In search of a killer gurn

April 19, 2022
Jodie Comer has a crack at gurning for the Sunday Times Culture supplement (17 April 2022)

The Liverpudlian Jodie Comer is the latest to have a crack at gurning, or growling, for a magazine cover, in this case the Sunday Times Culture supplement (17 April 2022). The photographer is Callum Toy for Camera Press. Is the Killing Eve actress a killer gurner? Here are some other examples.

An early i-D spread from 1980
Just Seventeen from 1 January 1986
A boxing theme again. This time for The Face from June 1987

What’s this, a 1941 bikini?

April 15, 2022
Page from a Lilliput photo feature in 1941

It was in July 1946, the likes of Wikipedia say, that a French engineer and designer named Louis Réard introduced the modern two-piece bikini to the world.

But this photograph from Lilliput magazine seems to cast doubt on that claim – it was published in the March 1941 issue. That’s five years before Réard did his thing.

Close-up of that early bikini

The bikini took a while to become mainstream on the beach, particularly in the US. There, a cover close-up of a bikini bottom for a Playboy cover was still regarded as controversial in 1962. That issue discussed how bikinis were finally reaching US shores from Europe.

So, perhaps, the bikini was really just an innovation sparked by wartime rationing in Britain.

>>A brief history of Lilliput magazine

BP logo had 1930s Dunlop forebear

March 29, 2022
Dunlop’s 1933 logo in Country Life (left) and BP’s Helios branding today

BP introduced its green-hued sunshine logo – called Helios, after the Greek god of the sun – in 2000. It was designed as a ‘dramatic break with tradition’. The colours aimed to suggest heat, light and nature, with the interlocking shapes indicating ‘a single entity created by many different parts working as one’.

The company describes it as a logo ‘unlike any other energy identity‘.

BP may see it as unique but I was struck by its similarity to the Dunlop advertising artwork on the back cover of an issue of Country Life magazine in 1933.

The sun was a prominent visual device in the 1930s – you can see it on the garden gates and leaded windows of many an English suburban house built in that decade to this day. The sun was also used to dramatic effect in artwork for Watford’s Sun printing company by the designer and illustrator MacDonald ‘Max’ Gill (brother of Eric).

Charles F. Higham advertising agency credit on Dunlop advert

Dunlop had yet to adopt its logo with a ‘D’ encompassed by an arrow – that came about in 1959. The ‘Flying D’ is credited to the Charles F. Higham advertising agency in London. That provides another link back to the Country Life advert – a credit in the bottom left corner is to ‘C.F.H.’, the initials of that same agency.

George Ashton and cricket’s Ashes

January 18, 2022
1882-The-Ashes-death-of-english-cricket

Spoof advert from Sporting Times in 1992

It’s sometimes amazing how a joke or idea can catch on. In this era of the Worldwide Web and social media, such phenomena are called memes, but the word was coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976, well before the web. And the image above is a sporting meme from a magazine that dates back to 1882!

This is a spoof advert written by Reginald Shirley Walkinshaw Brooks, a journalist on the Sporting Times, a popular weekly. The ‘obituary’ for English cricket was prompted by the home team losing a Test series to the Australians for the first time at Lord’s cricket ground. The advert gave rise to the legend of The Ashes with its postscript:

N.B. – The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.

The England team set out for Australia in the winter of 1882 and Fleet Street portrayed the tour as a quest to regain the ashes. At this stage, there were were no actual ashes, but the idea tickled the fancy of a group of Melbourne women who presented a small urn to Ivo Bligh, England’s captain, after a social match at the Rupertswood Estate outside Melbourne on the Christmas Eve. Among the women was Florence Morphy, who went on to marry Bligh [Lord Darnley].

The urn is supposed to hold the ashes of a cricket bail. After Bligh died in 1927, Florence presented a terracotta urn to the MCC and it is on display at Lord’s to this day. According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, the urn contains ‘just 150 milligrams of powdered bail ash‘.

Pasted on the side of the urn is one of six verses of a song lyric from Melbourne Punch magazine on 1 February 1883. The song, ‘Who’s on the cricket field’, was set to the tune of ‘Wha’s at the Window?’. It mentions Bligh and other star players from the England team:

When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn;
Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;
The welkin will ring loud,
The great crowd will feel proud,
Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;
And the rest coming home with the urn.

Because of its age and fragile condition, the actual Ashes urn is not passed to the winning team, but a Waterford Crystal trophy and replica urns instead.

As for the Sporting Times, it lasted from 1865 until 1932. It was known as the Pink ‘Un because it was printed on pink paper, like the Financial Times today. In reference to this it ran Christmas specials called the Pink ‘Un. Its great rival was The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, which was founded in 1874, becoming Sport and Country in 1945 and Farm and Country in 1957. It closed in 1970. Holly Leaves was the name of its annual Christmas special.

And what about Reginald Brooks? Surely he went on to great things? Sadly not. Brooks died at the age of just 33 in 1888. He was the son of Punch editor Shirley Brooks, and wrote for that title too. He used the pseudonym Peter Blobbs in Sporting Times.

>>General weekly magazines in Britain

The Face of 1984 – Nick Kamen

January 5, 2022
The model Nick Kamen of the cover of The Face in January 1984. The photo was by Jamie Morgan

London magazine’s New Year Cheeroh!

January 4, 2022
The London magazine of January 1918

Edward Barribal was renowned for painting beautiful women. For this London magazine cover he has one taking us into the New Year of 1918 with a Cheeroh! lantern.

>> The London magazine history

London Life and a ball to end all balls

January 2, 2022
London Life of 12 January 1935. Evelyn Ankers went as ‘Speed’ to the Chelsea Arts Ball

Evelyn Ankers was an aspiring actress when she went as ‘Speed’ to the Chelsea Arts Ball to see in the new year of 1935. She played minor roles in various films before finding her métier in Universal’s horror films of the 1940s. These included The Wolf Man in 1941, Ghost of Frankenstein in 1942 and The Invisible Man’s Revenge two years later.

The Chelsea Arts Ball was held at the Royal Albert Hall for 50 years. It was the height of the season and the place to be seen. However, the shenanigans of 1958’s event led to it being banned by the Royal Albert Hall’s managers.

London Life magazine covers 1920-1960

Blighty magazine at the New Year’s ball

January 1, 2022
The Hynes cover cartoon for Blighty of 1 January 1949 has a poor chap being ignored by his glamorous date

Blighty‘s 1949 New Year cover has a poor chap being ignored at the ball by his glamorous date. The cover artist, Edward Hynes, was a prolific cartoonist who also worked as a cover artist for London Calling (1928) and Men Only (1936-55) magazines, and also for London Opinion.

The cover line ‘forces choice’ now ‘family favourite’ refers to the fact that Blighty had been a free magazine for the armed forces. After the war, it launched itself onto the newsstands as a weekly for the family.

>> Blighty magazine history

Have a magic New Year with Acorn User magazine

December 31, 2021
Computer graphics cover by Jonathan Inglis

Jonathan Inglis was a school teacher who learnt to program with a BBC Micro. He developed his own software and did covers for BBC Acorn User, using software written by readers of the magazine, as well as Time Out and illustrations for the Sunday Times Magazine.

Putting the beef into Christmas

December 30, 2021
Tom Purvis was the illustrator for this Bovril advert on the Christmas number of Gentlewoman magazine dated November 1915

Tom Purvis was the illustrator for this Bovril advert on the Christmas 1915 number of Gentlewoman magazine dated November. The advert with the ‘We Must Have More’ recruiting call on the tent parodies Lord Kitchener’s volunteer army recruitment campaign.

The Kitchener Needs You magazine cover