Archive for the ‘men’s magazines’ Category

Girls in champagne glasses

August 2, 2020

goldie-hawn-champagne-glass-playboy-magazine-1985-january

What is it about women celebrities sitting in champagne glasses? The US actress Goldie Hawn was shown in a champagne coupe by photographer Arny Freytag for the cover of Playboy magazine in January 1985. But she’s not the first, and probably won’t be the last, actress to be so portrayed.

Below, we have Kylie Minogue on the cover of fashion monthly Vogue in a suitably celebratory Christmas shot by Nick Knight as the ‘Princess of Pop’ (December 2003).

kylie-minogue-champagne-glass-vogue_2003-december

And Demi Moore was never one to be left out in the leggy glamour stakes, so took to the cover of the Observer Magazine (7 October 2007) after her divorce from Bruce Willis. This looks more like a glass globe seat than a champagne glass, but the look is very similar.

demi-moore-champagne-glass-observer_magazine_2007-oct7

And here’s a variation on the idea, going back 105 years. This 1915 cover of women’s weekly Home Notes was painted by no less than Mabel Lucie Attwell (May 29). Atwell’s cute toddlers were a favourite around the home on china and all sorts of goods for much of the 20th century.

Mabel Lucie Attwell 1915 Home Notes magazine

Mabel Lucie Attwell painted this 1915 cover of Home Notes with a cherub perched on a glass cup of custard

Finally, another illustration. This leering toff appeared inside the issues of the men’s monthly pocket magazine Razzle in the late 1940s, with a girl bubbling away in his glass.

woman-champagne-glass-razzle-magazine-1948

 

 

Stephen Hawking waged Penthouse against Private Eye in black hole bet

June 8, 2020
private_eye_1972_12dec1_sunday_times

A copy of the satirical bimonthly Private Eye in 1972

Who would have thought it? A wager that a celestial object was not a black hole was made by Stephen Hawking, the mathematician, cosmologist and author of A Brief History of Time, with the stakes being a year’s subscription to Penthouse against four years of Private Eye magazines.

penthouse_1968_barbarella

Penthouse in 1968

The story is described in chapter six of Hawking’s 1988 book, Brief History of Time. I came across it in Inside Einstein’s Mind, a recently-shown BBC documentary about Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Kip Thorne, a US cosmologist, was on the other side of the 1975 bet, which was based on whether X-1, a source of X-rays in the Cygnus constellation, was a black hole. It took 15 years for Hawking to accept he had lost the bet and fork out for the Penthouse subscription to Thorne.

The programme says that both Thorne and Hawking believed Cygnus X-1 was a black hole all along, but Hawking took on the wager because four years of the satirical twice-monthly Private Eye would have been a form of compensation had he been wrong.

In the documentary, Thorne mentions how the British version of Penthouse magazine was much more explicit, compared with the US editions. Bob Guccione, an American, had launched Penthouse in Britain in 1965, and in the US four years later. It traded on being more sexually explicit than other men’s magazines sold openly in newsagents and was the first of these to show female pubic hair, in its April 1970 issue.

In 2018, Hawking died and was buried between Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin at Westminster Abbey in London. Hawking had been Lucasian professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a post that dates back to 1663 and has been previously held both by Newton and Charles Babbage.

Kitchener poster and the Washington Post film

November 20, 2019
The cover of Art Buchwald's 1968 book, Have I Ever Lied to You? is on the wall of the editor's office in The Post

The cover of Art Buchwald’s 1968 book is on the wall of the editor’s office in The Post

I rabbit on so much about Alfred Leete’s Kitchener poster that I wrote a book about it, but it still never ceases to amaze me the way that Leete’s Kitchener image – and the many derivatives of it – keep popping up. One example is in the Steven Spielberg film, The Post.

A poster for Have I Ever Lied to You?, a book by the Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald, is on the wall of the editor’s office. It can be seen in several scenes. Buchwald is portrayed as Uncle Sam from the 1917 recruiting poster by James Montgomery Flagg.

The Flagg image, which, like Leete’s, first appeared on a magazine cover (Leslie’s Weekly), was a blatant copy of Leete’s September 1914 cover for London Opinion magazine. Flagg simply replaced Kitchener with himself as Uncle Sam, and the poster has been as big a hit in the US as Leete’s was in Britain.

In The Post, Tom Hanks plays the editor, Ben Bradlee. It comes across just like the 1980s TV series Lou Grant. In that, Mrs Pynchon, the widowed owner of the fictional Los Angeles Tribune, was based on two women: Katherine Graham, the widowed owner of the Washington Post; and ‘Dolly’ Schiff, owner and publisher of the New York Post.

