Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #120, July 1987: Double Anniversaries

With this issue, Starlog magazine turns 11 years old. There’s even an extra-length anniversary editorial from the publisher, plus some tiny text on the cover, telling you of the occasion.

But the anniversary that really is celebrated is the tenth anniversary of the Star Wars phenomenon. It’s featured on the cover and in eight articles and an editorial inside. That’s probably appropriate. If Star Trek got the magazine going (and would super-power it again over the next seven years in the form of the new syndicated TV series), then Star Wars – coming along in the magazine’s second year – broadened its base and assured its market.

So happy birthday, both of you kids.

Starlog #120
100 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.95

In his end-of-the-magazine column, editor David McDonnell gets various Starlog personnel to share their memories of the first time they saw Star Wars. (I particularly like David Hutchison’s story, which involved driving 120 miles round-trip once a week to see it during a summer of theater in North Carolina.) Had he asked me, I’d have told him that I saw Star Wars just before the big old movie palaces were all chopped up into multiplexes, so the theater to which my father took us in Madison, Wisconsin, was a grand old downtown theater – and it was packed. It was the perfect audience with which to see such a movie. Everyone was into it, and the excitement was shared with the whole group. It was one of the last such experiences I would have until the mid-1990s, when I was living in Chicago and got to experience modern movie palaces with giant crowds once again. So it’s probably fitting that I saw the Special Edition of Star Wars: A New Hope in one such theater right off North Michigan Avenue.

The rundown: The cover image is the famous Star Wars advertising painting. In his special anniversary From the Bridge editorial, publisher Kerry O’Quinn discusses dreams (doing the dreaming and achieving your dreams); the Communications section begins with an editorial note declaring that the magazine has changed its policy and will no longer print full addresses of the letter writers (due to the abuse of those addresses by some readers and businesses), while reader letters include comments on new Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy, the new Star Trek series, and an old series (thoughts on Captain Future from letter writer Bill Blackbeard, the director of San Francisco’s Academy of Comic Art); Medialog includes David Hutchison on a planned re-release of George Pal’s Puppetoon shorts, plus David McDonnell’s roundup of genre news (including the news that Starlog contributors Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin will be scripting a Blade film).

Jean Airey profiles the new Doctor Who, Sylvester McCoy; in his third Generations column, David Gerrold explains the creation of the story bible for Star Trek: The Next Generation, shows us some Andy Probert designs for the new Enterprise, and shares a snip of dialogue between Picard and Riker; in a great Star Wars background article, Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier delve into the early versions of Star Wars (called The Star Wars), illustrated with Ralph McQuarrie’s wonderful production art; a four-page Fan Network section includes an extensive guide to Star Wars fan clubs, numerous one-panel cartoons, short items on the Lucasfilm fan club and a new edition of Bjo Trimble’s The Star Trek Concordance, and answers to reader queries (such as, “Is there any chance of us seeing the Star Wars trilogy uncut [i.e., with missing scenes restored]?” – such precocious readers); comics writer Roy Thomas uses the Other Voices guest column to explain “How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Star Wars (Within Limits)”; going even further down that path, Patrick Daniel O’Neill provides an eight-page exploration of Star Wars in the comics form (including a sidebar on the Star Wars newspaper comic strip and on a chat with Jo Duffy, a writer of the Marvel Star Wars comic book.

A 15-page section called “Starlog Salutes Star Wars” features mini-excerpts of Star Wars articles from previous issues of the magazine, illustrated with lots of great photos (including the first one I ever saw of Han Solo arguing with a pre-digitized Jabba the Hutt); Phil Foglio contributes a one-page “Star WarStories” comic; Adam Pirani interviews Sebastian Shaw, the first actor to play Anakin Skywalker (in Return of the Jedi); and Michael Wolff tries to decipher hidden meanings (or at least come up with explanations for un-revealed plot details) in “Behind the Lines of the Star Wars.”

In a non-Wars article, David Hutchison looks at Peter Donen’s special effects for Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs; Jessie Horsting goes behind the scenes of Joe Dante’s film Innerspace; Steve Swires completes his two-part interview with actor Kerwin Mathews; Kim Howard Johnson talks to Margot Kidder about her last time playing Lois Lane; Lee Goldberg and Edward Gross interview James Bond screenwriter Richard Maibaum; David Hutchison’s Videolog notes the latest genre video and laserdisc releases; Marc Shapiro previews Predator, the only film I know of to feature two future governors (Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger) – I assume Carl Weathers has a candidacy in the offing; William Rabkin looks at Harry & the Hendersons (illustrated by George Kochell); Patrick Daniel O-Neill pens a one-page tribute to Patrick Troughton, the second man to play Doctor Who; and editor David McDonnell wraps it all up in his Liner Notes column by asking his pals what it was like when they first saw Star Wars.
“Mark [Hamill] was absolutely delightful to work with. He was very kind, and maybe even appreciative, to an old actor like me. He was glad to work with somebody of my experience. He was very nervous with the scene because, quite suddenly, a new dimension came into the whole thing, a real and genuine emotion – for Luke to meet his father, in those circumstances, and know that when that dreadful mask was taken off, it meant it was curtains for him. Incidentally, Mark nearly took my ears [off] with [the mask]. ‘Wow,’ I said.”
–Sebastian Shaw, actor, interviewed by Adam Pirani: “Sebastian Shaw: The Return of Anakin Skywalker”
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.
Post a Comment