Thumbing Through Vintage Star Wars Magazines

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Like a lot of kids who grew up in the 70s and 80s, I went crazy every time a new magazine hit the stands with Star Wars on the cover. Magazines like Us! and People were often located near the checkout lanes of our local grocery store, ensuring that moms and kids alike would notice them.

The People and Us! magazines were bought by me new off the rack in 1980. The copies of Fantastic Films and the Famous Monsters’ Star Wars Spectacular were picked up a few years later at a local bookstore. All of these are good reference material and are full of behind the scenes pictures as well. They certainly bring back a lot of memories while thumbing through them.

Here are the dates of the magazines shown above.

People: June 9, 1980
People: July 7, 1980
Us!: July 22, 1980
People: August 14, 1978
Fantastic Films: August, 1980
Star Wars Spectacular (Famous Monsters): 1977

This are a couple of my favorite quotes from the 1978 issue of People:

“Like Disney before him, [Lucas] is spinning his fantasy into an industry. There will be nothing tackily called Star Wars II, but no less than 11 sequels are on the drawing boards. The first is already in progress under the working title of ‘The Empire Strikes Back.'”

“Of the major humanoids, only Sir Alec Guinness will be missing — actually, seer Obi-Wan Kenobi dueled to the death with Darth Vader in the original, but he may be revived in the second sequel. There is to be a romantic entanglement this time, though the scenario is the most closely guarded in recent movie history. But since Hamill is contracted for two sequels and Ford for only one, the likelihood is that Luke Skywalker will ace out Han Solo for the affections of Princess Leia.”

Y2K Magazines

In the Fall of 1999, a lot of people thought the world was about to end.

When Prince suggested we all “party like it’s 1999,” he had not anticipated what became known as the “Y2K Bug”. Instead of electronicly recording the year with four digits (“2013”), many old computer languages only used two digits (“13”) to do this. Because of this minor oversight, people became convinced that on midnight, January 1st, 2000, all computer systems would assume it was 1900. This in turn would cause airplanes to fall out of the sky, banks to lose track of our money, ATMs to fail, computer networks to stop operating, and civilization as we knew it to come to a screeching halt.

(If you think I’m kidding, I know several IT professionals who spent New Year’s Eve that year not partying like it was 1999, but rather hunched over computer monitors, hoping that things would keep working. Spoiler alert: they did.)

The Y2K bug had people convinced that, among other things, food would become scarce and people would need to revert to survival skills as the world’s infrastructure imploded. Businesses offering food rations and survival training popped up seemingly overnight. Another industry that appeared during this same time was the “Y2K Magazine Business.” An offshoot of the traditional survival magazines, these Y2K magazines were full of articles dispensing survival advice for the coming apocalyptic times and advertisements hawking every kind of survival-related gear you could imagine.

For thirty years, my Dad worked in the printing industry. The company he worked for printed everything from tiny pamphlets to giant posters and everything in between, including magazines. (To give you an idea of scale, the print shop he worked in had at least six presses capable of printing 70,000 books per hour.) As Y2K approached, so did the number of Y2K-related magazines. These are just three of the different magazines that my Dad’s company printed during that time. Each one has a “proof” sticker on the front, stating that the colors were correct and the plates were aligned and the presses were ready to ramp up and start cranking out magazines.

Like a lot of things, I didn’t think much of these magazines at the time and ended up filing them away. Last weekend while cleaning out my garage I ran across a box of old magazines, with these right on top. I had a good time flipping through them and imagining what could have been (or, according to some people, “what almost was”).

muppet magazine mr t

Jeff Benson Always Reads Nintendo Power

I recently got some NES players guides off EBay, and this ad/subscription card was thrown in with them.

This is the front of the ad. It tells us about Jeff Benson, who does all the cool 80s things, including skateboarding and listening to rock and roll. He also manages to spend some time on physics. He loves Super Mario Bros. 2 and never, ever buys a new game “pak” without first consulting Nintendo Power.

This is the back. It tantalizes us with a taste of the goodness we will find in Nintendo Power magazine. This is a tip for the game Blaster Master. It comes straight from “the pros” and is pretty sneaky to be honest.

Notice also the pastels and unnecessary squiggles that depict the rad way Jeff lives and plays Nintendo. Laughable? Yeah. But also effective. Makes me want to get my hands on a few issues of Nintendo Power. That, or do some physics.