Growing up, I never missed an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Smart, resourceful, and committed to doing the right thing even when it was hard, Buffy was many things I aspired to be. She faced all kinds of evil, and often came close to defeat. But in every case, she came back swinging—usually literally. And she was always slaying villains with her witty retorts. One of my favorites occurs in the first season, after the Big Bad thinks he has defeated her, as a prophecy foretold. When she shows up to fight him again, he exclaims, “You’re supposed to be dead! It was written!”
“What can I say,” Buffy responds. “I flunked the written.”
Comebacks of all kinds have been on my mind as we crafted a edition of Mental Floss magazine, on stands at Barnes & Noble stores starting today. In 2016, after 15 years, the magazine ended its run, and since then we’ve been a digital-only publication—one that often receives notes from former print readers sharing thanks for the things they learned in its pages. So when the chance to create a special issue in collaboration with the Paper & Packaging Board arose, we jumped at it—and couldn’t think of a “Flossier” theme than Big Questions.
As Buffy often showed us, no one pulls off a comeback alone—you need the help of your friends. (It’s what makes her a stronger Slayer than any other.) We put our digital team to work on this issue and called in the help of former editors Jessanne Collins, who gave us advice, and Lucas Reilly, who put together a comeback-themed Scatterbrain; asked Arika Okrent, A.J. Jacobs, and Ken Jennings to pick up their pens for us again; and had fact checker Riki Markowitz put her research hat back on. In the issue you’ll find stories about Thomas Jefferson’s mastodon obsession, the Mandela Effect, a ghost town, and a slew of new scientific discoveries. You can see some of the stories in the issue right here, or purchase your copy online here.
We love a good comeback story, and are thrilled to have brought the magazine back, even if it’s just for a limited time. But Mental Floss, and the original spirit and mission upon which it was founded, has never gone away. So we hope you have as much fun reading the issue as we did putting it together, and that—once you’re done reading—you’ll hang out with us here on MentalFloss.com, where we’re answering big questions, telling strange stories, and dropping fascinating facts every single day.
Thanks for reading,