Although I am but young in years, I seem to remember an age where official magazines were all the rage when it came to certain forms of entertainment. For my brother and I, it was all about Nintendo Power, the official magazine about all things related to the video games we loved to play. It was where we went to figure out how to get through that tricky dungeon, or see a first look at an upcoming game.
And then the internet happened.
My experience as a fan of great television has taken place entirely within the internet age, and there is no question that in recent years such fandom has emerged in an extremely unique fashion. Message boards, blogs and social networking have fundamentally altered the level of interaction we have with our favourite shows. Within hours of them airing, we are online chatting with other fans, or even reading blogs or websites run by the show’s producers. It is perhaps unsurprising then, considering how engrossed I am in that community, that I was wholly ignorant to the fact that Titan Magazines has been creating TV-focused magazines for a number of years.
The latest two entrants into their lineup are Heroes and Supernatural. While Heroes is an addition to be expected, I want to focus upon Supernatural. In perusing my copy of the magazine, I think back to the time I’ve spent interacting with their fan community, which is certainly both extremely pleasant and extremely enthusiastic. Unlike Heroes, or other shows with magazines like Grey’s Anatomy or Lost, Supernatural is not one of the top shows on television. However, Warner Bros. Television has a lot of faith in the series, and its fans, and this magazine certainly reflects that.
[To Subscribe to the Supernatural Magazine, CLICK HERE]
There are a lot of reasons why this is an extremely positive step forward: not only for Supernatural’s fan community, but also for other fan communities for low-rated but highly-loved series like Jericho or Gossip Girl.
I don’t actually watch Supernatural, but I certainly think that this magazine reflects a significant step in the right direction when it comes to interacting with fans in ways other than just internet chatter. Yes, the magazine features your requisite magazine staples: interviews with the cast, a poster featuring both the show’s leads (Jensen Ackles and Jarde Padalecki) and the central Chevy Impala, and everything else you might expect. And, to be honest, I find its graphic design to be sensory overload, and nearly unreadable at points – this is, however, not unlike a lot of magazines. However, what’s changed in the days since official magazines became old hat is that fans are smarter: we know who produces the show, we know who directs the show, and we have a constant stream of rumour and information at our fingertips.
There’s no question that the Supernatural magazine is not a revelation: similar content is available online, and hardcore fans might not find anything overly new within its pages. But, for me, it isn’t about this magazine breaking new ground but rather remaining aware of what the internet has done to fan movements. I talk a lot about how blogs and new media are a great way for shows to expand and serve their fan bases, but there is something kind of cool about having a lot of these things in print form, collected into one place for you to peruse while spending some quality time in the living room (or bathroom, let’s be honest).
The Magazine isn’t terribly interactive: a Letters section, for example, seems redundant when the answers to the questions are so easily accessible by visiting any number of Supernatural message boards or fan sites. But, I think it makes up with it purely for its breadth of content. There are interviews with Eric Kripke, the show’s executive producer/creator, along with Director Kim Manners as well as the show’s Special Effects Supervisor. There’s interviews with two of the show’s female recurring players (Alona Tal and Katie Cassidy), episode analysis and even a summary of the story thus far – in short, this is a fairly comprehensive view into the series.
I like the commitment that this magazine represents, because it is a validation of the work done by the millions of Supernatural fans out there. This group might be small (The show garners roughly 3 Million viewers a week), but it is clear that their efforts have been reflected by the people at Titan Magazines and at Warner Bros. Television. I would bet a great deal of money that the efforts fans have made online to embrace this show’s characters and storylines are the justification for this effort, along with the novelizations and other merchandising that has made it to store shelves.
I also think that this is something which other studios and fan bases should be striving for. While I don’t think that a fan effort needs to be found in print media to be legitimate, I think it signals a step in the right direction. I was admittedly afraid that this magazine would be nothing but Tiger Beat, with gossip and rumours about the show’s central “heartthrobs.” However, it is much more than that, and fans of shows like CBS’ Jericho or The CW’s Gossip Girl could benefit from similar initiatives. Television may just be entertainment, but dedicated fans have shown that they want more from their favourite shows than just what we see for 43 minutes each week.
And the Supernatural Magazine, at the very least, will add an extra hour or two worth of reading, and some visual stimulation to go with it, every few months. While I might not be picking up a subscription myself, the magazine has certainly made it more likely that I’ll be subscribing to the series itself once I have a spare moment to catch up on the DVDs…maybe next season, Supernatural fans.