In the chapter "Rethinking Modernist Magazines: From Genre to Database" I thought their point on duration was really important but not discussed fully so I thought I would take up that duty right now. I will stray slightly from the topic of magazines but it will all be related. The authors mention how Blast only ran for two issues, and how those two issues made more of an impact than magazines that ran for many more issues: “Blast ran for only two irregular issues in 1914 and 1915, but its importance and influence were great” (51). While they don’t explicitly state this, it sounds like the authors are suggesting that in spite of its short publication the magazine is influential. I think that part of Blast’s influence is because of its length. All of their great ideas are in those first two issues, and at that, I find the first issue much stronger than the second. Considering first the covers: the difference between the bright pink-melon color and the war art. The second cover makes much less of an impression. The second issue loses the firepower that the first one has – the momentum that the blasts and blesses promote, along with the detail of the first. It is less exciting to look at the second issue, as the magazine develops from an exciting fresh new take on modernism to a more uniform magazine with regular typeface and traditional poems and writings.
For a contemporary example, this is something I think of a lot with certain television series. I normally think about the television series The Office, comparing its original version from England and the US spinoff that happened a few years later. The original British version is short, succinct, and beautiful. They ended exactly when they should have: once the plot points were tied up and when there was still more to be desired. The US version, in comparison, was a once smart, funny and touching show that, seven seasons later, has transformed into a gasping, sputtering corpse. After the third season when the show’s main story arc is completed, the writers have some good ideas but it turns kind of bad, and then it gets a lot worse after the fifth season. They should have taken a cue from their successors. And then of course there are shows like South Park that continue to develop and make cultural commentary and grow with the culture rather than becoming outrageous and stray far from the original vision.
This is why I don’t get upset when shows get cancelled because even though more episodes would be great, because those first ideas are preserved without any of the vision being lost. Like with Blast, I think that after their first issue with its explosion of ideas they had run out of steam and things to say. And though the war ended their efforts, I think it was probably an okay thing, and maybe why its influence is so strong. There are no future issues to cloud the vision of the first issues and question its motivations. Of course, maybe the magazine would have grown and developed but then it would not be this clear example of a work as it is. As the authors say: “The same journal may change drastically over the course of its life. There is a basic pattern of growth and decline, but imposed on this there are often radical shifts that are the result of changes in governance or editorial decisions” (51). I think because the magazine had no opportunity to grow and change, Blast’s two issues both create and enforce its strong vision without sacrificing beating it into the ground with multiple, repetitive issues.