Archive for the ‘Felix dennis’ Category

Felix Dennis and Eric Gill – two soulmates

November 23, 2014
The Game from 1922 with Eric Gill illustration

One of the many Gill items being sold by the Felix Dennis estate – a copy of ‘The Game’ magazine from 1922 with an Eric Gill biblical illustration on the cover – part of lot 146 (estimate £700-£900)

It hardly seems any time since Felix Dennis popped his clogs – in fact it was June – but already the estate of the once-jailed joint editor of underground magazine Oz, Mac User and Maxim owner, and multimillionaire publisher is being sold off.

Sotheby’s is auctioning Dennis’s collection of Eric Gill sculptures and drawings on 9 December as part of its English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations sale.

And it is an extensive collection numbering about a hundred lots, many of several items, gathered by someone who regarded himself as an unlikely collector of art. The lots include many examples of drawn and carved lettering, while a youthful Dennis himself had stormed out of Harrow School of Art saying he shouldn’t have to waste time learning to draw letters when he could simply use Letraset.

Gill led a reprehensible private life, exposed by Fiona McCarthy’s 1989 Faber biography of the sculptor, wood engraver, illustrator and typographer. So perhaps there was something of kindred-spiritship there with the rebellious Dennis. Fergus Byrne is working on an authorised biography of Dennis, to be published by Ebury. The blurb runs:

His early rebellious days started with dropping out of grammar school, playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band, and being imprisoned (with Richard Neville and Jim Anderson) for charges of obscenity relating to a priapic Rupert Bear in the ‘schoolkids’ issue of the magazine Oz. The launch of Kung-Fu magazine, created when Dennis spotted a queue at a Leicester Square cinema for a Bruce Lee film, changed his fortunes. An industrious and self-destructive era then followed. He moved to America, added the magazines MacUser and Maxim to his portfolio, but also discovered crack, hookers and S&M. When his lifestyle led him to hospital, he gave up the drugs overnight and took to writing poetry. He acquired a mansion in Warwickshire, bought a much loved home in Mustique from rock star David Bowie, gave generously to charities, planted the largest broadleaf forest in Britain, and published several volumes of verse promoted by very well received readings nationwide.

Byrne wrote a 2013 profile of Dennis after the latter’s treatment for throat cancer. He quotes Dennis talking about his treatment and giving up smoking:

“So I’d been smoking, God knows, thirty, forty or fifty a day for forty-nine and a half years and then just stopped, just like I gave up narcotics.” He amused the lady in the radiotherapy department with the explanation that he gave up through fear. “Terror is the best patch” he told her and she proceeded to make a sign with just that quote to hang in the radiotherapy waiting room.

There’s a Felix Dennis tribute website and Eric Gill has his own society.

Eric Gill's engraved wood carving for The Four Gospels published by Golden Cockerell Press

Eric Gill’s engraved wood carving for The Four Gospels published by Golden Cockerell Press – Sotheby’s lot 198 (estimate £3000-£5000)


Oz and Dennis tycoon Felix Dennis dies

June 23, 2014

Felix Dennis, 1960s Oz editor and the man who made Maxim the world’s best-selling men’s magazine died on Sunday. The world will be a less colourful place.

Charlie Bibby's portrait for the FT of Felix Dennis withour his trousers

Charlie Bibby’s portrait for the FT of Felix Dennis without his trousers

Read the obituaries at the Guardian and Financial Times. The Guardian shows Dennis in his ‘throne’ but the FT’s Charlie Bibby picture is much more fun because Dennis has no trousers on.

Also see Lunch with the FT from 2008 and 20 questions for Dennis. The point of being rich? ‘It gives me the time to write poetry, plant trees and commission sculptures.’

Collectors come out for £2,700 Oz on eBay

March 31, 2014


Oz magazine first issue

Oz magazine first issue January 1967

Underground magazine Oz is one of the most collectable titles – and proved the point in March when half-a-dozen bidders took their offers up from the £999 starting price to £2,728 in just nine bids. The set included all 48 issues ‘in exceptional condition’ of a magazine that sparked the 1972 Oz trial and introduced Maxim millionaire Felix Dennis to the magazine world.

A copy of the Oz first issue on its own went for £895 – well above the £650 one sold for back in 2007. Several others issues fetched up to £220.

Another title that attracts collectors is trendy cycling title Rouleur, with a set of the first 43 issues selling for £1000 as a buy-it-now.

Part works aren’t usually big sellers but a James Bond collection with model cars fetched £691. Buying it new would have cost £7.99 x 132, more than £1000.

strand_1904_4aprSherlock Holmes in the Strand is a long-standing attraction for collectors and a set of the first seven volumes of the magazine fetched £545. Mind you, unbound copies fetch far more, and this single issue of the April 1904 Strand with a Holmes story fetched £443.

The first 50 issues of the Face were priced at £500 and the seller took an undisclosed offer.

