Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

What’s it worth: Empire film magazine

April 23, 2020
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Empire magazine: this lot fetched £120 for 35 issues.  That averages out at £3.40 a copy

I’ve put a lot of guidance on Ebay selling in this blog and also on Magforum’s Collecting Magazines page. But every seller is different and it’s difficult making judgements. Isla has emailed me with this query, which is a good opportunity to set out the main points:

I recently discovered that my Dad has a large collection of Empire magazines in the loft. There are almost all of the issues from 1989 (first issue) until about 2007 maybe later (it’s hard to tell as I haven’t been able to get them all out from the cupboard). Most of them are discoloured (like yellow/brown pages), I spotted at least one unfortunate coffee cup stain, a lot have minor rips and creases from where they’ve been read and some of the free posters have been removed (only a few issues have free posters). There are several collectors edition issues. I have read all of your information about selling but after looking at other listings on Ebay, I still can’t tell if they would be of enough value to be bothered to sell (I am quite happy keeping them to read/cut up). Do you think that they could be worth anything?

It’s always difficult to judge what sort of money makes it worth someone’s while getting up to speed on eBay. So, let’s look at this from the bottom up with the questions that come to my mind.

Is there a market in Empire magazine?

A quick search on eBay (Empire magazine -bbc for UK only) suggests there is, with 5,155 lots up for sale at present. But that’s also a lot of competition. Of these, about 2,100 are tagged with dates:

  • 450 are marked as being from the 1990s;
  • 851 from the 2000s;
  • 834 from the 2010s.

Generally, older issues fetch more, but my experience suggests that subscriber-only collectors’ editions and special issues, such as the Star Wars issue of Empire from June 2005 with a breathing Darth Vader, are more valuable. Posters and special gifts make a difference too.

In terms of selling though, the asking price on live listings may not be a good guide. Many dealers put up hundreds of lots at high prices and are prepared to wait a long time for a sale. They just put it up on a buy-it-now and wait for months and generally have an eBay, or even a real, shop. In general, the cheaper your asking price, the quicker something will sell. So, next question…

What do copies of Empire actually sell for?

Screenshot 2020-04-23 at 19.05.31To discover this, first of all use the left-hand menu on eBay to select only lots that have ended (completed). This gives 3,482 results.

We can then select only items that have sold (see the partial screen grab shown on the left).  In this case, we get 854. This gives us a rough and ready ratio of about one in every four lots selling (if you look at the detail, it’s a crude measure because many listings are only up for a few days ands then get put up again when they don’t sell, but let’s not complicate things here). That’s not a bad figure, a calculation I did a while back on Country Life came out at just 13%.

Screenshot 2020-04-23 at 15.13.43Now, we can list these by ‘Highest price + p&p’ in a dropdown menu near the top right of the eBay page. (Again, see the partial screen grab shown on the left.)

The highest price was for a magazine item about the British empire, so we can ignore that – though we might want to tweak our search by adding ‘-british’ to take out such items (though it would also remove listings that used British in their listing). This cuts the total to 801.

We can see that a bulk lot sold on the 5th of February for £120 plus £25 postage. This was for 35 issues dating back to 1993, 1994 and 1995. That averages out at £3.40 a copy. Note, though, that these are listed as VGC – very good condition. It seems unlikely that many of Isla’s copies are that good. As she says:

Most of them are discoloured (like yellow/brown pages), I spotted at least one unfortunate coffee cup stain, a lot have minor rips and creases

The February seller, funkymonkey62, stresses the condition, describing them as ‘All in very good condition’ and ‘Pre-owned but in excellent condition’ within the listing. Funkymonkey62 also has a solid record of 1,283 sales, with 117 of the last 118 items having positive feedback.

What can Isla expect for her discoloured magazines?

Isla could put up the complete three years of issues, but would have to be honest about the condition. Photos help here, so people can make their own judgement. The discolouration is likely to have come from exposure to sunlight or damp. At least the magazines are complete, no pages ripped out or photos cut out.

The postage cost is likely to be the same, and the asking price: half the VGC price? That’s £1.70 each or £61 for the 36 issues plus postage.

