Thursday, December 31, 2009

Patrick Stewart is Knighted as His New Years Eve Gift from the Queen

It turns out that England's Queen Elizabeth II is a Trekkie. Or a fan of the X-Men movies. Or she really liked Jeffrey? Whatever the exact cause of her fixation, she's reportedly a big fan of Patrick Stewart, the actor who breathed life into Star Trek: The Next Generation's Captain Jean-Luc Picard for seven seasons on TV and several movies.

So as part of her New Years Honours list of Britons slated to be knighted, the queen included Stewart in recognition of his service to drama.

I think I preferred it in many ways when people were knighted for actually fighting for their country, but I should probably stop being a sourpuss and be glad that few Brits need to do that today. So congrats to Patrick Stewart.

That is, Sir Patrick Stewart.

Richard Branson Boosts Private Space in BBC Focus Guest-Editing Stint

The BBC, in addition to producing untold hours of radio and television programming around the world, owns Bristol Magazines Ltd, which -- as the name pretty much says -- publishes magazines. (It even produces them in Bristol.) The next time you're at Borders or Barnes & Noble or any other store with a big magazine area, scan through the history or science sections, and you'll find such titles as BBC Knowledge, BBC Sky at Night (an astronomy title), BBC History, and more.

Though I'm a history buff, the only BBC magazine I pick up from time to time is BBC Focus, which is a popular-science magazine. With a circulation of only about 68,000 (a level that would not even interest many American publishers), Focus produces a high-quality monthly package of more than 100 oversized (by anemic U.S. magazine standards) pages. The magazine is full of colorfully illustrated, easy-to-read articles about science in our lives.

It had been a number of months since I'd last bought a copy of Focus (I am rather falling behind in my magazine reading as it is), but the December 2009 issue caught my attention with its reflective silver logo box, a change from its usual red. The key factor in my decision to purchase the magazine, however, was the cover story package: the privatization of space. It's a favorite topic of mine, and it promised to be a nice look inside the burgeoning private space race.

The cover also noted that the issue was "guest edited by Richard Branson." Branson is the billionaire owner of the Virgin brand of companies, including Virgin Galactic, the leading private space travel firm. I am not, as a rule, a fan of guest-editing gimmicks. In this case, there was at least a compelling link between Branson and this magazine's topics.

If I have a complaint, it would be the one I've made in the past with regard to guest editors and the integrity of magazines' editorial products. Branson's issue of Focus includes at least five articles (comprising a majority of the special section on private space travel) by or about Virgin Galactic. Now, making all the necessary photo shoots, interviews, and information exchanges happen might well be a big part of what a guest editor brings to a magazine, but it still looks like BBC Focus gave Branson's company a big free advertisement in its December issue (or make that "... of its December issue.").

In a statement by Bristol Magazines, Focus editor Jheni Osman said of working with Branson: "The father of space tourism was a pleasure to work with -- full of feature ideas and Focus-esque humour. It's the first time he's guest edited a magazine, giving readers an exclusive insight into his world."

As with most BBC Focus magazines, it's a nice issue. Focus and Branson can be proud of their work on many levels. But I don't think they advanced the cause of journalism any.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

3D Really not Important to Avatar

I was scared away from seeing the Avatar 3D Imax showing today because of the long line around the block outside the theatre an hour before the movie started. I checked inside, however, and found that all of the Avatar Imax showings of the film were sold out today. So I went to a different theatre and saw a plain old normal 3D edition of the movie, as I had this past weekend.

About halfway through the movie, I realized something: The 3D really added nothing to my enjoyment of the film. The amazing scenery and action were enough in 2D to be awe-inspiring; but the 3D was not noticeable enough to play an important role with the audience (well, with me), and I suspect that when I watch it on ol' 2D blu ray in a few months, I won't even notice the lack of 3D.

I didn't mind that 3D. Just sayin'.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Comics and Science Fiction: I Want My Space Opera Illustrated!

The short story is the perfect medium for science fiction. Of course, the novel is also the perfect medium for science fiction. Orson Welles proved that radio is the perfect medium for science fiction. In fact, movies, television, paintings, records/CDs and model kits are all perfect media for science fiction. All of those statements are true; science fiction has worked and mostly still works in each of those media.

But today I want to explore another true statement: Comics are the perfect medium for science fiction. So why has it been so difficult to find a solid, long-lasting SF comic publication for the last few decades?

