Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #71, June 1983: The Year of the Jedi Continues

The cover date of this issue is June, but because magazines traditionally use a cover date one month ahead of the actual date the issue is on sale (the magazine seems fresher, see), this June issue of Starlog was actually on sale in May, when Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi debuted. Ewoks and all, the movie would be another smash hit for George Lucas and his team. It would also help Starlog feed its audience and circulation.

A number of changes this issue, each of which would have big effects on the magazine's future. First, the cover price is hiked 45 cents. That no doubt helped deal with rising costs, but it also helped the magazine get some fuel as the economy pulled out of the deep early 1980s recession. Second, W.R. Mohalley takes over as the new art director. Mohalley joins Starlog from the now-defunct Warren magazine house (Famous Monsters of Filmland, Creepy,, and he remains, well, forever -- he's still at Fangoria., the only surviving Starlog publication. Third (though less momentous), Lenny Kaye takes over Bob Martin's duties writing the Space Age Games column.

Starlog #71
74 pages (including covers and unnumbered inside front cover fold-out)
Cover price: $2.95

While describing an issue published two years before #71, I noted in this compendium that we had seen the last 74-page issue for a while, and soon after that, the publishers drastically reduced the amount of color in the magazine. Well, aided by an improving economy and a sharp increase in the cover price, Starlog #71 begins a slow but steady rise; in this year and for a number of years following, we'll see the magazine add pages, color, and features. It's an almost unmitigated rise from here on in, until the magazine hits major turbulence in 2001. But we've got a while before we get there. For now, enjoy this issue, with four extra pages of color, and another two added color pages in the fold-out inside front cover (which is where the two-page posters now go).

The rundown: The editors are probably annoyed at themselves for calling their poster series "Starlog Science Fiction Classics," because it looks weird when they feature the brand-new film Return of the Jedi, as they do this issue. Can't really be a classic if it hasn't even been delivered to most theaters yet. Nonetheless, it's a cool poster (and arguably would have made a better cover photo than the one they used). In his From the Bridge column, publisher Kerry O'Quinn shares a letter from a fan who gets inspiration from science fiction; Communications letters include a correction from William F. Nolan, reader reaction to the double-Bond coverage, an angry letter writer goes after L.Q. Jones and Harlan Ellison, and more; short news items in Log Entries include an update on the third Star Trek movie (to be directed by Leonard Nimoy), three Scandinavian countries bar children from seeing E.T., Strange Invaders producer Walter Coblenz continues his chat from issue #67, and more; and Martha Bonds profiles actor Judson Scott in a two-page Spotlight column.

Steve Swires interviews Jack Schwartzman, producer of the Bond remake Never Say Never Again; Lee Goldberg interviews actor Michael Billington (UFO); James Duward profiles the busy movie prop makers at Modern Props, Inc.; Lenny Kaye kicks off his Space Age Games era with a defense of video game players; Lee Goldberg interviews Dan O'Bannon, who discusses his displeasure with Hollywood's treatment of his work (and, proving that the Starlog editors can identify a great pullquote when they see one, this O'Bannon morsel is highlighted in the article: "It was a perversion to my mother that someone should make money off science fiction and movies. I think she sees me as the equivalent of a successful hitman."); Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier preview NBC's V; Robert Greenberger interviews Carrie Fisher about the latest -- and her final -- Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi; Lee Goldberg interviews Jedi producer Richard Marquand; in his Soaring column, David Gerrold discusses the choices that make people heroes;  Chris Henderson previews Ray Bradbury's Dinosaur Tales, published by Byron Preiss Visual Publications (the company to which Starlog editor Howard Zimmerman would move in a couple years); Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier talk with director Jack Clayton about his film adaptation of Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes; Richard Holliss visits the set of the James Bond film Octopussy; Ed Naha's L.A. Offbeat column recounts his talk with Roger Corman; and Howard Zimmerman's Lastword column reviews Isaac Asimov's Foundation's Edge and Arthur C. Clarke's 2010: Odyssey Two (he liked them both, though Asimov's moreso).
"I'm so excited about all the aspects of production and I feel so good about the help and input I'm getting from the people surrounding me. ... We have a very general image of this motion picture -- just a general curve on the canvas on which we're going to paint. ... And I feel totally creative, excited and alive."
--Leonard Nimoy, director, Log Entries: "Leonard Nimoy Takes Command of Star Trek III"
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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