Archive for June, 2011

Tripewriter genius of Private Eye at the V&A

June 24, 2011

Private Eye at the V&AThe world of print is dragging my time away from the online side at present, delving into the archives at the National Art Library at the V&A for a book on the history of magazine design (1840 to today) and a section on magazine history for The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain. Also, moving a collection of several thousand magazines has really tested my back in the past few days!

But I note that the V&A is hosting a 50th birthday celebration exhibition for Private Eye in October. There’s one not to be missed. Great journalism (with all its carbuncles), biting cartoons – and at the cutting edge of technology using Letraset, typewriter-produced text [though its enemies might describe it as tripewriter] and offset-litho printing in 1961. Its mode of production would be adopted 15 years later by the Punk fanzines. The magazine has its own page on the event, Private Eye at 50: Making an exhibition of ourselves.

The displays will no doubt focus on the cartoonists – Willy Rushton, Ralph Steadman and Gerald Scarfe to name three – and Private Eye’s bubble covers. But will it give a chance to air photos of old men wearing white vests? Dust off the Fergus Cashin rug? Will Gnitty become a household name? And one for a BBC Radio 4 series – how would the magazine landscape have looked if Private Eye had taken up the offer to write the news pages for Michael Heseltine’s Town?

You know something is doing well when it is hated as well as loved. Such was the venom with which the Eye is (or was) held that the likes of Jeffrey Bernard, Derek Jameson, Clive Jenkins, Ken Livingstone, Spike Milligan, Austin Mitchell, Michael Parkinson, Lady Rothermere and Mary Whitehouse backed the criminal Robert Maxwell in Not Private Eye and his fight to bring Richard Ingrims and pals down. Yet thousands of people rode to the rescue when court fines in losing libel cases to St Jammy Fishfingers and the Bouncing Czech threatened to bring it down.

There’s always someone writing ‘why I’m cancelling my subscription’ (there’s a typical one in Gerald Scarfe’s Drawing Blood, though it might be about a cartoon in the Sunday Times) or ‘why I don’t read you any more‘ letters. And that’s exactly as it should be.

Birthday honours for the magazine world

June 11, 2011
Radio Times Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice Jennifer Earle

Colin Firth and Jennifer Earle from 'Pride and Prejudice' on the cover of 'Radio Times'

Some gongs for faces in the magazine world this morning (though not many). Top of the list is Helen Alexander – who becomes a dame – and recently stepped down as CBI president. She was chief executive of the Economist Group for 11 years and is chair of trade magazine group Incisive Media. Alexander followed Marjorie Scardino into the Economist job after ‘Marge in charge’ took over as chief exec of Pearson (and also follows Marge in becoming a dame). The Financial Times (a Pearson company) has reported that Alexander would love to chair a FTSE 100 company (Pearson is one of them), ‘one day’ but ‘I don’t think it is necessarily the right next step’.

Telegraph fashion journalist and US Vogue contributor Sarah Mower is awarded an MBE , as is Clive Collins, cartoonist and illustrator who contributed to Punch from 1964 to its closure, before becoming the Sun‘s political cartoonist and later moving to the Sunday People and Evening Standard.

Jenni Murray, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, also becomes a dame.

One for the female viewership is a CBE for actor Colin Firth. Although The King’s Speech is on everyone’s lips at the moment, it was the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice that established his heart-throb status. Letters to the Radio Times said:

‘Colin Firth is the sexiest person on the screen … The scenes with Jennifer Ehle are truly erotic, and they hardly touch each other.’

Full list of Birthday honours