Archive for August, 2018

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Showstopper Magazine: Celebrating Its First Anniversary With 40 Years Of Teen Dance History & Experience Behind It – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Founder, Debbie Roberts & Editor In Chief, Holly Childs…

August 20, 2018

“One thing that stands out to me, and one thing that made me really want to do the magazine is we’re not just full of ads. And many of the others are so heavy into ads. We’re trying to honor dancers; we’re trying to get as many kids as we can into each issue. We’re trying to look and look, study and study, and reach out to find which kids have great stories and get them in the magazine. We want them to be honored.” Debbie Roberts…

“We combined the digital element with it, with our app and our VIP site and it’s basically the online version of the magazine where we can push people with QR codes to video content and behind-the-scenes footage and extended interviews, plus extra content as well. So, we mixed both the print and the digital because teens aren’t normally drawn so much to print, but I think with the distribution method of the shows and Barnes & Noble and mixing it with the digital it really comes together.” Holly Childs…

A magazine devoted to dance, teenaged dance, that is; Showstopper magazine is celebrating its first anniversary in print, but the powers-that-be behind the colorful, photo-packed title are far from newbies when it comes to the world of teen dance. Debbie Roberts and her husband, David have been honoring and promoting dancers through their competition shows and sincere caring of the teens for 40 years. Showstopper events for them are more than a career, it has been a way of life for decades. And now they have brought that same excitement and care to print.

I spoke with Debbie and editor in chief, Holly Childs (a former Showstopper dance talent herself) recently and we talked about the magazine and its mission for the world of teen dance. It means so much to these two ladies as it represents the kids that are so important to them both, which is the one of the main reasons that Debbie wanted to start the magazine, to have a vivid place to showcase these teen dance stories and bring them to life within the pages of print. And from the beautiful photographs to the stories themselves, it’s a venue that Debbie hopes fulfills her mission: to honor the dancers.

And with no ads, its success is dependent on that hope, as distribution ranges from newsstand to the competition shows, where Debbie says the differentiation factor of the title from others out there, is born. The shows provide the Roberts’ with a venue that allows them to connect with the teens and get their input for content, something Debbie believes gives them a very high leg-up on magazines who maybe don’t have that type of interaction.

So, grab your sequined dance uniform and some confetti and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with two women who are “showstoppers” themselves, as they take us into the world of teen dance, Debbie Roberts, founder and Holly Childs, editor in chief, Showstopper magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On how she got the idea for Showstopper and when she decided to actually do it (Debbie Roberts): I was actually always very interested in journalism, even in high school. I was editor of the yearbook and just had a great journalism teacher. And I had always wanted to start a magazine. I read Seventeen magazine all of the time and I just thought it was an incredible way to communicate. So, at age 16 I really wanted to do it. And when I met Holly I thought if I ever did it she would be the person who could help me make it come true, because she is such a go-getter.

On whether they both dance (Debbie Roberts): Dance has been my whole life. I had a dance studio for 25 years. I actually started teaching when I was 16, so that’s 50 years that I’ve been working, not 40. But no, not anymore, now I just work, work, work.

On whether they both dance (Holly Childs): I danced from age two to about 14 and I danced at Showstopper’s, so when I got the job, almost three and a half years ago, it was coming full circle for me because I used to attend their competitions when I was around nine-years-old.

On why they thought teenaged readers in today’s day and age would want a print magazine (Holly Childs): We also combined the digital element with it, with our app and our VIP site, which is http://www.showstopper.vip, and it’s basically the online version of the magazine where we can push people with QR codes to video content and behind-the-scenes footage and extended interviews, plus extra content as well. So, we mixed both the print and the digital because teens aren’t normally drawn so much to print, but I think with the distribution method of the shows and Barnes & Noble and mixing it with the digital it really comes together.

On how they are curating Showstopper’s 40-year history with teen dance, with what’s happening today (Holly Childs): We’re always working on curating the history with what’s happening today in a better way in each and every edition. And in this upcoming one we’re really focusing on telling the story of Showstopper and focusing a lot more heavily on dance, just to make sure that’s really seen on almost every page. I think we’ve realized as we’ve gone forward that the reach has really extended beyond our in-person shows and so it’s more important with every edition to tell Showstopper’s story and history, and also what’s happening with the brand today.

On Holly’s ability to write, edit and design and whether she has a favorite of the three (Holly Childs): Design, for sure, I have to say. It’s just the most creatively and aesthetically pleasing; it’s just very fulfilling to see the design of an artist. I love writing too and that was actually my major in college, English, but graphic design is always changing and can always be made better, so definitely design. But I love the other two as well.

On Showstopper’s point of differentiation (Debbie Roberts): One thing that stands out to me, and one thing that made me really want to do the magazine is we’re not just full of ads. And many of the others are so heavy into ads. We’re trying to honor dancers; we’re trying to get as many kids as we can into each issue. We’re trying to look and look, study and study, and reach out to find which kids have great stories and get them in the magazine. We want them to be honored.

