Dismayed. That’s just about the only word I can use to label my feelings regarding the recent news of the demise of Innsmouth Magazine. Dismayed, depressed, and yeah, even a little distraught. (I know it’s nothing to do with anything, but I suffer a little from the superstitious fear that it was the inclusion of my own story, Turbulence, in their recent “wings” themed issue that jinx’d the publication. I know it’s not me; it’s stupid to think it was. I know. But still. Dismayed.) Because folks? Folks, this was one of the good ones. One of the rare cool ones. Of the few weird fiction magazines out there, Innsmouth should have had a better readership, better sales, a bigger following.
A bit of an aside, here: How much does the time and ability to promote – via social media and otherwise – a publication factor into the life and death of that publication? Who can say with any certainty? The fact is, the editors of Innsmouth Mag, like every one of us, have lives, families, and only 24 hours in the day in which to prioritize all their many obligations. With that in mind, it’s easy to understand how a magazine can quickly find itself at the bottom of a pile of Important Things That Need Doing. I contemplate putting the brakes to this little charade-train of mine on the daily, and I don’t do a fraction of the kind of work Silvia and Paula and the IFP gang do. Did.
So, could Innsmouth have had a larger on-line presence? Better promotion? Probably. But then, no one actually needs another non-stop-Lovecraftian-video-chat-&-ice-cream-social-media-circle-jerk, do they? No one needs it, and a publication – certainly a publication of this level of excellence – shouldn’t have to lower itself to that level, devote that kind of time to, say, posting every tentacled thing that comes down the intertubes for the hyuk-harvest they’ll get from their followers. Innsmouth didn’t hold your hand and tell you you were special for liking them. The mag stood on its own merits, and should have survived based on those merits, but there it is. It was the better magazine, but these are not the times for better magazines, maybe.
I mean, OK, just on the surface level, Innsmouth was great (I am already using the past tense here and it pains me) … look at the small sampling of cover designs here!
This is some refined, understated, elegant design, which carried over into the interiors as well. The illustrators chosen were top-notch, and the text, font, and logo decisions were obviously laboured over. The best part? The way these covers don’t scream I’M A WEIRD MAG ABOUT LOVECRAFT n TENTACLES BUY ME! Even though it often was. That’s class.
And speaking of the magazine’s interior, the stories… they were diverse. Original. Beautiful. And actually interesting. The first issue I got a hold of was #5 (October 2010) and bang! first shot out of the box it’s a story by Paul Jessup, The Night We Burned Our Hearts Out, and it was apocalyptic and poetic and chock fulla weird mystery with no easy answers offered and I loved the hell out of it. First story. Bought all the back issues when I was done with #5. And with the very rarest of exceptions, that has been my reading experience with Innsmouth Magazine: quality stories and poetry from all over, from all manner of writers that I would not have been exposed to otherwise. Innsmouth’s editors made consistently cool choices in the weird fiction they published. (In my own small experience submitting my fiction to them, I found Silvia and Paula to be professional, timely, and just generally excellent in their interactions with me. Never once did I walk away from a rejection with a bad taste in my mouth. That’s something.) Hell, I first read Daniel Jose Older in Innsmouth. Anyway. Which is all to say that Innsmouth Magazine was not a fanzine or, worse, a fan-service zine. It didn’t pander or take the easy way out with pastiche. It was literary, goddamnit, in all the good ways (ways I imagine Lovecraft would have approved of, bless his elitist old heart). And it should have lived, should have made some decent coin, at least enough to stay afloat. I’m very sorry to see it go.
All’s not lost, though. I am happy, at least, that Innsmouth Free Press itself will continue to provide online content (reviews and regular columns) and release their excellent anthologies into the future. I’ve only just learned that they will be collecting the Lovecraftian stories of Nick Mamatas in an upcoming antho, The Nickronomicon. Ladies, I’d pre-order that thing now if you had the link ready.
Which is all to say… which is all to say… aww hell. Y’know what? Support the stuff you like, readers. That’s the take-away here. Or… wait. Unless you only like garbage. Then you should probably keep your mouth shut. Just saying. And isn’t that the nub of the problem here? I liked Innsmouth Magazine. I loved it. Loved reading it, loved submitting to it, loved getting printed (finally!) in it, but did I tell enough people? Clearly not. Honestly, I’ve never had a publication I like die, hence this mournful post. Probably because I haven’t liked anything enough before. I liked Innsmouth Magazine and should have said so more often, to more people. NEVER AGAIN.
Support the stuff that you like, that you love. Tell people about it, get them to buy it, buy it for them if they’re resistant for whatever reason. There’s not enough of the good stuff out there, and the stuff that is out there, like Innsmouth Magazine, is getting lost in the wilderness of crap. There’s one more issue of it coming, #15, in the spring. Buy that one, at least.
R.I.P. Innsmouth Magazine. Thanks for doing such a great job and for existing as long as you did, and good luck and good readership in the future to all involved.