“A magazine or a newspaper is a shop. Each is an experiment and represents a new focus, a new ratio between commerce and intellect.” —John Jay Chapman
Some might know that I retired as Senior Art Director from Andrews McMeel Universal in June 2020; after 22 years (and before that, 19 at Hallmark), I was weary, a little burned-out, and it felt like it was time to go. I suppose I could have stayed for a bit longer and I really liked the owners, the CEO, and many of my co-workers throughout the company…but the Creative Director I reported to was (and is), quite simply, one of the most awful people I’ve ever known—and was getting progressively worse. Uneducated, unqualified, and a genuinely mean-spirited backstabber, I had to routinely dumb down my titles to get them approved (and, naturally, the products and, subsequently, sales suffered as a result). Bad managers are the bane of any company; once ensconced they’re hard to remove and almost always get more terrible with time. I feel sorry for those I left behind. (Gee, how do I really feel?) Anyway, after years of ever-increasing nonsense I celebrated my birthday by giving notice—and didn’t bother giving it to my Creative Director, but went directly to the Vice President/Publisher, whom I had told confidentially what I was planning some months earlier. My exit interview with Human Resources (who were also my friends) was a hoot.
For the past year I’ve been, admittedly, lazy. The pandemic, of course, limited most extracurricular activities and excursions, but I think I needed the time to procrastinate a little, to not worry about projects or deadlines (other than for Muddy Colors, that is). The reversion of the Spectrum competition and annual to us has required planning, but the impact of the pandemic (again) on everyone and everything has allowed us the time to consider our options without feeling panicked or rushed.
One of the ideas that’s been kicking around in my noggin for some years was to do a Spectrum magazine, something that would compliment and further the mission of the Spectrum annual—i.e. promote the fantastic arts by respecting the past, celebrating the present, embracing the future. Now, the magazine business has been struggling for many years and one of the absolutely dumbest, most ill-advised, lame-brained things to do would be to launch a new print periodical in a market that is in serious decline…
Which is why Cathy and I are going to do it.
In October we plan to release the first issue of Spectrum Fantastic Art Quarterly. It’s going to be a boutique magazine that will celebrate our community: there’s no plan for wide distribution, no attempt to sell advertising, zero intention of offering a digital/online version. We’re not going to crowd-fund it because, shoot, Publishing by its nature is a risk. Without risk there’s no passion and Publishing without passion is just a job. SFAQ is not going to have a website devoted to it but will be a part of the existing Spectrum website, which our friend Jeff Smith is currently working on behind the scenes to update. It’s going to be opinionated, extremely pretty, large (12″x12″), and is going to feature…well, some absolutely wonderful people, including some of my Muddy Colors companions. (If you haven’t already heard from me, you will.) There’s not going to be a lot of copies printed, successful or not. We’re not doing it for money (though if the first one doesn’t sell, there might not be a second—we may be nuts but we’re not stupid). Honestly, we’re doing this to further showcase the artists and their works, past and present, and to have a good time doing it.
Oh…and Spectrum #28 will open for entries with the release of the magazine: the Call For Entries poster is by the great C.F. Payne.
I’ll be back with details when we get ready to launch. This is going to be fun.
This is wonderful news! I can’t wait! So great to hear about passion projects being launched!
Thanks, Lisa! It’ll be nice doing something just for the fun of it again.
First, congratulations on retirement! Second, regarding SFAQ… When it’s available to purchase, I’ll buy a copy. Heck, I’m ready to subscribe.
Thanks, Thomas! There’s some excellent features lined up for the first issue so even if it’s a one-and-done I think people will enjoy it.
I realize the world is going digital but I have zero interest in digital magazines. Thrilled to hear about your plans for a print magazine and I’m definitely looking forward to purchasing a copy!
Thanks, Aaron! I’ve been told I’m “old-fashioned” and that the things I like—and my approach to design—is “old.” I guess I am and I guess they are. I enjoy a nicely designed page and clever titling; I enjoy reading a printed page. What the heck? Cathy and I hope others will feel the same.
This is great news, Arnie! Having started my career in print news media it’s always good to see some version of it able to stay out there! (And I love the approach that you’re taking with it)
Q: What step would you recommend someone like myself take to have my art featured in an issue? https://www.facebook.com/aeroshipyard/
Long time reader, first time commenter. I love this idea. Imaginefx magazine is considered to be an evergreen publication as is Spectrums content in my art collection. A SFAQ would be such a welcome addition! Fantastic!
Thanks, Allen! We’re going to try some different things and celebrate the variety of voices in the fantastic arts. Let’s see if we can pull it off.
This is really GREAT news !!! In the past, have been a past participant of the Spectrum Art Contests, so it’s AMAZING to hear that you will continue with the tradition with a new magazine idea as an added bonus not to mention a new web site ! I cant wait for October- count me in ! 👍🌞
Excellent news all around! Best of luck and good fortune with all!
This is amazing! Nothing like an actual physical magazine! If only postal services were as good as some years ago!
That’s going to be one of the real hurdles to overcome: as you say, the postal services aren’t what they once were. Thanks for your encouragement, Sebastian!
What’s the line in Patton? “The Germans haven’t launched an offensive in 200 years, which is exactly why I think they’ll launch one now.” Wonderful news. I was thrilled to read this.
Thanks, Aaron! There’s going to be a feature in the first issue that I think you’ll like. 🙂
This is awesome!! I can’t wait! I recently got into the magazine business and it is definitely difficult but SO fulfilling. I love it and wouldn’t trade it for the world!
Very excited! (But you already knew that)
You forgot to remind me how much hard work all this artsy-and-editing stuff is. 🙂