On the biggest stumbling block they’ve faced this year and how they overcame it (Debbie Roberts): Both Holly and I can tackle a lot. I’m used to handling problems; I’ve had 40 years of a lot of challenges and I would say that we don’t have a lot of big stumbling blocks, because when something happens we just regroup and go on and do something else. We don’t let anything become a stumbling block more than just a couple of minutes.

On what has been the most pleasant moment (Debbie Roberts): I would say our photo shoots are just so inspiring because you get all of these kids together and they’re so excited that they are going to be honored for what they’ve done. These are kids who are hardcore dancers and they’ve worked themselves to the bone. They take seven days a week to dance. They just love it and they’re willing to do it as a career and they don’t even care if they make money. They’re just giving everything a million percent and that’s every photo shoot that we have.

On what has been the most pleasant moment (Holly Childs): Another amazing moment is seeing the pictures of the dancers holding up the magazine when they get it in the mail or see it in Barnes & Noble, that’s another amazing moment.

On what they would hope to say the magazine has accomplished if they were talking to someone about it one year from now (Debbie Roberts): I would say that we strive, just like we do in the show, to be better than we were before. Every article to be better than it was the last issue just to try and give more to kids. And maybe to make the magazine 20 pages bigger to honor more kids or more dancers, just to always be better and always have more quality. We’re so learning right now and we’ve seen mistakes that we’ve made and just try to go on and do better next time. Every magazine is so exciting and we just strive for the next one to be better.

On anything either of them would like to add (Holly Childs): One thing to add is that we also have a theme around each edition, the last one was the gold edition and the next is the explore/adventure edition. Exploring new genres of dance and new hobbies and new travel locations. We always try to have a theme around each edition.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her (Debbie Roberts): I would say that we always did the very best and when we hit the best we said that we could do better. We just always want to be better and give more, that’s our philosophy.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her (Holly Childs): I like that too. That’s perfect; I wouldn’t add a thing to that. Never be satisfied.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home (Holly Childs): Planning the next day of work. (Laughs)

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home (Debbie Roberts): You’d find me working on the magazine, that’s my very fun thing to do and because it’s a lot of research. I’d be looking at YouTube videos or at letters that kids have written to us about maybe why they want to be in the magazine, those kinds of things. Researching new trends or old trends that are coming back; who’s doing what; those are things that I’d be doing.

On what keeps them up at night (Debbie Roberts): Definitely the magazine. It’s not work at all, it’s just fun to gather up ideas, and after 40 years of really working hard loading trucks and working in a warehouse, getting everything ready for a show, now the magazine is just my sheer fun. Just giving back through the magazine and then seeing the end result. So, it’s definitely the magazine that keeps me up at night, no doubt about that.

On what keeps them up at night (Holly Childs): I agree. I am always thinking about how we can make things better. We’re both never satisfied with the last thing we did, which is why I think a year from now, if you were to ask us, it’s going to be 10 times better than right now because we’re never satisfied. We’re always thinking about how we can improve and what we can do different; what are the latest trends that we can do for the next photo shoot, things like that. It’s more of a morning and afternoon thought for me, but if I think of a photo shoot idea in the middle of the night, I grab my phone and write it down.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Debbie Roberts, founder and Holly Childs, editor in chief, Showstopper Magazine.

Samir Husni: Showstopper magazine is celebrating its first anniversary; tell me a little bit about the conception of the magazine. When did you get the idea and decide that you were actually going to do it?

Debbie Roberts: I was actually always very interested in journalism, even in high school. I was editor of the yearbook and just had a great journalism teacher. And I had always wanted to start a magazine. I read Seventeen magazine all of the time and I just thought it was an incredible way to communicate. So, at age 16 I really wanted to do it. And when I met Holly I thought if I ever did it she would be the person who could help me make it come true, because she is such a go-getter.

So, I just woke up one day and said to myself, I’m 65-years-old and it’s either now or never, somehow or someway it’s going to happen. And I talked to Holly and she said yes, absolutely let’s do it. And we both kind of dove in and just said we don’t know what it’s going to take, but we’re going to learn. So, we started learning and digging in and that’s how it all started.

Samir Husni: And do you both dance?

Debbie Roberts: Dance has been my whole life. I had a dance studio for 25 years. I actually started teaching when I was 16, so that’s 50 years that I’ve been working, not 40. But no, not anymore, now I just work, work, work.

Holly Childs: I danced from age two to about 14 and I danced at Showstopper’s, so when I got the job, almost three and a half years ago, it was coming full circle for me because I used to attend their competitions when I was around nine-years-old.

Samir Husni: Why do you think teenaged dancers in today’s day and age want a print magazine?