More on: collecting magazines and eBay prices

More: Strand Magazine and its iconic cover

LOOK OUT FOR: British Magazine Design, a new, highly illustrated book from the Victoria and Albert Museum













£1,019 for a copy of OZ

August 27, 2012
Oz issue 1

Oz issue 1

That’s right. A grand  – £1,019.01 to be exact – for a copy of the first issue of OZ on eBay! That’s almost three times what one fetched in 2006 and pretty much double what a copy of issue 5 from July 1967 sold for (£561.30 on Ebay in May 2007). A February 1967 first issue sold for £560 in September 2007 and another for £360 in 2006.

Two years ago, a complete set of OZ  went for $5,700 in New York.

Jackie from Crazyaboutmagazines alerted me to this. But what other British magazine would fetch more?

Profile: underground magazine Oz

More on: collecting magazines and eBay prices

LOOK OUT FOR: British Magazine Design, a new, highly illustrated book from the Victoria and Albert Museum

The best in magazines of the 20th century

January 8, 2011

Loaded first issueLOndon Opinion 1927Tatler in 1982 under Tina BrownLilliput magazine April 1946London Life Ian Drury coverAbout Town  magazine front coverThe Face first issue may 1980

Surveys of the best magazines are done pretty regularly, but they are usually limited in scope and time. But what happens when you open things up to ask who and what are the great names and titles of the 20th century?

Names pop into the frame that you will never have heard of.

How many hands would go up for Stefan Lorant? Even two of the titles he founded – Weekly Illustrated and Lilliput – are now relatively unknown, despite being bestsellers in their day. You will have heard of Picture Post though, which he founded and ran for two years before going to the US where he disappeared without trace as far as magazines are concerned in 1940.

Mark Boxer will be more familiar. The PPA has an award named after him. He learned the design trade on Lilliput, before transforming Queen into a sixties swinger, launched The Sunday Times Colour Supplement and London Life, before dying young in harness as editor-in-chief at Conde Nast. And even his sideline as cartoonist Marc puts him in the frame of fame.

Tom Hopkinson took over from Lorant at Picture Post and, for a while, Lilliput. But did he ever launch a magazine? What did he do after Picture Post?

As magazine supremos, Alfred Harmsworth (Lord Northcliffe), with Answers and Home Chat; George Newnes with Tit-Bits, The Strand and Wide World; and C. Arthur Pearson with Pearson’s Weekly and London Opinion, all belong to the 19th century.

And what about William Ewert Berry? Who’s he? Lord Camrose. Who? He controlled Amalgamated Press, which published 73 magazines in 1951, with a total circulation of more than 14 million. But then most of that – Answers, Home Chat, Weldon’s Ladies Journal, et al – was bought from Northcliffe’s estate in 1926. And he would probably want to be known for his stewardship of the Daily Telegraph.

But these men left the magazine editorial floor for newspapers and created the world of press barons.

How about cartoonist Alfred Leete? Another new name? But his front cover for London Opinion is probably the most famous ever penned. Or Bruce Bairnsfather, whose Old Bill from Bystander lives with us today as the nickname for a policeman.

Another magazine title – London Life. For 10 years running up to WWII this was the apogee of art deco cover design for a weekly and it seems to have spawned every sexual fetish going, from high heels to maids’ costumes to artificial limbs – in its letters pages. Who was the editor? Haven’t a clue.

From the 1960s and 1970s. Town – Clive Labovitch and Michael Heseltine gave Tom Wolsey his head in designing a great-looking magazine, but it never made any money. Nova, another title that burned bright but leaked money. Harry Fieldhouse launched it and art editor Harri Peccinotti was there throughout in some capacity; David Hillman made his name on it; Dennis Hackett edited both Queen and Nova. Oz tried to blow the system apart and came pretty close – it gave Felix Dennis his first taste of magazines and he went on to launch the world bestselling Maxim. With Honey, Audrey Slaughter showed the way for the teen market and went on to edit Vanity Fair (where she was so outraged over the launch of Cosmopolitan that she went off and launched Over 21) and later Working Woman.

Ruari McLean – he designed the Eagle – and wrote Magazine Design, the world’s first book on the topic according to OUP, in 1969. John Parsons was art director of Vogue from 1948 to 1964, and had a stint at Queen.

And talking of Town, what about the magazine it was created from, Man About Town. John Taylor launched it as an offshoot of the trade journal Tailor & Cutter. He spent 24 years in charge of T&C and made it “the most quoted trade paper in the world”, according to The Times. Now, most great editors will receive such lauding at some stage in their careers, but how many have a portfolio of such quotes from the Daily Mail, the Guardian US weekly Time and The New Yorker!

More recent great names: James Brown certainly set the agenda when he moved from NME to launch Loaded, but he didn’t work out at GQ, and Jack and Hotdog never flew. Mike Soutar took FHM by the scruff of the neck – with a ‘funny, sexy, useful’ mantra – to murder Loaded in the sales stakes, did similar things with men’s magazines in the US, and came back to the UK to launch Shortlist. All that and a former beauty editor on women’s magazine Secrets to boot!