Ilsa has far more than that, of course.

almost all of the issues from 1989 (first issue) until about 2007

Let’s assume she has every issue from June 1989 to the end of 2006, and that there were 12 issues a year. That’s 7 issues plus 17 full years, or 211 copies. So, if they all sold for £1.70 each, the grand total would be £358. However, there’s another question…

Are all copies worth the same?

The answer, of course, is No, even assuming they are in the same condition. First issues and older issues tend to fetch more because they are less likely to have survived. And the eBay results give evidence here, with another two high-earning sales.

Screenshot 2020-04-23 at 17.51.29In the first example, the winner of two bidders in an auction paid £43 plus £8 postage for copies of the first ten issues: an average of £4.30 each. This was almost a quarter more per copy than funkymonkey62 achieved for their VGC copies. The condition description was ‘in bookcase for the past 30 years – spine getting the only bit of daylight. No fading, excellent colour’. This is a better form of description because it’s more objective, allowing some one to make their own judgement, whereas ‘VGC’ is more subjective.

Another listing contradicts this though: issues 1-56 in unique bindings sold for just £50 – less than £1 each. The condition was described: ‘Kept in excellent condition due to custom binding. (My Dad collects railway magazines and had them bound so I wouldn’t turn them all into posters!).’ But this was a ‘collection only’ offer, greatly limiting the potential buyers. And the seller probably underpriced them – remember funkymonkey62’s £120 buy-it-now for £35 issues. But if the seller wanted to get a bulky item out of the house quickly, it worked for them.

Is it better to split up a collection?

If you want to spend the time getting to learn eBay and are prepared to do the research and live close to a Post Office, you can certainly earn more, particularly if there are unopened posters and supplements.

The tactic here is to find use eBay searches to identify the best issues, sell those separately, and then sell the rest in bigger lots, probably by year (but check on the most efficient postal bands).

As an example, four copies of Empire‘s Fantastic Beasts special edition have sold for between £28 and £48 (issue 330, Dec 2016). The standard newsstand issue fetches £2-£5. It’s a similar story for Empire‘s Mandalorian Baby Yoda subscriber edition from April 2020 – £20-£40, and other recent Star Wars specials. Individual copies of the first issue have sold for between £6.41 (auction) and £22.99 inclusive (a buy-it-now).

So, what should Isla do?

Only Isla can decide on her priorities and the balance between time spent and money earned. In her shoes, assuming she wants the cash, I would suggest:

  1. Pick out the issues that fetch the most from the sold issues selection on eBay.
  2. Pick out the best issues by condition.
  3. Experiment with these one at a time using buy-it-now listings to judge the best selling price.
  4. Sell the rest in chunks, but again experiment with doing it by year or perhaps theme: Star Wars, Marvel heroes, etc.

Any tips for the listings?

  1. My research into Country Life suggests that building up eBay expertise pays off. The conclusion was: ‘people who fill out data fields for a listing are three times as likely to sell their magazine‘.
  2. Put a lot of pictures and details in the listings. Mention the films and actors covered in the big articles and who’s on the cover or in any posters, or whole page pictures.
  3. Make the descriptions objective. Describe the copy (all pages complete, no creasing to cover, clean, demo a no-smoking home), rather than judge (excellent condition). Above all, be open and honest; refer to the photos in the description.
  4. Before you put up an issue, check out the competition. If you want to sell quickly, price low; be prepared to wait if you aim high. Watch out for news or new films relevant to the issue you’re selling – topicality can raise prices.
  5. Make the best use of the limited character you have in the main description – think about what words people use for searching. Leave out filler words such as ‘a’ and ‘the’.
  6. Look at the sold listings for tips on descriptions. Compare these with those that don’t sell, so you can work out what works.

 

 

 

Scare fiction and War of the Worlds

December 29, 2019
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War of the Worlds by HG Wells as re-envisaged by the BBC

The BBC’s Christmas adaptation of the War of the Worlds has brought the HG Wells work to fresh audiences. The original serial is an iconic piece of fiction and certainly boosted the reputation of Pearson’s, the monthly magazine that first published it, in 1897. It was part of a genre called ‘scare fiction’ that was popular – and influential – from the 1870s into the First World War. The inspiration for such works came from the changing European alliances of the Victorian era.