Holly Childs: Debbie and David Roberts started Showstopper, which are national dance competitions, and they have regional and finals competitions and dance conventions all over the U.S. and now the world, including Japan. The history of Showstopper Dance Competitions began 40 years ago and they’re celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. They have so many in-person events that it’s a perfect distribution method for something that teens can relate to and hear other teen dancers’ stories, which is really the primary reason I feel that Debbie started the magazine, to tell all of the stories that were heard nationwide for 40 years.

We also combined the digital element with it, with our app and our VIP site, which is http://www.showstopper.vip, and it’s basically the online version of the magazine where we can push people with QR codes to video content and behind-the-scenes footage and extended interviews, plus extra content as well. So, we mixed both the print and the digital because teens aren’t normally drawn so much to print, but I think with the distribution method of the shows and Barnes & Noble and mixing it with the digital it really comes together.

Debbie Roberts: To go back a little bit, every weekend of my life I’m with dancers, and all of these young kids at all different levels, and I was thinking that these kids are so inspiring that we had to do more stories about them. With their heart and soul, they just love dance and they’re so excited about dance. So, I wanted to take that to another level, and we said that this is the time; this is the time to do it. And I was very discouraged with some magazines that were just ads, that’s really basically all they are. So, we really don’t do ads, we just want to honor dancers and their hard work. And inspire other dancers.

Samir Husni: Just from looking at this current issue, it seems as though you’re documenting teen dance. From 40 years until now, that involvement with the teen lifestyle and the teen dance really shines through. How are you curating Debbie’s 40-year history with teen dance, with what’s happening today?

Holly Childs: We’re always working on curating the history with what’s happening today in a better way in each and every edition. And in this upcoming one we’re really focusing on telling the story of Showstopper and focusing a lot more heavily on dance, just to make sure that’s really seen on almost every page. I think we’ve realized as we’ve gone forward that the reach has really extended beyond our in-person shows and so it’s more important with every edition to tell Showstopper’s story and history, and also what’s happening with the brand today.

Samir Husni: Holly, you write, edit, and you design; any favorite child among those three?

Holly Childs: Design, for sure, I have to say. It’s just the most creatively and aesthetically pleasing; it’s just very fulfilling to see the design of an artist. I love writing too and that was actually my major in college, English, but graphic design is always changing and can always be made better, so definitely design. But I love the other two as well.

Samir Husni: There are other dance magazines in the marketplace; what is Showstopper’s point of differentiation, besides you and David starting Showstopper Dance Competitions 40 years ago?

Debbie Roberts: One thing that stands out to me, and one thing that made me really want to do the magazine is we’re not just full of ads. And many of the others are so heavy into ads. We’re trying to honor dancers; we’re trying to get as many kids as we can into each issue. We’re trying to look and look, study and study, and reach out to find which kids have great stories and get them in the magazine. We want them to be honored. And I know for sure that they don’t have that passion now, because we’re not worried about selling ads and making money and they are. We’re just worried about having an incredible magazine that gives back to teenagers and we’ve expanded more into the dance lifestyle, such as what would they wear to school, so we have a bit of fashion, fashion that’s maybe been inspired by dance. Just give kids more than a magazine that’s filled with a lot of ads and just a few articles.

Holly Childs: We focus very heavily on the well-rounded approach of showing everything dancers are interested in, from healthy snacks to fashion, inspired by dance, and to technique and the inspirational stories. We’re not just focusing on people who have the strongest technique and who have made it, of course we love those people, but also in each edition we really tell a story about someone who has overcame something or who has struggled and made it through and can inspire other dancers who might also be going through something similar. We just focus on capturing all facets of a team dancer, not just a dancer.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest stumbling block for you this year and how did you overcome it?

Debbie Roberts: Both Holly and I can tackle a lot. I’m used to handling problems; I’ve had 40 years of a lot of challenges and I would say that we don’t have a lot of big stumbling blocks, because when something happens we just regroup and go on and do something else. We don’t let anything become a stumbling block more than just a couple of minutes.

Holly Childs: I think the only “challenge” is since our magazine is in stores a lot longer than other magazines, we have to make sure that we’re not just doing that viral, happening right now, content. It has to be content that’s going to be relevant from February to May or from June until August, which that really helps us to tell more in depth stories or talk about things that aren’t just going to be irrelevant a week from now. You could pick up that magazine five years from now and the things inside would still be interesting because they’re not time sensitive.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment?

Debbie Roberts: I would say our photo shoots are just so inspiring because you get all of these kids together and they’re so excited that they are going to be honored for what they’ve done. These are kids who are hardcore dancers and they’ve worked themselves to the bone. They take seven days a week to dance. They just love it and they’re willing to do it as a career and they don’t even care if they make money. They’re just giving everything a million percent and that’s every photo shoot that we have. You see these kids on paper and I meet them quickly, maybe at a show, but then to work with them for a whole day is really fun. And I know a lot of magazines don’t even do photo shoots, they just get pictures from the kids. But we do a long photo shoot where everybody interacts and it’s a lot of work. Holly puts all of that together and it’s so rewarding.

