Memories of Omni magazine

 Images2 Omni 7811  Images2 Omni 8207
I miss Omni magazine. It was a terrific blend of technology, science, art, fiction, futurism, and high weirdness. It definitely inspired my worldview and interests that I hope come across on BB. In fact, if I could launch a new Boing Boing print magazine, it might have this logo, courtesy of Rob Beschizza:


For more Omni wonderfulness, a French site called Collectors Showcase has a nearly complete set of Omni covers. And for more, there's the Omni Magazine Online - Tribute Website and the OmniShrine Wiki.


  1. Funny. Bob Guccione was talking about bringing it back (it was his dad’s magazine) but then they kind of kicked him out of Discover Magazine and I don’t think he’s ventured back near magazines since then.

    I was totally looking forward to it, though, and ready to jump in as my main life’s gig. It was such a central part of my life for a time.

  2. I loved OMNI. It was such a secret pleasure of mine. I always looked forward to it.

    I definitely miss it.

  3. As a 14 year old boy, it always felt somewhat dangerous to buy Omni here in Canada, since it was often placed alongside Playboy and Penthouse on the top shelf of magazine racks. There was always that sense of the store owner’s eyes upon me as my hand ventured into the forbidden higher atmosphere of magazine placement.

    Thanks for bringing back memories of such an edgy youth.

  4. Indeed, here’s a short bit about the planned relaunch that didn’t happen. I think the original Omni was Bob Sr.’s wife’s baby, but she passed away from breast cancer around the time the magazine went Web. Bummer.

  5. It’s funny, but I was just saying to a friend the other day that BoingBoing actually fills the void that Omni left in my reading landscape.

      1. I’m being completely honest. Art, sci-fi, crazy-cool science, the combination is there. BoingBoing’s not a copy of Omni, of course, but an extrapolation of the things that made me enjoy the former.

  6. I still have all of my OMNIs, they were totally formative for me. Sure, maybe some months my 14 year old brain was only interested in “Continuum” and the puzzles, but dang if I wasn’t the county’s youngest Gottfried Helnwein fan.

    1. Youngest in your town, maybe… My dad brought home the first issue of OMNI, and let me subscribe to it. I couldn’t have been more than eight years old. (And Helnwein rocked my world even then!)

  7. At the time, I thought it was crap, but in the years since, the magazine filed has collapsed, leaving us to dream of Ben Bova walking on water or something similar.

  8. Our high school library used to have a subscription to OMNI and I would read it every month. Thanks for the memories Boing Boing.

  9. I bought the second issue in late summer 1978 (if memory serves me correctly). There was an iron-on transfer in there from North American Rockwell with a nice illustration of the space shuttle on it. It was lousy.
    Beyond that, the magazine was great. Nothing close to it today.

  10. Wow, my dad actually had a huge collection of Omni mags and as a kid i read every single one of them. You actually posted one of my favorite covers up there, which is the first one.

  11. My aunt had a subscription when I was about 8 or 9. My grandfather (her dad) complained that they were filled with “junk science,” but I enjoyed them, especially the Giger art. :-)

  12. My number one favorite mag of the 80’s. 8 to 20 i read it every time i found one, owned some of them myself. Always wen’t to the Continuum first, the rest more as the years wore, it was hit and miss but i love the tone of it all. An early trend setter i always thought, wired and boing and the best of like do fit well in the roll they played.

  13. I still remember some of the short SF stories, the metallic Continuum section with snippets like the “schmoo tree” (I wonder how that went after all? Was that Leucaena leucocephala?), Big Bang still duking it out with Steady State at the time.

    I was horrified when it started slipping out into woo-ville.

    I still have a number of issues, though the covers suffered a little from someone’s nearby spray adhesive project gone wrong :)

    I wonder how many things predicted and discussed in those pages came to pass.

  14. Magazines leave me, I subscribed to Omni until the content became heavy with Fantasy writing.
    I subscribed to Spy until it was sold to somebody that apparently lacked a sense of humor. I picked up the first Wired, and subscribed, until it became supermodel thin in content and became more of a product catalog for early adopters.
    Dear BoingBoing, don’t go changing away from your readers (other than that Omni style logo), if we wanted something else we would not be here.

    I think it would be great to change your logo once a month, for a day, to the typeface of a magazine from the past.

    1. That logo idea is a lot of fun! We always liked the idea of swapping in new logos from time to time. Although, when we did a redesign late last year, we temporarily put up Mark’s old hand-drawn 1989 logo for the bOING bOING print ‘zine and some people became very upset. They thought it looked “dated.” Exactly!

