Archive for the ‘independent magazines’ Category

MagCulture’s Jeremy Leslie on BBC Radio 4

November 30, 2016
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Jeremy Leslie runs the MagCulture blog and shop

Jeremy Leslie is on BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought tonight, giving a 15-minute explanation of why reports about the death of magazines are so exaggerated. Anyone interested in magazines will have noticed all the niche print titles that have opened up even as the behemoths close down.

The state of the mainstream men’s sector is a classic example – with the likes of Loaded, FHM, Maxim, Nuts and Zoo going to the wall, while a thriving independent sector has ensured there are more titles around than for decades.

The designer and  MagCulture founder will address the questions of why this has happened even in the face of the digital onslaught that’s at the top of the media agenda and whether the trend will continue (of course it will!).

I was at the MagCulture shop  when the recording was made this month – with a certain level of irony because I’d just just come from the Printers Unite conference at the Karl Marx Library where I was delivering a paper on how magazines and newspapers responded to print disputes.

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The week in magazines

October 9, 2016
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Town magazine ran a cover and several pages of the Monroe photos by  George Barris in 1963

It’s been a interesting week for magazines. There was the death of George Barris, the US photojournalist whose pictures of  Marilyn Monroe in her final weeks were published in Town magazine in the 1960s. A decade later, the Sunday Times Magazine made a cover of the ‘last pictures’; and again after that. And again in 2005.

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Then there was the mega spat at the venerable Burlington magazine, which saw the editor resign, along with her deputy, after just a year in the chair following a staff rebellion against her changes.

Over at Teddington, the Heseltine’s family plaything Haymarket sold Autosport, F1 Racing and Autosport News, along with the rest of its motorsport division to US group Motorsport Network. Not a big deal, but another example of the hollowing-out of British magazine publishing.

Farther north, in Scotland in fact, today’s Sunday Mail reminds us of the power of magazines to hold up newspapers. The paper is offering readers a free copy of The Scots Magazine – ‘the world’s best-selling Scottish-interest publication, covering topics from the contemporary to the historical’. It’s a similar story in Ireland, with the Irish Mail on Sunday spearheading a revamp with a new supplement:

JUST LOOK WHAT YOU GET! Today we are adding our new Irish Mail on Sunday MAGAZINE to the package of delights you pick up with your favourite newspaper. Already Ireland’s best-value Sunday newspaper, from today it’s getting even better AND bigger with the MAGAZINE, our superb new bumper celebrity, culture, home & garden magazine.
Every week, we’ll have an in-depth look at – and interviews with – the celebrities from at home and abroad… including the new SHRINK WRAP, where we get inside the head of a well known personality every week. Today, take your pick from Sarah Jessica Parker, new RTÉ star Seána Kerslake from Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope and international singing sensation Sophie Ellis Bextor.
Ireland’s top columnist, FIONA LOONEY’s weekly take on the world… from her kitchen sink!

And ancient jokes from Punch kick off the final episode in ITV’s costume drama series Victoria this evening. Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) reads aloud two jokes to the queen, the second of which is: ‘Who is the greatest chicken-killer in Shakespeare’s plays? Macbeth, because he did murder most foul.’ To which Victoria (played by Dr Who’s former sidekick, Jenna Coleman) replies: ‘We are not amused.’ This follows the trend in ITV’s Downton, which was forever mentioning The Lady in connection with advertising for domestic staff.

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Gym Class, the magazine about  magazines, last issue

Finally, the latest – and last! – issue of Gym Class, the magazine about magazines, is out. I have to confess an interest here, having written the pieces about the rules of cover design (on the cover) and a visual about the price of vintage magazines.

The latest – and last – Gym Class is out. And it Rocks!

October 9, 2016
The 15th issue of Gym Class is the last, by Steven Gregor September 2016

The 15th issue of Gym Class is the last

The 15th issue of Gym Class, the magazine about magazines, is out and it will be the last. As the issue says:

Magazines have their moments.
Gym Class has had its.
And it was great!

However, founder Steven Gregor is working on a new project for 2017, and is determined that it won’t be a one-man show.

Gregor tells It’s Nice That that North America has been the biggest single market for Gym Class, mostly as online sales, with the latest issue getting into Barnes & Noble bookshops.

The rules of cover design in Gym Class

The rules of cover design in Gym Class

The cover feature, The Rules of Cover Design, was by yours truly, taking in the unwritten habits that dictate the way magazines look (though independent magazines like Gym Class are forever looking to subvert them!).

Other features include:

  • dealing with self-doubt;
  • the ten commandments of independent publishing
  • Japanese magazine publishing
  • photographer Christopher Anderson
  • Andrew Diprose of Wired Magazine

As Gregor himself says, ‘You Rock!’

