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Saturday, 31 March 2012

ARCHIVE BLOG (2008): "STAR WARS" AND STARLOG MAGAZINE: A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN!


I popped into my regular London sci-fi bookshop yesterday (Friday 19th September) to purchase my essential regular reading requirements in the world of science fiction and fantasy and noticed the latest copy of STARLOG magazine-one of my old faithful favorite magazines. On its cover was something that made my heart warm-THE CLONE WARS. Yep, I know, everyone else has in the world of science fiction magazines already done it with covers and inside features/exclusives in the last few months, but there’s always something special about STARLOG when it covers the STAR WARS universe, especially when it has it on the cover-it just makes its place in the science fiction universe a little more important and relevant. I have a huge energy rush of warm nostalgia as well, as this new cover follows a long line of marvellous STAR WARS covers from STARLOG stretching right back to the beginning- to issue seven of the title, way back in 1977 when its first cover boasted the magnificent ILM effects composited image of the TIE fighter firing on the X-wing, with lettering to it’s left proudly beaming out the words STAR WARS, and it’s inside materials providing some of the most comprehensive behind the scenes coverage of that time that you were going to get, against pretty much all full colour spreads -and with so many of the sci-fi/ horror magazines of the time not in full colour, many in black and white only, STARLOG’s wonderful printing of the films photos and artwork showed the film in a terrific visual glory the likes of which magazines like FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and HAMMER HOUSE OF HORRORS magazine just couldn’t deliver. To me, over the last thirty years, STARLOG has almost become quite synonymous with STAR WARS, and vice versa.

Some of the classic STAR WARS covers over the years...





The magazines hasn’t been without it’s difficulties over the years-it’s had it’s ups and downs as the science fiction universe, especially of film, has changed and evolved around it, circulation has dropped and several of it’s sister magazines collapsed like dead flies in the late eighties, and it has faced heavy competition from other junior upstart titles that are a bit more edgy and glossy, but STARLOG has always been one of the best magazines around covering the realms of science fiction and fantasy entertainment in all its mediums-its team of worldwide writers have an enjoyable, lively, award- winning prose-they present the facts without any bias, they present everything as it is with clarity, and they love their work-it shows in all the pages. They’ve never been too controversial, but there’s no BS, nor an overload of opinions like a lot of these modern science fiction magazines, though they haven’t been afraid to venture their opinions from time to time as well. The design of the magazine was, and still is, nicely presented-never over cluttered or dull. STARLOG remains a consistent quality publication. And when it came to coverage of the STAR WARS saga from 1977 to now, we’ve always been well served, and it has always been pretty much unbeatable. It’s behind the scenes material and exclusive interviews (with stars such as Mark Hamill, Dave Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Harrison Ford, Ralph McQuarrie and, from 1982, one of the most in depth and revealing multi part interviews with George Lucas you’ll ever get to find) have been ground breaking –as a reference work to the history of the saga’s making over the years it continues to be superb, alongside some of the rarest colour and black and white photos you can get (and backed up with some very funny comedy skits/ cartoons over the years- a tradition in the magazine that very few other magazines have pulled off anywhere near as well), almost as strong a behind the scenes resource for fans as anything produced from the official LUCASFILM archives. And, even now, it’s one of the few magazines in the world to have ever had a cover and major feature dedicated to the 1978 STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL-think what you like about the programme now, but back then, when I was an eight years old (and STARLOG was quite hard to come by in the UK shops), I was absolutely enthralled by the new images of the Cantina aliens and Bea Arthur on the front cover of issue 19 (I didn’t know who Arthur was-I didn’t care-only that it was the Cantina aliens and that it was new STAR WARS and that was all that mattered, with all the gang of heroes I loved returning) and its behind the scenes feature whetted my appetite to see it even more (we never did get to see it in Blighty, though, and any clip I see on UK TV documentaries of the recent past have always been gladly welcomed, especially in their very good picture quality after years of seeing blizzardy type VHS quality presentations). For many the HS feature was, until the advent of the internet and several excellent resources linked to the show that would arrive in the mid 90’s/ early 2000’s, one of the few magazines to provide in depth info on its making and story. After issue 18, the coverage would continue with EMPIRE and JEDI and then, in 1987, there was the amazing, and now highly sought after, STARLOG STAR WARS TENTH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE, followed in Los Angeles that year by the magazines specially organised anniversary tribute convention, honoring the Saga and their special guest George Lucas-an event many remember as one of the best STAR WARS conventions ever put together.

As STAR WARS continued beyond its Tenth Anniversary, to the Twentieth, and then the Thirtieth, so too would STARLOG been there to cover it as a loyal companion, right up until its eventual closure in 2009. Thank you for being so enthusiastic and celebratory to the evolving tapestry of the STAR WARS legacy…

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