Britain was at war throughout the nineteenth century. Having put Napoleon’s ambitions to rest – with Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar and then Wellington’s at Waterloo in 1815 – there came the Crimea War against Russia. That ended in 1856, after which the hostilities were mainly outside Europe. The conflicts were about cementing the empire – the Zulu war, Abyssinia, two Anglo-Boer wars, Afghanistan, Sudan and the Nile campaigns among them. The British were able to win using small, well-drilled forces on land and sea, local allies, and superior weapons. Meanwhile, alongside these far-flung conflicts, writers were imagining how war might look closer to home, against a modern European power.

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The Battle of Dorking by George Tomkyns Chesney sparked a new genre, scare fiction

A short story in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine fired the starting gun for scare fiction in May 1871. The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer, told of an invasion and was to influence public debate right up to the start of the Great War. Blackwood’s was an influential right-wing monthly – known as ‘Maga’ – that was sold globally as well as at home. Blackwood’s established the careers, among others, of Middlemarch author George Eliot and Joseph Conrad with Heart of Darkness. The initially anonymous Battle of Dorking (by army engineer George Tomkyns Chesney) describes how a secret weapon deployed by the unnamed enemy (though clearly Prussians – who had secured  the victory against Napoleon at Waterloo) destroys the Royal Navy, with the ineffectual defenders on land being defeated near Dorking in Surrey when they try to block the invaders’ road to London. The invading force conquers Britain and the empire is then broken up.

The work sold more than 100,000 copies as a pamphlet and was published in a number of editions as a book and translated into several languages. In the Second World War, a German edition was issued to Hitler’s army as Was England Erwartet (What England Expects). The Blackwood’s story was mentioned is several parliamentary debates from June 1871 and such was its influence that William Gladstone, the prime minister, had to speak out against the ‘alarmism’ it had generated. Four months after the May issue of Blackwood’s appeared, army manoeuvres involving 30,000 men were held on the Hog’s Back, a ridge between Farnham and Guildford in Surrey. Later, forts were built in the area. Chesney went on to become a reforming general and was knighted for his work in Britain and India. For one academic, Patrick Kirkwood:

The Battle of Dorking was central to the parliamentary, military and public ‘invasion’ controversies of the 1870s. Subsequent developments, ranging from recurring print and parliamentary debates, to military manoeuvres and the eventual building of a series of forts along the North Downs support this position … The Battle of Dorking was equal parts fantasy ‘invasion literature’ and policy document. Its frequent citation by members of both houses of parliament, and by military men engaged in public and private debates, serves to back this claim, as does Chesney’s rapid integration into the pro-military reform wing of the Conservative Parliamentary Party of the 1890s.

Adding to the genre, Liverpool-Irish journalist Louis Tracy wrote several books about future war, the best known being the 1896 Final War, a book dedicated to ‘Private Thomas Atkins’ (a nickname for the average British soldier that dates back at least to the time of the Battle of Waterloo – from which we get ‘Tommy’). He saw his work as describing ‘a great war to be the end of all war’ and it ends in victory for the British with the help of the United States against the Germans and French. Tracy’s books include elements of science fiction, with a British secret weapon, the ‘Thompson Electric Rifle’, helping ensure victory.

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A Martian machine wreaks havoc in War of the Worlds, illustrated by Warwick Goble, 1897

The invasion theme was taken up by HG Wells in War of the Worlds, which was published in Pearson’s Magazine in parts from June 1897. The brilliant illustrations were by Warwick Goble. For Wells, the enemy comes from another planet and, though the aliens easily overwhelm the defenders, they are ultimately defeated by nature, in the form of bacteria. As with Chesney’s book, the Surrey stockbroker belt is pivotal, with the Martians landing on the edge of the town of Woking, just fourteen miles from Dorking.

The big-selling penny weekly magazines did not miss out on the invasion craze, with Northcliffe’s Answers, one the best-selling, serialising Frederick White’s The Lion’s Claw, which has the old enemies, the French and Russians, invading. And the next week in 1900, Pearson’s Weekly put out one of Tracy’s thrillers The Invaders: A Story of Britain’s Peril, with the Germans as the villains of the piece.

Three years later, Germany returns as the enemy when a gathering invasion force is discovered in Robert Erskine Childers’ ripping yarn, Riddle of the Sands. In 1906, The Invasion of 1910 by William Le Queux adds German fifth columnists to the mix. Two years after that, in War Inevitable by Alan Burgoyne, an MP who specialised in naval affairs, a fictionalised Lord Kitchener comes to the rescue after German motor torpedo boats devastate the British fleet in a sneak attack.