Artists, their signatures and monograms

April 12, 2018
Alfred Leete's monogram

Alfred Leete’s monogram

Alfred Leete, creator of the Your Country Needs You poster of Kitchener, had a distinctive signature for his work, as did one of his artistic contemporaries, Lawson Wood, the creator of the Gran’pop chimpanzee character. Both were famous illustrators and in both cases, the signature evolved over time.

Richard 'Dicky' Doyle's monogram on Punch

Richard ‘Dicky’ Doyle’s monogram from Punch

Other illustrators and cartoonists used a monogram, a graphic device made up of their initials. A great example of this was the Punch illustrator Richard Doyle. He used a reversed R to share the upright of the D, with a bird on top to symbolise his nickname, Dicky Doyle. Monograms seem to have become less popular in the 20th century, but Simon House has a spread of Victorian examples in his book, The Dictionary of 19th Century British Book Illustrators.

Leete’s and Wood’s signatures are easy to make out, whereas Doyle’s is a rebus. However, some cartoonists’ signatures seem perverse in their illegibility – Gilbert Wilkinson being a prime example with his covers for Passing Show and Illustrated weekly magazines.

To help get my head round them all, I’ve started a page of signatures and monograms on Magforum with 100 examples. Another illegible example is East on a Health & Efficiency cover – pointers as to what it says or in identifying some others would be appreciated!

east monogram from 1928 Health and Efficiency

Illegible signature for part of ‘East’


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

 

 


 

Magazine titles: what’s in a name?

February 20, 2018
Title from the first issue of men's monthly Loaded-in 1994: for men who should know better

Title from the first issue of men’s monthly Loaded in 1994: for men who should know better

My mention of Private Eye editor Ian Hislop included his editorial philosophy on the satirical magazine. He sees his job as to:

Make jokes about what people know and then tell them things they don’t know.

Simplifying an editorial strategy to a few words is a great skill. Today, companies have their ‘mission statements’ but magazines have been coining these for centuries. What is the magazine about? What is it about a magazine that is different from its rivals?

A Tit-Bits cover from 1955

A Tit-Bits cover from 1955

For James Brown’s Loaded, it was ‘For men who should know better’; for the science fiction weekly Scoops in 1934, ‘Stories of the wonder-world of tomorrow’; FHM‘s mantra coined by Mike Soutar was ‘Funny, sexy useful’.

George Newnes came up with the not-so-pithy title Tit-Bits from all the Most Interesting Books, Periodicals and Contributors in the World for his pioneering weekly magazine in 1881, which was soon shortened to Tit-Bits.

Sometimes, the title goes a long way to saying it all: Answers to Correspondents, Men Only, Motor, Woman, Razzle. But even in these cases, differentiation is needed from rivals.

Alfred Harmsworth's Home Chat from 1895

Harmsworth’s Home Chat from 1895

Think of the woman’s weekly Home Chat. The name dates back to an Alfred Harmsworth (Lord Northcliffe) launch in 1895.  Would House Chat have been as good? Or Home Talk? Or Fireside Chat?

Probably not, and certainly Home Chat lasted until 1959, when it became a victim of new technology in the form of television. The word ‘chat’ was resurrected for the weekly Chat by ITV/IPC in 1985, though by that time the word ‘home’ was a no-no for a woman’s magazine.

A rival to Home Chat was Home Notes (1895-1958) from C. Arthur Pearson. This carried a line of poetry on its cover: ‘The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,’ by the US poet William Ross Wallace. This summed up the influence of the mother, but today it has sinister connotations.

Charing Cross magazine took its name from a famous place in London -1900-first-issue-magazine-cover

Charing Cross magazine took its name from a famous place in London in 1900

Many Victorian publishers took their titles from fashionable places in the world’s greatest city. Examples include Cornhill, Pall Mall, The Strand, Charing Cross.

In doing so, they spread the fame of these thoroughfares and places even farther around the world, in a way that song lyrics would do in the 20th century (Ferry Across the Mersey, Wichita Lineman, Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa) and TV does today (Jersey Shore, The Only Way is Essex).

Many magazine titles have changed the meaning of words, or at least influenced our perception of them, such Punch, Eagle and Delayed Gratification.


