'Starlog' magazine: R.I.P., and thanks for all the geekery

Long before Entertainment Weekly, or Aintitcoolnews.com, or podcasts, Twitter feeds, blogs or THE INTERNET ITSELF, Starlog Magazine was in the business of covering all things geek. Spurred on by the popularity of the Star Trek conventions that cropped up in the wake of the classic series’ cancellation, editor Kerry O’Quinn and publisher Norman Jacobs launched Starlog in August of 1976. And after 33 years and 374 issues, Starlog is officially calling it quits, continuing for the time being as an online-only publication.

I’m sure many of you didn’t read Starlog, given that much of what constituted the magazine’s bread and butter — interviews with the people behind genre TV, film, and literature; casting and development news; photo galleries; reviews — is picked over a thousand different ways online before a monthly magazine could get to it. But in its heyday — the late ’70s through the early ’90s — Starlog was a vital part of the geek conversation. Starlog‘s writers and reporters were on the scene for the beginning of the Star Wars phenomenon, the continuation of Trek as a franchise; there to break news on Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future, Terminator, Alien, and RoboCop; and documenting for future generations the classic wonders of Ray Harryhausen and Willis O’Brien, Richard Matheson and Robert E. Howard, Fay Wray and Charlton Heston.

Cheesy as it may be, here’s a 1984 TV ad for Starlog. What other sci-fi magazine can you think of that took out TV ads?

Starlog holds a special place in my heart because editorDavid McDonnell gave me my first job right out of college. Compared tothe vastness of Time Inc. — which publishes EW — Starlogwas a small operation: three editors (who also served as photo editorsand copy readers), a handful of designers and typesetters, and a cadreof trusted freelancers. But I learned an immense amount from my threeyears on staff, as much about shoestring, guerilla journalism as aboutscience fiction itself. And that crash course in geekery has served mein good stead — I wouldn’t be working at a massive magazine, writingcomics, selling movies, and moderating San Diego Comic Con panels withKevin Smith and Zack Snyder on them if Starlog hadn’t set me so firmly on the path.

So, for that, I’m both sad to see it’s pages disappear from shelves and eternally grateful that it lasted as long as it did. Anyone want to join me in paying tribute to Starlog today? Share in the comments below.

 

Comments (66 total) Add your comment
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  • beelkay

    Ah, Starlog! I remember it well. I would always read it when I went to the grocery store with my mom as a teen. LOL I loved Star Trek and they usually had an interview or article with someone from TNG.

  • TL

    I was an avid reader of Starlog back in the late ’70s/early ’80s. Living in rural VT, it made me feel plugged in to the genre world. Just the other day I saw the latest issue of Starlog on a magazine shelf at Barnes & Noble, and I was comforted that it still existed. It’s the end of an era, for sure.

  • Meg

    Loved “Starlog”–great magazine for articles on sci-fi/fantasy TV, films, and books. Will be dearly missed and certainly not forgotten.

  • Trystero

    I was a reader from almost the very beginning. (I missed maybe the first 5 issues or so) I still have them piled.. somewhere. Great magazine from my geeky youth. It will be missed. I assume their sister publication, Fangoria, is also on the chopping block?

  • Winona

    I read Starlog quite a bit in high school during my TNG phase – sad to hear that it’s ceasing publication (at least in the “real world”).

  • Antoinette

    How I am going to miss Starlog. It was the first magazine I ever subscribed to much to my mother’s dismay!!!
    Back then normal looking girls were usually not so open about their sci-fi geekness and I took a lot of flak for reading Starlog.
    But you are right about it’s timeliness being an issue; I stopped reading when the issues contained outdated info and mags like EW were more up to date. (Shame on you EW!! – just kidding.)

  • wg

    RIP Starlog. Not too long ago I had the pleasure of running into Kerry O’Quinn and getting to thank him for that ‘zine’s place in my geeky growing up. It helped make me the geek I am today. Which, for the record, is not a bad thing. ;)

  • EP Sato

    I still have issue #1 sitting in my parents’ basement somewhere. It was sold to me as part of a garage sale collection of about 5,000 comics when I was 12. Along with the key marvel and DC (stacks of them my friends), was the first 20 issues of Starlog.
    Issue 1 has a really cool synopsis of the entire run of Star Trek TOS episodes. This is simple “FAQ” or Wikipedia stuff now, but in 1977, that sort of information was not easy to find.
    The internet may have killed printed fanzines, but the information being easier to find is something I think we can all be happy about.
    RIP Starlog.
    BTW other geek ‘zines may not have done TV ads, but Magic the Gathering did. Kind of impressive to see a card based RPG get that kind of tv props…

  • DW

    RIP, Starlog. I subscribed to the magazine from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, and read every word in every issues. Living as I did in a small town much of that time, Starlog was like a convention that showed up at my front door and my only connection to the SF world.

  • Michael Stewart

    I worked as an editor at Starlog for four years in the ’90s. I had read the magazine when I was young, then lost track of it in my high school and college years. When I started work, I was amazed to find out how little I was aware of the range of fandom that was out there. We published articles and convention coverage for fans of sometimes short-lived series like Star Man, Red Dwarf and Beauty and the Beast, right alongside the newest, big-time SF movie and TV projects. And don’t even get me started on the dizzying array of old-timers whose contributions to the genre were captured for the record in the pages of the magazine by historians like Tom Weaver. It’s clear to me now that the magazine was a blueprint for the rise of fandom on the internet. These days, everyone’s just a click away from learning about their favorite SF obsession and interacting with fellow fans. But back in the day, you had to wait for the next issue of Starlog to hit the stands. Here’s hoping another one does.

  • Spock

    I have issue #1 (in really BAD shape!) along with the first 100 issues. I remember STARLOG announced an upcoming movie called ‘Star Wars’ and published conceptual art that got all of us so excited! STARLOG also published the first photographs of Christopher Reeve as Superman and Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. No month was complete until I had my copy of STARLOG. A great publication that deserves a place of honor on every geek’s bookshelf. Just like mine. Thanks for the ride, STARLOG! It was fun.

  • Big D

    Truly sad. I was a Starlog reader from the Seventies right up through the last issue. Starlog almost exactly matched my interests in TV, movies, books and comic books. It did a great job of looking back at old SF TV and movies as well as providing great in depth coverage of the current SF scene. I’m going to miss it.

  • theDia

    What a sad – but expected – day for us old geeks. Back then in the late seventies even buying an issuie of Starlog (or later Fangoria) was an adventure over here in germany. There were only a few stores to get US-magazines and then you had to pay about 10 $ per Issue. Tough times, but you simply had to buy the mags to get infos about all the great movies wouldn´t get here until 8-12 month later.
    Sadly the modern age robs us of these adventures. I will reread some old issues tonight as sort of a funeral for this old friend. :(

  • Ron

    In 1976/77 in a place far, far away (Frankston, Victoria, Australia) two mates found a magazine and dreamed about far off galaxys (Hollywood) and our heros were the writers, Directors, SFX people and fellow dreamers in the Sci-Fi universe.
    At 47 I open an old box filled with Starlog magazines and remember the wonderful impact they had on my life.
    RIP STARLOG

  • Fangoria Entertainment

    Thanks for all the kind words, but don’t be too disheartened. In addition to editors David McDonnell and Alan Dart staying on to contribute to the brand new STARLOG.COM, we will be publishing special print issues a few times a year. This isn’t the end, but simply a revamp to bring Starlog into the 21st century. Which, considering the subject matter, is all too fitting, don’t you think?

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