A year before the horrific real war breaks out, When William Came by ‘Saki’ (Hector Hugh Munro) was published. This book follows on from Chesney’s theme of forty years earlier, describing life under German occupation: the ‘William’ of the title is Kaiser Wilhelm II – ‘Kaiser Bill’ to the British people at the time. With the outbreak of the real war, a new edition of The Battle of Dorking was published.

Ralph Straus wrote a summary of ‘scare-fictionists’ in the second issue of Bystander magazine after the Great War was declared. The genre is often referred to by academics now as ‘invasion literature’. The article, ‘Armageddon – in prophecy’, is illustrated with a painting of aerial warfare by Guy Lipscombe from Burgoyne’s War Inevitable. He discusses how ‘About the middle of the century Germany definitely emerged to take France’s old place as our potential enemy’ and describes how such writers ‘have come to the truth’.

The greatest writer of the era, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was slow to come to the genre, but addressed it in a prophetic way, for both world wars. In its July 1914 issue, The Strand published ‘Danger! Being the log of Captain John Sirius’ by the Sherlock Holmes creator. He envisaged Britain being starved into submission by enemy submarines. The enemy was the fictional country of Norland, a thinly disguised Germany.

These fictional works spurred debate in the real world. As the new century began, Britain was the only European power that did not have a large conscript army, even though prominent figures had been pressing for compulsory military service since the first Boer War. Among these advocates was George Shee, a barrister and Liberal imperialist, who in 1901 published The Briton’s First Duty: The Case for Conscription in which he argued for a compulsory home defence army to protect against invasion. Despite the strength of the Royal Navy on the high seas, it could not guarantee being able to prevent an invasion force crossing the English Channel, only that it would be able to cut the invaders’ supply lines. Out of the conscription movement came the National Service League, a group founded in 1902. It argued the army was too weak to fight a major war and that national service was the only answer. Boer War hero Lord Roberts later led the league and saw its membership increase from 2,000 to about 95,000 by 1913.

And the success of The Invasion of 1910 – built on Le Queux’s ability to secure the backing of Lord Roberts and the media might of Lord Northcliffe – has been identified as a factor in the founding of the Secret Service in the form of MI5 and MI6. As a result, 41 German agents were identified and arrested in Britain between 1911 and the outbreak of the war.

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This post is based on a section from the book, ‘Kitchener Wants You’, by Martyn Thatcher and myself.

Who does Bonham Carter think she is?

November 21, 2019
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Helena Bonham Carter in the Sunday Times Magazine (November 2)

Is Helena Bonham Carter trying to become the new Joan Collins? That seems to be who she’s aping in this Sunday Times Magazine shoot. As a comparison, the spread below is from Blighty & Parade and was on of several publicity shots of Collins from the 1960 film Seven Thieves that were widely seen in magazines such as Film Review and Span at the time and pop up occasionally since.

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Joan Collins on the centre spread from Parade & Blighty in 1960 (Feb 20)

Bonham Carter was promoting her role as Princess Margaret in the TV series The Crown.

The comparable front covers are shown below.

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Joan Collins on magazine covers since 1951

 

 

 

 

Magazines in the movies: Gangster No 1

October 9, 2018

Magazines often pop in TV series and the movies, from Doctor Who to Steven Seagal thrillers to James Bond, but a surprise appearance was in the gruesome Gangster No 1, the film that established Paul Bettany in 2000. There’s a scene where Bettany’s character has butchered a rival in the man’s flat, and he sits in his vest and underpants spattered with blood with copies of three magazines at his feet.

They are: Condé Nast’s House & Garden, Michael Heseltine’s Town and and Football Weekly. The full covers are not visible but I reckon the Town is from September 1962 with the first couple of letters of the white sans title on a dark background. The Jimmy-Hill-fronted Football Weekly is from October 11, 1968, with Liverpool’s Ian Callaghan dribbling past a Manchester City player (no change there then).

The House & Garden is trickier, but it will have been at the time when the typographer and polymath Robert Harling was editor. The title has the first word reversed out of a dark background and then the & Garden in black on a second line. Pretty distinctive, but I don’t have set of cover images from House & Garden across the sixties for reference. The magazine does have a cover archive, but only of the ‘best 100’ House & Garden covers.