In the 1970s and early 1980s, there was a lot of SF comics action, especially following the breakout success of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind at the box office. At the highest end, there was Heavy Metal magazine, which National Lampoon licensed from the French original, Metal Hurlant. HM was joined in 1980 by Marvel's great Epic Illustrated magazine. Both magazine-sized anthology comics mixed science fiction and fantasy, and -- let's be frank -- well-endowed women who had somehow lost their shirts. Whether it was the creative ownership granted to the artists and writers, the exhilarating experimentation with new story and graphic types, or the women -- I'm not sure -- but both magazines represented a kind of golden era of SF and fantasy comics, certainly in the magazine format.

Meanwhile, in the early 1980s, the great Warren magazine empire collapsed. As a result, we not only lost Warren's horror-themed magazines Creepy and Eerie (which occasionally dabbled in SF), but its science fiction comics magazine 1994 (which had changed its original name from 1984). 1994 played in the same sexy SF area as Heavy Metal and Epic Illustrated, but it focused more on black-and-white stories.

By the mid-1980s, though, things were changing. Heavy Metal was reduced to a quarterly publication schedule, and Epic Illustrated ceased publication altogether. HM would continue with its lower profile until it was bought by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman, who publishes it to this day. Epic continued as the brand name of a series of Marvel comics.

What else was there? When 1994 and Epic died and Heavy Metal refocused on longer stories, I don't believe there was any high-profile comics magazine featuring lots of quality short SF and fantasy. Long gone were past titles such as Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction or -- shudder -- Strange Adventures. Yes, you can still scour eBay for foreign classics such as Pilote or Metal Hurlant, but the pickings are slim. (Completists might also want to scrounge around for the three issues of Omni Comix from the mid-1990s. Or better yet, just buy anything by Moebius.)

Why is this? As editor Michael A. Burstein notes in the first (and so far only) edition of Outbound, comics and science fiction would seem to be natural partners, but they are rarely paired successfully. They should work well, because the ability to illustrate the imaginative settings of SF stories is the strength of comics; plus, of course, many SF stories have a healthy dose of action and adventure, which also make them great for comics. What might not seem to be a natural is the more intellectual, internal SF story, in which there are fewer explosions and more thinking. But anyone who's been a fan of the great Japanese manga series Planetes knows you can mix space ships, conflict, intelligent stories, and good art, and you can come up with a classic SF comic.

Outbound, by the way, is a comic-book-sized anthology published by the Boston Comics Roundtable. It features a nice variety of stories, some good original voices and art, naturally some weak spots, and, like Heavy Metal's early years, a couple stories that must only make sense if you're heavily into some sort of drug experience.

I do not know if there will be a second issue of Outbound, but I am encouraged to see someone trying to build something in this market space. It is clearly a tough niche in which to survive, but if enough people get in there and show what can be done, sooner or later some publisher will concoct the correct recipe. Then we'll get some great professional space opera, thought-provoking explorations of SF ideas, and mind-bending concepts.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Magazine Logo Matches: Famous Monsters and Monsterland

After Famous Monsters of Filmland's longtime editor Forrest J. Ackerman left his job at the Warren magazine, he clearly was not ready to retire. Competitor Fangoria had a field day with the personnel turmoil at Famous Monsters, and they made the most of it by publishing a tell-all interview with Forry in Fango #24 (December 1982, see photo below); Forry's final, unpublished editorial (Fango 25, February 1983); as well as a couple original articles by Ackerman in later issues.

But I don't think Forry wanted to be Fango's favorite guest star, paraded in front of its fans like Augustus wanted to do with Cleopatra in Rome. So he must have kept looking for a magazine home, and before he ended up with the ill-fated and somewhat bizarre Famous Monsters revival, he was involved with a magazine called Monsterland. He exited that publication by issue #10 (the issue pictured above), but at least one aspect of that magazine surprised me when I recently came upon a copy of Famous Monsters and Monsterland. The "Monster" word in the logos of each is either identical in design or close enough that I certainly can't tell the difference. Go ahead, click on the photos above to get larger images. Can you spot any difference?

Why the copying? It's not as if "Monster" in that exact font and treatment was an automatic newsstand draw. Before he left, the magazine was known as "Forrest J. Ackerman's Monsterland," and I would think his name had more to do with whatever sales there were than the "Monster" name design.