      And yes, Spy!!! When it was funny, it was SO damn funny.

      1. I have just started reading Boing Boing. I have the rss feed my personal blog.
        You should knowingly upset your audience often and at regular intervals. If you consciously know what upsets them then you should likewise know what pleases them.

        Always poke the bear.

  15. I would buy a shirt with the Omni ‘Boing’ on it, though preferably not with the faux lens flare.

      1. I’d prefer the Double Boing. Single Boing is two levels of abstraction, and takes it from “Boing Boing’s doing a clever homage” to “multi-faceted in-joke that only people who already know about it will understand.”

  16. Omni made science fiction look sexy and grown-up. For many a self-conscious nerd looking for ways to fit in with the guys reading Sports Illustrated and hot rod mags, it hit a sweet spot. It had some of the most clip-and-saveable art of its time.

  17. My Dad used to subscribe to OMNI when I was a kid. That magazine is probably one of the top 3 reasons I started writing SF/F/H, and also a very large part of my heart and brain.I have never been more honored than when I A.) sold a story to Ellen Datlow, and B.) saw the title of said story set in OMNI-ish typeface (actually had to grab a tissue during the latter.)
    —Edward Morris; Portland, Oregon

  18. OMNI often had interesting notions and odd conceits that I liked, like their rumor contest. I wrote them on something in the first issue and they published my letter in the third (most of it), so that bought them years of my affection.

  19. Great to see OMNI on Boing Boing. I suscribed to the first year as a high school student. My parents were uninterested in science so it went under the radar. I am sure they would have called the art work pornographic and would have been appalled at the articles. The synthesis of science fiction and science was splendid.I have the H.R. Geiger cover as my current desktop wall paper.There really is nothing like it out there today save Boing Boing and Slashdot.

  20. I loved Omni.

    When my library got rid of it’s collection, I bought them all up at 25 cents each. Zero collector’s value, but I read them like mad. When I managed a store alone I had a selection of them for waiting customers to read, the guys working in other departments (like electronics!) had fun laughing at the VCR ads with VHS and UHF channel changers…

  21. I too remember OMNI and see Boing Boing as sort of a familiar reincarnation. I entered one of their first science/lit contests. Mu entry “Microwaves frizz your heir” won first prize and I was definitely a forever fan from then on

  22. Except that OMNI (rightfully) took the UFO phenomenon seriously. The same goes for Robert Anton Wilson, who is beloved here.

    Ranking Military and Intelligence officers break silence about their knowledge of ET and “UFO” technology and nothing is mentioned on boingboing. Yet we get all kinds of “Point and laugh” galleries of Corny UFO merchandise and new age cheez-ball BS.

    One example of something I expect never to see on boingboing :

    this is why I think BoinBoing and science-nerds fail big time.

  23. I had a subscription to OMNI for years when I was a kid, and in the way these things go, I recently became obsessed with it again. I bought a sizeable collection of issues on eBay, and spent many pleasurable hours revisiting them. I was struck by two things; first, they demonstrated some amazing graphic design, and their strong aesthetic has percolated into the current pop landscape (one of the reasons I love the BOING shirt idea). Second, how no other publication since has really filled the various niches that OMNI did.
    It never occurred to me before that boingboing now explores some of the same territory that OMNI used to, but I certainly agree that it does. As wonderful as bb is, however, it can’t really compete with flipping over a relatively normal glossy magazine page to discover a flat silver page with EYE-POPPING RED type all over it. That experience alone is one of the reasons why I will gnash my teeth at the long slow death of print media until the day I die…

  24. The fiction writing in so many issues of Omni absolutely warped my young and impressionable brain in the best possible way… I lived for those issues to show up in the mailbox. Between this and your recent shout-out to Mondo 2000, I’ve been taken back to a great time in my life, when magazines were my only window into a functional dreamworld that was happening far beyond the confines of my Oklahoma town. Right now I’m feeling a little twinge of that excitement again. Thank you to everyone ever involved in making Omni and Mondo.

  25. Friend of mine worked for Omni. Her stories of sexual harassment there are legendary.

  26. Maybe someone here can help me out! I have a nearly complete set, and I’m in the process of scanning it into a digital format. I’m missing the April and July 1994 issues, and I have none of the one or two “We’re Back!” issues that were released after April 1995. I’m willing to pay a modest sum (such as cover price + shipping) for these issues. Better yet, I’m willing to mail them back to their original owner after I scan them – the owner may keep the money!

