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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

And Boom Goes The Dynamite...Magazine

Sometimes a memory can be triggered just out of the blue.  Something that you never would have expected to pop into your head, or something that you forgot about for years.  All of a sudden, someone will bring it up in conversation, and the memories come flooding back.

That's what happened to me last week.  Ironically enough, it was a previous blog entry that inspired this memory.

It was last week.  August 16, to be exact.  That was the week that I posted my blog on the advertisements on the back of comic books where I included several examples of such ads.  I posted the link to this blog on my own personal Facebook page, where people on my friends list commented on how those ads brought back so many memories.

The discussion then prompted a few of my friends to post images of their own ads from their own collections, and it turned out to be a really great chat.  I gotta say that it's really great that this little blog is getting more and more interest from all of you.  I only started this venture three months ago, and it is thrilling to me to see so many people continue to check it out, and for that I thank you all!

Somehow along the posting of ads on my Facebook page, we started discussing those Scholastic Book Clubs and Book Fairs, which were a must do in my school years.  I can still remember the excitement that I felt when I got the order forms for the book club.  We'd hand in our orders to the teacher, and within four to six weeks, we would have some brand new books to read.  The Scholastic Book Clubs and Book Fairs were one of the main sources of  my childhood book collection over the years, and I always looked forward to getting even more books.

So, from there, the discussion of the book club spurned into books that we used to get from there, and one person brought up a magazine that they used to order from the club, and it shocked me, because I remember ordering and reading those magazines myself.

In fact, it inspired me to talk about one of these magazines in the comments section.  I had remembered the front cover almost instantly.  It was my sister's magazine back in the days when she attended grade school.  The front cover had a picture of Facts Of Life star Kim Fields holding a bouquet of balloons.  The inside of the magazine had the cover story, featuring an interview with the young star, as well as puzzles, games, stories, and posters.  It really was a magazine devoted to young children who grew up in the 1980s.

And here's the cover below!

Dynamite Magazine.  An institution in Scholastic Book Clubs for several years, the magazine was just one of the many magazines that catered to grade school children.  And it was a magazine that featured a ton of pop culture references, much like this blog.

No wonder I have such fond memories of this magazine!

I only ever had two issues of Dynamite Magazine.  I had the above one, plus one with the Simpsons on the front cover.  But there were a total of 165 issues of the publication released between 1974 and 1992.  Clearly, it was a publication that a lot of people read and enjoyed over the years.  It's a magazine that's even older than I am.  Here's the Dynamite cover from the month I was born in, May 1981, Issue #84.

It was very easy to spot a Dynamite magazine right off the bat.  The covers were brightly coloured and usually had a celebrity on the front cover, be it real or fictional.  And it was pretty hard to mistake the distinctive logo of the magazine.  A brightly coloured script font that looked like a neon sign was definitely enough to attract anyone's attention.

But it was inside the magazine that the real explosive action took place.  There was plenty to see and do inside the pages of Dynamite magazine.

As you have seen, there usually is an article inside Dynamite that corresponds to the cover story subject.  Whether it was Fonzie, Bugs Bunny, or Kim Fields, they usually had an interview or behind the scenes coverage of a television show.  It was a really neat way to get to know what really happened on a Hollywood set, or how actors prepared for their big scenes on camera.

There were also some rather interesting features inside the magazine.

There was a section called 'Bummers'.  It was basically a cartoon page where it talked about all the bad things that could happen, such as having your pants fall down, or getting lost in a mall, or being so boring that your own cat won't listen to you.

Hey, they couldn't all be winners.

There was a magic trick page where Magic Wanda would teach us some tricks to play on our friends.  They also had spoofs of television commercials in a page called 'And Now A Word From Our Sponsors'.  They had a page called 'Hot Stuff', which featured all the newest gadgets, gimmicks, and television shows to keep a watch for.  In a section called 'Good Vibrations', kids could write in with their problems, and if their letters were selected, the Dynamite staff would try to answer them.  They even had puzzle pages starring a count named Morbida, who was present for every one.  In fact, Count Morbida became such a presence in Dynamite magazine that an entire puzzle book was released.

The fun didn't just end at the back cover of the magazine.  A lot of the time, the back cover WAS fun.  Most of the back covers of the magazine featured some fun activity.  Usually a puzzle was present, but sometimes they featured bookmarks, postcards, mobiles...

You could even build your own box of fictional cereal!

As the magazine pressed on, a few changes were made to the magazine.  The colour pages decreased, and the magazine was reduced to publishing only six months a year, instead of every month, as it had been for the first ten years of the publication.  Some changes included the magazine features.  In the later years, a man by the name of Jovial Bob Stein began to write spooky short stories for the magazine, and if that last name sounds familiar in the child horror genre, it's for good reason.  You may not recognize the name Jovial Bob Stein, but I imagine a lot of you know R.L. Stein.  The Jovial Bob pen name was the name he used while he worked for Dynamite (his wife Jane was the long-serving editor of Dynamite for many years).  R.L. Stein would later go on to create the very successful Goosebumps series.

It's a real shame that the kids of today won't get to experience what we kids of the 1980s did in regards to Dynamite.  The cover above is the issue that featured singer/American Idol judge Paula Abdul.  This would be one of the last issues of Dynamite published (the last one was released in the spring of 1992).  There's a part of me that kind of wishes that they would bring the magazine back, but in a world where we can get all of our articles through the Internet and Iphones, it's hard to predict whether Dynamite magazine could thrive in 2011.

What do you think?  Do you think Dynamite Magazine could survive today?  Let me know your thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. Love to read Dynamite magazines. I still have them since 1977.