Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fangoria Uber Alles

Because ... for its first couple years, horror film magazine Fangoria featured the motto "Monsters • Aliens • Bizarre Creatures" on its cover

Because ... it was a darn cool motto

Because ... it was playful yet dark at the same time
 Because ... the newest edition of Fangoria features a return of the old logo

Because ... that old logo was my favorite of all Fango logos

and because the newest edition features an awesome play on the old motto,
I hope that someone in the Fangoria offices is getting a pat on the back from the company's president. A framed certificate, perhaps. The publisher's box seat tickets for the next Yankees or Mets game, maybe.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

1,000 and Counting!

Late yesterday, viewership of my digital magazine Galaxis ("The worlds of science & science fiction") surpassed 1,000, all in about a month's time. Now, I know that 1,000 readers is a minor amount both in print and online publications. But for a free digital magazine that has had no budget – absolutely zero – and has spread only by word of mouth (and, I guess, word of Facebook and Twitter), it's a promising start. My one thousandth viewer is therefore a milestone.

If you haven't checked it out yet, click on it below to view it full-screen on your computer. You can also download it to your computer from my host site (just look for the download icon beneath the magazine image on that page). And if you want an actual, paper-and-ink hard copy of the magazine, you can purchase it from my print-on-demand pals at MagCloud.

While I continue to welcome new readers to issue #1, I am hard at work on issue #2, which is shaping up to be even better. I've got lots of original, in-depth articles on new and classic science fiction and science from around the world. One reader commented to me that he likes reading a science fiction magazine that shows him stuff he doesn't already know about, that widens his base of knowledge and enjoyment of the genre. I feel exactly the same way, and I think this second issue will really establish Galaxis as the smart portal to the global SF field that we've been needing.

Look for issue #2 in a couple month's time. Until then, enjoy the premiere issue!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Green Bay's Martin H. Greenberg, RIP

The news is spreading that editor Martin H. Greenberg passed away today at the age of 70. Greenberg edited – what's the technical word I'm looking for? – zillions of books in science fiction and other genres over the years, working closely with other legends such as Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg.

I remember seeing his name as a co-editor with Asimov on countless SF anthologies when I was growing up, and when I learned that he was from my hometown – Green Bay, Wisconsin – it was my first clue that this far-away world of science fiction could also originate from out-of-the-way places like GB. That was almost as exciting a realization as the cool visions and ideas that were being presented in the science fiction I was reading.

Starting in 1975, Greenberg taught at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He passed away after losing a fight to cancer. As writer Max Allan Collins put it, "This business ... this world ... is suddenly a smaller, shabbier place."


Friday, June 24, 2011

Ed's Pop Culture Shack Takes the Fangoria Challenge

It looks like Schlockmania has competition:

Check out Ed's Pop Culture Shack for a new series of Fangoria magazine restrospectives, starting with the earliest issue in his collection, #2 from 1979.

Readers of my blog already know about Schlockmania's fun series chronicling the early years of Fango.

Is there room for both series? Absolutely. It's fun to get each person's take on the issue, the films highlighted inside, and the times (the '70s were a definite watershed for many folks!). I like them both, and I recommend them for any movie magazine fan and horror film fan who wants to do some digital time traveling back to those pre-digital days.

As everyone knows, I like to do that.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Starlog is Back – On Your Back, As a T-Shirt

From small beginnings ...

Fangoria magazine, the sole survivor of a small but prolific magazine publishing house, has teamed up with Fright Rags to sell t-shirts emblazoned with the logos of Fangoria, Gorezone, and Starlog.

Starlog, as every reader of this blog knows, is the dearly departed science fiction magazine that died a sad death two years ago. It continued as an online-only product for less than a year before that, too, was shuttered, and is no more. Much has been written about Starlog's print and online existence – and much of it by me – but there's as yet no indication that the magazine will return to print soon or ever. So this t-shirt might be no more than an exercise in keeping legal control of a logo and name. But one never knows; Gorezone was a short-lived horror film sister magazine to Fango, and it is being resurrected in July as a special best-of one-shot, with the tantalizing possibility of a full-scale rebirth, depending on customer response, no doubt. So readers can hope that Starlog has a future life, too, and that it will be done well.

