Sunday, April 25, 2010

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.
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