasingly clear that the magazine's design is becoming more standardized and, yes, a bit more boring. (As I noted in a previous issue post, my favorite design period was by previous art directors Howard Cruse and Robert P. Ericksen.) That's not to say the magazine is looking bad. Quite the contrary: It is a well put-together magazine that was head-and-shoulders above any of its competition on the newsstand. I only mourn the loss of some of the more innovative layouts of earlier years. In the magazine's art staff's defense, they were no longer just putting out one or two magazines; Starlog was now publishing monthly, it had its eight-times-a-year sister magazine Future Life, its bimonthly little brothers Fangoria and Cinemagic, plus poster magazines, trade paperback photo guidebooks, one-shot specials such as the John Wayne magazine, special projects such as the Communications Handbook, a 1980 calendar of space art, and licensed movie magazines and posterbooks (such as the 1941 magazine and posterbook, advertised for the first time in this issue, on page 10; by the way, a few years later, we'd learn that the company lost a ton of money on the 1941 products). So even though the magazine's art staff had grown, it was being tasked with producing a lot of material. That's how small publishing houses operate, and Starlog knew how to do it well.

Starlog #30
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $1.95

The Year of Trek continues at Starlog, with an iconic Trek photo on the cover (a photo that would be flipped over and used again on the cover of the first Starlog Scrapbook photo magazine in a year or two, and that was used -- in its flipped version -- on the cover of the Japanese edition of Starlog). The magazine also has quite a coup with the first of three excerpts of actor/writer Walter Koenig's book, Chekov's Enterprise.

The contents page photo is a beautiful shot of the Enterprise in dry dock. Kerry O'Quinn's From the Bridge column is a grab bag of notes on different topics, which is probably why it's called "Grab Bag Notes"; Communications reader letters include William F. Nolan taking credit for a space comedy script mentioned in a previous issue, Brick Price explaining at length the Star Trek special effects debacle, and even someone's report on their summer vacation. Log Entries short news items include a production report on The Empire Strikes Back, a roundup of British science-fiction television programs, two fans who had a Star Wars-themed wedding, and more.

David Houston interviews Robert Wise, director of Star Trek -- The Motion Picture; Alex York provides a retrospective of a different Gene Roddenberry production, the stillborn effort The Questor Tapes; Walter Koenig's diary from the Star Trek movie, Chekov's Enterprise, begins its three-issue serialization; "Great Moments in Science Fiction" is an illustrated two-page feature; David Gerrold's Rumblings estimates how much the Trek movie will have to earn at the box office to cover its bloated budget; Gerry Anderson's Space Report this month is a one-page photo feature of Martin Bower's miniature work from Space: 1999; David Houston interviews Star Trek -- The Motion Picture production designer Harold Michaelson; Karen E. Willson profiles female stuntwomen; David Hutchison's SFX article explores the art of the matte-scan (focusing on Harrison Ellenshaw); David Houston's Visions column explores "Artificial Intelligence: The Rulers of the World" (obviously including HAL 9000 in the mix); and Howard Zimmerman ends the issue with thoughts on the meaning of the new Trek film.
"At $42,000,000, Star Trek will be the most expensive motion picture ever filmed inside the continental United States and the third most expensive motion picture in history; Cleopatra cost $44,000,000, and the Russian version of War and Peace cost $100,000,000. ... Star Trek is going to have to earn at least $84,000,000 and maybe as much as $126,000,000 (depending on the various deals involved) before it actually shows a profit."
--David Gerrold, columnist, Rumblings: "The Bottom Line"
To view previous Starlog Archive issues, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below.
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