Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Enough Of The Tease! Why A Fan Of Lost HATES Lost Magazine!

The Good: Decent photographs and interviews
The Bad: Annoyingly vague, Expensive
The Basics: Disappointingly vague, Lost Magazine is pretty much good for those who want to cut out pictures to hang on their walls . . . not much else.

In the annals of great television, it is almost indisputable (despite the "love it or hate it" reaction to it) that Lost (reviewed here!) is one of the truly greatest cult classic television shows. It is, therefore, utterly unsurprising that Lost has spurred on a small collection of merchandising opportunities. In addition to action figures, DVDs, and trading cards, there is Lost the magazine. And to cut through all of the highbrow analysis, I'll write what I truly want to say, (please pardon the crudeness) "Lost Magazine is a tremendous cocktease!" There, I said it, sorry if that's too crude or lowbrow, but it rings true. For fans of Lost, Lost Magazine is nothing but a vague, repetitive, tease that says remarkably little and preaches to the proverbial choir without saying anything.

Confused? Allow me to be explicit: Lost is a smart television show that is filled with surprises and much of the show hinges on viewers being surprised. As a result, the ideal magazine would seem to be a recap of episodes already produced and aired or interviews with the cast about anything but what is currently shooting. Instead, Lost Magazine is filled with interviews where, issue after issue, cast and crew are interviewed saying (and let me tell you, I wish this were a joke) "We just shot a great episode, but I can't talk about it. Wait and see; audiences will love it." Now, if this came up once an issue that would be one thing, but literally, article after article has people quoted about how they cannot talk about what they are doing with the show. The substance of the magazine is fleshed out by on-set pictures that reveal nothing - including new sets. As a result, Lost Magazine is terribly insubstantial.

Lost Magazine is the ideal magazine for fans who will cut it up and hang pictures from it on their walls, much like other publications based upon television shows. Outside the fan base, readers will find the magazine problematic in one form or another. Those who are fans of Lost, will find the articles outdated and unnecessarily vague. For example, the issue that featured the filming of the 100th episode of Lost hit newsstands weeks after the episode aired and all that the publication said about the episode was that it was the 100th episode and no one was talking about it. There were pictures of the party the cast had . . . but only from neutral locations that did not reveal any new sets. In other words, the level of secrecy is not only redundant (given the episode had already aired) but robs fans who might be predisposed to purchase exactly this type of publication of the incentive to buy it because is says nothing they don't get from the on-line interviews published months before.

Lost Magazine, like many fan-oriented print publications, is another casualty of the Internet and given how far behind the times print magazines are compared to the Internet, anything printed in Lost Magazine is already available to those who would want the information long before the magazine hit newsstands. Now, there is something ridiculous about going back to read the magazine's back issues as the musings within it are all commonly known by fans. As well, more casual fans will find the interviews either annoyingly vague (the "I can't talk about that" is annoying to casual fans as well) or far too specific for the casual viewers - given that they refer to often esoteric minutia. As a result, those who might be readers are more likely to turn to on-line episode guides than this magazine.

Lost Magazine is a glossy magazine that is published every two months and bears a cover price of $6.99. It is packed with full-color pictures and includes as much information as can be squeezed in about the Lost, considering that no one involved in the series is willing to spill the beans about anything.

The average issue of Lost Magazine has a cover story, usually focusing on one of the characters/actors from one of the Lost series. This feature is usually based around an interview with the celebrity wherein the interviewer asks softball questions that allows the celebrity to both gush about their experiences on Lost as point fans toward their current works. So, for example, an interview with Matthew Fox, tends to have him talking about his continued enjoyment of filming in Hawaii, the difference between filming Lost and Party Of Five and discussing his work on the feature film Speed Racer. In addition to the stars, Lost Magazine trades on having a great relationship with executive producer J.J. Abrams and the writers of the show, so each issue tends to feature one of the behind-the-scenes staff telling readers that they are busy at work on the current season, but they can't reveal anything about it.

Despite the emphasis on Lost celebrities there were occasional a theme issue, like recurring guest stars where Lost Magazine devotes its attentions to the peripheral players who have been memorable in developing the Lost storyline. Still, even when it does that the actors profiled seem especially cautious, as if their returning to Lost depends upon them being vague in interviews. Lost Magazine is written such that twelve year-olds can read the magazine. Given how smart and demanding the series is, this is somewhat disappointing.

In addition to a primary feature on one actor or character, Lost Magazine usually has a secondary feature on one of the behind-the-scenes aspects, like the set designs or scores. In these articles, set designers or composers discuss work they have done on the series and they are more free to share behind-the-scenes shots, like original concept sketches and the like. These can be interesting, but they also tend to be similar to what appears on the DVDs.

As well, there is usually a two to five page article on the merchandising surrounding Lost. Here, fans can read about new action figures, cards and video games about two to three months after the same news (or more) has hit the internet or stores. So, for example, the toys presented at the annual Toy Show were profiled in an issue that hit stands after the limited edition toys were already hitting comic book stores! Similarly, the monthly video game magazines tend to scoop Lost Magazine on the developments in video games.

On the plus side, Lost Magazine is very light on advertisements. Most issues have only about eight pages of advertisements and some of those are for back-issues or subscriptions to the magazine itself! Rather oddly, because the merchandising for the show was so light, several of the advertisements were for publications related to other cult-following shows, though as more of those have gone off the air, the ads have been more Lost focused.

As well, each issue features an episode guide for the current episodes. By "current," I mean "aired about six months prior." The episode guide is reasonably specific, but if one is hoping to catch up with a season in order to watch the current season's finale (or even next season's premiere), the magazine is totally inadequate. When the current season begins, the magazine is still summarizing episodes from the prior season and not necessarily the last episodes.

Finally, Lost Magazine is packed with beautiful, glossy full-color photographs. The problem here is that many of them are simple promotional shots that are widely available elsewhere. Lost Magazine is hardly a wealth of great, heretofore unfound rare shots from the sets or obscure screen shots. In fact, the level of secrecy surrounding Lost persists in the photographs. Characters are never pictured in revealing locations or even costumes. Candid shots from the set tend to be revealed about half a year after the episodes they were shot from air. So, for example, the first shots of the cages from the third season of Lost hit Lost Magazine around the time the third season finale aired!

I am a huge fan of Lost and here is why I hate Lost Magazine. If I want spoilers, I want spoilers. If I want a retrospective, I'll go back and watch the episodes. But instead of being anything even remotely revealing, Lost Magazine is a bunch of people not talking about the show I love. I am ALL for surprises, but the lack of detail in Lost Magazine is astonishing, up to and including simply reprinting vague interviews that on-line sources have previously published with the producers, writers and actors saying "I can't talk about this." We deserve better and for the few fans who want to read all their favorite Lost celebrities saying "I can't talk about it, but you'll love it," Lost Magazine is for you. But for substance (and I never thought I'd say this), there's the internet for Lost fans.

For other magazines reviewed by me, please check out my take on:
The Bark
Comic Values Annual
National Wildlife


For other book or magazine reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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