If you see an issue buy it – they’re running out wherever I look.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

Burlington editor quits after clash over ‘brio’ with ‘entrenched’ staff

October 9, 2016
Cover of the latest issue of The Burlington Magazine

Cover of the latest issue of The Burlington Magazine

Frances Spalding, editor of The Burlington, has stepped down after staff rebelled against her planned changes at Britain’s oldest art magazine.

Spaulding quit along with her deputy after less than a year in the chair because she lost a battle of wills over over whether the 113-year-old publication was stuck in its ways. She wanted to bring in more ‘intellectual brio’ to the title, which combines high production values with detailed photographs of sumptuous works and an academic attitude.

The Times quoted former editor Richard Shone as saying Spalding had ‘made a complete mess of it’ leading to a vote of no confidence by senior editorial staff, who could be ‘very entrenched’ in the way they worked.

Spalding retorted that ‘There had been no change among the senior editorial team for almost 20 years. There had been no new voice, no fresh ideas. The existing team were entrenched in their way of doing things, and some of the editorial practices were slightly eccentric.’

Spalding wished to eradicate ‘dry Burlington prose’ and that she ‘wasn’t someone who was going to encourage high theory of an abstruse kind with jargon-ridden language’.

For those who don’t know The Burlington, not only has it been around for 113 years, making it one of Britain’s longest-published magazines, but one of its former editors,  went on to become director of the National Gallery and then the British Museum, Neil MacGregor. Other former editors include the art critics Roger Fry and Herbert Read, and another former director of the National Gallery, Charles Holmes. It is run by The Burlington Magazine Foundation, both charitable companies, from London and New York.

Retro artwork for The Lady magazine from 27 March 2015

Retro artwork for The Lady magazine from 27 March 2015

The Burlington‘s owners should have been alert to the risks after well-publicised similar problems at an even older title, The Lady. In 2009, the owners discovered that average reader of the weekly was 78, so journalist Rachel Johnson was brought in to update that venerable title – and the clashes were portrayed in a television series, The Lady and the Revamp. She lasted less than two years.

The Lady was founded in 1885 by Thomas Gibson Bowles, who also set up Vanity Fair, and is still controlled by the family, from offices in Covent garden, London, that probably date back to that time. Today, the Lady describes itself as ‘for elegant women with elegant minds’, though its website is one of the tackiest around.

Candidates for the Burlington editorship were interviewed last week.


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


 

BBC marks 50 years of Resurgence

October 4, 2016
Resurgence magazine in 2007 - 'at the heart of earth, art and spirit'

Resurgence magazine in 2007 – ‘at the heart of earth, art and spirit’

BBC Radio 4 has marked the 50th anniversary of Resurgence, Britain’s  longest-running environmental magazine, with an episode of Costing the Earth entitled ‘Spiritual Greens‘ in which:

‘Tom Heap talks to some of its most famous contributors – and their critics – to take stock of what the last half century of green activism has – and hasn’t – achieved in Britain’

The programme includes an interview with Satish Kumar, who stepped down as editor in May after 43 years in the chair to run the Resurgence Trust, which now publishes the magazine and its websites.

Kumar, now 80, is a former Jain monk, who in 1962 started out on an 8,000-mile walk from India to Moscow, Paris, London and Washington to promote nuclear disarmament.

Mathematician, philosopher and peace activist Bertrand Russell on the cover of Newsweek in 1962

Mathematician, philosopher and peace activist Bertrand Russell on the cover of Newsweek in 1962

The idea for the walk was sparked by the philosopher Bertrand Russell whose promotion of civil disobedience to protest against atomic weapons was influential in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the late 1950s, through to the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp that was set up in 1981 and lasted though to 2000.

The magazine was founded in  May 1966 by John Papworth but has struggled for most of its life. Three years ago, it took over long-time rival the Ecologist, which was founded in 1970. The titles merged in 2012. The alternative technology magazine Undercurrents was taken over by Resurgence in 1982.

Resurgence started out in the peace movement and has been described as the artistic and spiritual voice of the green movement with a list of contributors that ranges from EF ‘Small in Beautiful’ Schumaker to James ‘Gaia’ Lovelock and the Dalai Lama.

All 634 issues of Resurgence since May/June 1966 are archived at Exact Editions.

Photo competition for a magazine cover

July 29, 2016

Summer of Print competition from Newspaper Club and Stack 3
Newspaper Club – the website that helps people make and print a newspaper – is launching a competition with Stack, the subscription service for independent magazines, on Monday. The idea is simple: they are inviting anyone to post an image they’d use for the cover of a publication about their summer. Tag it with #summerofprint on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook for a chance to win a £100 printing voucher for Newspaper Club and a year’s subscription to Stack. They’ve put up details of the competition.

