Cinefantastique was a magazine, operating out of Forrest Park, Illinois, devoted to television and film productions in the horror, fantasy and science fiction genres, including Star Trek. It started out as a fanzine in 1967, under the stewardship of Frederic S. Clarke. Under his auspices, it soon developed into a high-quality critical review magazine, relaunched and with a re-started numbering from 1970 onward, with in-depth articles about the genre. The high quality was reflected in the way the magazine was published, being printed on high gloss paper and featuring full-color interior work, with advertising kept to a minimum and those limited to related products. Over time, a more journalistic approach was introduced as a new element in the formula. Reporters were sent out to get firsthand information of the people involved in the genre productions. Another element was introduced in 1977, with the publication of the first double issue covering Star Wars, heralding the advent of theme numbers where editors were able to go in-depth into specific productions in the genre. Double issues became regular occurrences of Cinefantastique. Up until then, the formula was comparable to the contemporary Starlog magazine. The magazine had a sister publication, Femme Fatales, which featured interviews with Nana Visitor, Terry Farrell, Chase Masterson, Jeri Ryan, Roxann Dawson, Jennifer Lien, and female Star Trek guest stars.
In 2000, founder and chief editor Clarke committed suicide. After his death, perceived quality of the magazine in both content and product (including those with Star Trek contents, as the last few issues covering the subject had not the depth and the wealth of detail that the previous outings had) started to wane noticeably, and readership began to decline rapidly, before the magazine ceased publication in 2002.
Mark A. Altman, one of the premier reporters of the magazine, having left the magazine previously, acquired publishing rights with Mark Gottwald and relaunched it under the new title CFQ in 2003. Returning the publication to its original formula of being a critical review magazine, they were unable to regain the popularity it originally had in its heydays and publication ceased in 2006, after twenty-five issues. The contents of the Cinefantastique archives were sold off in the Profiles in HistoryHollywood Auction 24 of 31 March2006, its unique collection, especially the behind-the-scenes pictorial records, essentially lost for posterity.
Cinefantastique relaunched as a webzine in August 2007, called Cinefantastique Online, under the supervision of the magazine's former West Coast Editor, Steve Biodrowski.
In 2009, Cinefantastique was purchased by and is now a wholly owned trademark of Fourth Castle Micromedia, a New York-based company owned by genre marketing veteran Joe Sena. Fourth Castle is best known for their EMCE Toys brand, whose first lines of "Retro Cloth" 8" action figures were reproductions of classic Mego toys. Fourth Castle produced a one-shot, "Cinefantastique Presents The Ultimate Guide To Zombies" in 2012. The magazine was slated for relaunch in 2015, but this has not come to fruition as of 2020. Biodrowski continues to run Cinefantastique Online and Dan Persons produces podcasts for the publication.
In 1990, Star Trek: The Next Generation became the first television show to be covered in an episode guide issue. The set-up differed in that the guide was beefed out with behind-the-scenes articles. The formula was very well received by readers and was later expanded to double issue theme numbers and applied to other popular genre television series of the time, like The X-Files and Babylon 5. Mark Altman, Dale Kutzera and Anna Kaplan became the premiere reporters on Star Trek. While not as specialized as its contemporaries American Cinematographer and Cinefex, Cinefantastique covered a wider range of behind-the-scenes aspects of productions, which, however, gave a more complete picture of the production of the Star Trek spin-off television series than any of the the contemporary "official" Starlog Press television series magazines. At the time of publication, particularly during the years 1990-2000, Cinefantastique became, therefore, the premier source of contemporary background information on the production of the television series, its two contemporaries concentrating on the film features, and has arguably remained so to this date, especially where Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager are concerned. Unlike other, later and often somewhat filtered, even redacted, publications, including officially licensed reference books or commentaries on home video releases, Cinefantastique's strength lay in the fact that production staffers of the television series proffered insights about their contributions, while their memories were still fresh, having been interviewed hot on the heels after, or even during, their involvement in a particular season. Cinefantastique's articles were accompanied by behind-the-scenes photographs, taken on personal title by Cinefantastique staff photographers and/or provided by production staffers themselves (therefore not part of Paramount's licensing department), virtually unseen afterwards. Nor are any of these, or any other Cinefantastique artwork, likely to be seen ever again, as the magazine's archive has ceased to exist after the print publication folded in 2006, with much of its contents being sold in the aforementioned auction held that year.
Anna Kaplan cited her interviews about the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" as an example of the magazine's strength, commenting, "Only in CFQ could I have written complete coverage of 'Trials and Tribble-ations' Deep Space Nine's homage to classic Trek on its 30th anniversary. I talked to all the writer-producers and many of the people behind and in front of the camera who contributed to that remarkable episode. David Hines also interviewed David Gerrold, who wrote the original series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles". The November 1997 CFQ issue devoted 18 pages to that one episode. None of the other genre publications, not even official Star Trek magazines, provided that kind of coverage." (X)
Coverage of the film features Star Trek Generations through Star Trek: Insurrection was not as exhaustive as the television series or the earlier films, due to the fact that these articles, essentially teasers, were published prior to those film releases, meaning that what information could be divulged was restricted out of necessity. The heavy Star Trek coverage during the late 1980s and 1990s did alienate some of the long-time readership as well as some of the writing staff, though former staff writer Dan Scapperotti (who had done a piece on Leonard Nimoy for his directorial Star Trek debut, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock) has mused years later, "I was never terribly interested in Star Trek, but those issues paid the bills. Every year you had to come out with [at least] one, because they were really hot issues. Looking back twenty years later, that's interesting stuff."(X)
After Kaplan, with her colleague Sue Aram, had managed to churn out the last (toned-down) Star Trek: Voyager articles for its season 7, the magazine went more or less dark on Star Trek for three years, until an article written by Jeff Bond (at that time serving as the magazine's executive editor) for its short-lived CFQ latter-day iteration, concerning itself with the last season of Star Trek: Enterprise. His article turned out to be the only in-depth one on Enterprise in particular, and the very last Star Trek-themed article in general, to be featured in the hitherto Star Trek-friendly magazine – even though the magazine had been up and running again when Enterprise had been halfway through its run – before it went defunct indefinitely.
The Motion Picture, The Final Frontier, and NemesisEdit
Unlike the other Star Trek productions up to 2002 – coverage of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek Nemesis was either relatively quite limited (in the first case) or altogether non-existent (in the latter two cases). In the case of Nemesis, this was easily explained by the magazine being in the midst of its transition from Cinefantastique to CFQ, whereas The Final Frontier was conceivably passed over for its very bad reception at the time.
Yet, the first case was particularly noteworthy, as The Motion Picture did receive extensive coverage in numerous contemporary magazines such as Starlog, American Cinematographer, and Cinefex, being at the time highly anticipated. Actually, Cinefantastique had planned a theme double-issue for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and contributor Preston Neal Jones carried out extensive interviews with cast and crew for the issue, preliminary excerpts with some of whom actually being pre-published in issue 31, 1979. However, editorial problems, due to the film's last-minute completion and the extent of the draft manuscript, meant that the double-issue was never published. A later release of the publication was advertised in several issues of the magazine – Volume 10, Issue 1 (among others) featuring a full-page ad for the release, showcasing the cover art by Roger Stine – but this did never come to fruition. The completed cover art was later acquired by Daren Dochterman, having bought it as Lot 257 on 31 March2006 in the above-mentioned auction. (X)