Saturday, November 11, 2006
Geek Monthly #1- A Review
I can see the pitch meeting now (if magazines have pitch meetings)- a young entrepreneur has an idea for a new magazine. “Video games are more popular than ever. Every kid has a computer now. Movies and TV shows based on comic books top the charts. Everything that used to be considered geeky is now cool. We think the geek market is the next big thing, so we want to put out a magazine devoted to them.”
Magazine executives mull it over, and greenlight the project.
Some time later, young entrepreneur brings in the mock-up of the first issue and eagerly awaits comments.
When he gets his prototype back, it has comments like this attached to it: “You know- it’s a little too geeky. We don’t think the average teenager or college student would be interested in things like this. Perhaps you can ‘cool it up’ a little. Add some women, or articles on sports. Try to make it more like Maxim.”
Entrepreneur thinks about protesting, but then decides it’s better to publish a watered down version than no version at all. And Geek Monthly is born.
I order my comics through a service, and this magazine was a new offering from them, so I decided to give it a chance, and ordered the first issue. It took me all of an hour or two to read through it, and I was pretty much disappointed the whole time. Although it claims to be a magazine by geeks for geeks that celebrates geek culture. I’ve always considered myself a geek (I am an electrical engineer, I collect comics, I’ve memorized and can quote large chunks of Monty Python and The Simpsons, I make it a point of honor to complete every videogame I buy, and am something of a trivia master), so I figured I’m its prime demographic.
Yet this magazine did nothing for me- it broke no new ground, nor did its articles ever really convey the essence of geekdom. Here are some examples of articles in this issue: “Cool websites,” “Trek for Dummies- 10 Essential Episodes of the Original Series,” “A Defense of Woody Allen,” a fashion spread set in an arcade, and the obligatory comic book, movie and video game reviews. Are there any real geeks out there who have not heard about superdickery.com? Or who need someone to tell them which episodes of Star Trek to watch?
The articles themselves are pretty shallow- one is a two-pager in which the author goes to the University of Florida and asks students what their definition of a geek is. Surprisingly, it seems most people consider geeks to be people with no social skills or fashion sense, and who like things that the cool kids don’t. Wow! Penetrating insights there.
Frankly, given the shallowness of the writing, and the subject matter, it seems as if the magazine is Maxim or Stuff without the women (although it does have a sidebar titled “The Top 5 sci-fi bellies,” featuring luminaries like Princess Leia in the slave suit.). (And the cover of issue 2 features Scarlett Johannsen and her cleavage, so it seems the mag’s probably going to be a lot more Stuff-like real soon.)
I’m not sure who this magazine is truly meant for- it seems to be aimed at people who want to be geeks, but need to ease themselves into it. (Sort of like how American Idol is for people who want to listen to rock, but are a little afraid of actually, you know, rocking out.) Are there people out there who are worried they’re not geeky enough?
Maybe in the pre-internet days, when there were small pockets of geekdom across the land that had no good ways to communicate with each other to create a geek nation this would have been helpful. It would have let the geeks know there were others like them with the same interests, and could helped them expand their own horizons. But anyone with internet access already knows Superman is a dick, or that there is a new Battlestar Galactica on TV, or “Spock’s Brain” was an incredibly lame episode of Trek, or that HP Lovecraft created the Cthulhu Mythos.
My guess is this magazine won’t make it past issue 6. And I certainly won’t miss it when it’s gone.