Archive for the ‘teen magazines’ Category

The first Madonna magazine cover

December 17, 2015
The first Madonna magazine cover - No 1 from 4 February 1984

The first Madonna magazine cover – No 1 from 4 February 1984

A question comes in: when did Madonna first appear on a magazine cover? I can’t claim to have a definitive answer, but the first British example I can find is the above No 1 cover from 4 February 1984. The fortnightly IPC magazine beats the better-remembered Smash Hits published by Emap by 12 days.

A different look for the cover of Smash Hits, also in February 1984

A different look for the cover of Smash Hits, two weeks later in February 1984

i-D then followed with its March/April issue (which may well have also been in the shops in February).

Madonna cover from i-D dated March/April 1984

Madonna proves she can wink for the cover of i-D dated March/April 1984

It was another five years before Madonna began to appear on Vogue covers in the UK and US, but Tatler had given her its front in 1987.

Madonna fronts Tatler with a sophisticated look in September 1987

Madonna fronts Tatler with a sophisticated look in September 1987

And Playboy got in pretty early on Madonna’s act too with this September 1985 cover. Note the headline: ‘Madonna nude: unlike a virgin  … for the very first time.’

Madonna was pretty quick in getting her kit off for Playboy in September 1985

Madonna was pretty quick in getting her kit off for Playboy in September 1985

Looking at these covers, it’s noticeable how quickly she changes her style to give a different look for each audience – the teens in No 1, the rich sophisticates for the upmarket Tatler, and the goggling male readership of Playboy.

>>A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn (May 2016)

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Time turns NME into a freesheet

July 7, 2015

The image used to head the NME freeesheet  announcement The image used to head the NME freeesheet announcement

The message from Time Inc UK, the US-based  owner of what was IPC, came out as gobbledegook:

Iconic brand NME today announces the latest stage in its evolution as an audience-first global media business. As well as a new nme.com and digital products, in September NME will become a free weekly magazine. With music firmly at the heart of the brand, NME’s authority will be the gateway into a wider conversation around film, fashion, television, politics, gaming and technology.

According to Marcus Rich, chief executive:

This famous 63 year-old brand was an early leader in digital and has been growing its global audience successfully for the best part of 20 years. It has been able to do so because music is such an important passion and now is the right time to invest in bringing NME to an even bigger community for our commercial partners

NME was a digital pioneer for IPC, as both a driver of the Unzip CD-Rom and one of the company’s first websites, alongside New Scientist and Uploaded.com (who remembers that?). It is the last survivor of the ‘inkies’ – the tabloid weekly music papers that once numbered Melody Maker (which dated back to the 1920s and put a toilet roll on its last cover), Melody Maker, Disc, Record Mirror and Sounds – and sold in their hundreds of thousands.

Has such a freesheet strategy ever gone well for the magazine that started it all?

 

Harry Linfield – a down-to-earth side of the Star Trek and Doctor Who artist

June 19, 2015
Harry Lindfield drawing for Annabel magazine in 1966

Harry Lindfield drawing for Annabel magazine in 1966

Type the name Harry Lindfield into a search engine and up will come a gang of results pointing to illustrations for Gerry Anderson-based comics such as Joe 90, TV21 and Lady Penelope from City Magazines and Polystyle’s Countdown. For Lindfield drew Star Trek, Doctor Who and others strips from about 1968 in the great heyday of TV-based comics – when some issues were selling in excess of half-a-million copies a week. The illustration above predates that – it’s from a September 1966 issue of DC Thomson’s monthly Annabel. Lindfield had already drawn strips for the Eagle‘s sister paper Swift at Hulton Press.

A colour centre spread of Star Trek by Harry Lindfield from Joe 90 . Click on the image to find a larger version on Beano cartoonist Nigel Parkinson's website

A colour centre spread of Star Trek by Harry Lindfield from Joe 90. Click on the image to see a larger version on Beano artist Nigel Parkinson’s website

The Gerry Anderson website quotes Look-In writer and TV21 script editor Angus Allan on Lindfield:

[Lady Penelope] went into colour, with an artist – a genius – called Harry Lindfield. If ever I had to choose something that I’d done, and was proud of, those strips would be the ones. Harry was brilliant, and it was a pleasure to write for him. And up went the sales. Not to a million, though. Not ever. But 750,000? That was money to Century 21 and City Magazines.