And if you've never heard of Monsterland before, don't despair. I only vaguely recall seeing it on the stands at the time and I did not buy an issue. It was produced by Hal Schuster and James Van Hise, who also took the Trek-heavy Enterprise Incidents magazine and turned it into SFMovieland (see photo, right) -- another magazine that somehow managed to never be purchased by yours truly.

Today, of course, Ackerman is no longer with us, and neither is Monsterland. With a little more creativity and quality and originality, maybe Forry would've found it to be his long-term home, but that was not to be.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Avatar Mini-Review: Movie's a Best-of Collection of James Cameron Characters

So after waiting a more than a week to see James Cameron's latest budget-busting movie spectacular and still ending up with a sold-out showing, we walked out with the feeling we usually get with James Cameron movies: Not so good with characters, a simple and familiar story line, amazing visuals and technology.

What stuck in my mind the most was the familiarity of the characters. The copter pilot who flies our heros into the aliens' territory? A lot like Private Vasquez from Aliens, no? And Giovanni Ribissi's Parker Selvridge character was certainly a lot like Paul Reiser's Carter Burke in Aliens, yes? The walking mecha that are used for heavy lifting and occasional combat ... also remind you of something in Aliens? The flying attack ships used by the company are reminiscent of the machines' flying attack craft in Terminator 2.

Sigourney Weaver's a great actor, but you wouldn't guess it from this movie. Cameron's a great filmmaker (especially see The Abyss, his best, IMHO), and it might take you a while to wade through all of the 3-D visual effects here to realize that you wouldn't guess it, either, from this movie.

"Ham for the Holidays" and Other Notable Magazine Holiday Covers

In this week between Christmas and New Year's Day, I wanted to do a brief survey of just some of the many, many holiday-themed magazine covers at this time of the year. I was quite surprised with some of the magazines that I expected to have holiday covers but didn't (there were some city entertainment guides that had covers that could just as well have come out in July) and with some of the magazines that were ... let's say unlikely candidates for holiday covers but which nonetheless got decked out for the holidays.

So, from The Economist's annual thumb-sucking issue (this year's topic: "Progress and Its Perils") to a "Ham for the Holidays" Saveur cover, from Santas that look like Alec Baldwin (Men's Journal) to some playmate who looks to be having more than just seasonal fun (Playboy Italy), from the Holy Family to an astronomical preview -- enjoy this look at the holidays through the eyes of some of the world's magazine editors.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Ho Oh No! A Health-Care Reform Christmas

A couple Christmas-themed political cartoon from Lyle Lahey. For more, see his web site or his blog.


Merry Christmas! Have Yourself a Very Kitty Christmas

Yes, it's cute-overload, but with no snow here in San Francisco, we make holiday scenes however we can.

So, from our household to you, our cats Ashes (bottom photo) and her older brother Charlie (top photo) both express their bewilderment of this holiday, or at least of the spangly Santa hat. I'm choosing to interpret that as their wishing one and all a wonderful Christmastime.

Merry Christmas.

We'll go back to being a no-cat-blogging zone tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is Political Cartooning Dead? That'll Make Some (Bad) People Very Happy

Conservative pollster Frank Luntz recently said that Americans have lost their sense of humor, their ability to make jokes (and take jokes) about political ideas and leaders without everyone losing their cool and getting fighting mad. You can see just one aspect of that development the next time you open up a newspaper. Today, daily newspapers are much less likely to have their own political cartoonists providing sharp commentary on local or regional events, and they're more likely to run syndicated political cartoons from an artist in another city and state who couldn't spell the name of your city if their life depended on it.

Who wins? Certainly the local politicians, crooks, activists, swindlers, and other people who prefer to do their work in secret, because they know that people would never approve of their methods or means.

Weekly newspapers are also going through a de-cartooning. Daryl Cagle posts an interesting article by Steve Greenberg examining the steep decline in the numbers of political cartoonists and political cartoons in American newspapers, especially in the alternative weeklies found in many cities. "The number of papers carrying the politically left-leaning [Ted] Rall’s work over the years — as many as 140 at one point nearly a decade ago — has dropped to just 72. 'But they don’t have a lot of pages, because they don’t have enough advertising to support the pages. That’s what’s really going on,' Rall explains. And newspapers find it not only saves money and space to cut cartoons with strong views, but also eliminates controversy, which is more tolerated in the alt-press than the daily press."

All too true.