Dylan Jones has proved his credentials at The Face, i-D, Arena and GQ.

But what about the face itself; Vogue (1916 launch in UK); Woman (1937); Tatler (1903); Cosmo (1973); Dazed & Confused; Grazia (one of my favourites for its all-encompassing excellence from paper to design to the editors’ A-team); I’m going to have to stop here! It’s like the song lyric – And those I miss you’ll surely pardon. Your thoughts?

Oz obscenity film in 2010

December 10, 2009

Oz magazine's School Kids' issue

The Oz magazine obscenity trial from 1971 is to be the subject of a film scheduled for release in 2010.

Hippie Hippie Shake, from Working Title Films, is based on a memoir by Richard Neville, who launched the underground magazine in London after having been found guilty of obscenity in Australia and then released – as was to happen in London.

Although IMDB gives a May 2010 release, the film is almost invisible on Working Title’s website, though an item from 2007 describes it so:

Beeban Kidron (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason) will direct Hippie Hippie Shake in August. Starring Cillian Murphy, Sienna Miller, Emma Booth and Max Minghella, the film will take the audience on a psychedelic journey through the late ’60s in London, with Murphy playing Richard Neville, the editor of the famous satirical magazine Oz. The screenplay is being adapted from Neville’s book ‘Hippie Hippie Shake: The Dreams, The Trips, The Love-Ins, The Screw-Ups: The Sixties’. Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Nicky Kentish Barnes are the producers.

Chris O’Dowd plays fellow editor and now multimillionaire publisher Felix Dennis. O’Dowd was also in Working Title’s The Boat That Rocked, loosely based on the 1960s pirate ship Radio Caroline – which was funded by Queen owner Jocelyn Stevens and run from the magazine’s office. I like to think that the Bill Nighy character Quentin was based on Stevens.

Hippie Hippie Shake at

Martin Sharp and Oz at it again on Ebay

October 11, 2009
Oz 3 poster by Martin Sharp

Oz 3 poster by Martin Sharp

A copy of the third issue of Oz – the underground trippy title that brought Felix Dennis to fame – from 1967 is zooming up the Ebay charts with 10 bids reaching £122 – with 6 days to go. Expect a flurry at the end.

This issue has a three panel fold out poster by Martin Sharp and Souvenir Century, the seller, lists the the contents as:

Revlon Invents Wet Lipstick on the reverse. Beautiful Breasts competition. Mike McInnerney graphic, and ‘Tripping and Skipping They Ran Merrily After the Wonder Full Music…’ – Warren Hinkles on Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters and the Acid Tests. ‘Last Exit to Brewer Street’ – article on publisher John Calder. ‘Why Politics is Giving Everyone the…’ – girl-on.-toilet-on-Parliament 2 page photomontage, and ‘An Address to politicians’. Protest Postcards to politicians. Pop and Drugs sections. ‘In Praise of Ugliness’ by Colin MacInnes. Magnificent Failures. Frisco Speaks – Sharp cartoon.

They don’t make them like that any more.

Dennis builds on digital Monkey success

October 30, 2008
No monkeying about

No monkeying about

While Conde Nast is having a hard time in the US, Dennis, it seems, can do no wrong with its digital magazines in the UK. This year’s launches, iGizmo and iMotor, are both attracting more than 100,000 readers an issue, and lad’s weekly Monkey has registered four successive rises.

The ABCe now credits pioneer Monkey with 283,541 readers a week; iGizmo has 101,785; and iMotor, 108,622. All use Ceros technology.

A look at the Digi-Zines website shows the growth in the sector – with Exact Editions alone now pumping out 75 titles.

History of digital magazines

Sea change for journalism

October 17, 2008

Just got round to reading the FT‘s Life & Arts section from the weekend. If you missed it, catch up with FT editor Lionel Barber‘s front-page feature on the state on US journalism:

The sea change was palpable at the Democratic national convention in Denver in August. Hundreds of bloggers were present, many enjoying for the first time much-coveted seats inside the convention hall. Close by, the bloggers were installed in a “Big Tent”, a 9,000-sq foot, two-storey structure devoted to new media and offering free massages. The mainstream press, one top New York Times journalist sniffed, were obliged to register as visitors before being allowed inside.

There’s also an interview with Felix Dennis – who was featured in the FT not so long ago with his pants down –  though there’s little new in this. And Maxim being ‘one of Britain’s best-selling men’s magazines’ is wide of the mark (at 43,000 its sales are a third of even GQ‘s, never mind FHM‘s 280,000).

Motor Play for car buffs

June 25, 2008
Motor Play has beaten Dennis to the launch of a digital car magazine. The new title is a free monthly ‘with over 200 pages of beautifully produced articles on cars,’ says publisher Jason Owen. He sees it as ‘open to a wide audience, not only to boy racers and car fanatics’.