Annabel saw itself as a ‘New young and lively monthly for women’ and was just in its seventh issue. The large page format – almost A3 – could show off the photography and illustration.

Harry Lindfield's Dr Who cover for Countdown comic

A Harry Lindfield Dr Who cover for Countdown comic. Click on the image to see a larger version on comic artist Lew Stringer’s website

Herculean power of Bovril’s Victorian advertising

May 31, 2015
Bovril advert of Hercules fighting a lion by Stanley Berkeley from Young Gentlewoman magazine of 1892

Bovril advert of Hercules fighting a lion by Stanley Berkeley from Young Gentlewoman magazine of 1892

Forty years before Guinness gave us strength, it was Bovril that made us feel like Hercules and fit to fight a lion. The ‘Guinness for Strength‘ posters did not appear until 1934, and this is a Bovril advert from Young Gentlewoman magazine of December 1892, the magazine’s first issue. The artist was Stanley Berkeley, a prominent Victorian artist who painted animals and sporting and military scenes. Among his subjects were cavalry charges at the battle of Waterloo – and more contemporary scenes from the Crimea war, Boer wars and Kitchener’s campaign to reconquer Sudan.

This dramatic, whole-page, engraved advert would have had an even bigger effect than usual, given that the rest of the magazine was given over to subjects that were regarded as more suitable to well-bought-up young ladies of the day.

Kylie and Jason – the glory days of Smash Hits

May 29, 2015
The best-selling issue of Smash Hits magazine on 30 November 1988  with Kylie Minogue  and Jason Donovan on the cover

The best-selling issue of Smash Hits magazine on 30 November 1988 with Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan – ‘the most famous “couple” in the world’ – on the cover

One of the frustrations of writing a book about the history of magazines is what has to be left out. Smash Hits is one of those great titles that, in the end, has just snuck into the book with one cover and a couple of other mentions. Smash Hits is well gone now, having lasted for 28 years after its 1978 launch by Nick Logan, but its power as a teen icon lives on – just look at the Facebook fan site Smash Hits Remembered.

It carved a place in the hearts of millions of teenagers – in Australia and America as well as Britain – with scurrilous gossip, song lyrics, posters, stickers and free gifts. In February 2006 – just after Emap had announced the title’s closure – a first issue of Smash Hits sold on Ebay for £30. The seller, Ruth, summed up the magazine’s appeal: ‘Smash Hits was the best pop magazine of its time. I used to buy it regularly from about the age of 8 to 13. I remember tearing out the posters to cover my walls and singing along really girlie to the songs.’ At its 1988 peak, Smash Hits sold a million copies of the Kylie/Jason covered issue dated 30th of November. Its average issue sales for the second half of 1988 jumped almost half over the first six months to 767,540 copies.

These days, it’s the retiring baby-boomers of the 1950s who rule the economic roost in Britain, with their property-based wealth and political voting power, but in the 1980s, it was the number of teenagers that was booming, and no magazine publisher caught that wave better than Emap with Smash Hits.

Pete Waterman as music magazine columnist The Hitman!That November 1988 issue coincided with the release of the single ‘Especially for You’ from Neighbours-actors-turned-pop-stars Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. The phenomenon of the Aussie soap opera was exploited by Stock Aitken Waterman – pop impresario Pete Waterman with song-writers and musicians Matt Aitken and Mike Stock – in a year that saw the recently-formed music producers dominate the charts. Pete Waterman is known to today’s TV audiences as a former judge with Simon Cowell on Pop Idol and Popstars. In 1988, he was also The Hitman!, a columnist on Number One – a rival magazine to Smash Hits. ‘Especially for You’ was a single from Donovan’s first album Ten Good Reasons and he would go on to eclipse even Kylie’s record sales in the next year (though he has lacked her staying power).  But Stock Aitken Waterman had already made 19-year-old Kylie Minogue one of the biggest successes of 1988.

