THE BASEMENT BACK IN TIME: Mark Chorvinsky’s Strange Magazine

I first became aware of Strange Magazine with issue number three from January of 1988. I was immediately hooked and subscribed to the quarterly magazine, in addition to purchasing the first two issues. In all, there were twenty print issues produced, ending in December of 1998. This is one of those magazines that should still be going strong today, even though it still has an online presence.

Mark Chorvinsky was a stage magician, entrepreneur, filmmaker and writer, but he was best known as the founder, editor and publisher of Strange Magazine and the website. His entire life had been devoted to the strange, anomalous, and unusual. His interests were wide-ranging, and included studies of the historical Merlin, stage magic, fantastic movies, cinematic special effects, and the entire fortean field. He was one of the leading investigators of strange phenomena, and often marshaled the resources of a network of friends and associates all over the world.

Chorvinsky researched and wrote about a broad array of fortean topics, from phantom dogs and the alien qualities of Venus Flytraps to sightings of the grim reaper, the Loch Ness Monster and mysterious blobs. Chorvinsky was known for his in-depth, and sometimes controversial, investigations. Examples include his discovery of the facts behind the continuing enigma of the often-remembered but impossible-to-find Thunderbird Photo, his analyses of the methods of the Cornish wizard “Doc” Shiels, and his investigation of Ray Wallace’s connection to Bigfoot, as well as John Chambers” possible fabrication of the monster suit in the case.

Mark Chorvinsky was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, which took his life the following year on July 16, 2005.

Strange Magazine was very influential on me and how my life developed. Though I have always had an interest in UFOs and the paranormal, it was Mark Chorvinsky that opened my eyes to cryptids. Sure, I knew about different cryptids like Bigfoot and the Jersey Devil, but it was here that I learned about Dog Men, Lizard Men, and dinosaurs that may still be living, even today. This magazine also introduced me to one of my favorite cryptid authors, Loren Coleman.

The stories were always well-researched and in some of the series, as in the “Thunderbird Photo Investigation,” they would leave you hanging, impatiently waiting for the next issue. One thing that never changed was the quality of the magazine, both in the writing and in the actual magazine itself. Before it ended with issue twenty, the magazine was very slick in appearance with glossy pages, a step up from the paper used when the magazine started.

To me, this magazine is timeless. The stories in there are just as pertinent today as they were when they were originally published. In some cases, the investigations by Mark Chorvinsky were highly influential on today’s investigators. Though no longer a print magazine, three more issues were made available online at the Strange Magazine website. There is a lot of information on the website, and you can also buy some of the original print back issues. I cannot tell if the website is updated at all, but like the print magazines, the information is timeless and well worth the look.

I have such great memories of this magazine, and the excitement of reading each new issue cover-to-cover. Recently, I brought my original twenty-issue collection out of storage and will be starting to re-read them once again as I did over 30 years ago. Being as nostalgic as I am, I know this is going to be a great ride!

Don’t forget to read other entries in my BASEMENT BACK IN TIME series!

~David Albaugh

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