More on Man About Town

man about town 1959 spring cover

Man About Town 1959 spring cover, probably by Maurice Rickards

Five more covers from the 1950s incarnation of Man About Town have gone up at Magforum.  Look through them and you get the impression that there were opposing design forces at work.

Man About Town 1957 autumn

Man About Town 1957 autumn cover –  commissioned by Rickards, but more influenced by Taylor?

Most of them are traditional examples of illustration and then there is the Maurice Rickards design of Spring 1956. This clearly comes from a different root.  Rickards – regarded as the father of the idea of ephemera – worked as art editor on the magazine  for at least some of the time in this period.

Rickards did the Autumn 1958 cover design and, I assume, the next two abstract works. But the staff were not usually credited.

I can imagine John Taylor, the ex-RAF editor, liking the usual portrayals of the mustachioed man about town. And as one of the most influential men in world when it came to style for men – a fact agreed upon by the Daily Mail, the Guardian, Time and the New Yorker –  who could argue with him?

And who could argue with this tweet from Top Gear editor Conor McNicholas recommending Magforum – ‘Horribly designed but horribly well-informed’? The site was originally built by hand in HTML – that’s coded by hand – 12 years ago with the layout done as tables. There’s always a balance between design and content and the latter has always won out. It then moved on to the free page tool in Netscape, some time with Hot Dog, and then Dreamweaver. The code occasionally gets tweaked from an IPad. The thought of pulling it all part – about 160 pages – and putting it back together is horrendous and projects such as writing a book on magazine design have got in the way.

But the nettle is being grasped with the help of Max at the ever-so-cool Broken Culture, with a target relaunch date of October. Suggestions and comments welcomed.

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