It's Kylie!!! Neighbours soap star Minogue is reborn as a pop star on her first cover for Smash Hits magazine in (7 July 1988)

It’s Kylie!!! Neighbours soap star Minogue is reborn as a pop star on her first cover for Smash Hits magazine (7 July 1988). Note the exclamation marks – Smash Hits was renowned for them!

Neighbours had been one of the most popular television programmes for two years and, although I raised the possibility of spinning off a magazine from the soap opera with BBC executives, the fact the British broadcasts were months behind the first Australian showings stymied the idea. Minogue’s fame allied to the skills of Stock Aitken Waterman saw her debut single ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ at number 1 for weeks – a feat it repeated around the world. Her other releases in 1988 – ‘Got to Be Certain’, ‘The Loco-Motion’ and ‘Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi’ all reached the top 5 and the album Kylie dominated that chart for six weeks.

Smash Hits had it all covered. The May 18 issue had Kylie Minogue as one of its three posters in the centre (Five Star and A-Ha’s Morten Harket being the others). The issue also printed the lyrics to Kylie’s ‘Got To Be Certain’. Climie Fisher was on the front cover and Dirty Dancing actor Patrick Swayze was on the back.

The issue of 27 July ran its first Minogue cover – ‘It’s Kylie!!!’. For  20 September, there was another Kylie poster. The issue of 19 October carried Kylie on the front for the second time – ‘It’s … Smylie Minogue!!!’ was the cover line. November 2 had centre posters of Kylie and Michael Jackson.

It's ... Smylie. Kylie Minogue on the cover of Smash Hits magazine in October 1988

It’s … Smylie Minogue!!! Kylie Minogue on the cover of Smash Hits magazine in October 1988 (eight exclamation marks on this cover!)

Incredibly, amid the Kylie phenomenon, Stock Aitken Waterman also had hits with Mel & Kim, Sinitta, Rick Astley, Bananarama, Hazell Dean and Brother Beyond. They were known as the ‘Hit Factory’ and BBC radio ran a recent programme with that title in its Reunion series, which is still available on BBC iPlayer. Donovan had also reached the top 5 with ‘Nothing Can Divide Us’, so the pairing of the Neighbours duo in ‘Especially for You’ was a sure-fire hit.

The single was pitched into a battle for the lucrative Christmas number 1 against Cliff Richard’s ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ – 1950s rock ‘n’ roller versus 1980s soap stars. However, even though the release of  ‘Especially for You’ coincided with Kylie and Jason’s on-screen Neighbours wedding, the pop veteran who had seen his first hit in 1958 with ‘Move It’ won out with the biggest-selling song of 1988. However, ‘Especially for You’ did top the charts in the new year.

The Guardian has listed Donovan as one of its ‘pop casualties of the 1980s’, saying:

Before [in their Neighbours hey-day, with a cheesy photo of him with Kylie]: He was Scott to Kylie’s Charlene in the Aussie soap in the 80s, and later her boyfriend in real life. In 1990 he won Best Male Solo Singer and Worst Male Solo Singer at the Smash Hits Awards.
After [2000, with shaven-headed photo]: He is now a father of two and reportedly has found happiness with long-term girlfriend Angela Balloch.

Smash Hits may be gone – sales were down to 120,000 copies an issue when it closed in 2006 – but it is not forgotten. There are even two books about it – the 2006 Best of Smash Hits by former editor Mark Frith, and Pop Life (2011) by three former writers and editors of the Australia edition. The best-selling issue in Oz was also in 1988, with a Bon Jovi cover for the 30 November issue. That sold 150,000 copies.

Profile of British music magazines 

British teen magazines

 

What was the first teen magazine?

April 18, 2015
A colour cover for Crusoe magazine of January 1925

A colour cover for Crusoe magazine of January 1925

Received wisdom has it that teen magazines are an invention of the 1940s in the US with Seventeen (1944) or Honey in 1960 in the UK.

