Friday, 15 July 2016


From July 1992: one of the most brazen examples of lawyer-baiting in the history of genre mags: Britain's knock-off STAR TREK magazine FINAL FRONTIER.

This monthly started out murky... and got progressively more so as the months passed. Its not really clear whether this was ever actually authorised and endorsed by Paramount. Later issues boldly proclaimed on the cover - in the spirit of teen idol fast cash mags - that it was "100% unofficial" but this and other early issues make no such jail-dodging claim.

The publisher sidestepped any reluctance by Paramount to open the studio gates to this venture by licensing (one assumes this part of the operation was at least above board) Trek related articles from STARLOG magazine. But not the officially licensed ones that Starlog Group also churned out at this time.

I didn't buy this at the time because it looked so blatantly cheap and copies seldom surface with dealers and secondhand shops. But, at some point, the supply of Starlog articles ended (by my reckoning either the publisher got caught ripping Starlog off, stopped paying a licensing fee to Starlog or Paramount got wind of this ingenious workaround and leant on the US publisher to turn off the taps) and FF coasted on page after page of glossy stills and a minimum of text.

It also continued to carry a lot of mail order advertising for Trek products sold by the publisher. I suspect this arrangement worked in the same way that the SPORT and SUNDAY SPORT newspapers did (and maybe still do) function as a vehicle for copious amounts of advertising for other adult services and products from the same company. A loss leader to generate other income.

The publisher Trident did also have a brief punt at repackaging DC Classic Trek and TNG strips for the UK market. One assumes these were officially licensed (otherwise they'd run the risking incurring the collective wrath of a Hollywood studio AND a big multi-national publisher... backed by another big Hollywood studio) although the pages looked like they had been crudely reproduced from copies of the US originals rather than from anything higher quality. As the material was contemporary then this may have been down to cost and the terms of the deal rather than better masters being unavailable.

Despite FINAL FRONTIER being pretty shamefaced it did manage to muster a fairly lengthy run, at least 26 issues through to August 1994. Distribution tended to be patchy and copies were more likely to surface in independent newsagents rather than the big chains. It must have also paved the way for Titan's definitely official Trek magazine which launched in 1995.

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