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

 

 


 

 

How Kitchener inspired the nation for Dunkirk

August 4, 2017
Picture Post for the week of 1 June 1940

Kitchener leads the nation again in the week of Dunkirk from the cover of Picture Post (1 June 1940)

Christopher Nolan’s film Dunkirk has certainly brought the legend of the ‘Little Ships’ armada that rescued so many Allied troops back into the world’s imagination. In 1940, the media that the British will have turned to was BBC radio and Picture Post magazine.

And the image that editor Stefan Lorant chose to put on his magazine’s front cover the week of Dunkirk was Alfred Leete’s Your Country Needs You. It was a cover that will have gone to press before May 29, when the evacuation was announced to the British public. But then Lorant may well have known what was happening to the British Expeditionary Force through his contact with Churchill.

Boat owners certainly responded to the call – making up the bulk in number of the 860 vessels that were involved.  Some 200 of the small craft that epitomised the Dunkirk spirit were sunk. However, by the time the operation ended on June 4, 198,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian troops had been saved. Another 220,000 troops were rescued  from other French ports.

The presence of this force was undoubtedly a factor in forcing Hitler to rethink his invasion plans, but the war was not going well for Britain – its allies were dropping like nine pins – and Lorant must have been in more fear for his life than most people in Britain. Lorant was a Hungarian Jew who had been imprisoned by Hitler for his work on weekly papers in Germany. In Britain, he promoted the work of many other Continental exiles, including Walter Trier, who drew the Lilliput covers for 20 years, the photographer Bill Brandt and the photomontages of John Heartfield, probably best remembered for his Elephants Might Fly reaction to the Munich agreement (15 October 1938).

Lorant had lambasted the Nazi regime in his book, I Was Hitler’s Prisoner, which was turned into a BBC Radio play; in the pages of Weekly Illustrated, which he had launched for Odhams in 1934; in the delectible Lilliput, which he founded, as well as Picture Post. So he must have been well up on Hitler’s hit list.

Walter Trier's cover for first Lilliput magazine in 1937

Walter Trier’s cover for first Lilliput magazine in 1937

Soon after Lorant went to America in mid-1940, Picture Post‘s two most important cameramen – Felix Man and Kurt Hutton, both German emigres – were interned on the Isle of Man. The magazine set about negotiating for their release, but their fates will not have assuaged Lorant’s fears and he emigrated to the US. As Lorant told his deputy Tom Wilkinson, who went on to become editor of Picture Post:

‘You British citizens will be all right – all you’ll lose is the freedom to say what you think. But we bloody foreigners will be handed over … I’ve been Hitler’s prisoner once in Munich, I’m not waiting for him to catch up with me a second time.’

The Kitchener-covered Picture Post issue was larger than usual and was focused on Britain’s leaders, with 32 pages devoted to government members. Lorant was a big fan of Churchill. The section starts with photographs comparing a ‘grimly determined’ Churchill in 1914 with him ‘grimly determined again’ in 1940.

Back in February 1939, Lorant had sent Wickham Steed, a former editor of The Times, and cameraman Felix Man to Chartwell and interview Winston Churchill at his home. As David Marcou writes in his thesis, ‘All the Best’:

‘Churchill – the man the Tories didn‘t trust – was no more than a backbencher under the Chamberlain administration. He‘d held no office since being Chancellor of the Exchequer under Stanley Baldwin a decade before. Steed concluded his profile: “His abiding care is the safety of Britain, the Empire and the Commonwealth. Should some great emergency arise … his qualities and experience might then be national assets; and the true greatness, which he has often seemed to miss by a hair‘s breadth, might, by common consent, be his.” In its introduction, Picture Post added its own prophetic comment: At 64, the greatest moment of his life has still to come.’

Picture Post covered the German offensive with a dramatic story―’Blitzkrieg’ in the June 8 issue.

‘The lightning war smites Europe. It blisters its way between the Allied Armies, cleaving them in two. It carves out a charred road to the English Channel. It scorches the Belgian Army and stuns the Belgian King into surrender.’

