Focusing on both science and science fiction, Omni enjoyed a long and honorable run, first published in October 1978. The print version lasted until Winter 1995, and while a digital version, initially published in 1986, continued through 1997, eventually that, too, folded due to the death of funder Kathy Keeton.
Now, the magazine, which published words by notorious writers like William S. Burroughs and Joyce Carol Oates, are finding its way back into the future via two super fans Jeremy Frommer and Rick Schwartz who have decided to publish a collection of their favorite artworks featured in the “late” publication.
We met up with Jeremy Frommer to discuss the historic magazine.
Lars Byrresen Petersen: Do you remember your first time reading Omni?
Jeremy Frommer: Yes. It was Hanukkah, late 1970’s maybe 1978. I was 10 years old and my father purchased me a subscription to the magazine. I guess at that point he accepted I was no longer interested in little league baseball.
LBP: What about it caught your interest?
JF: The magazine was a little scary—the images provoked so many questions for me and made me begin to look at science fiction and fantasy very differently than I had prior to receiving my first OMNI.
LBP: Why do you think the mix of science and science fiction was so successful on a visual level?
JF: I think it’s hard to tell someone solely through an article that their predictions of the future may actually become reality. It’s a lot easier to show them visually.
LBP: Which of the artists who contributed is your favorite and why?
JF: I have three favorites; John Burkey will forever represent the notion of unexplored galaxies. Hans Giger has forever introduced my mind to its subconscious. Rafal Olbinski challenges my intellect as only the great surrealists can.
LBP: Do you have a favorite issue?
JF: I happen to be a Star Trek Geek, as was publisher Bob Guccione. So, any issue that has ever explored Star Trek, I hold dear to my heart.
LBP: I understand that there was no archive, tell us about the journey of collecting all the 185 images?
JF: The OMNI Archives were spread out throughout the country, let alone the world. The most exciting part of the journey was meeting all of these artists, writers, and contributors to the magazine. Gaining insight into the importance of what they thought was an important part of the journey.
LBP: How would you describe omnireboot.com
JF: I’m not a huge fan of the word “archive”. Omni Reboot presents the past, but at the same time provides a contemporary viewpoint as to the direction of science, technology, fantasy, and fiction. It is only through studying the great contributions and origins of the original OMNI, that one can continue to realize its original purpose.
LBP: Did you know Kathy Keeton? If, can you tell us about her?
JF: Kathy Keeton passed in 1997 and I, unfortunately, never had a chance to meet her. I have read scores of their personal documents and reviewed thousands of the magazines layouts. Kathy was a genius, a businesswoman, but even more importantly, someone who wanted to leave her mark on the world, which she did.
LBP: I read that their first e-magazine was published in 1986, it must have been one of the precedents of e-publishing. Was this Keeton’s vision?
JF: Keeton was a forerunner in moving the magazine into the digital world. As with so many business decisions, timing plays a great part in ones success. Her desires were ahead of the capabilities that technology platforms allowed for at the time. As such, while her idea was ground-breaking, the execution ultimately did not lead to success. I hope she is proud of what we have been able to accomplish and carry on her legacy.
LBP: How did you and your partner decide to create this book and why?
JF: My partner and I have been pop culture collectors since we were 10 year old and flipping baseball cards. As successful professionals, an opportunity to publish a book like this was a one in a million shot. We both knew we had to seize the moment.
The Mind’s Eye: The Art of Omni launches June 18th with a party at The Wayfarer.