Holly Childs: We do a big group photo shoot where it’s like one big fun day. We have some photo shoots where there are just one or two kids, but our main photo shoot is with the group we call “The Circle Society” who are the featured group for that issue of the magazine. They are a group of talented and inspiring dancers and we get them all together for one to two days and it’s one of the most inspiring times, just seeing all of the talent and hard work come together.

Another amazing moment is seeing the pictures of the dancers holding up the magazine when they get it in the mail or when they see it in Barnes & Noble, that’s another amazing moment.

Samir Husni: If we’re having this conversation a year from now, what would you hope to tell me about Showstopper magazine and what it has accomplished?

Debbie Roberts: I would say that we strive, just like we do in the show, to be better than we were before. Every article to be better than it was the last issue just to try and give more to kids. And maybe to make the magazine 20 pages bigger to honor more kids or more dancers, just to always be better and always have more quality. We’re so learning right now and we’ve seen mistakes that we’ve made and just try to go on and do better next time. Every magazine is so exciting and we just strive for the next one to be better.

We try to do focus groups at our shows, and that’s the big thing at our shows that nobody has but us; we see probably 5,000 kids per weekend, so we can set up a little booth and ask the kids what they want to see in the magazine. I can put someone there for the whole day and ask the kids these things and nobody else can do that because we’re so connected with the competition and with these kids.

We can ask them what they want to see and what they don’t want to see. We have a whole survey that we do and we try to really stay with the kids, with the dancers, at all times. And nobody else can do that; nobody can touch us. They’re in an office in New York, not that that’s a bad thing, but they’re in an office and they never really meet any of the dancers. Anyone else’s main goal is to sell advertising and the magazine is secondary. And we’re just not that way, not that that’s a bad thing because that’s how they run their business and make money, but that’s not how we run things and make money. The bottom line would be the interaction with the kids. And it’s our lives.

Samir Husni: Is there anything either of you would like to add:

Holly Childs: And one thing to add is that we also have a theme around each edition, the last one was the gold edition and the next is the explore/adventure edition. Exploring new genres of dance and new hobbies and new travel locations. We always try to have a theme around each edition.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Debbie Roberts: I would say that we always did the very best and when we hit the best we said that we could do better. We just always want to be better and give more, that’s our philosophy.

Holly Childs: I like that too. That’s perfect; I wouldn’t add a thing to that. Never be satisfied.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Holly Childs: Planning the next day of work. (Laughs)

Debbie Roberts: You’d find me working on the magazine, that’s my very fun thing to do and because it’s a lot of research. I’d be looking at YouTube videos or at letters that kids have written to us about maybe why they want to be in the magazine, those kinds of things. Researching new trends or old trends that are coming back; who’s doing what; those are things that I’d be doing.

Holly Childs: I agree that no matter what we’re doing, whether on social media, or like Debbie said, on YouTube or flipping through magazines, watching commercials; it’s always in the back of our minds how we can use things that we’re drawn to in the magazine. So, even if we are relaxing, we’re always thinking too. (Laughs)

Debbie Roberts: Photo shoot ideas too; I’ll have a stack of magazines and go through them and say, if we could just get one big, wow photo shoot in every magazine. And the next issue is really cool because we have an elephant, so one big, wow photo shoot and how we can pull that off. What are the ideas; just all of those kinds of things. That’s it and it’s totally my life.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you both up at night?

Debbie Roberts: Definitely the magazine. It’s not work at all, it’s just fun to gather up ideas, and after 40 years of really working hard loading trucks and working in a warehouse, getting everything ready for a show, now the magazine is just my sheer fun. Just giving back through the magazine and then seeing the end result. So, it’s definitely the magazine that keeps me up at night, no doubt about that.

And Holly is a newlywed, so that’s a whole different thing. (Laughs)

Holly Childs: (Laughs too) I agree. I am always thinking about how we can make things better. We’re both never satisfied with the last thing we did, which is why I think a year from now, if you were to ask us, it’s going to be 10 times better than right now because we’re never satisfied. We’re always thinking about how we can improve and what we can do different; what are the latest trends that we can do for the next photo shoot, things like that. It’s more of a morning and afternoon thought for me, but if I think of a photo shoot idea in the middle of the night, I grab my phone and write it down.

