Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #53, December 1981: Andy Kaufman & Heartbeeps

The biggest change this month is a staffbox change: Cheh Nam Low is no longer art director; his place is taken by Steven J. Plunkett. Trivia time: Cheh N. Low previously art directed Gallery magazine in the mid-1970s; Gallery was a Playboy pretender. After Starlog, Low would go on to eventually head up his own publishing company. Also: Comics World magazine, advertised two issues ago for the charter subscription price of $9.99 a year, is now listed in the subscription ad as costing $11.98, and they're still calling it the "special charter subscription rate."

And the magazine prints its postal statement of ownership and circulation this issue: The paid circulation for the issue closest to the statement's filing deadline is listed as 108,970 (down nearly a third from the previous year), including the number of paid subscriptions of 18,550 (down very slightly from last time).

Starlog #53
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.50

Heartbeeps was a quirky little film starring Taxi's Andy Kaufman and Bernadette Peters. I've only seen short clips of it, and it was quickly forgotten by pretty much everyone. But I do remember that my best friend in junior high school was excited to buy this issue, because he was a big Peters fan, so he was probably one of the seven people who paid to see the movie. Thus, it was probably not a great cover story choice for a magazine relying heavily on newsstand sales.

The rundown: Kerry O'Quinn turns over his From the Bridge column to a reader, who relates his troubled childhood and how his interest in science fiction saved him; Communications letters include feedback on the Heavy Metal movie, reaction to O'Quinn's "imagine there's no god" editorial, an open letter to George Lucas, and more; short news items in Log Entries include a preview of the cave-man film Quest for Fire, a gallery in New Jersey that showcased SF and fantasy paintings, the Rocky Horror Picture Show sequel Shock Treatment, news that Nicholas Meyer has been selected to direct Star Trek II, a box office report on the summer genre films, and more.

Jeff Szalay examines the special effects of the robot-comedy Heartbeeps (including a sidebar profile of SFX artist Jamie Shourt); in her Fan Scene column, Bjo Trimble writes about Special Friends, a family effort to provide support at the Special Olympics; James Van Hise profiles Gene Winfield and his custom prop design work for Blade Runner and other films; in the first part of James H. Burns' interview with Greatest American Hero co-executive producer Juanita Bartlett, the Hollywood veteran discusses the decision-making behind the quirky series; Jeff Szalay interviews the great Ray Bradbury about The Martian Chronicles TV adaptation and other works; Joseph Veverka explores "The Tenth Planet" in a space science article; Suzanne Weyn interviews fantasy artist Jill Bauman; David Gerrold tackles world hunger in his Soaring column; Steve Swires interviews Patrick MacNee about Avengers and The Creature Wasn't Nice; David Hutchison explores the go-motion techniques used in the new film Dragonslayer; Jeff Pollizzotto's science-fiction models are featured in Quest; and Howard Zimmerman's Lastword column talks up some more recent books.
"But is there a real tenth planet out beyond the orbit of Pluto? Peculiarities in the motion of Uranus led to the successful search for Neptune, and, in turn, peculiarities in the motion of Neptune motivated the search for Pluto. But it now turns out that Pluto is much too tiny to affect the motion of any of its neighbors in any significant way. So if there really are peculiarities in the motions of Neptune and Uranus, and the presence of Pluto can't explain them, are there perhaps planets beyond?"
--Dr. Joseph Veverka, scientist and writer, "The Tenth Planet"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below.
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