Either way, I'm still happy to see Starlog's appearance on clothing – and yes, I'm glad they used the classic logo for the magazine, the logo that was used almost until the very end of the publication's run, when it was replaced by a less dramatic, less graceful version. They made the correct choice for the shirt.

You'll also notice below that the Fango shirt uses the old logo for that magazine. This version was actually the second version of Fangoria's logo, appearing from the second issue until it was changed a few years later to the version that lasted a couple decades. The magazine has been switching back and forth with this classic logo and the current logo on its covers lately, so it's an open question which logo will be the long-term winner.

The shirts are only $19.95 each. And you know I'll be ordering the Starlog shirt. Order yours, if you're interested.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Roger Ebert Censored on Facebook; 16-year-old Kids Flame Him

Say what you will about film critic Roger Ebert. You might as well say it, because people are posting all kinds of profane and nasty things on his Facebook wall today in the wake of a couple of comments he posted about the death of the star of Jackass, which he implies was because of drunk driving.

Personally, I think Ebert is a hero. Since he lost his voice, he has found his voice in the new media world, becoming one of the bravest and sharpest (and one of the few intelligent) commentators on Twitter and Facebook and blogs.

But Facebook, which never seems to stop shooting itself in the foot (and must therefore have the most bullet-riddled shoes in the world), censored Ebert this morning by taking down his Facebook page as a result of some complaints about Ebert's comments. Now, Ebert didn't post anything that was outrageous. His comments weren't racist. They weren't inciting violence.

He commented, "Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive." He was referring to a photo that showed the Jackass star drinking shortly before the accident, which killed two people.

Facebook reportedly apologized for removing the page, but it is chilling that the company would remove the page anyway. Is there really no free speech on Facebook? Does Facebook think it is the arbiter of good taste? (This is, after all, a company caught red-handed on numerous questionable business practices, most recently when it was exposed as the company behind a public relations campaign to spread negative stories about Google.)

And then there are the unbelievably foul mouthed and uneducated brats who have "liked" Ebert's Facebook page this morning so they could post messages on his wall. Here's one message (dashes added by yours truly): "I pray every single one of you idiots mothers get raped and murdered maybe then you will think twice talking about someone who is gone. f---ing idiots." Or this charmer: "you sir, are a scumbag. and so are all of you're disrespectful little "followers". you know what you said was wrong and WAY to soon to be said. you don't even have the respect for everyone hurting, and crying, to apologize. why don't you grow up a little bit and APOLOGIZE. show some respect to Ryan's family, and to the members of Jackass."

To help counter the onslaught of crying tweeners on the wall, I posted my own comment: "Roger, I think this wall shows that you have the support of people who don't ride their skateboards to work. Keep up the good work." I was pleased to see it quickly earned a number of "likes," but sure enough, responses started coming in about what was possibly wrong with skateboarding to work. Sigh.

I guess what surprised me second most (following Facebook's creepy level of censorship, of course) is the vehemence of fans of the dead man. The comments on Ebert's wall refer to themselves crying, hurting, in pain. Those are feelings you should have when a family member or friend dies, not a star of a oddball TV show and movie series. It reminds me of a time in high school when I made some negative comments about Ted Turner (most definitely not nasty comments, just negative; I was probably commenting on his opportunism as a conservative at the time; Turner would later change sides and become a vocal and at times brave liberal); a classmate confronted me about criticizing his hero; the classmate worked himself up to tears as he described how he and his mother both idolized Ted Turner for his success in business. It was an unnerving experience.

Roger Ebert has a way of not being unnerving, nor of being unnerved. You can read his sensible follow-up to the controversy on his blog (which I urge you to bookmark and read regularly).


Monday, June 20, 2011

Internet Domain Names Galore: The Internet Me

ICANN, the international body that regulates top-level domain names – those suffixes such as .com or .de or .ws at the ends of web and email addresses – is going to dramatically increase their number. And here's the cool/stupid/fun part: practically anyone can have one of their own top-level domains, for a paltry $185,000 fee.