My stepfather, Lyle Lahey, worked as a daily editorial cartoonist at the Green Bay News-Chronicle for 35 years until the paper's death earlier this decade. It was, I read somewhere, the smallest daily newspaper in the country to have its own political cartoonist, but it did -- and it possibly had the nation's hardest-working political cartoonist. Lyle drew six and sometimes seven cartoons a week, in addition to editing the paper's opinion pages.

He would be a good case study for newspapers considering throwing their cartoonists over the side of the ship. His cartoons were often the main draw to readers of the Chronicle, which was the much smaller of two dailies in the Green Bay metro market. I even saw that close-up; the family of one of my best friends subscribed to the paper only because of Lyle's cartoons; remove the cartoons, and they would've canceled. His fans were not only loyal, they were intense. I remember having a nice argument with a classmate in high school over how to pronounce my stepfather's last name. He was incorrect, and he bizarrely refused to believe I knew how to pronounce my own stepfather's name. Nonetheless, here was a high school student who regularly read political cartoons and identified with the artist.

And yes, offending people is part of the job of any political cartoonist worth his or her salt. Lyle did his share of that, earning heated letters and phone calls from the offended (Catholics, powerful business interests in town, Packers fans, conservatives, liberals, local politicians, activists, polluters -- whoever got angry and took crayon in hand to write a letter to the editor). But he remained independent in his beliefs, and -- a key to his success and to the paper's, as long as it lasted -- he remained committed to concentrating on local topics in his cartoons. He felt he owed it to the people of Green Bay to take on the things happening in and around their town. The bungled investigations of crimes, the toxic wastes pumped into the Fox River, the $43,000 open-air heated bus shelters, etc. As much as he upset some people, he gained the appreciation of others.

And that's what a local political cartoonist can bring to a paper, weekly or daily. I saw that when I was the editorial pages editor of my college daily, the Badger Herald. For a long time, our editorials and columns were dreadful college-student musings on national and international issues. That's what you get when your editorial page editor and associate editorial page editor are both political science students with a focus on international relations. And our editorial cartoons were national syndicated cartoons -- great ones, indeed, with the likes of the Chicago Tribune's incredible Jeff MacNelly. But two things happened that suddenly increased the amount of mail -- positive and negative -- we received and made the editorial pages relevant on campus: First, we learned to write about local, campus topics; second, we got a great campus cartoonist who combined professional-level art with sharp commentary. Bingo -- we were producing a page that people on campus had to read, because no one could provide the text and cartoon commentary that we were providing. We'd made the paper a part of students' lives in a way that the best MacNelly cartoon (and the best MacNelly cartoon was indeed awesome) could never do.

What next? To quote Homer Simpson when asked who would take care of the children if all the parents ran away: "The internet?" Well, the internet is a place of refuge and even success for some political cartoonists. Lyle Lahey has a web site and a blog, where he continues to produce three cartoons a week, now freed to cover topics national and international. Other cartoonists have done the same, but I think monetary compensation (you know, paying the rent or mortgage is a nice feature in life) remains to be figured out.

I spoke to one political cartoonist several years ago who was quite bullish on using the web to spread his work to readers and distribute it to newspapers nationally. I wish him luck. But I think most political cartoonists are talented at drawing and writing commentary, not marketing themselves. I understand that the modern market-based, Schopenhauer-esque response is that they have to adapt or die. But Schopenhauer's theory of creative destruction isn't a universal salve. (Geez, is it a "salve" for anything?)

They will adapt and change, I don't doubt. But it's a tremendous waste for newspapers and editorial cartoonists to lose their symbiotic relationship. They were good for each other.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Angela Merkel at Copenhagen -- An Opportunity Missed

Of all the blather we heard in Copenhagen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's were probably among the least hypocritical. A former environment minister and scientist (she is, after all, Dr. Merkel), she has been a strong proponent of pushing economies to use green policies. She knows her data, and she knows what it means. But Copenhagen collapsed nonetheless.

All the Stories I Did NOT Blog This Year

I often e-mail myself with notes about items I want to cover in this blog; then, when I have the time, I write them up and post 'em. Some of these might still make it to this blog in 2010, but others -- you will probably be relieved to know -- are unlikely to ever see the light of day in extended written form (as much as "extended" exists in this blogosphere).

