Mag Review: Geek
Issue 2, 96 pages, $5.99
Geek is cool. No, really--in an "I'm so uncool I'm cool" kind of way. It doesn't take an avid gamer or Harry Potter fanatic to appreciate Geek's passion for comic books and robots, and I found it easy for even a person as nerd-ignorant as myself to flip through Geek's pages.
Based on the website geekmonthly.com, which houses more articles and geek-related news than the magazine itself, Geek has its roots appropriately fixed in technology. Offering podcasts, blogs, reviews, and sneak peeks at Geek magazine content, the website addresses the same nerdy pastimes via an even nerdier medium. But unlike the sparse, simple website, the print version of Geek is colorful and well-organized, aiming for visual appeal in ways that the website does not. Others might argue that it's the perfectly symmetrical face of Kristen Bell, star of television hit Veronica Mars, that gives Issue 2 its allure. Either way, the point is clear: get it in print.
If Bell's appearance on the cover of a magazine called "geek" seems slightly oxymoronic, check out the interview on page 40; contributor Jeff Renaud manages to bring out the geeky side of Bell with wild success. "I have been a game freak for awhile," Kristen admits, "and I had a phase where I would not come out of my room and I just solely played Sonic the Hedgehog for like a year. I would actually dream in Sonic the Hedgehog at one point."
And Veronica Mars is not the only bit of popular media that makes it into Geek. Pan's Labyrinth, Children of Men, and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer are featured prominently between pages of miscellaneous geek-related articles, getting thumbs-ups from both Geek writers and myself. This mag has already gotten on my good side--not only does it look fondly upon two of my favorite movies from 2006, it explores their "geeky" aspects from the perspective of avid sci-fi fans and techies, giving the articles an unconventional edge.
There were a couple of pages in Geek that didn't sit quite well with me. "The Big List," or "108 things that rule," seemed more like a way to fill up eight pages than a truly useful guide as to what makes life wonderful. But the caption tells me otherwise; apparently, the list is a way for writers to "use our superpowers constructively for once and compile a titanic list of everything we find fascinating, alluring, and utterly cool in the world, and then present it to our readers for their pure astonishment." Right.
But such an awkward section highlighted what I liked best about Geek--its integrity. The magazine is unabashedly nerdy. It puts geekdom in a friendly, approachable package, but by no means pretends to be something it's not. Geek goes beyond the movie reviews and delves deeply into hardcore geek matter: Battlestar Galactica, internet fanfic, World of Warcraft, the newest in Star Wars figurines. Naturally, the advertisements are on a similar track: Dungeons & Dragons, up-and-coming underground sci-fi thrillers, newly-released Superman DVDs.
For a non-gamer and stranger to its world, the honesty with which Geek presents its content makes me appreciate the magazine all the more. There are no attempts at "trendification," so to speak, nor do its writers try to hide the fact that they are utterly obsessed with technology and its ever-developing gadgets. I found the "Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD" feature immensely informative, giving the same facts as would Consumer Reports, but with a little more zest. Ditto for the comparison between "gaming's newest big three": Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation3, and GameMate Vol. 5. And can we talk about the adorable new limited-edition Chewbacca-shaped USB flash drive? I think I may be a convert.