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

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Retro Fan Magazine: A Nostalgic & Evocative Look Back At The Pop Culture Of Yesterday With A Tagline That Reads “The Crazy Cool Culture We Grew Up With” & The Magazine Does Not Disappoint – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Michael Eury, Editor, Retro Fan Magazine…

August 15, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“To me, and again I know that I’m speaking as a person who is 60-years-old and my perspective is obviously shaped by my experiences throughout my life, but I consider something in print to have a degree of permanence and actually a degree of importance that I really don’t think you have in quite the same way when it’s exclusively digital. There’s just something about holding it in your hand and having it on a shelf, having easy access to it for reference if you choose to. Or if it’s a book that you cherish and something that you pull off your shelf every year to reread, there is just something there that is very special.” Michael Eury…

From television’s “The Incredible Hulk,” to the highly popular Mr. Microphone, Ronco’s answer to the wireless device of the ‘70s, pop culture has seen many points of era interest come down the pike. The ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s are chocked full of “retro” fads that just cannot be forgotten or ignored, especially now that there’s an exciting new magazine on newsstands to jog our memories. Retro Fan magazine is published by TwoMorrows Publishing and is an ultimate handbook for all things retro and fun, from tattoos in bubble gum packs to our favorite Saturday morning cartoons.

Micahel Eury is editor of the magazine and is also a comic book historian, author and editor and a man who sees the cultural importance of fads, ideas and the things of the past that still impact us today. I spoke with Michael recently and we talked about Retro Fan and the societal reverberations that pop culture brings to all of our lives.

The magazine is filled with these things that still play an important part of our lives: The Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek (how many of us grew up on Captain Kirk and Spock), an article with Lou Ferrigno (TV’s Hulk), and fun sitcom quotes, along with much, much more. It’s a great magazine jam-packed with information, and as Michael added, that all-important unpredictable factor that makes it unique.

So, sit back, relax, grab your Slinky for old times’ sake and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Michael Eury, editor, Retro Fan magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On why a print, retro-type magazine now, in today’s market: This is a natural outgrowth for the publisher himself. For 20 + years now, TwoMorrows has published a growing line of retro magazines that target comic book history and comic fandom. Over the past few years the publisher has experimented with a few books that branch out beyond comics into the broader popular culture. As far as yours truly is concerned, I have been working in the comic book industry for decades now. I used to be an editor and writer for comics and then overtime, as I got older, I sort of steered my career or it was steered by fate, toward being a comics historian. And since television and toys; collectibles and the moon-landing, and other pop culture events of my past, we’re also part of that pop culture tapestry that we pull from. It just felt like the right time to do this.

On the tagline “The Crazy Cool Culture We Grew Up With” and the audience that the magazine is targeting: To very specifically define it, and I’ll say this because this is our target audience I’m about to define, but I don’t necessarily want to anchor it exclusively to that. I’d like to have some flexibility as the magazine grows, but nonetheless it’s ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s popular culture. So, that obviously creates a demographic of a reader who would probably be in his or her forties and up, because again, that’s their childhood that we’re talking about.

On whether he feels a reader can get the same history of pop culture in any other medium other than the printed publication: Well, I think you can. If you are prone to investigate that level of history, you certainly can, but we sort of do the searching for you and the gathering of the information for this. And also, with the involvement of people who are behind the creation of certain toys or comic books or TV shows; just whenever we do celebrity interviews to get their thought processes involved, I think that adds another layer for the audience as they’re reading the publication. Out of all of TwoMorrows’ publications, the others are largely targeted toward the comic book distribution network, meaning that most people who would buy the publication would either buy it off the stands or order it on a subscription list through their comic book shop or from the publisher itself.

On what he would hope to tell someone about Retro Fan one year from now: One year from now, I would hope that we are still on the newsstand. I think that in this particular age, as you know and as you are intimating from your questions, print is diminishing. I think that we have seen though that all of the deaf cries of the print medium that we’ve been hearing, and I’ve been in the publishing industry on and off for a good 30 years now, and people have been attempting to bury it for a long time, but it just isn’t quite going away. There are still readers, and perhaps they’re readers of a certain age who are aging and fading away (Laughs), but they still want to hold something in their hands that isn’t an electronic device. Given the demographic that we largely target, I think that our readers are going to prefer a print publication.

On the statement that today there is no war between print and digital, that it’s up to the reader to decide where they want to consume their content: I think that’s very well said and it’s very, very true. Print has held on in the past few years, and again, we also agree that the print runs are smaller than they have been in the past, but there still seems to be this balance between the two platforms, digital and print. If you were to talk to me about this 10 years from now, we may be fully digital at that point. I do think that there will be a continuing transition, but it’s not happening as rapidly as some of the doomsayers some 10 or 15 years ago were anticipating.

On whether he thinks that as long as we have human beings, we will have print: I hope that’s the case. That’s my interpretation as well. I think that someone half my age might disagree with me, but there’s a value to print. To me, and again I know that I’m speaking as a person who is 60-years-old and my perspective is obviously shaped by my experiences throughout my life, but I consider something in print to have a degree of permanence and actually a degree of importance that I really don’t think you have in quite the same way when it’s exclusively digital. There’s just something about holding it in your hand and having it on a shelf, having easy access to it for reference if you choose to. Or if it’s a book that you cherish and something that you pull off your shelf every year to reread, there is just something there that is very special.