So, in no particular order, here are the items you have been spared reading on this blog in 2009:
  • SFX design problems: I did note on this blog that I'd finally subscribed to this big British science fiction media magazine (in the wake of the death of Starlog's print edition -- *wheep*). But I've got problems with its design and layout. Magazine-geek stuff. I decided to let it rest for now; this might still get written up in 2010, if I get annoyed enough at the magazine's presentation.
  • An interview with my friend Pat Prince, who has resurrected his music magazine in online form: Seriously, this could be cool. Just haven't had the time to do it yet. But in 2010!
  • An interview with an online magazine aggregator: His office approached me about an interview, but before I could make up my mind, interviews with him were appearing elsewhere, and I didn't think I wanted to cover such well-trodden (well trod?) ground. 
  • More on the tea-party movement: It's the political crackpot gift that just keeps giving, or taking away, at least in terms of its role in debasing the health-care debate. But I just haven't the bile to spend the time to do this properly here.  
  • Behind-the-scenes looks at my ongoing process of designing my own new magazine: This, too, will happen in 2010. Not enough time in 2009. But it's a fun and exciting project.
  • Regular coverage of science and space news: Still not sure if I'll do much with this.
  • Interview with ultra-high fuel efficiency expert: I missed my chance earlier this year when he came to San Francisco. Live and learn.
  • A highlights/lowlights of the year in media: There are still nine days left in 2009, so this might yet become reality.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ben Bova on Christmas: Deciphering Santa's Political Preference

Ben Bova is a major figure in the science fiction landscape, having authored numerous views, been at the vanguard of arguing the scientific point of view, and edited Analog and Omni magazines. He's still at it, producing books and more, but a quick web search this morning revealed that he also writes a column for his local newspaper, the Naples News, in Florida.

In one of his latest columns for that paper, he tackles the toughest question of all: Is Santa a Democrat or Republican? If you're used to Bova writing tough-as-nails science-and-political thrillers, you might want to check out his column for a little Christmas holiday cheer.

Personally, I think Santa's showing his northern European ("old Europe," in Donald Rumsfeld's eyes) roots with his extravagant giveaway of toys to kids, an overindulgence that simply can't be easily understood in this economic climate. The real question is whether he's a Christian Democrat or a Social Democrat. Any ideas?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Avatar Is the King; Long Live the King

Let me just be annoying here for a moment. Huffington Post reports that James Cameron's new science fiction movie Avatar has taken in a satisfying $73 million in its first weekend.

That's not annoying. This is -- Here's how HuffPo opened its article:
James Cameron launched his science-fiction epic "Avatar" into a safe orbit as the costly film soared to No. 1 with $73 million domestically and $159.2 million overseas, for a $232.2 million worldwide total.

Let's be annoying, because in 1978, when science fiction was still a new thing -- in the popular, non-SF consciousness, that is -- lazy journalists could get away with hackneyed references when reporting on science fiction films and books. But we have progressed. SF films and TV regularly rank in the top tiers of box office and audience ratings. Even non-Sf media such as TV Guide regularly feature SF media on their covers.

So why does Huffington Post's writer think "launched his science-fiction epic" "into safe orbit" doesn't signal laziness? I'm not being PC; it's not offensive; it is just lazy, and it's part of the reason people don't need to pay much attention to media these days. Apparently, not even to Huffington Post, which was supposed to represent the new media future.

Yes, I'm being overly sensitive. But would it hurt Huffington Post to employ a little smart editing?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rick Steves Gets His Own Smithsonian Travel Magazine

Rick Steves, the popular travel host who heads up a multimedia empire, will be able to add a Smithsonian magazine to his list of accomplishments. Smithsonian Presents: Travels with Rick Steves will  be a 100,000-circulation newsstand special written completely by Steves and edited by the staff of Smithsonian magazine.

Slated for an early May 2010 release, the magazine could be just the beginning of a collaboration between Steves and Smithsonian, according to Folio:.

A core idea behind much of Steves' approach to international travel is that you should go and learn about the places and the people; learn it on their terms, don't go and expect things to be like your home in Santa Barbara. Hence the title of his most recent book and blog, Travel as a Political Act.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Did Anyone Buy the Starlog Watch?

In 1981, years before the commercialization of the internet and long before most small magazine publishers learned how to merchandise their titles, New York-based Starlog magazine was wa-a-a-a-y ahead of the game. The science fiction media magazine had produced poster magazines, poster books, LP records, floppy records inserted into the magazine,  scrapbooks, trade paperback books, blueprints, a children's fantasy hardcover book, calendars -- let's see, am I forgetting anything? Oh, yeah -- videos, t-shirts, foreign editions, baseball caps, a yearbook, and several spin-off magazines.

