STARLOG MAGAZINE, MY SCI-FI WEB SITE BEFORE THE INTERNET

Galacticfish

Cadet
Joined
Dec 11, 2020
by Mike Fisher

The Book Bag was my internet provider and Starlog magazine was my sci-fi web site decades before the all-knowing internet became a fixture in all our lives.

You needed to know how to make an amaretto cheesecake? Or which dog breed is the dumbest? Or when the next sci-fi movie is coming out? Then you went to the large and wonderful magazine section in my neighborhood book store, The Book Bag, where you could find a magazine devoted to just about any subject.

At least that was the reality during the mid-70s in North Charleston, South Carolina. As a full-blooded sci-fi geek boy, I constantly sought news about sci-fi, horror or fantasy movie and TV productions. The local newspaper rarely published this sort of news. But the Book Bag sold Starlog Magazine every month!

I still remember seeing the first issue on the stands in 1976. I was completely fascinated by this magazine. A publication that covers the exact subjects that I lusted after? Amazing! But I did not buy that issue. It was the last on the stands and the cover was ripped. Wanting all my purchases in "mint condition," I declined this issue, much to my later regret! But after that foolish decision, I became a regular purchaser of the mag, which was my "sci-fi internet connection" of the day.

I continued to purchase Starlog through my high school and college years. Nowhere else could one find detailed articles such as the one about the "Lost in Space" robot, which even described the robot's appearances in shows AFTER Lost in Space (issue 57). Or the one showcasing color photos from the exceedingly weird sci-fi movie, "Saturn 3," which starred Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett and Harvey Keitel (issue 36)! And Starlog regularly featured sci-fi cartoons, too!

After college in 1983, I started creating cartoons for publications such as Comics Buyer's Guide (thanks to editors Don and Maggie Thompson agreeing to publish my work!) Eventually, I submitted 'toons to Starlog and editor David McDonnell agreed to print a few!

My first Starlog cartoon appeared in issue #112 (Nov. 1986), Starlog's special Star Trek 20th anniversary issue! This issue contains interviews with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek writer D.C Fontana, stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and many others who contributed to Star Trek's success. The issue contains pictures from Star Trek conventions, mysterious, exciting events I had only heard about, but never attended! There is an article evaluating the best Star Trek novels. There is even a photo of a woman in a bikini on a motorcycle built to look like the starship Enterprise! Non-Trek features included an interview with the brilliant fantasy artist Moebius and an article about "costume fandom," which wasn't even called cosplay then. There is a small item announcing that Timothy Dalton would be playing James Bond in the next film in that franchise. All that and my cartoon, too! I was thrilled that my work now appeared in the publication I loved so much as a kid!

While working as a newspaper graphic artist, I continued to send cartoons to Starlog through snail mail and they continued to print them. At some point, editor McDonnell wrote to tell me that they did have room to print a few color cartoons, so I began using Dr. Martin's dyes in the creation of color cartoons.

The years rolled by and Starlog continued to be the "sci-fi internet" of the day… sharing news with its readers about current and soon-to-be-released movies such as Robocop, Predator, the Back to the Future movies, the Star Trek films, The Abyss, Gattaca, The Fifth Element, Stargate, Starship Troopers and so many more. Starlog's parent company also produced other magazines that targeted specific genre productions, such as Star Wars. Where else were you going to find blueprints of the Death Star, other than Starlog publications' "Star Wars Technical Journal"? Nowhere, because the internet didn't exist — at least not in the way it does today.

The thrill of seeing my work in the publication never wore off. I experimented with drawing the cartoons completely on a computer using Aldus Freehand, but when I realized that this method does not leave me with original art on paper, only pixels on a screen, I went back to creating the 'toons with ink and paper. I used the computer only to color the black-and-white originals. That way I still had art originals, but could take advantage of the computer's capabilities in the coloring process.

Many thanks to editor McDonnell, who agreed to print my cartoons. For a while, I even created a monthly feature for the magazine that examined a different movie monster every month, with monster stats and a new computer-drawn illustration. That feature was called "A Creature Profile." In one issue, #254, McDonnell published a full-page color information graphic of mine that explained how Stanley Kubrick constructed a giant wheel to make the fabulous "astronaut jogging inside the space station" shot from "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968).

As the internet became more of a factor in all our lives in the early 2000s, it more-efficiently assumed the role that Starlog once played. It could immediately deliver sci-fi and fantasy news to eager geeks in deep detail, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at no cost. (Well, once you paid for a computer!). Starlog's days were numbered.

Issue 374 was the last issue, published in April, 2009. The issue features, among other things, several articles about the new movie, "Watchmen" (2009). I was sad to see the legendary publication - can we call it that?- go! I feel fortunate that one cartoon of mine appeared in that final issue.

I learned so much creating that work for Starlog, honored to be a member of a stable of cartoonists including talented Tom Holtkamp and Bob Muleady. In many ways, my current illustration work could be described as elaborate Starlog cartoons! Yes, those were good years!


Starlog, thanks for being the internet before the internet!

Mike Fisher Instagram: galacticfishproductions
Etsy: Galacticfish61
 

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cboulle

Captain
Joined
Nov 5, 2016
I collected starling. I now have files on my computer I like the David garrold articles and Susan sacking articles.
 
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Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
A great trip down memory lane! :cool:

I live near one of the biggest shopping complexes in the world, the King of Prussia Mall, but when I was a kid in 70's & 80's it was a much smaller complex. While my brother preferred hanging out at the Space Port arcade I preferred a book store called Gene's Books. 📚 Gene's was a 'mom & pop' owned stored and catered to readers; besides being able to custom order books, and having a really big amount of imported offerings, the store itself was pretty big for the time and sectioned off into smaller nooks. Scattered about were chairs & couches. Now this was years before places like Starbuck's were everywhere so shoppers would get a drink from one of the places at the small food court and they could spend hours at Gene's - well, OK, at least I could spend hours at genes. 😁 A person traversing their way to the right nook would find a selection of hundreds of magazines from around the world and, thankfully, was Starlog.

