Wednesday, May 1, 2013

On better newsstands, just before Hallowe'en, 1978...

As November 1978 approached, it was a time of changes in my new-found...well, year-old...passion for fiction magazines. I started branching out, picking up my first issues of The Atlantic (with the mendacious Claire Sterling cover essay, but two fine short stories within, in that first, November, issue for me) and Omni (its first issues, as well) and starting to look around at other sorts of magazine beyond the all-fiction titles I had been doting on...and the comics and Mad and National Lampoon, all of which I no longer read (and NatLamp' s new comics offshoot, Heavy Metal, which also seemed less than enthralling)...and the intermittently interesting likes of Scientific American and National Geographic around the house...it was not long after this I started reading Dissent, and moved onto other political magazines, and discovered music magazines, jazz-oriented DownBeat, like Rolling Stone a fortnightly in the late '70s (and RS even ran a little fiction); Esquire was also, briefly, semi-monthly, and, having lost all its '60s panache, was looking a bit like a business magazine with a short story per issue (Redbook was looking similarly more dowdy, albeit with more fiction)...meanwhile, all unknown to me, several of my staples were about to fold or undergo serious transition, as Ben Bova left Analog for Omni, Ted White walked away from Fantastic and Amazing and sat down at Heavy Metal for a while, Galaxy would soon fold as would Fantastic and UnEarth and Galileo and Asimov's SF Adventure (and Far West...it was easy to be the Leading western fiction magazine when one had the only western fiction magazine publishing...) and thus some of the magic was going away...little had I realized that I had jumped onto the fiction magazine bandwagon during a 1970s boomlet...Tolkien and Star Wars had left fantastic-fiction publishers optimistic...and some, such as James Baen and his new Destinies, had some reason for optimism, at least for a while...and while not too many new titles were popping up in crime fiction magazines, at least the American trio of monthlies were able to keep that frequency...even though Cylvia Kleinman Margulies was soon to sell Mike Shayne, having lost her husband over the previous year+, and Hitchcock's had recently been sold to Davis Publications, which had been founded with the purchase of EQMM two decades before...

And even the two most popular skin magazines, for issues dated November, had remarkably awkward covers, but impressive fiction within...William Kotzwinkle and his fantasy story, soon expanded slightly for publication as an illustrated novella, Herr Nightingale and the Satin Woman, in Penthouse (which in its previous issue had carried "overflow" of sfnal materials from the newly-launched stablemate Omni) and William Hjortsberg's Falling Angel serialized in Playboy, some years before the film adaptation, Angel Heart, would appear...
This issue reviewed here




This issue, the Whispers and the Ariel reviewed here.


































James Sallis's name misspelled.




































































Above and below, periodical books/"bookazines"


Editor Ben Bova's last issue.





















Editor J. J. Pierce's penultimate issue.




























































































































































































































































Last issue of this rather hardy romance fiction title...backed by the biggest romance publisher....









































































The second issue.
Occasional fiction...more poetry in this special City Lights/post-Beat issue.






Playboy [v25 #11, November 1978] ($2.00, 314pp+, quarto)




  Penthouse Magazine [November 1978] ed. Robert Guccione

17 comments:

Walker Martin said...

Todd, my passion for fiction magazines began in 1956 and soon I was worried as I saw many of the SF and crime digests cease publication. The digest boom was definitely over by the late 1950's.

By 1978, I was concentrating on compiling extensive runs of many pulp titles in several genres. Not just SF but also detective, western, adventure and general fiction. Later, I would dive into the literary and little magazines.

I'm still at it 50 years later.

Bill Crider said...

It's no wonder I miss the old days.

Todd Mason said...

Yes, Walker...that was a big die-off time, as well, as the promise of GALAXY and to some extent FANTASTIC and definitely MANHUNT failed to prove reliable as a money maker for publishers...all three of those titles made it into the '60s, but none as commercial powerhouses.

It's somewhat remarkable to me how few of the 1978 little magazines have cover images online for me to poach for this post! Not even SHORT STORY INTERNATIONAL, essentially not a little, which could be found on more newsstands than many magazines that were more dependent on single-copy sales...always, new fiction periodicals to gather, new shelves to fill, new sighs from the sane people around one...time for the complete backfile of THE DIAL! Is that the issue from 1923 that I'm missing from my COLLIER'S run?

Appreciation, nostalgia, memory, Bill...we have so many good and better magazines now as well, but they did seem to be more widely shared in those years, and perhaps just a little better able to pay their contributors...almost 35 years ago, all these. Seems improbable in some ways, all too obvious in others...

James Reasoner said...

Like it was yesterday . . . I remember the covers of most of those genre magazines, so I'm sure I bought and read them. Given the year, I would have bought them most likely at Reader's World in River Oaks, Texas, a good little hole-in-the-wall newsstand and paperback store. That's the issue of MSMM in which I have three stories, one under my name and two under pseudonyms made up by Sam Merwin Jr. and never used again.

Todd Mason said...

