This version of the magazine noted here was preceded by a "fanzine" type magazine also called THE FAMILIAR which ran for four issues.
The magazine's first issue was "Summer 1988", second was "Fall 1988", third was "Winter 1988/89" and the fourth issue was "Spring 1989"...issue 5 was advertised as being a "Best of the Familiar, Volume 1" arriving in July of 89 followed by a six month hiatus to return in January 1990. To my knowledge, that never happened and the magazine disappeared until its revival.
Like its later version, the magazine focused on a variety of aspects of gaming, often focused on countering the bad rap RPGs were getting at the time, and providing fun material for many different gaming systems. It did walk the line between "fanzine" and "gaming magazine" but it leaned more to the fanzine side.
The publishers, Roger and Janet Carden, would attend gaming cons in the mid-Atlantic region during this time.