Alongside the words is a full-page photo of a man with a girl lying nearby, which tells the story of what war was doing to innocents. The picture caption reads:

We dedicate this picture to the Fuhrer. We dedicate this picture to the ‘moderate’ Goering. We dedicate this picture to those of our own politicians who promised us that Germany would never be allowed to attain air-parity with Britain; that they had secured peace for our time; that they were abundantly confident of victory … It shows a Dutch father wounded all over, but forgetful of what he is suffering. The dead girl on the corner is his daughter.

It’s no wonder that Lorant decided to put the Atlantic ocean between himself and Hitler. However, he had burned his bridges well before. As I point out in A History of British Magazine Design, Tom Hopkinson identifies the seven pages of ‘Back to the Middle Ages’ (26 November 1938) as ‘the finest example of the use of photographs for political effect’. He describes how Lorant drew up the pages to hit back at ‘This bloody Hitler. These bloody pogroms!’

Magazines in the movies: Playboy in Steven Seagal’s Under Siege

December 28, 2016
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Playboy magazine, July 1989, as seen in the film Under Siege

A few weeks ago, it was James Bond reading a copy of Playboy magazine. Tonight, it’s a sailor goggling over a copy with a Playboy bunny in Under Siege. The crew of the US battleship Missouri are anticipating the arrival of the July 1989 Playboy playmate of the month, Jordan Tate. In fact, the playmate that month was Erika Eleniak, who actually plays the Jordan Tate role in the 1992 film. She ‘wears’ a captain’s dress uniform, something that she also does in the movie, when she jumps out of a giant cake in front of Steven Seagal, playing the ship’s cook, Casey Ryback.

Eleniak also had a role in Baywatch, a TV series that later produced another popular magazine pin-up, Pamela Anderson.

It’s far and away the best Seagal film, and was followed three years later by Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, which takes place on a train. Watch out for the cameo role for an Apple Newton. This was the US computer company’s first attempt at an iPad-type device, though called a personal digital assistant in the jargon of the time. It featured handwriting recognition and was built around a British-designed ARM chip, the processor powering just about every Apple product since.


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

 

 


 

James Bond’s Playboy days

December 13, 2016
Playboy, February 1969, as read by James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Playboy, February 1969, with Nancy Chamberlain on the cover, as read by James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Saw On Her Majesty’s Secret Service the other night and couldn’t help but notice that, after cracking open the safe of a lawyer who works for Spectre arch-villain Blofeld (Telly Savalas), Bond (George Lazenby) walks off reading a copy of Playboy magazine that he found in the lawyer’s office. He takes a good look at that month’s centrefold pin-up, Lorrie Menconi! On the cover of the US magazine is Nancy Chamberlain. Prominent product placement for the February 1969 issue.

There is a long history of connections between Bond and magazines. In 1962, the first issue of the Sunday Times Colour Supplement (now the Sunday Times Magazine) carried The Living Daylights. Even earlier, The Hildebrand Rarity, another short story, appeared in a 1960 issue of Playboy. And that same top-shelf magazine serialised On Her Majesty’s Secret Service over three issues in 1963, six years before the movie came out.

Yet the links don’t end there. In real life, Fleming worked for the Sunday Times, where his friend Robert Harling, the typographer and editor of House & Garden, was a design consultant from after the war until 1985. Harling had redesigned Admiralty reports and then served with Fleming’s 30 Assault Unit capturing German military secrets during the war. When the hardback books came out, Harling designed the Tea Chest font for the early Bond dust jackets. He is regarded as one of the men on whom Bond is based, and is mentioned in The Spy Who Loved Me (page 47).

Vivienne Michel, the woman at the centre of the novel, gets a job on the Chelsea Clarion, a ‘glorified parish magazine’ that is ‘stylishly made up each week by a man called Harling who was quite a dab at getting the most out of the old-fashioned type faces that were all our steam-age jobbing printers in Pimlico had in stock’.

The film also makes reference to the Bond family motto, The World is not Enough, which, of course, becomes the title of a later movie.

Jim Lee’s take on Julia Foster

December 22, 2015
Julia Foster profiled in Look of London (25 November 1967)

Julia Foster profile in Look of London (25 November 1967)

Julia Foster denies being a sex symbol like Julie Christie or Raquel Welch, but she was a big enough actress for a four-page interview and profile in trendy weekly Look of London. She was fresh from a role with Michael Caine in Alfie and was filming Half a Sixpence with Tommy Steele. And the second spread is devoted to a great portrait by photographer Jim Lee.

