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The Life of Starlog Magazine

How a monthly print magazine created a generation of geeks.

By Edward GermanPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 6 min read
Top Story - May 2022
The very first issue.

In the days before the internet and social media, one of the means for fans to stay informed was to subscribe to print media. While commercial TV and radio produced some news coverage for fans, the amount of time was limited. Therefore fans could get more in-depth coverage by reading a print story on their favorite movie or show. There were many different fan-oriented magazines back in the day, but one does stand out as being very popular during the 70s and 80s. That was Starlog Magazine.

What was Starlog Magazine?

Starlog magazine was a monthly publication created by Kerry O'Quinn and Norman Jacobs. The first issue, published in August 1976, was devoted to Star Trek fandom. However, it would contain stories about other gene-related movies, TV shows, and books. It was one of the first magazines to cover the production of Star Wars movies. Starlog encompasses the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror; it would also include some assorted material.

The First issue of Starlog Magazine.

The first issue of Starlog Magazine contains articles, interviews, and news. The cover displays the images of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as Kirk and Spock against an outer space background. The Enterprise orbiting a planet is featured just above both characters. Once you turn the page opposite the table of contents, a pre-production artwork for the 1933 King Kong movie fills the page. The drawing depicts Kong carrying a woman in his paws. The picture is noteworthy; an article on the making of King Kong appears later in the magazine. The cover story is two separate interviews with Shatner and Nimoy. A 16-page photo gallery depicting scenes from the original series accompanies the interviews.

Starlog issue number seven.

Starlog issue number seven went out on the newsstands and to subscribers' mailboxes in August 1977. The cover art shows a Star Wars Tie fighter shooting at a rebel X-wing fighter. The big story in this issue is Star Wars, the first movie that would be later known as Star Wars: A New Hope. This issue was published not long after the film's release and features an interview with Gorge Lucus. In the article, he discusses the making of Star Wars.

Artwork for Rocketship X-M

Other articles in the magazine show the blueprints for the Eagle spacecraft for the TV series Space:1999. Also, a story on the newly opened Space and Air Museum in Washington DC. Finally, an in-depth article on the 1950s science fiction movie Rocketship X-M.

Vintage Ad.

Special Issues.

Not long after Starlog went into publication, the publishers marketed special editions of the periodical. The issues showcased everything in science fiction movies, from Aliens to sci-fi weapons. The material was not magazine-style but rather in book format that included a picture gallery with dialog. The issues were softcover and were not quite a coffee table book either.

A page from Fantastic Worlds issue.

These special editions, titled photo books, gave a wide range of both movies and TV shows. However, they were only as up-to-date as the time of the publication. They were published early in the magazines' history and were updated a few times.

StarPodLog and StarPodTrek Podcast

There is an informative podcast covering the history of Starlog magazine: StarPodLog. The show is hosted by a married couple, Nayr and Kavura. Their podcast covers every issue beginning with issue one; however, their other podcast, StarPodTrek, covers the Star Trek material published in the magazine. As with myself, they grew up reading the periodical. They decided to start their podcast to express their love of the magazine. As they have often stated in their podcast, Starlog was like the internet of their time; it was the go-to place to get the latest info on the movie, TV shows, and other media.

I do currently follow and enjoy their podcast. I received an invite to record a quest spot on StarPodLog. The podcasters asked me to review the 1950s science fiction movie This Island Earth. I provided them with a short segment that appears midway through the program.

You can listen to both podcasts wherever you download or stream your favorite podcasts. I follow both podcasts on YouTube and Facebook group. Their YouTube channel does contain extra content not discussed on the audio shows, so you are encouraged to visit that site. Also here is their blog site.

The Magazine continues to grow.

During the 80s and 90s, Starlog continued to grow in its popularity. The magazine included a greater coverage of topics. Some of it gene related by not necessarily science fiction nor fantasy or horror. The editors may print a story about a docudrama that does related to sci-fi in a certain way. For example, the magazine ran a story on the movie The Right Stuff, which is not a sci-fi movie, but a historical drama that would be an interest to fans. The movie, based on a book with the same title, profiled the life of the first US astronauts during the early days of the space race.

Starlog Magazine helped promoted the rise of the geek culture through the late 20th century and into the 21rst. The editors always reported on the latest movie projects, books, games, and conventions. Starlog has always run ads for contentions since its first issue. Starlog has even sponsored a few conventions of its own during the 80s. The periodical partnered with Creation Entertainment to create the Starlog SF, Horror, and Fantasy Festival. They were smaller scale in size and were held in three separate cities during the mid-80s. A fan favorite, Nicholas Courtney of Dr. Who fame attended all three events.

During the 2000s, the magazine started to lose steam. The periodical had to deal with more competition with the market being saturated with other media. The rise of the internet meant that fans didn't have to wait an entire month for the latest news despite Starlog itself going digital. Then tragedy struck, a fire swept through a warehouse that stored the vast majority of the printed copies of Starlog, there were no back issues reprinted, and soon thereafter, the company filed for bankruptcy. The magazine soon ceased publication in December 2008. There were some plans made to re-start the publication but it was never realized. All of this just three years after its 30th anniversary.

This was the last issue I read.

My Thoughts.

I loved reading Starlog Magazine back in the day. I can't remember when I read my first issue or what was on the cover, but after reading it for the first time I was hooked. I never had a subscription but simply purchased some issues a the newsstand. I would look forward to movie and TV news, reading in-depth articles on actors, and anything else on fandom. It was thru this publication that I first learned of the classic Dr. Who series even before I watched a single episode of the show. I recall reading about an actor who played a Klingon on Star Trek but was better known as a police captain in the crime drama show, the Mod Squad. I would always discover something new about a favorite movie or TV show that I never knew before. I stopped reading Starlog during the mid-nineties. It just was not appealing to me anymore and I would get my news from other sources. Starlog had a great run back in its day but other machinations eventually killed it off.

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About the Creator

Edward German

A long-time sci-fi fan who loves the internet. I am also writing on subjects other than sci-fi.

you can follow me on "X" @EdwardGerman3 Listen to my podcast The 1950s Science Fiction Podcast on Spotify for Podcasters.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (1)

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  • Janiecarmody3 months ago

    "Starlog Magazine captures the essence of sci-fi fandom with its stellar blend of insightful articles and captivating interviews. A celestial journey through the realms of space, technology, and imagination, each issue is a cosmic delight for enthusiasts. The Life of Starlog is a testament to the enduring fascination and wonder that the magazine has brought to generations of fans. Here is a link that might be useful:-

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