    I placed this request on the OMNIShrine Wiki, but I don’t think the message board there works properly.

    When I’ve scanned the whole set, I plan to make a cross-index. The entire project will be available in DVD or flash-drive format for anyone who wants a copy. Of course, it would not be legal to charge for this, so I’d only request coverage of the shipping fee.

    If anyone wishes to contact me about this, my e-mail address is Be sure to mention OMNI or something in the subject line.

  27. I love my copy of the Omni Future Almanac (copyright 1982). Great gems therein, like “personal computers will make TV video game systems obsolete in the mid-1980s as home computers get cheaper, with interactive game ‘networks’ as the ‘final blow.'”

  28. I really loved “Last Word”, “continuum”, and all the contests. think my favourite one included a paper airplane how-to.
    It’s true, though- Boing boing is my Surrogate Omni. Being commentable makes it one better.

  29. Omni is a serious flash to when I was a nerdy kid.
    The 80’s were great for geek kids, although I bet any decade since the enlightenment could say that. You had the top secret spooky competing science of the Soviet bloc, promises of monthly civilian shuttle launches, and hopes of star wars space defense to blunt any Russian nuclear horror.

    Omni was on the drugstore magazine rack, I would read it for hours on another aisle. I would never buy a monthly dead tree now, but back then the only alternative was the BBS’s.

  30. For a nerdy girl in the Arctic who loved science fiction, this was THE magazine. I LOVED it.

  31. Ah, Omni magazine – the geek’s Penthouse. Loved it – especially the surrealist cover art and the short stories. Discovered Orson Scott Card and William Gibson thought it.

  32. I remember enjoying the mag very much, but noticing it progressively getting cheesier. I put it down for he last time when they ran an article with a series of paintings of dinosaurs getting it on. The painter had the saurians making ooh-ahh faces even though they hadn’t the facial muscles for ‘t, LOL.

  33. Let me put in a word for the late Frank Kendig, a friend who was OMNI’s editor from pre-launch planning until Ben Bova (another fine editor) came on.

    In tandem with Bob Guccione Sr and Kathy Keeton, Frank made good architectural as well as look & feel choices: article/fiction mix, multiple “front of book” short takes scattered through, and a jaunty refusal to accept a fixed boundary between mainstream science and flakiness of purest ray serene. I did or commissioned the interviews into 1980 — waves to Pamela, Ellen, Dick, Andy, Ben et al.

    1. Very cool! Thanks for commenting on this, MD49PA!

      “Refusal to accept a fixed boundary between mainstream science and flakiness of purest ray serene.”


  34. It was great. I was an original subscriber based on promos preceeding its publication. It was where I first read about Ridley Scott’s upcoming film: Alien. Fantastic; thanks for the memories.

  35. My favorite book when I was a child, not sure exactly how old, but I was living in Nova Scotia so not older than 7 or 8, was a science fiction novel with the word OMNI on the cover. I cant remember the title of the book or who it was by, just that logo. It had something to do with a race of aliens on a planet and the only way you could tell they were aliens was that they had a mark in the shape of a star on the palms of their hands. I wish I could remember more about the book. I’ve apparently always loved sci fi =^.^=

      1. I have read quite a few Piers Anthony novels, although I don’t think that was one of them. It does sound interesting.

        The book I was talking about definitely had the OMNI logo on the cover. Looking into it more now, they published some collections of short stories, so perhaps it was one of those. It was an awfully long time ago =^.^=

  36. LOVED Omni, and bought it from the second issue (your Giger cover on the left, above) through about 1985 or 1986, I think. Always irked me that I didn’t have the first issue. I wonder how much that is going for on eBay right now?

    So glad to hear about ndollak’s project and hope to benefit from it.

  37. Thanks for highlighting this remarkable magazine. I can remember the excitement I felt when seeing a new issue of Omni hit the stands; similar feelings for the early Heavy Metal, Creepy, and Eerie graphic novels. I miss those heady days!

  38. Hello. I know the posts about the out-of-print Omni magazine were posted about a year ago but I just wanted to post that I have some of the original magazines for sale. I used to sell books online and after I quit that business I still had inventory in storage. I am now starting to go through my books to sell them and I came across 8 of the original Omni magazines.
    Here are the dates: November and December of 1978; January and February of 1991; February and December of 1992; and June and July of 1993.

    I have never made a post like this before. I will check back here if anyone is interested. I don’t know how to tell people to contact me. Sorry.

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