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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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