Starlog indeed was a bit of the 'internet before the internet' and is where I would look forward to reading about upcoming movies & TV shows and interviews with authors and industry folks like special effects creators & artists. It's also where I could shop genre collectibles and wait for the weeks to pass after mailing a check to some company, usually an importer for items from Japan or niche creative house in California, and waiting for a package to arrive.

Mike, thank you so much for joining our community and posting some of your illustrations! There is a very good chance I enjoyed your illustrations when they were originally published while being a weird teenage geek reading (and buying) magazines from a readers hangout at a mall. The King of Prussia Mall has gone through several metamorphoses and is now a huge mega-mall, Gene's Books has been gone for about 20 years, Starlog has been gone for about 10 years, and I'm a middle-aged guy living in the suburbs who still likes to read but I still remember all four of those elements intersecting with fond memories. 👍



Oh, for the Alien Soup community members, check out Mike's Etsy store!
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
I hope starlog would do a annual at least for special ocasions.
With the current state of magazine publishing I can't envision any publisher doing a print run like that unless there was some type of organized fan project that would help to guarantee a minimum number of purchases.
 

Galacticfish

Cadet
Joined
Dec 11, 2020
A great trip down memory lane! :cool:

I live near one of the biggest shopping complexes in the world, the King of Prussia Mall, but when I was a kid in 70's & 80's it was a much smaller complex. While my brother preferred hanging out at the Space Port arcade I preferred a book store called Gene's Books. 📚 Gene's was a 'mom & pop' owned stored and catered to readers; besides being able to custom order books, and having a really big amount of imported offerings, the store itself was pretty big for the time and sectioned off into smaller nooks. Scattered about were chairs & couches. Now this was years before places like Starbuck's were everywhere so shoppers would get a drink from one of the places at the small food court and they could spend hours at Gene's - well, OK, at least I could spend hours at genes. 😁 A person traversing their way to the right nook would find a selection of hundreds of magazines from around the world and, thankfully, was Starlog.

Starlog indeed was a bit of the 'internet before the internet' and is where I would look forward to reading about upcoming movies & TV shows and interviews with authors and industry folks like special effects creators & artists. It's also where I could shop genre collectibles and wait for the weeks to pass after mailing a check to some company, usually an importer for items from Japan or niche creative house in California, and waiting for a package to arrive.

Mike, thank you so much for joining our community and posting some of your illustrations! There is a very good chance I enjoyed your illustrations when they were originally published while being a weird teenage geek reading (and buying) magazines from a readers hangout at a mall. The King of Prussia Mall has gone through several metamorphoses and is now a huge mega-mall, Gene's Books has been gone for about 20 years, Starlog has been gone for about 10 years, and I'm a middle-aged guy living in the suburbs who still likes to read but I still remember all four of those elements intersecting with fond memories. 👍



Oh, for the Alien Soup community members, check out Mike's Etsy store!
Kevin,
Thanks for the thoughtful response! Yes, we had a giant mall that we frequented with a bookstore different from The Book Bag. It was there that I saw the paperback version of the Neal Adams/Denny O'Neil Green Lantern stories, reprinted, which I had never seen before. "WHAT IS THIS?!"
And, at another shopping center, the drugstore with the comic racks and lunch grill in the back! Best days were when I would get some comics and then Mom agreed for us to have lunch at the grill!
Thanks for pointing out the Etsy store, too!
 

Galacticfish

Cadet
Joined
Dec 11, 2020
Please publish some more pics
Here are a few examples of the kind of thing I am doing these days... I think there is a Starlog influence!...
 

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Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
Oh WOW!
Nice ta meet ya Galacticfish !!!

I too remember StarLog.
As a matter of fact, back when I was collecting pictures for my collection of different magazine illustrations, I saved quite a few covers and illustrations from StarLog.
Some of them I even uploaded to the CoolSciFi website (back in the day). I'll bet if ya looked at the media gallery here, you will find quite a few memories.
What would be cool is if you find one you did, you could add a comment on it with some insider info, like a trivia bomb. I'd love to read about your inspiration to create it.

Starlog Magazine : Free Texts : Free Download, Borrow and Streaming : Internet Archive
Outstanding, that link is definitely going into my bookmarks...Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Here are a few examples of the kind of thing I am doing these days...
Wonderful stuff!
Mike, thank you so much for joining our community and posting some of your illustrations!
I agree! Its always great to see/read from actual artists and writers and Alien Soup has a large diversity of members that are published.
 

Galacticfish

Cadet
Joined
Dec 11, 2020
Oh WOW!
Nice ta meet ya Galacticfish !!!

I too remember StarLog.
As a matter of fact, back when I was collecting pictures for my collection of different magazine illustrations, I saved quite a few covers and illustrations from StarLog.
Some of them I even uploaded to the CoolSciFi website (back in the day). I'll bet if ya looked at the media gallery here, you will find quite a few memories.
What would be cool is if you find one you did, you could add a comment on it with some insider info, like a trivia bomb. I'd love to read about your inspiration to create it.


Outstanding, that link is definitely going into my bookmarks...Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!


Wonderful stuff!

I agree! Its always great to see/read from actual artists and writers and Alien Soup has a large diversity of members that are published.
Glad you like the post, Tom! I may have something else to post in a few days that the community might like.
 
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