You’ll also be able to follow progress on Pinterest.

Just the sort of prize to inspire anyone working on or thinking about their own magazine, or is just keen on getting a free year’s worth of independent magazines. If that’s you, look out for the August issue of Creative Review, which carries an article ‘How to make a mag’ by Danny Miller, co-founder of  Little White Lies and Weapons of Reason.  And, of course, Gym Class, the magazine about magazines.

Take a look at the Secrets of Magazine Design page and flick through the pages of covers for some inspiration on what makes a good cover pic. And there are several sites around where you can test your cover design idea, such as Canva.

The contest will run from 1 August until noon on 5 September. The winner will be announced on 7 September.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

Magculture – London’s new magazine shop

February 2, 2016
Football magazine 8 by 8 - available from the Magculture shop

Clip Klopp: football magazine 8 by 8 – available from the Magculture shop

I dropped in on magazine design guru Jeremy Leslie last week at his new Magculture magazine shop on my way back form a meeting at London’s City University. It’s a great location, just south of the university’s journalism school and so close to some of the great historical sites associated with magazines, from St John’s Gate to the Grub Street area where many hack writers – Dr Johnson among them – lived before making their names and moving closer to Fleet Street.

Only about 500 yards separate the home of the world’s first magazine from Magculture with its displays of the world’s latest independent magazines.

The front of the Magculture shop

The front of the Magculture shop

Jeremy has his studio behind the shop and it’s also a great space for hosting events – the display wall at the rear is on wheels and moves back to create a bigger space! Crafty stuff. And the shelves are all Vitsoe – I planned a display wall using the system in a house I wanted to buy about 20 years ago, but the sale fell through. And have you seen the prices of second-hand Vitsoe on eBay? Really holds its value.

The Magculture shop stocks 250 titles, probably about a fifth from overseas. I came away with a Magculture bag stuffed with US football title Eight by Eight, Elsie, Cover Junkie‘s This is not an addiction…‘, a copy of Jeremy’s Independence and Magculture’s My Favourite Magazine  and catalogue. Online shops are just so boring in comparison.

Magculture is at 270 St John St, EC1V 4PE.

Magculture’s book of magazines

November 21, 2015

Jeremy Leslie’s Independence, 12 a dozen different covers

Jeremy Leslie has published his own book at Magculture based on interviews he’s done with a dozen independent magazine makers. It reads like a who’s who of independent magazines with names such as Rob Orchard at Delayed Gratification, Anorak’s Cathy Olmedillas, John Walters at Eye and Stack’s Steve Watson.

Independence costs £15.99 and there are 12 different cover designs.

Beautiful Britons magazine – 1950s glamour still sells

September 26, 2015

Beautiful Britons glamour magazine first issue cover from November 1955

The mid-1950s saw an explosion of men’s magazines after paper rationing was lifted. Many of them used a pocket format and one of the most popular was the monthly glamour magazine  Beautiful Britons.  Two copies of the first issue have sold on eBay recently, one for £29.99 and the other for a hefty £51.

Note the magazine’s motto: ‘The magazine of [EYE] appeal.’

Centre spread from the 1955 first issue of Beautiful Britons

Centre spread from the 1955 first issue of Beautiful Britons magazine

Although the colour was cover, all the pin-ups inside were printed mono. The picture above is from the centre spread. The bikini was a relatively new invention – at least in modern times – dating from 1946 when a French engineer came out with the world’s smallest swimsuit, named after the nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll.

The magazine’s publisher – Town & Country, known as ‘Toco’ – already published Spick and Span, both pin-up glamour magazines launched in 1954, in the same format. Many of the pin-up photographs were of unknown models but actresses such as Shirley Ann Field and Joan Collins were a staple for such magazines. All three titles survived into the 1970s.

Initially, the models were not topless, but the market was changed by the advent of Kamera, published by photographer Harrison Marks and his wife, the model Pamela Green. Kamera included topless models. Marks and Green, who also modelled under the name Rita Landre, were involved in the making of Michael Powell’s  controversial 1960 film  Peeping Tom. The horror thriller centred on a photographer who murdered women with a device built into his camera.

>>List of men’s magazines with profiles


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


 

Independent magazines – Shoreditch talk

July 9, 2015

Stack/Printout is holding an evening panel with three authors talking about independent magazines:

The venue is the Book Club in London’s Shoreditch: Tuesday 28th July, 6.30pm start.

Also, Stack founder Steven Watson is advertising for a full-time editor who knows independent mags.