Monday 18 May 2015

1995: CULT TIMES MAGAZINE Issue 1 (Visual Imagination)

From October 1995: the first issue of Visual Imagination's CULT TIMES magazine.

This was a pretty nifty idea (although not well executed) that took advantage of deregulation of TV listings, the abundance of satellite channels and the tons of new and old cult fare they used to pad their schedules.

The bulk of each issue was devoted to a comprehensive run down of any programme deemed "cult" on satellite TV for the month ahead, presented (with a little more detail) in the style of the RADIO and TV TIMES as well as the copious number of dedicated satellite TV listings magazines from the pre-EPG era.  

The flaw with the plan was, however, that satellite and cable TV penetration was still pretty low (making this, for many, more of a what-I-would-watch-if-I-could/ what-can-I-get-my-mate-to-tape guide) and the terrestrial channels (who were also stuffing their off-peak schedules with SF/ Fantasy shows) still only released their schedules a week ahead of TX, forcing the editors to assume ongoing series would continue as planned (always a dangerous assumption) and completely omitting any premieres, one-offs or schedule changes that the Press Office had neglected to mention in adavance.

Looking at these listings now, it's obvious how much better TV was in the mid-Nineties.  Nostalgia alert.  The schedules seem to be packed with cheap-to-show Star Age series which have now largely been banished to the DVD shelves.  

The rest of the magazine always looked like it was cobbled together on a wet Wednesday afternoon with indecent haste.  Visual Imagination's titles were often more style (read: big glossy stills) than substance but the feature material herein was always conspicuously sleight with the minimum of information presented in the largest possible font.

The cover displays North American prices but overseas readers would have found CT next-to-useless. 

As with all of the VI line, it subsequently became obsessed with THE X-FILES ans seemed to load each issue with at least one photo-heavy article (and, ideally, the cover as well).

The last issue featured on Visual Imagination's website (which is, surprisingly, still running even through the company collapsed in 2009) is issue 159, covering December 2008. 


  1. I'm not sure I would describe their site as ' still running ' although there is a link to a new film review site.

    Visual Imagination's entire line of mags came to an abrupt end back in 2008-09, apparently due to a new found ecological conscience on the publishers part. Even the mags had bizarre ads along the lines of

    ' look at all the trees you will save if you get the online version ! "

    I remember one of the staff e-mailed to tell me they would no longer be publishing print magazines. He almost seemed embarrassed.

    At least STARBURST has returned since albeit under a new publisher although I still prefer the old format.

    1. I was surprised that, for a defunct publisher, no one had turned off (or simply allowed to wither and die) the VI website. I've no idea if it's still maintained and updated.

      I remember reading at the time that VI's accountant had died (massive apologies now if this was not the case) and without his/ her knowledge of where the cash was stashed, the whole shebang ran out of dosh.

      It was certainly my impression that they were getting more and more desperate in the final months. TV ZONE, the only one of their titles that i bought regularly, seemed to become ever more sporadic and the contents/ layouts ever more slapdash.

      I also recall that they had a trick (and I forget the details) to repackaging one magazine and passing if off as another one... thus encouraging the unobservant to inadvertently double-dip. I always suspected they interviewed someone once and then recycled the material, or parts of it, across numerous titles but passing off old-as-new seemed to be taking it too far.

      I'm always highly dubious when any magazine abandons print. From the demise of HERO ILLUSTRATED in 1996 onwards, it had never seemed to amount to long-term success in the digital sphere.

      I'm rather liking the new STARBURST. I was surprised to see it return but it's become a regular read ever since.

  2. wow where on earth did you read that ? Still cant believe that such an expansive line shuttered so abruptly. Yes its always fairly obvious when a mag is going downhill, the dreaded ' new look ' or ' change in format ' being two such signs. There did seem to be a repetition of material in the later issues.

    Lets face it, there is NO substitute for a print mag. The worst offender was DREAMWATCH, a once great magazine which by the time it folded seemed a pale shadow of its former self. The editor tried desperately to make it sound good by touting " we are regenerating into a website ! "

    In reality , this amounted to a feeble looking webpage and even that disappeared soon after. Even the mighty STARLOG suffered a similar fate right down to the final indignity of having its website removed due to ' non payment of fees. '

    STARBURST is quite unique in its resurrection. Its never been easy to find here but since my local newsagents changed owners, they have been getting more mags than ever before and one of them is STARBURST. Hurrah !

    1. I think I read it on one of the forums around the time of the closure. The source might not have been reliable which is why I felt I had to say it could be widely inaccurate. I suspect economic reality was catching-up with VI for a while as the editorial budgets were obviously being squeezed.


    Perhaps this falls outside the remit of starlogged but it ties in with my previous post above. I stumbled upon this by chance but in fact I had suspected something was wrong when the new issue failed to appear in the shops :

    1. I must admit that I have never read an issue of LOADED (although they did issue a book of "British Heroes", which I assume compiled material from the magazine, that was jolly good).

      I know that it's been on borrowed time for the last few years... I've read several previous announcements of its impending demise as it shifted publishers but it sounds like, this time, they have run out of time.

      I guess they have been undone by a change in public taste and the slow decline of magazines themselves. I know NUTS shuttered a year-or-so ago... presumably because you can find similar material (Boobs!) online... for free!


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