I don’t do much magazine reading. Back when I had more time (mainly before buying a house), there were a few with which I attempted to keep up. Mainly, however, I’d buy a particular issue that I wanted to keep. I suspect that’s because I’m a book reader and my time for pure reading is limited. Strange thing for a professor/editor hybrid to write, but there you have it. Each year I “pledge” a number of books to Goodreads to keep me honest, and achieving that goal adds a kind of friendly pressure on my reading time. Magazines don’t count, and mostly I never read the whole thing. My current book project is an analysis of the movie The Wicker Man. This led to some magazine reading.
Horror movies, especially, have been traditionally treated as ephemera with little lasting cultural value. Fan magazines, therefore, often provide most of the periodical treatment for some of these “B movies.” The Wicker Man suffered legendary distribution problems and that may have been what prompted Cinefantastique to devote all its feature space to this particular movie back in 1977 (the movie came out four years earlier and was still struggling). The article is a lengthy one, not quite to the extent of The Atlantic, but still several pages. It was the origin of the much repeated epithet “the Citizen Kane of horror films.” To read this I had to locate a copy of the magazine. There was, fortunately, a seller in Beloit, Wisconsin who wasn’t extortionate (thank you!). My experience in buying print materials from the seventies has often proven the opposite.
Occasionally someone glimpsing my books will cattily ask, “Have you read them all?” No. But then not all print matter is for reading all the way through. Reference materials, for example, are consulted. The way my mind works, I need to keep things around so I can find them again. Studies have shown that retention for electronic media isn’t as reliable as it is for print. That may change some day as we evolve more and more into extensions of our machines, but for now I use it to justify keeping books. Since I can’t predict the future, I never know when some forgotten tome might come up again in a new project. That has happened a few times already while working on my small book on The Wicker Man. And that includes magazines with good articles. This one is a keeper.