Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Starlog Internet Archive Project: Starlog #1, August 1976: It All Begins

In 1976, Norman Jacobs and Kerry O'Quinn -- owners of a small periodicals publishing firm in Manhattan (Daily TV Serials, Beatles Forever, Screen Greats) -- put together a one-shot magazine devoted to the long-dead science fiction TV series Star Trek. As O'Quinn explained in later issues, their distributor didn't think there was a big enough audience to make the one-shot a success, so Jacobs and O'Quinn went back to the drawing board and added non-Trek articles to make it a general (though still Trek-heavy) science fiction media magazine. There were no ads in this first issue; the pages were a mix of full-color coated (glossy) stock and mostly black-and-white uncoated pages. The August 1976 issue was an immediate success, and within a year the quarterly magazine doubled its annual frequency to eight issues. Issue #1, along with the other first nine or 10 issues, would eventually be reprinted for sale by Starlog as back issues; in the 1990s, around the time of the magazine's 20th anniversary, the company produced 10,000 numbered copies in a special reprint, all on heavy glossy stock.

Starlog #1
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $1.50

From the front cover Star Trek painting by Jack Thurston to the back cover photo from The Bionic Woman, the premiere issue of Starlog magazine truly reflects the era in which it was born. Trek, Space: 1999, Dino DeLaurentiis' King Kong remake, bionic people, etc.

It kicks off with with a first-issue welcome editorial, short news (the David Bowie-starring The Man Who Fell to Earth, and other upcoming productions). Then the feature articles: Isobel Silden explores The Bionic Woman; editor David Houston writes about the changes in the second (and, as it turned out, final) season of Space: 1999; Gary Girani unveils two separate attempts to remake the classic King Kong (Girani's article would be publicly cited by Peter Jackson more than three decades later as an inspiration for his own big-budget Kong remake); publisher Kerry O'Quinn contributes a short preview of Squirm, a wormy horror film; Houston provides background for the cover features on Star Trek; then there's the full-color "Special Collectors Section" featuring lots of classic Trek photos from the original live-action series and the animated series; the great Isaac Asimov on the phenomenon of science fiction conventions; William Shatner is interviewed by Kirsten Russell (in the first of many, many Starlog interviews over the next several decades); costar Leonard Nimoy is interviewed by J.K. Lindquist; a complete episode guide to the original Trek; and it ends with some puzzles and word games.
"[Dino] DiLaurentiis stirred up a racial hornet's nest when he asked black males to try out for the role of Kong by jumping around in a bent-over position while wearing a monkey suit. De Laurentiis apparently hopes to supplement the robot's performance with the suits and black actors, provided he survives the lambasting from angered racial groups."
--Gary Girani, writer, "Battle of the Titans!"
Stay tuned for the rest of Starlog's nearly 400 issues, here on the Starlog Internet Archive Project.


John said...

Am I missing something? Surely an "archive" Should not just summarize the issue, but also make digital version available (preferably in .cbr or .cbz format).

jzipperer said...

An archive of the sort you describe would be illegal; Starlog (or its current owners, Brooklyn Company) owns the rights to all of the past issues, and in fact they plan to sell digital editions of them at some point in the future (along with sister magazine Fangoria). Web sites that offer free downloads of commercial magazines free are not legal.

John said...

I understand the concept of legality. I just think that "archive project" is a misnomer here, since it doesn't actually archive anything (compared to, for instance, the Digital Archive Project).

Don't get me wrong, these are great reads and it's fun to go back to those days (I still remember finding #2 at age 11 and convincing my mother to buy it for me).

I'm arguing more that the nomenclature is a bit strange.

jzipperer said...

Perhaps you're correct. I'm up to #14, and henceforth I'm dropping "archive" from the title.

Yes, I'm rather enjoying going through these old issues, too.

Thanks for the feedback.