Sunday, January 18, 2009

After Magazines Die: What Would the Next Issue Have Looked Like?

When a magazine goes to periodicals heaven, the news often strikes readers and staff alike with a sudden blow. They may have seen the writing on the wall -- falling sales, skyrocketing costs, the loss of irreplaceable editors or a publisher -- but the final decision itself is often a sudden one. I've been through the process myself, as a reader (anyone remember Epic Illustrated? my all-time favorite, Future Life? Comics Scene? Car Design?) and as an editor (Internet World, which was dearly missed, and another smaller publication that wasn't). Assuming it's a magazine I enjoyed reading, I'm often left wondering just what the next, never-to-be-published issue of the magazine would have been like had it been published -- had the publisher's axe been stayed at the last minute. Often, that issue is all prepared, ready to ship to the printer, when the bad news arrives.

So I've got a suggestion. With the recent popularity of digital versions of magazines, either current ones or resurrected ones, comes the possibility of publishers dusting off those old pasteboards or CDs or whatever media they have the unpublished "post-final" issue in, and making it available. Intellectual property rights seem to be working out much more easily these days than they were in the early days of the internet, when it was still unclear how to treat reproduction rights to articles and artwork created years before the Web browser caught on.
And surely those publishers can make a small buck off a property they never thought they'd see again produce a penny.

So let's see issue #32 of Future Life, and issue #146 of Creepy, or #140 of Eerie, or issue #4 of Comics Scene 2000 (or issue #57 of the second series of Comics Scene or issue #12 of the first series of Comics Scene -- it gets complicated; don't ask)! Because in the digital age, old magazines never die; they can always find new life and old audiences.
What do you think?

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