TwoMorrows has launched RetroFan magazine, with issue #1 now available.
It’s edited by Michael Eury, the man behind Back Issue, so I had hopes I’d enjoy it, but I’m afraid that the particular subjects of the first issue didn’t resonate with me. And that’s the determining factor, since the pitch is how the quarterly publication “spotlights the crazy, cool culture we grew up with”. If you feel like part of the “we”, unlike me, you may love this, since it’s just like Back Issue, only for more than comics. The material is certainly wide-ranging, with it being impossible to predict what the next article will cover.
The coverage eras are the sixties, seventies, and eighties, but flexible. (As Eury points out in his opening note, this issue includes information on The Phantom movie serial from the 40s and monster movies of the 40s and 50s.) The four regular columnists are
- Martin Pasko promises to cover the kitschy and campy — he’s the one responsible for the Phantom material, although he includes the whole gamut of film adaptations through the ages. With images, he gets 8 pages, but since the whole first page is all about him and how sour and curmudgeonly he is, I was turned off. I was reminded of the sensible advice that everyone wants their first column to explain what the column is going to be about, but it’s better just to write the darn thing and let readers figure it out.
- Andy Mangels will be writing about Saturday morning TV shows, a terrific idea for a magazine like this and a great choice for expert on that subject. He starts with 13 pages on the Star Trek animated series. (He also manages to introduce himself and the column in a paragraph instead of a page.)
- Ernest Farino’s column is called “Retro Fantasmagoria”, and he has 9 pages on movies that influenced him, neat things he did as a kid in 1964, and meeting Lon Chaney Jr.
- Scott Shaw! provides “Oddball Comics”. Thankfully, the 8 pages on Zody the Mod Rob include plenty of panels, since most of us are never likely to see the actual comic.
You can see that the regular contributors will take up a significant part of the magazine’s 80 pages, responsible for almost half. Beyond them, the lead feature is an interview with Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk on 70s TV, followed by a piece on how much the stretchable Hulk toy is worth.
Eury wrote a “retro fad” page on Mr. Microphone, and I’d like to see more of these short bits, to get more items in each issue. The Andy Griffith Show gets three pieces, a trip to Mount Airy, NC, which inspired Mayberry; an interview with Betty Lynn, who played Thelma Lou on the show; and a piece on collectibles. They seemed a bit out of place to me, given the tone of the rest of the magazine. Maybe it’s just that I don’t think of Mayberry fans as being as geeky as the other stuff.
The last feature is Tom Stewart showing off his collection of collections, with an invitation for other collectors to write in if they want to similarly share their possessions through pictures.
The second issue will be out in September and feature a Halloween theme, with Elvira on the cover. I see potential here, if the writers can get across successfully “I thought this was so cool, and here’s why!” They need to take more notice of readers who don’t share their fond memories, in my opinion, to keep the articles welcoming and approachable. (The publisher provided a review copy.)