The BBC reports that new domains could be things like .coke or .bbc. Frankly, this is a dream come true to me, because back when I was an editor at Internet World magazine I used to joke that I always hoped to have my own top-level domain. That way, I could have an email address of johnzipperer@johnzipperer.johnzipperer

Now I know I was not being silly; I was prescient.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Street of San Francisco – My Current Column in Northside San Francisco

My latest Common Knowledge column in Northside San Francisco is out in print and online. Next month, I should have even more, as I begin reviewing books (and eventually movies) for Northside.
Common Knowledge
Mid-Market Dreams
By John Zipperer 
Two years ago, Business Insider ran a contest called Create Twitter’s Revenue Model, in which readers suggested ways the company with the curious “revenue-lite” business could turn into a moneymaker. Today, Twitter might still lack an obvious path to long-term profitability, but the company might be causing job growth in San Francisco simply with its move to the long-neglected (and maligned) mid-Market area.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Magazine News: Hef Solves the Cover Problem

So what do you do when you feature your bride-to-be on the cover of your magazine, only to have her call off the wedding five days before the ceremony – and after the magazine has already been printed?

Hugh Hefner added a sticker to the cover of the July Playboy. See image below. Kudos for quick thinking – and cheekiness.
See the full cover here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bunky, Safe at Last from Stupid Space Aliens

In April 1975, while inflation raged, Vietnam waned, Mao reigned in China, and the U.S. economy sputtered, a small Wisconsin newspaper called The Farmer's Friend debuted a new black-and-white comic strip, Bunky.

The titular star of the strip was a farm boy who, over the next several years, had a range of wild and humorous adventures that involved rocketships, the People's Republic of China, and space aliens. The comic was the creation of Lyle Lahey, an award-winning daily political cartoonist for the Green Bay News-Chronicle, which was published by the same company as The Farmer's Friend. (Lahey is also the author of The Packer Chronicles, a collection of his cartoons about Green Bay's football team through bad years and good.)

Watch for a special retrospective of Bunky in a future issue of Galaxis (the first edition is still available free here in digital form or you can buy a print copy here). And in the future ... maybe a Bunky book collecting the entire run of the strip? Wouldn't that be nice?

Methodist Church Trial in Wisconsin

The United Methodist Church in Wisconsin is "in turmoil," I'm told, over the upcoming trial of a lesbian pastor who officiated at the wedding of two other lesbians. She's doubly in trouble, because the Methodist church believes that gay men and woman shouldn't be pastors, and it doesn't think gay men and woman should equal rights to marriage.

Attitudes toward gay marriage are changing at a very fast pace in this country, with it headed for almost certain passage in New York state, for just the latest example. Even young evangelicals increasingly are supporting it. It is only a matter of time before it becomes a "so what?" topic, but until that happens, political parties are making whatever hay they can out of it. In the process, they are willing to destroy and harm a great many careers and families.

Which makes it all the more ridiculous to have Rev. Amy DeLong go through a trial. Just as John Kerry asked about the futility of being the last person to die for a mistaken war, is Rev. DeLong going to be the last pastor to be tried for a mistaken and unchristian policy?

The only thing that should create turmoil among Wisconsin Methodists is who is going to staff the kitchen during the potluck lunch following the worship service. Now that's the Methodist church I remember from my youth in Wisconsin.

Read more here on and a newspaper report here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Digging in the Archives: College Speech Rules

While digging through a box of old files yesterday, I discovered a lot of old articles by and about me. No, I'm not necessarily vain; if I were, I wouldn't have stuffed them in crummy old folders that I then put into a box I forgot about for nearly 10 years.

The articles range from editorials and columns I wrote at The Badger Herald student newspaper (when I was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) to letters I wrote to magazines and newspapers, guest columns for various publications, and articles in which I was quoted.

Most of it will not interest you any more than it (dis)interests me any longer. But a few items were pleasant surprises, including the article above (click on the image to see a bigger version). The article, which appeared in the October 21, 1990, Chicago Sun-Times, reported the reactions of some UW students to the then-hot topic of hate-speech rules. As a columnist and former editor of the Herald, I had written quite a bit about the attempts of the UW chancellor to implement severe restrictions on campus speech. (I won't go completely into it here, but suffice it to say that I think hateful speech thrives in the underground, and it's better that good people take on such statements head-to-head; the average person should be educated enough – or should get educated enough by their university – to be able to refute hateful and ignorant statements; in addition, the proposed rules were so vague that I thought it endangered professors who taught concepts and ideas that offended students; if you're a fundamentalist of any religion and you take a class on biology, that's your problem – I believed and still believe – so prepare to be offended and don't bother me with your offendedness.)