On anything he’d like to add: The magazine is going to have an eclectic feel. It’s not going to be about one thing. It’s different from the comics history magazine that I edit, “Back Issue!” which is thematically-structured. Every issue of “Back Issue!” is centered around a given theme. And that has provided me editorial structure there. I really like Retro Fan to be more of just a really fun, almost unpredictable, grab bag of content. The second issue has a loose Halloween theme, but that’s a pretty broad subject when you really think about it, especially when couched within the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: I’ve never been asked that before, that’s really a challenging question. I would hope that people would smile when they think of me in the future. Maybe through the work I have done with Retro Fan or other publications, because I know at the end of the day, I’m working on magazines and I also write books about comics and pop culture history. Is it the most important thing in the world to record the oral history of a comic book or animation artist? Or write about how the afro became a fashion sensation in the ‘70s? When you compare it to saving people’s lives on an operating table; no, but when you look at it from a broader perspective of just being a nice window into some of the pleasures and interesting things of our past, yes it does have some importance and I’m honored to be a part of this mechanism of recording these stories. So, if people think of me with a smile, wherever I am in the afterlife (Laughs) that will hopefully make me smile as well.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I probably would be watching a little TV or reading a book. I’m finding now that I am editing a second magazine about pop culture that I’m spending less of my free time immersed in pop culture, because largely what has been my hobby in the past is my vocation, which is a really wonderful thing that a lot of people would wish for. So, it’s a blessing for me I believe, to be able to do this kind of work. I enjoy it. But I’m reading a murder mystery at night now, which has nothing to do with anything I do for my job.

On what keeps him up at night: (Laughs) Nothing keeps me up at night, but what gets me up at night is, and I can’t say this without sounding off color, but it’s having to go to the bathroom. (Laughs again) I am a man in my sixties. So, there is that. (Continues laughing) I’m really not that worried about things. I mean, there are plenty of things to be worried about. I could lose sleep at night over hatred; it does bother me when I really think about it. How, after all of the wonderful advances that I’ve seen throughout my lifetime; I grew up on Star Trek, which had this vision of the future where all cultures were working together as one. And you didn’t think about the fact that this person was from that culture or that planet.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Michael Eury, editor, Retro Fan magazine.

Samir Husni: I understand you have your own publishing company: TwoMorrows Publishing. So, tell me, why a print magazine; why a retro magazine; and why now?

Michael Eury: This is a natural outgrowth for the publisher himself. For 20 + years now, TwoMorrows has published a growing line of retro magazines that target comic book history and comic fandom. Over the past few years the publisher has experimented with a few books that branch out beyond comics into the broader popular culture. One that came out last year, this is by an author named Mark Voger, and the book is called “Groovy.” And it’s essentially looking at the hippie and the flower-power culture of the ‘60s and ‘70s. And there were a number of celebrity interviews, such as with The Brady Bunch kids and people like that. So, this is just a natural growth for him.

As far as yours truly is concerned, I have been working in the comic book industry for decades now. I used to be an editor and writer for comics and then overtime, as I got older, I sort of steered my career or it was steered by fate, toward being a comics historian. And since television and toys; collectibles and the moon-landing, and other pop culture events of my past, we’re also part of that pop culture tapestry that we pull from. It just felt like the right time to do this.

Samir Husni: The tagline of the magazine, “The Crazy Cool Culture We Grew Up With,” is sort of like you’re identifying your audience. Tell me more about that audience and how you want Retro Fan to connect with those of us that grew up in that crazy cool culture.

Michael Eury: To very specifically define it, and I’ll say this because this is our target audience I’m about to define, but I don’t necessarily want to anchor it exclusively to that. I’d like to have some flexibility as the magazine grows, but nonetheless it’s ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s popular culture. So, that obviously creates a demographic of a reader who would probably be in his or her forties and up, because again, that’s their childhood that we’re talking about.

And the types of things that we’re carrying over from other TwoMorrows Publications and the other one that I edit is a magazine called “Back Issue!” It’s a comics history magazine that largely surveys the history of comics and related culture from the ‘70s forward, but mostly the ‘70s and ‘80s.

The thing that we bring over to this, to Retro Fan, is it’s not just nostalgia, although there is a really healthy dose of nostalgia here. There’s also a level of inquisitiveness. It’s essentially looking at all of this fun stuff that we all loved as kids, and looking at it through the lens of adulthood and whatever wisdom that we’ve garnered.

So, when we do an article about, for example, Lou Ferrigno, TV’s Incredible Hulk; obviously, there will be some basic Hulk questions that are asked of him, but also some other questions about his life and his personality to paint a broader picture of him as a person, beyond just him as the celebrity.

