The Magazine of the SF/F Field
1. I'm currently a subscriber to LOCUS MAGAZINE. Have been for the last several years.
2. The people that publish LOCUS are amongst my favorites in this business. They're fun, smart, insightful, and amongst the hardest-working folks in our field.
3. They've had a tough year with the death of LOCUS founder Charles N. Brown. It's a credit to Liza, Amelia, Kirsten, Tim and everyone over there that the magazine has not missed a beat. LOCUS is clearly in the best hands possible.
4. Here's what bothers me though -- if LOCUS is indeed the magazine of our field (the sf/f field), then why do virtually all of its regular interviews focus on writers? Doesn't "the field" encompass more than just writers? What about illustrators, editors, and art directors as well? Aren't their processes and opinions also an integral part of what advances our field? And if so, then why don't we see more interviews with those folks in LOCUS? In the last decade, to the best of my recollection, the only illustrators interviewed for LOCUS are Shaun Tan, Bob Eggleton, and Kinuko Craft. If LOCUS runs two full-length interviews per issue, then that's 240 interviews over a decade, and only three artists (or so) represented in the last ten years. Fair to say that those are three excellent choices, but three out of 240 possible interviews is a staggeringly low figure, to say the least.
5. In fairness, I've spoken to editor-in-chief Liza Trombi twice this year about this very subject, and without disclosing private details, I think it's fair to say that LOCUS is in a tough position. Think about this question from their standpoint -- they're a business, and quite frankly, these tough financial times aren't easy for ANY print magazine business. Change is especially risky right now. LOCUS only has so many pages and adding page count is expensive, if not prohibitively so. They're used to being a writer-centric magazine and have been lauded for it time after time (see their 29 Hugo Awards). Under those circumstances, I think I can understand their position to "hold the line" and not change their formula. At the same time, they are a print magazine that (like all print magazines) is always looking to increase its subscription base, especially in these challenging times.
6. Thus my question -- if LOCUS were to publish more full-length interviews with illustrators, editors, and art directors in addition to their already-outstanding writer interviews, would they diminish their base? Or possibly grow it?
7. Here's another question -- I wonder if perhaps LOCUS is completely justified to continue as they have (except perhaps change their masthead to "The Magazine of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer"). Perhaps I've been slow to understand that I'm NOT the audience for this mag because I'm not a writer? Perhaps their magazine is purely a magazine about the sf/f writer and for the fans of those writers, and that's the way it always has been and should be? Maybe LOCUS and I disagree that the art of sf/f is a significant part of "the field" and therefore of genuine interview interest to its readers? If so, then I'd have no problem wishing them continued success, and subscribing instead to another magazine like ImagineFX, where I would learn more about my sf/f art peers and their craft, in the same way that writers learn the same from LOCUS' interviews.
Last thought -- LOCUS doesn't exist to make artists, editors, or art directors happy. They're a business, and if indeed their audience doesn't want interview coverage of those communities, I'm fine with that. But I'm curious to hear people say that's true or not. For LOCUS' sake, please keep comments productive here. If you're getting ready to launch slings and arrows at them, don't even think about it. I don't have time for that. This post is not about that. For the time being though -- I'm just curious if I'm alone in my observations. Remember -- it's their magazine. They're the ones doing the heavy lifting. :)