Anyway, the Sun-Times talked to representatives of the conservative and liberal daily student papers, finding both of us opposed to the speech restrictions. That should have been a sign to the UW administration. Years later, when the chancellor was profiled by The New Yorker, she said she had pushed the speech rules because it's what the campus wanted. Untrue.

But that was 21 years ago. Forgotten and placed in a box.

The best news is that in all of that archival digging yesterday, I was successful in finding what I was seeking: my complete collection of Bunky comic strips, the cool but short-lived comic produced by my stepfather, Lyle Lahey, back in 1975. It will play a role in the second edition of my science fiction and science magazine Galaxis (first issue still available free here or for print-on-demand at cost here). Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fangoria Censored in 1980?

I had known that Fangoria #9 was one of the best horror film magazine covers ever (along with the previous Zombie cover on Fangoria #8). I had not known, until some serendipitous googling this evening unearthed it, that #9 was censored on American newsstands.

But The Daily Beast, the pop-y news and opinion site run by the legendary Tina Brown, includes Fango #9 in a photo essay of 10 magazine covers that were censored. It says Fangoria #9 was pulled from newsstands because people were disturbed by its cover imagery.

The poor dears.

Fangoria, of course, is a horror film magazine, and it is still the leading magazine in its field. So one would expect that it would cover, well, horror movies. It is amusing to me that back in 1980, when Fango was finally hitting its stride after an uneven start, that it would have to clear the hurdle of people freaking out over a cover that frankly isn't particularly graphic. Look at it below. There's no actual violence on the cover; there's some fake blood on a chainsaw being wielded by a pig-headed human, which is not something one sees everyday on a magazine cover, not to mention the streets of Dallas.

I remember that the magazine became a coveted (and expensive) collector's edition, costing several times what any other issue of the magazine cost. I had always assumed that it had either sold out or that the print run hadn't been adequate, so remaining copies were sold at a premium. But if The Daily Beast is correct, then we know that it was all due to the never-ending American strain of hypocrisy and fear.

Still, it's a damn cool cover. Speaking as a magazine professional, of course.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Battlestar Galactica Comes to BBC America

This weekend I was pleasantly surprised to see a commercial announcing that BBC America was going to begin airing the entire Battlestar Galactica series, the 2003-2009 drama that originated on Sci Fi Channel (later redubbed Syfy). The award-winning series was a critical and fan darling, for good reason. It had great writing and fantastic actors; it was one of the most mature dramas ever to air on TV, not to mention as a science fiction program. And unlike many series that tried to have multi-year story arcs, it did a great job keeping the storyline fresh and tension-filled, without stalling (I'm talking to you, X-Files).

The announcement was especially pleasing to me, because my head has been stuffed full with Galactica lately. That is the result of a long article on the Ronald Moore-produced Galactica series that I've been compiling for the second edition of my digital science fiction & science magazine Galaxis. (The first edition of Galaxis is already available – free – online for reading and downloading.)

Galactica begins airing Saturday, June 11, 2011, at 10 p.m. Eastern time on BBC America. If you missed this show during its first airing on Sci Fi/Syfy, then be sure to catch it on its new home and see how it earned its high reputation.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Next Generation’s Best: The Starlog Project, Starlog #195, October 1993

This issue, Starlog presents the results of a reader poll of the best episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This, despite the fact that the show wouldn’t end for another six months or so (and with a highly regarded finale, at that). Nonetheless, I am surprised to see that I agree with many of the choices, including the top two episodes: “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “The Best of Both Worlds, Part I.”

“Yesterday’s Enterprise” was the episode that made me a viewer of Next Generation. I had been turned off by the suffocating political correctness of the first season, not to mention Captain Picard’s penchant for abandoning ship at the drop of a hat.

But then one day I was with some friends at one of their apartments. She was a big Next Generation fan (and a Starlog reader, for what it’s worth), and she never missed an episode. So she made us watch the episode, which turned out to be “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” I quickly saw that the show had matured brilliantly, that it was willing and able to tackle complex issues of morality and duty, that it allowed its storylines to follow the logic of their plots to their conclusions, without trying to tidy up everything by the end of the episode, and that Captain Picard had become a wise and powerful leader.

After that, I rarely missed an episode of the series.

So, Starlog’s readers were smart with their selections. You’ll have to dig out a copy of the October 1993 issue to see the other 23 selections – and whether you agree.