That would tend to make an issue memorable! I'm surprised Merwin didn't want to give you a "James MacCreigh"/"John A. Sentry"-style regular pseud...just in case it might help inspire someone down the road...

I should ask you three...was the LONDON MYSTERY SELECTION ever too visible over here while it ran? And am I forgetting any other UK title (or US!) that was getting much space on late 1978 shelves?

James Reasoner said...

I never saw a new issue of LONDON MYSTERY SELECTION and very few used ones over the years, maybe two or three. Most newsstands around here carried EQMM and AHMM, but distribution for MSMM was spotty until Reader's World started carrying it regularly (and that was because I was friends with the owner and he knew I wrote for it).

James Reasoner said...

When was ESPIONAGE published? I can't find it in the FMI. ED MCBAIN'S 87TH PRECINCT MYSTERY MAGAZINE and THE EXECUTIONER MYSTERY MAGAZINE had already folded by '78.

Richard R. said...

I had those issues of New Yorker and Analog. The rest... no. Great post, though. Did you keep them all?

Todd Mason said...

I didn't collect all of these (sometimes the distribution of some things was spotty, particularly WHISPERS, SHAYOL, GALILEO and UNEARTH even though I was, like the latter two, in the Boston area, and as a 14yo, I couldn't drive myself around town nor into the city nor easily buy PLAYBOY nor PENTHOUSE for myself--and ARIEL was a budget-buster for me at the time), but I certainly kept the ones I did/could buy (including all the other sf magazines and my own copies of the AHMM--I had a sub by that time--and the "Anthologies"). I've since picked up the ARIEL and the WHISPERS...

Todd Mason said...

ESPIONAGE flourished in the mid '80s... Dec-1984 – Sep-1987, says Galactic Central:
http://www.philsp.com/data/data132.html#ESPIONAGE

I remembered the 87TH PRECINCT magazine and its short life, but had forgotten about the EXECUTIONER magazine...thanks, and for the other reminiscences...I have perhaps two issues of the LONDON magazine, too...and not this one, yet.

Richard Moore said...

James, which of the two stories in that issue of Mike Shayne were your's under a pseudonym? That issue also has my second published short story.

The contents page has the byline R.A. Moore but the story at least had my full name. It was later reprinted in an MWA anthology edited by Michele Slung WOMEN'S WILES. I'm almost afraid to reread it now.

At the time I was especially pleased to sell a story to Sam Merwin Jr. who I liked as an SF editor and writer.

James Reasoner said...

Richard,
Without looking it up, I believe the stories were "Graveyard Shift" (which has since been anthologized several times under my name) and "The Old College Try". The pseudonyms were M.R. James and R. Mason, but I don't recall which was on which story. Of course there was really a writer who used the byline M.R. James, but I guess Sam wasn't thinking about that, just making a little pun. I don't know where R. Mason came from.

Todd Mason said...

I'll suspect it was a reasonable quasi-anagram of James Reasoner, rather than a reference to either Robert Mason the sf fan/writer (established enough to sign the "hawk" side of the Vietnam War petitions in F&SF and the GALAXY group magazines) and eventual novelist and memoirist (WEAPON, SOLO, CHICKENHAWK--after the helicopter, his own Vietnam adventures) nor, almost impossibly, to my father Robert Mason.

Todd Mason said...

Clearly an issue to have, though, gentlemen!

Richard Moore said...

"Graveyard Shift" was by M.R. James and "The Old College Try" was by R. Mason.

One other note about my short story in that issue. I sold my first to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (EQMM) and my third (and best) story to EQMM.

In 1978, I went to New York City for the 50th anniversary of the first EQ novel held at the Lotus Club and met Fred Dannay, half of EQ and the editor of EQMM. He was very cordial but I had to explain why I had not sent him the second story.

The story turned on characters being lesbians and I did not dream EQ would consider such a story. Fred was clearly unhappy that I would self-censor my contributions. But I can't complain. That evening he introduced me to Lee Wright, an editor of considerable renown, who when Fred said I no doubt had a novel in the works, gave me her phone number while jerking on my tie until I wrote it down. Later she bought that first novel. Bless both their memories.

I've wondered since if that story was the first such with an openly lesbian theme in mystery genre magazines. It would be a faint claim to fame, I admit. But it was certainly the lesbian theme that won a place in the MWA anthology and I later had an option taken (but never exercised) on the film rights.

It's now rather tame and a bit obvious.

Richard Moore

Todd Mason said...

Well, if you reread it, you might surprise yourself. "Etta Revesz" wrote some crashingly ***MESSAGEsque*** short fiction for EQMM, which seems pretty overstated now (and did to me then), but even though Avram Davidson's "The Necessity of His Condition" is similarly built around making sure you don't miss its Point, it's still worth the time and effort, if not quite up to the best of Davidson's work...frankly, I have a copy of the Jean Seberg film LILITH awaiting my reviewing after decades, and anything that might in counterpoint suggest lesbians are actually people and not just evil sexpots or the like is still furthering the art by at least that much.

Todd Mason said...

The Vietnam War petitions referred to above.