At some point, the company's leaders were apparently sitting around, wondering what else they could sell. And they hit upon the idea of selling a Starlog watch. So they did.

The image here is of an ad that ran in the various Starlog publications (this one from the March 1981 issue of Future Life). The watch sold for $50, which was a lot of money for its younger readers (such as myself; I lusted after this ad for quite some time, but when your allowance is $10 a week, $50 is a fortune). So I never got one.

And now, despite being able to find just about any of the Starlog merchandise listed above on eBay or Amazon's auctions, I've never even seen a Starlog watch for sale.

Did anyone buy it? Wanna sell it?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What Do Andrew Probert, Gil Gerard and David Gerrold Have in Common?

Star Trek: The New Voyages is a fan-created (i.e., not produced for commercial reasons nor by Paramount, but with the tacit acceptance of the studio) series of new Star Trek episodes. The news today is that an upcoming episode will feature guest stars Gil Gerard (who is best known for starring in the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century series in the late 1970s) and Andrew Probert, who is a prolific and excellent artist and designer who has done a ton of work on various Star Trek projects (official ones, that is).

So, a shout-out to New Voyages. This blog retains a warm place in its heart for Probert. Probert's web site kindly links to my web site, where I post an article I wrote (a decade or so ago for my friend Aaron Barnhart's TV Barn, when I wrote a weekly science fiction TV column) about a TV production on which Probert had worked. Starhunt was a never-made project based on a great book by David Gerrold, whom I interviewed for that article.

BTW, previous episodes of New Voyages have included guest stars such as George Takei, Denise Crosby, and Walter Koenig, among others; they also included the two-part Fire and Blood, written and directed by David Gerrold, which finally broke Trek's inexplicable (and unpardonable) gay taboo.

Playboy Iconix Deal off the Table?

Stock watcher reports that Playboy Enterprises stock is falling today on reports that Iconix Brands is breaking off talks about buying the company. As of a little after 9:00 am Pacific time this morning, Playboy's stock is down 12.73% to $3.35.

The New Republic to Shed up to One-Third of Its Staff

The New Republic, the leftwing/rightwing political journal published out of Washington, will be laying off either one-third of its staff or 15 percent of its staff (sources differ), reports FishbowlNY. Fishbowl's sources at the magazine say they've been told from the top that it'll be one-third of the staff, but the mag's reps told Fishbowl it'll be a 15-percent reduction.

Fishbowl acknowledges that it doesn't know if that one-third is one-third of the editorial staff or of the entire staff, and I guess it might therefore be possible that both numbers are correct. Then again, I have no sources at the magazine; I used to know an editor, but he moved on.

I need new sources!

I win! Time Announces Its Person of the Year

I'm sure my opinion was the deciding factor. Today Time magazine announced its Person of the Year: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

A good choice. The economy was the big story all year, of course, overshadowing (or dictating the actions of) everyone else on the list of Peep o' the Year candidates. I hope Mr. Bernanke doesn't take it the wrong way if I say I really hope he's not in the running for this honor in 2010.

Time to Praise -- or not -- Certain Magazine Editors

A couple of news bites regarding editors in action caught my attention.

First, there was a big round of promotions for leaders at Rodale, with many new positions, titles, and responsibilities handed out to deserving (we'll assume) employees. But, Jeff Bercovici reports, Men's Health editor David Zinczenko did not get promoted, and he's apparently not Mr. Popular at the office. Writes Bercovici: "No fresh plums were bestowed upon Zinczenko, who, in addition to being editor in chief of Men's Health, is also editorial director of its spin-off, Women's Health. In fact, his domain shrank this year when Best Life, another spin-off he helped midwife, went out of business. According to one longtime Rodale veteran, Zinczenko's status as the company's ├╝ber-golden boy depended to a large degree on his close relationship with Murphy. It's hard to imagine the ridicule he incurred for using the same groupings of identically-worded cover lines over and over again for years on newsstand copies is doing his personal stock at the company much good."

A better-behaving editor (and at a magazine that serves humanity far more than does Men's Health) is SFX magazine editor Dave Golder, who -- SFX itself tweets -- won an award for Best Editor at his parent company's Future Publishing Awards.