Jim Lee portrait of Julia Foster in Look of London

Jim Lee portrait of Julia Foster in Look of London

Jim Lee is not remembered in the same way as Bailey, Donovan or Lichfield, but he was up there in the 1960s and 1970s, as a Sarah Hughes profile of the fashion photographer pointed out in the Independent in August. His most famous image is probably ‘Aeroplane’ from 1969, for an Ossie Clark poster shoot with a ‘flying’ model.

 

Magazine cover design: the 3D nose effect

December 5, 2015
José Ferrer as Cyrano de Bergerac on this Everybody's magazine cover from 10 October 1951. The design has a 3D effect, with the nose appearing to stand proud of the page

This Everybody’s magazine cover design from 10 October 1951 has a 3D effect, with the nose appearing to stand proud of the page

There was a push into 3D photography and films in the 1950s, and this found its way into magazines. Picturegoer used clever cover designs  to achieve a three-dimensional effect and this Everybody’s magazine creates a smile with its trick layout.

Everybody’s was a popular large format weekly magazine that was published by Everybody’s Publications at 114 Fleet Street and printed by Sun in Watford, but later taken over by Amalgamated Press and merged into John Bull. One of the articles in the above issue was ‘Football in French!’ by a 20-year-old Brian Glanville.

José Ferrer is the cover star who had won worldwide praise for his portrayal of the eponymous swordsman-poet in Cyrano de Bergerac, a 1950 black-and-white movie based on the 1897 French play by Edmond Rostand. Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess also translated Rostand’s original play into English. A 1990 French film put Gérard Depardieu in the lead role.


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 cover design – in search of the 3D effect

November 7, 2015
Picturegoer magazine cover design with 3D effect from 23 April 1953. Arlene Dahl is the film star model

Picturegoer magazine cover design with 3D effect from 25 April 1953. Arlene Dahl is the film star model

Nowadays, there are many technical strategies that can be used to give a three-dimensional effect to a magazine cover design, including holograms and lenticular stick-ons.

The first magazine hologram I’m aware of was one stuck on a Venture cover from Redwood Publishing in about 1985. Lenticular imagery has been around at least since publicity postcards for the 1968 film of Alistair Maclean’s Ice Station Zebra, and became popular on magazines in about 2001.

But before these, clever graphical tricks were the only viable approach – I’ve never seen a publisher try the red/green printing with plastic glasses on a cover, though it has been used freqently on inside pages since the 1950s from magazines such as Picture Post.

This cover design on movie weekly Picturegoer from 25 April 1953 is a good example. It’s a complex photomontage and is also self-referential with parts of 10 other covers shown as the background. The main photograph is of the hands holding a black and white publicity photograph of Arlene Dahl, described by IMDB as ‘one of the most beautiful actresses to have graced the screen during the postwar period’. The site lists no less than five of her films in 1953.

Note that the hands appear to be in colour. This is because the cover uses the second special colour for the title box as a tint to give a wash over the hands and a paler tint still over the background. The technique was common on gravure-printed weeklies in the 1950s.

All in all, an ambitious piece of work, though to my mind the title sitting over the photograph is a commercial compromise that destroys the overall visual logic – but then no publisher wants the title to be a subsiduary element when the magazine has to sell on a very competitive news-stand each week. However, as the Picturegoer magazine cover design below from 11 April 1953 shows, many issues did carry a much less prominent masthead.

Picturegoer from 11 April 1953 with a less prominent masthead

Picturegoer from 11 April 1953 with a less prominent masthead for a Kirk Douglas cover

Inside the Arlene Dahl issue of ‘The national film weekly’ from Odhams Press, the 3D theme continues with a review of Bwana Devil, described as Hollywood’s first full-length three-dimensional feature. The critic’s reaction will be familiar to many people who’ve seen any of the recent spate of 3D films (Gravity being the exception for me): ‘Picturegoers are bitterly disappointed in their introduction to Hollywood’s third dimension. They see a real danger in Hollywood’s giving them eye-straining technical tasters in place of sound, satisfying entertainment.’

>Film magazines

>>See my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design