Starlog #195
92 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.95

In the realm of Starlog merchandising, this issue includes an ad on page 73 heralding the newest product: Starlog trading cards. You can buy them in packets, like baseball cards, at stores, or you can buy a complete commemorative set of 100 cards in a binder covered in “Corinthian leather.” It even comes autographed by the company's publisher and editors. Or you could buy a set of the cards on uncut press sheets, or uncut hologram sheets. You can still find packages and boxes of these Starlog trading cards on eBay, which is how I finally got a hold of a complete set.

The rundown: The multi-photo cover highlights the Star Trek reader’s poll, while the contents page features the Trek art of David Mattingly. In his Medialog column, David McDonnell notes that Land of the Giants and Lost in Space are both headed for the big screen, and he writes that that leaves only two major Irwin Allen science fiction series awaiting revivals, The Time Tunnel and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, “an area soon to be visited by Steven Spielberg’s new TV series seaQuest D.S.V.” That’s an interesting comment, considering that one of the best (well, snarkiest) cracks made by a critic after seeing the eventual pilot for seaQuest was that it should be called Voyage to the Bottom of the Ratings. And in Gamelog, Michael McAvennie reviews Batman Returns (a Super Nintendo game, not the eventual motion picture), King of the Monsters, Traveler: The New Era, and others.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is featured in Mike Fisher’s Creature Profile, and Communications’ letters to the editor include comments on race and Star Trek, Jurassic Park, Lost in Space, and more. David Hutchison’s Videolog announces the release of Animation Legend Winsor McCay, among other videos. A four-page Booklog section reviews Harvest of Stars, The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Tenth Annual Collection, Core, Ring of Swords, Dream of Glass, The City Who Fought, Golden Trillium, Rainbow Man, Forests of the Night, High Steel, Testing, The Honor of the Queen, The Galaxy Game, Days of Blood and Fire, If I Pay Thee Not in Gold, Alien Bootlegger and Other Stories, Future Earths: Under South American Skies, First Action, and Burning Bright. And Scott Briggs’ directory of fan clubs and publications, plus the usual convention listings and some cartoons, fill up the Fan Network pages.

Joe Nazzaro interviews painter David Mattingly. Marc Shapiro visits the soundstage of Demolition Man to preview the Sylvester Stallone/Wesley Snipes science fiction action flick. Jean Airey talks with actor Michael Praed, who discusses his work in Robin of Sherwood, Riders, and other projects. Over six pages, Starlog reveals its readers’ choices for the 25 best Next Generation episodes. Ian Spelling inteviews Trek’s executive producer, Michael Piller, who says that at this point he and co-producer Rick Berman leave most of the day-to-day running of The Next Generation to producer Jeri Taylor (and there’s a sidebar by Spelling focusing on Piller’s work on Deep Space Nine).

Bill Warren profiles actor Roy Brocksmith, who discusses his work in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Total Recall, and “The Switch” episode of Tales from the Crypt, which was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s directorial debut.

Before Chris Evans made the role his, actor Jay Underwood suited up as the Human Torch in a 1994 Roger Corman produced The Fantastic Four film, which you’ve in all likelihood never seen. That’s probably all to the best, because Evans was great. But Underwood has quite a career under his belt, too, and he tells Marc Shapiro about his Fantastic Four duties, as well as his work in Not Quite Human, The Boy Who Could Fly, and other films. Tom Weaver talks with Ann Robinson about acting in George Pal’s classic The War of the Worlds, as well as in Space Ranger. In his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn discusses Sharyn McCrumb’s book Zombies of the Gene Pool. And editor David McDonnell wraps it all up in his Liner Notes column by chatting about the Trek top 25, and revealing what numbers 26 through 50 were.
"... I ran off to Mexico in 1957 and blew my career out of the water – I married a famous Mexican matador and had two children. When I got back home, Hollywood had passed me by. I blew it. I should have stayed around and paid more attention. Now I realize why they call it ‘the business’ – because it is a business. I thought it was all fun and games and glamour, and I didn’t take care of it as a business. … After my second son was born in 1963, I did a Gilligan’s Island and that was about it. Motherhood suddenly took over.”
–Ann Robinson, actor, interviewed by Tom Weaver: “In Martian Combat”
For more, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent site.