When we look at a certain toy or fad that was there at a certain time, yes, there’s a flashback aspect of it. But then we sort of want to analyze for us as a adults why it happened, why it happened at a certain time, and what repercussions do we experience today.

I wrote a one-page Retro fad article in the first issue, which you’ve read, about Mr. Microphone and as I was really looking back at that, beyond just the cheesiness of the marketing campaign (Laughs) and the fact that those things were so popular during their time, I realized that it was one of the very first mass-produced popular wireless devices and look at our culture today. And then secondly it was perhaps the first very popular device that really put the spotlight on the individual and now we live in an era of people carrying Smartphones and taking selfies, with a certain level of self-interest that has grown out of our attachment to these devices. Taking it back historically, Mr. Microphone was more than just this gimmick that a lot of people bought into. It was really a precursor of things to come.

Samir Husni: Do you feel that the magazines, the printed publications, or the books, are the best reflectors of that pop culture? Can you get that history of pop culture at your fingertips in any better medium?

Michael Eury: Well, I think you can. If you are prone to investigate that level of history, you certainly can, but we sort of do the searching for you and the gathering of the information for this. And also, with the involvement of people who are behind the creation of certain toys or comic books or TV shows; just whenever we do celebrity interviews to get their thought processes involved, I think that adds another layer for the audience as they’re reading the publication. Out of all of TwoMorrows’ publications, the others are largely targeted toward the comic book distribution network, meaning that most people who would buy the publication would either buy it off the stands or order it on a subscription list through their comic book shop or from the publisher itself.

With Retro Fan, we felt that there is an audience out there that is not typed in to that distribution network and by having it newsstand distributed, and it is a riskier and more expensive venture obviously to produce enough copies to distribute them in that fashion, we’re hoping to find individuals who are not connected to that distribution network I mentioned just a moment ago. And presumably you’re one of them, and I have gotten a lot of emails from people who have discovered the magazine on the newsstand, which is very encouraging.

To maybe anticipate a question; will that be enough to sustain its publication on the newsstand for months to come, I don’t know, it’s still too early to know. But it’s something that we felt strongly enough about, because I think there are just thousands of people out there who love the stuff that we grew up with. And we’re trying to find them.

Samir Husni: If you and I are chatting one year from now, what would you hope to tell me about Retro Fan?

Michael Eury: One year from now, I would hope that we are still on the newsstand. I think that in this particular age, as you know and as you are intimating from your questions, print is diminishing. I think that we have seen though that all of the deaf cries of the print medium that we’ve been hearing, and I’ve been in the publishing industry on and off for a good 30 years now, and people have been attempting to bury it for a long time, but it just isn’t quite going away. There are still readers, and perhaps they’re readers of a certain age who are aging and fading away (Laughs), but they still want to hold something in their hands that isn’t an electronic device. Given the demographic that we largely target, I think that our readers are going to prefer a print publication.

A year from now I still do hope that we will have a larger newsstand distributed print presence. If we find that the newsstand sales don’t warrant that cost, I think that due to the very strong reaction that we’ve had to the first issue and the anticipation for the future issues that the magazine will continue, but it would be distributed through the comic book world and through the publisher’s website. And we also publish it in the digital edition, so you can download it as well to bypass the print edition. And some people will do that, even older people who might prefer print, but they’ve got a houseful of books and magazines and sometimes you reach a certain point where there’s no more shelf space. (Laughs) But we’re going to continue to publish it as long as we can.

Samir Husni: I just gave an interview with a publication in South Africa and one of the things that I told them was the war between print and digital is long over, it’s up to the people to decide which platform they want to consume their content.

Michael Eury: I think that’s very well said and it’s very, very true. Print has held on in the past few years, and again, we also agree that the print runs are smaller than they have been in the past, but there still seems to be this balance between the two platforms, digital and print. If you were to talk to me about this 10 years from now, we may be fully digital at that point. I do think that there will be a continuing transition, but it’s not happening as rapidly as some of the doomsayers some 10 or 15 years ago were anticipating.

Samir Husni: I am one of those people who believe that as long as we have human beings we will have print.

Michael Eury: I hope that’s the case. That’s my interpretation as well. I think that someone half my age might disagree with me, but there’s a value to print. To me, and again I know that I’m speaking as a person who is 60-years-old and my perspective is obviously shaped by my experiences throughout my life, but I consider something in print to have a degree of permanence and actually a degree of importance that I really don’t think you have in quite the same way when it’s exclusively digital. There’s just something about holding it in your hand and having it on a shelf, having easy access to it for reference if you choose to. Or if it’s a book that you cherish and something that you pull off your shelf every year to reread, there is just something there that is very special.

