The Magic Bullet theory of Communications is a One-Way only model, fully consistent with the era of its currency. In the 1960s and 1970s, interactive media had yet to emerge from the laboratory. Instead, the dominant organs for mass communication were Television, Radio, Movies and Print. Moreover, most of the advertising (messages) of the time was produced and delivered without the benefit of market research. Thus, the bullets went largely uncalibrated.
As focus group testing, questionnaires, and other methods of marketing effectiveness testing came into widespread use; and as more interactive forms of media (e.g.: internet, radio call-in shows, etc.) became available, the Magic Bullet theory of Communication was replaced by a variety of other, more instrumental models.
The Magic Bullet magazine was a discrete element in a much larger movement of the time. In America and throughout the world, people were learning to use the photocopy process as a means of self-publication. The late 1970s saw the flowering of the "Mail Art" movement as an alternative to the structures and harsh judgements of an Art establishment that regarded cheaply produced reproductions as, if not an actual threat, then certainly an un-aesthetic aberration. By using the public mail as a distribution medium, mail-artists were able to reach out directly to their publics, often reaching a much wider audience than mere gallery exhibits ever could.
Interestingly, the mail-art phenomenon preceded, and provided the model for, the freeware/shareware distribution method for software. Likewise, the "xero-mag" -- of which the Magic Bullet was an instance -- was the immediate precursor to the incipient field of desktop publishing. It's important to remember, here, that the Magic Bullet, and most Mail Art in general, was not typeset. Text was either produced on typewriters, or had to be hand set using one of a variety of rub-on methods. The computer type "font" had yet to appear.
Mr. Dickinson had recently acquired one of the new Apple Macintosh computers for home use and began using it to produce graphic elements for the new Magic Bullet Press. To this, Mr. Gehman soon added colorful output from the even newer Commodore Amiga computer, and the results started to take the Magic Bullet magazine in whole new directions. During this period, as the publication moved from xerographic process to photo-offset, the Magic Bullet Press paced, often leading, the wider field of computer-assisted publishing. The very first issue of Magic Bullet from Magic Bullet Press (Jan 1, 1986) used mechanical color separation techniques for its cover. The March/April 1987 issue featured a centerspread containing the first-ever 4 color process separation attempted with desktop computers.
In 1986, Magic Bullet Press commissioned poet and author Remington Murphy to compile stories from Magic Bullet contributers to be published in a book-length issue. This was to be the Magic Bullet Science Fiction Anthology for 1987. Editorial delays and limited production capabilities kept the book from appearing until 1988, however. The finished book, 162 pages, contained poetry, short-stories, comic strips and photographs. It was typset, printed, collated and perfect-bound, all by hand, by Magic Bullet, chiefly Mr. Dickinson and friends.
The Magic Bullet Press disbanded in 1988. Problems of distribution and lack of profitability made it impossible to continue publishing magazines out of pocket. The final edition of Magic Bullet includes the appeal: "Magic Bullet, a lesson in deficit spending, is published six times a year. Send a SASE w/39 cents postage for your free copy."
Mail Art References:
History of Mail Art
Mail Art Gallery
Mail Art Links
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