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


 

Flann O’Brien, Goldfrapp and the BBC

December 6, 2017
Flann O'Brien

Flann O’Brien shown on the TLS website in a 2011 article

Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory chose Flann O’Brien as the subject of Great Lives on BBC Radio 4 yesterday (you can still hear it on the BBC’s iPlayer). Astoundingly,  Matthew Parris said he did not know the Irish writer and his masterpieces, At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman.

Carol Taaffe, who has written about O’Brien, explained that the books were only hailed as literary masterpieces after the author’s death. O’Brien worked as a civil servant and wrote under three pseudonyms – Brian O’Nolan, Flann O’Brien, and Myles na gCopaleen, the last of these for his satirical columns in the Irish Times newspaper, which he wrote in Gaelic.

Town, the mainstream men’s magazine, ran a profile of O’Brien in its September 1965 issue, a year before O’Brien’s death. The Times Literary Supplement celebrated O’Brien on his centenary in 2011 and the Irish Times ran an O’Brien homage in 2015.

Maurice Rickards: ephemera and magazines

October 14, 2017
Maurice Rickards merged two images in the dark room for this image manipulation cover on Man About Town in 1959

Maurice Rickards merged two photographs in the dark room for this image manipulation cover on Man About Town in 1959

Maurice Rickards is one of the unsung heroes of graphic design. Although he wrote several books – and Michael Twyman completed his Encyclopedia of Ephemera – the godfather of modern-day ephemera is rarely written about. Even Wikipedia, that great hoover-upper of everybody else’s research and websites, has yet to acknowledge his existence. Only the Independent gave him an obituary (by Patrick ‘Book of Firsts‘ Robertson, a former chairman of the Ephemera Society who claims to own the largest private collection of vintage magazines in Britain).

Rickards trained as a photographer but collecting the fleeting printed objects of everyday life – particularly posters – was his joy and he appears to have made a living from his Fitzrovia basement studio as an illustrator, photographer and magazine designer. It was his enthusiasm that led to the creation of the Ephemera Society, its offshoot in the US and the Centre for Ephemera Studies at Reading University under the direction of Professor Twyman.

Maurice Rickards poster-style cover design for Man About Town (spring 1956)

Maurice Rickards poster-style cover design for Man About Town (spring 1956)

I never met the man, but came to some idea of his approach to design through the pages of Man About Town under the editorship of John Taylor in the 1950s (before it was bought up by Michael Heseltine’s Cornmarket). Later, when researching books about British magazine design and Alfred Leete’s Kitchener poster, I discovered his books on posters.

The spring 1956 poster-like cover of Man About Town is credited to Rickards, as is autumn 1958, so he was probably working as a freelance designer on the magazine in those years. I particularly like the latter example, which is described as being inspired by the squiggle shape that he came across.

Maurice Rickards ephemera-inspired cover design for Man About Town (autumn 1958)

Maurice Rickards ephemera-inspired cover design for Man About Town (autumn 1958)

The autumn/winter i959 issue at the top of this post was the last Man About Town under Taylor and perhaps that is why it gives a big showing to Rickards’ work. He had done several earlier covers designs but this one gives an opportunity for his ‘crackpotography’ ideas, along with a five-page article.  The text reproduces some of his ‘eccentricities’ in ‘Rickards’s howdoneit’, an article based on his book, Off-Beat Photography (The Studio, 1959), about image manipulation. In Man About Town‘s inimitable style, the magazine  describes that the woman sitting on Rickards’s head cover is easily explained:

It is not that we used a particularly small girl; it is merely that Rickards himself has such a big head.

Offbeat Photography by Maurice Richards

Offbeat Photography by Maurice Richards shows Rickards with an axe in his head on the dust jacket

In the article, the captions explain how each photograph was composed and how shadows were added using an airbrush or avoided. A man shown balancing on a glass using just one finger needed 50 or 60 exposures before Rickards got it right. A skull and Luger photo was for a book, named as Skeleton Island. In fact, this looks to have become A Twist of Sand (1960) by Geoffrey Jenkins and was made into a film eight years later starring Richard Johnson and Honor Blackman. The cover used a variant of the photo, without the gun.

Another photograph of what looks like the aftermath of a massive road accident  harks back to a poster campaign he did right at the start of his career in 1953 – Lives Matter. Three posters were commissioned by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, showing a woman collapsed over a telephone, a one-legged boy on crutches, and a little girl in the arms of a policeman. According to Patrick Robertson’s obituary, such was the horror they generated that they were banned by various local authorities, were defaced on hoardings and prompted ‘harsh letters’ to editors and MPs.