I also understand though that someone who is 20-years-old, someone who has grown up with an electronic device in his or her hand is going to have an obviously very different look at reality and of how they enjoy their information. Anyone that would be of the age of a child or grandchild of mine would have a different perspective more than likely.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Michael Eury: The magazine is going to have an eclectic feel. It’s not going to be about one thing. It’s different from the comics history magazine that I edit, “Back Issue!” which is thematically-structured. Every issue of “Back Issue!” is centered around a given theme. And that has provided me editorial structure there. I really like Retro Fan to be more of just a really fun, almost unpredictable, grab bag of content. The second issue has a loose Halloween theme, but that’s a pretty broad subject when you really think about it, especially when couched within the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.

In the second issue, which comes out in September, you’ll have an article about the emergence of the horror movie host on television. There will be an interview with Elvira, and then I interviewed one of the sons of the Ben Cooper Halloween Costume company, who for kids of the ‘50s through the ‘80s, they were the number one manufacturer of these inexpensive, vinyl masked costumes that tied in the back, with all of the characters that you would expect from pop culture. From Mickey Mouse to the Six Million Dollar Man, and some weird things in between. Like Jaws – the shark. (Laughs) Anything that was popular in pop culture, you could dress up like for Halloween. So, I interviewed the son of one of the two founders and it has some very valuable insight and a lot of fun information there. And we look back at cartoon shows and such, so there is always going to be an unpredictable factor to the magazine. But a certain level of quality and intellectual curiosity will always be there.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Michael Eury: I’ve never been asked that before, that’s really a challenging question. I would hope that people would smile when they think of me in the future. Maybe through the work I have done with Retro Fan or other publications, because I know at the end of the day, I’m working on magazines and I also write books about comics and pop culture history. Is it the most important thing in the world to record the oral history of a comic book or animation artist? Or write about how the afro became a fashion sensation in the ‘70s? When you compare it to saving people’s lives on an operating table; no, but when you look at it from a broader perspective of just being a nice window into some of the pleasures and interesting things of our past, yes it does have some importance and I’m honored to be a part of this mechanism of recording these stories. So, if people think of me with a smile, wherever I am in the afterlife (Laughs) that will hopefully make me smile as well.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Michael Eury: I probably would be watching a little TV or reading a book. I’m finding now that I am editing a second magazine about pop culture that I’m spending less of my free time immersed in pop culture, because largely what has been my hobby in the past is my vocation, which is a really wonderful thing that a lot of people would wish for. So, it’s a blessing for me I believe, to be able to do this kind of work. I enjoy it. But I’m reading a murder mystery at night now, which has nothing to do with anything I do for my job.

Often, I do watch old television shows and movies, because I have a great appreciation for them. So, sometimes you would find me watching the Andy Griffith Show. I am from North Carolina, by the way, so that is gospel here. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Michael Eury: (Laughs) Nothing keeps me up at night, but what gets me up at night is, and I can’t say this without sounding off color, but it’s having to go to the bathroom. (Laughs again) I am a man in my sixties. So, there is that. (Continues laughing) I’m really not that worried about things. I mean, there are plenty of things to be worried about. I could lose sleep at night over hatred; it does bother me when I really think about it. How, after all of the wonderful advances that I’ve seen throughout my lifetime; I grew up on Star Trek, which had this vision of the future where all cultures were working together as one. And you didn’t think about the fact that this person was from that culture or that planet.

We just had the Charlottesville, Va. anniversary and I went to see Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” recently and just to see the level of hatred in this country is something that would keep me up at night, but I think maybe I’m cushioned a bit by the nostalgia and the warm, fuzzy feelings of my youth to not allow it to affect me to my core. But I still carry it with me in my desire to try and be a good person every day and just treat people with respect.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Garment: Where Fashion Shows Off In Print…

August 1, 2018

“Garment embraces the battle of the opposites, and this is what [mis]suiting is all about.” Thus states Editor in Chief Emma-Chase Laflamme in her Editor’s Letter of the new Amsterdam Fashion Institute’s magazine Garment.

She goes on to say, “We believe there is no better analogy to reflect the evolution and current state of the fashion industry than the suit…They say if the suit fits, wear it. Garment says, does it have to? Welcome to the [mis]suit issue.”

The annual publication from Amsterdam University of Applied Science’s Fashion Institute has been a fixture in the Dutch magazine world for more than a decade. Each issue is unique, as unique as the students and faculty who creates it.

After a short hiatus of no print issue, this summer the magazine is back in print. Frank Jurgen Wijlens, one of two editorial coaches of the magazine and the program coordinator, tells me in a note that accompanied the magazine, “Dear Samir, happy to show we were back to print. Happy readings. All the best, Frank.”

Happy readings indeed. Well designed, well edited, great photography and greater [mis]suits.

Another good example of what print can deliver that digital can’t. The sense of holding this issue of Garment in your hands, flipping the nicely sewn pages (no pun intended), is worth every penny of the 13 Euros that the magazine costs.

Want your own copy? Go to http://www.hva.nl/amfi or http://www.amfi.nl

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