OMNI cover by HR Giger November 1978

Vice’s Claire Evans just got to check out the largest known collection of OMNI related ephemera in the world and shares some interesting news (emphasis mine, since I almost missed this):

OMNI was bankrolled by a fountain of cash generated by Penthouse. And by bankrolled, I mean bankrolled: the most shocking thing I found in Jeremy’s filing cabinets wasn’t the Penthouse negatives but stacks of magazines annotated with invoices detailing how much each contributor was paid. For the issue dated November 1989, Guccione’s company, General Media Incorporated, spent $16,843.65 on illustrations – solar sails, airbrushed mazes, a silhouette of Neptune pressed up against an inky sky. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that this sum eclipses the entire monthly operating budgets of many modern magazines.

This is because Bob loved art. His mansions in Manhattan and on the Hudson river were both filled with old masters and paintings by the hundreds of artists he tapped to illustrate OMNI and Penthouse. “Design was everything for Bob,” Jane said. No matter if they were selecting pictorials for Penthouse or laying out the sleek, futuristic pages of OMNI, it was the same. “I knew in the end, we would thinking about that vertical, that horizontal, we’d be thinking about that perfect placement, we’d be thinking about design, color, light.” When Guccione’s empire crumbled – General Media went bankrupt in 2003 – his personal assets were liquidated to pay off debts. The Van Goghs, Modiglianis, Picassos, and Renoirs went to the auction house; the rest of the artworks – sexy pictures and science fiction landscapes alike – were scattered to the wind. [...]

OMNI is returning with a vengeance. An exhibition of its art is in the works, some of which I saw: original lithographs and paintings from the magazine, artworks that Jeremy et al. have been tracking down at huge cost. The warehouse now stashes 53 surrealistic oils and fantasy landscapes and contains works by Rafal Olbinski, Robert Kittila, Jon Berkey, Tsuneo Sanda, and Bruce Jensen. Coming up: a book of this collected artwork, released by Powerhouse Books; a panel at the Toronto Fan Expo; and eventually booths at conventions around the country.

Full Story: Vice: OMNI Magazine Will Rise Again

(via Abe)

I bought a stash of OMNI magazines on eBay a couple years ago and it was totally worth it. But you can read scans online for free at Archive.org. If you don’t know where to start, here’s a list of issues with William Gibson stories and here’s the famous issue seen above, with an H.R. Giger cover and an interview with Future Shock author Alvin Toffler conducted by Guccione, a “Computer Lib” article by Ted “Xanadu” Nelson, John Lily on dolphins, fiction by Greg Bear and more.

Or dive into the Fortean index of OMNI to find particular topics of interest.

See Also:

Boing Boing: Memories of OMNI Magazine