 

 

When Brad Pitt celebrated his wedding in Soho’s French House pub

March 14, 2017
Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in Allied

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in Allied

Watched the film Allied on the jet from Sydney to Hong Kong the other day in which the Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard characters get married and celebrate in the York Minster pub. She’s French (in the film as well as in real life) and it’s in London. I thought, can that be Soho? Sure enough it was the York Minister in Dean Street, as became clear from the interior scenes – though it’s amazing how they made it look so big!

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The French House in Soho 

The York Minister was the meeting house for the Free French in London during the Second World War but had gained the nickname ‘The French House‘ because of Gaston Berlemont, the landlord (though he was, in fact, Belgian). De Gaulle is supposed to have written his famous BBC rallying speech there. In 1984, it changed its name to the nickname.

John Taylor, founder of Man About Town magazine drank in the French House, York Minster, in Soho

John Taylor, founder of Man About Town

The Minster was always popular with writers and artists. Also, among the many pictures that cover the walls is supposed to be a photograph of John Taylor, the founder of Man About Town magazine and editor of Tailor & Cutter, the world’s most influential style magazine for much of the past century. I’ve never spotted it though.

I was in The French House a few weeks ago with a couple of friends. Highly recommended is a bottle of the house red and a plate of bread and cheese with homemade chutney. Lunch for three for £30!

It was also The French House that gave me my favourite piece of graffiti, on a theme that has been much in evidence since the US presidential election.

On this day in magazines: Magazines try to change their names in 1920 and 1959

February 28, 2017
Record Weekly was the new title for New Illustrated in 1920

Record Weekly was the new title for New Illustrated in 1920

Two magazines here demonstrate a similar approach to refocusing a magazine on a new audience – though exactly 39 years apart. One failed, one worked.

The first, New Illustrated of 28 February 1920, had already changed its name on 15 February the year before from War Illustrated. Now it was changing to The Record Weekly. Quite a challenge for a weekly magazine. And it did not work. Despite one of the most acclaimed editors of the era, John Hammerton, being in charge at Amalgamated Press, the biggest publisher of the era, the last issue was dated March 20. Clearly, it a was desperate change that was given little time to succeed.

Blighty Parade magazine was a step in changing the title from Blighty to Parade (1959, February 28)

Blighty Parade was a step in changing the title from Blighty to Parade (1959, February 28)

In 1959, the magazine environment was changing quickly. A men’s weekly magazine that still had a military feel – Blighty – needed to change tack and respond to the threat from television and the new men’s magazines such as Spick and Span. Blighty had been founded as a free weekly for the troops in the First World War, and the idea was resurrected for WWII.

The magazine had long run a feature called ‘Picture Parade’ and some bright spark reckoned ‘Blighty’ was outdated as a name. So Parade it would be. However, simply changed the name was regarded as too big a step. So, a plan was put in place to do it in stages over several years:

  • 1959: The name becomes Blighty Parade, at first with the Parade very small.
  • By the end of February 1959 , they were about an equal weight.
  • This continued until November, when the Parade dominated, but the Blighty was retained throughout 1960.
  • By January 1961, the Blighty was dropped and the Parade title was run right across the top of the cover and down the left side.

This change was obviously done far more slowly than on Record Weekly. The strategy worked, with Parade soldiering on into 1970. It became more aggressive in its pin-ups, with topless shots in each issue. However, the likes of Penthouse, Mayfair and Playboy were even more aggressive and Parade folded. The title was bought by a pornographic publisher and continued on the top shelf.

 


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

 


This month in magazines: 1950s glamour magazines

February 18, 2017

Beautiful Britons brought girl-next-door glamour to readers (February 1956)

Beautiful Britons  (February 1956)

Spick glamour magazine cover from February 1956, issue 27

Spick magazine from February 1956

Last issue of Span in 1976 Toco number 266

Last issue of Span in 1976, issue  266

Town and Country Publishing (Toco) exploited the demand for men’s magazines in the mid-1950s by launching pocket-format titles that brought girl-next-door glamour to their readers.

Spick, Span and Beautiful Britons were three of the company’s titles. Spick was the first to come out, in December 1953, and was followed by Span the next September. Spick used professional models at first, but encouraged readers to send in photographs of wives and girlfriends. It soon introduced Beautiful Britons pages, which obviously inspired the third magazine of the trio.

However, they slowly lost sales in the second half of the Sixties in the face of competition from more aggressive launches, such as ParadeMayfair and Penthouse.


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