Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back When It Was On The Air, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine Didn't Bite!

The Good: Good pictures, Interesting articles, Light on ads
The Bad: Lousy diction, Outdated stories, fluffy.
The Basics: With disappointingly simple diction considering the quality of the source material, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine is a relic from when the series was being made.

Back in the day, there was a little television show called Buffy The Vampire Slayer (reviewed here!) and fans wanted everything they could get of it, but the people who merchandise such things had no idea the magnitude of the show. As a result, fans of Joss Whedon and his various projects - Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and various comic book endeavors - had very little to spend their money on to support their favorite series and they bought up all the same DVDs, toys, novels, trading cards and comic books that were on the market at the time. One of the few ways for Buffy The Vampire Slayer fans to spend their hard-earned money - or allowances - (other than on groceries or rent) was Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine.

Long-since last published, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine followed the on-set and on-screen exploits of everyone associated with Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the dramedy television series by Joss Whedon. For years, it provided fans with information on all that was going on with Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Joss Whedon's comic book endeavors. Since Angel was canceled, though, the magazine disbanded and now the only remnants of it are the back issues. Looking back at the magazine, it is hard to get excited about it.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer 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, and now the reminiscing fan base, readers will find the magazine problematic in one form or another. Those who are only casual fans of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer franchise will find the articles too in-depth to comfortably enjoy and process, those who are die-hard fans will already know everything printed within these pages, especially considering how the magazine is no longer published and all of the information that was hinting at future developments is now well-past.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine, like many fan-oriented print publications, was another casualty of the Internet - even when it was originally published - and given how far behind the times print magazines are compared to the Internet, anything printed in Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine was 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 as the musings within it are all commonly distributed on fansites around the Internet and allude to events in the Buffyverse that have been encapsulated onscreen for years now.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine is a glossy, sixty-five page magazine that was published every two months and bears a cover price of $6.99. It was packed with full-color pictures and includes as much information as can be squeezed in about the Buffy The Vampire Slayer franchise, the current gossip on the lives of those who participated in the television series', and fans gushing over the series.

The average issue of Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine has a cover story, usually focusing on one of the characters/actors from one of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer 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 whichever Buffy The Vampire Slayer series they appeared on as well as point fans toward their current works. So, for example, an interview with Anthony Stewart Head in Volume #5, Issue #5, included him enthusiastically recapping his experiences in the first six seasons of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, discussing the spin-off Ripper (which, sadly, never came to pass), and discussing his work on the BBC series Spooks. In addition to Anthony Stewart Head, the issue highlighted the forthcoming episode featuring Emma Caulfield; the celebrity interactions with the magazine sell the issues . . . or at least they did back in the day. Also interesting is that when an issue was particularly light on Angel information, the next issue was promised to be heavier in it, helping to keep readership up between the disparate fans of projects in the Buffyverse!

Despite the emphasis on Buffy The Vampire Slayer celebrities there were occasional a theme issue, like demons or vampires where Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine devotes its attentions to one race within the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe. Still, looking back now, the information is seldom audacious or even especially interesting. It is written such that twelve year-olds can read the magazine and the low-level of diction only reinforces the idea that the show was overrated teen fare as opposed to a serious adult show (which it largely was). At least the magazine panders to the language of twelve year-old girls and not twelve year-old boys!

In addition to a primary feature on one actor or character, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine usually had a secondary feature on one of the behind-the-scenes personas who is able to leak information about the franchise to the magazine. Writer/director/creator Joss Whedon, for example, frequently made himself available for interviews wherein he revealed the state of his many projects. While the information was hot in its day, it was almost always trumped by the speed of the Internet and the Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine remained more the fodder of fans who wanted posters and photos for their walls.

Fortunately, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine knew its precise audience; each issue comes with a poster in the center. The 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" poster is essentially a centerfold that can be pulled out and hung on the wall of the fan who bought the magazine.

As well, there is usually a two to five page article on a secondary character or actor who appeared somewhere in the franchise, complete with full-color pictures. As well, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine tends to include several pages updating fans on birthdays for the celebrities from the franchise and projects the actors are currently involved in, like Sarah Michelle Gellar marrying Freddie Prinze Jr. By the time Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine hits the stands, all of this information is already widely available on the Internet. And now, some of it - like the presentations made by the cast and crew before the Museum Of Radio And Television - has ended up on the DVDs as bonus features where fans have the source material and do not need the Magazine-digested version.

In addition, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine usually highlights one aspect of production - direction, lighting design, scoring - from Buffy The Vampire Slayer or "Angel" and presents a feature on that. This information tends to be interesting, but so esoteric that casual fans or those flipping through the magazine will be totally turned off by it. And because there was so little merchandise for Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the magazine offers features on current video games, trading cards, and toys that were hitting the market at the time.

On the plus side, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine is very light on advertisements. The issue I counted out had eight pages of advertisements and two of them were 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 science fiction shows like The X-Files, Farscape or Stargate!

Finally, Buffy The Vampire Slayer 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. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine is hardly a wealth of great, heretofore unfound rare shots from the sets or obscure screen shots.

As a result, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine is a bit of a tough sell, even to die-hard fans. But now that the information is not current, it truly is just for those who want pictures to hang on their dorm, apartment or parent's house-allotted room wall.

For other magazines reviewed by me, please check out my take on:
Newsweek En Espanol


For other magazine reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

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