Of course, launching a new magazine – and, in this case, setting out to create a new sector in response to an expanding section of the population – is all about strategic thinking, editorial leadership, great presentation and marketing. You know the sort of thing:

1924 Crusoe advert

1924 Crusoe advert

A magazine for the rising generationIf you are still in your teens you will like this great new magazines, for it is published especially for you. It is unique of its kind and everything from the thrilling stories of adventure, sport and mystery to the illustrations and special section devoted to all hobbies and recreations, strikes a new note.

Yet this is not the language of 1944 or 1960. Instead, it is the copy for an advert on the inside back cover of a supplement to Tit-Bits from 1924. And the magazine being promoted is Crusoe. No doubt you’ve never heard of it. Possibly because it came out 90 years ago and did not last very long, just 12 monthly issues from June 1924 to May 1926.

At 7d (seven pennies in the days when 12 made a shilling and 20 shillings a pound) it wasn’t cheap – the weekly Tit-Bits itself cost 2d and the monthly Strand a shilling.

The publisher was the great George Newnes Ltd, which had built its fortune on creating genres, with the likes of the mass market weekly Tit-Bits (1881), the Sherlock-Holmes-led monthly Strand (1891) and country house weekly Country Life (1897).

A spread from Crusoe with an illustration by Glossop

A spread from Crusoe with an illustration by Glossop

The self-referential magazine cover

April 1, 2015
The Penny Magazine shows itself being sold from what looks like a railway station stall in 1904

The Penny Magazine shows itself being sold from what looks like a railway station stall in 1904

Self-referential magazine cover covers are a not-so-subtle form of marketing and are pretty rare, but they do crop up, seemingly more often on weekly magazines than monthlies. It’s a brand marketing strategy, though that is not likely to have been a term on anyone’s lips at the time the front cover above was published.

This is the earliest one I’ve noticed, from 1904. It plugs not only itself but its sister magazine from publishers Cassell, the monthly Cassell Magazine, which cost 6d. This strategy of having a cheap weekly and upmarket monthly was common for publishers in the Victorian and Edwardian era. The Penny Magazine had been founded in 1898 as the New Penny Magazine, shortening the name in 1903 and continuing until 1925. The story-based sister monthly was published under various titles from 1853 to 1932. Other magazines shown or partly visible are three titles for children,  Chums (1892-1934), Quiver (1861-1926) and Little Folks; and Cassell’s Saturday Journal (1883-1924) again all from Cassell.

The black-and-white cover illustration with its red spot colour is not a particularly well-crafted image, but then most of these penny weeklies were pretty cheap. It is signed  E Lander, probably Edgar Lander (1872–1958). The quality of some titles improved as sales grew for those titles from the likes of Newnes and Harmsworth that were able to achieve very high sales.

penny_magazine_1904sep17_edgar_lander.jpg

Illustrator Edgar Lander’s signature

Lander worked for several better-produced magazines, including  Harmsworth’s Boys’ Friend comic and  Royal magazine. He was married to another artist, Hilda Cowham (1873-1964), whose signature character was a flighty young girl in a black pinny and white bow with a black cat who appeared in magazines such as Home Chat, Home Notes and Pick Me Up. She did cuter, more homely girls who were used on pottery and for London Underground posters. In The Strand of August 1913 (US edition) Cowham wrote and illustrated an article ‘Amusing Children I Have Met’ in which she talked about receiving letters from ‘mothers saying that they have dressed their little ones like a Hilda Cowham girl’.

Lander’s drawing portrays a railway bookstall of the kind run by WH Smith and Wyman & Sons. No actual cover is shown on the stall, just the magazines’ titles. The uniformed lad with his sales tray looks like he may be selling maps and guides. Note that the Penny Magazine describes itself as being for travellers and commuters – ‘for rail, road, river or sea’.

Cassell is a name that dates back to 1848, when the company was founded by John Cassell. The magazines were an offshoot of his book publishing and were probably regarded as a way of developing writers and promoting established names. Cassell ceased being an independent publisher in 1999 – a decade of concentration in book publishing – when it was bought up by Orion Publishing Group, itself owned by the French group Lagardère. Today, Cassell is an illustrated imprint of Octopus Publishing.

Joan Collins, Madonna and Kate Moss on magazine covers

December 22, 2014
Joan Collins talks about married life as a slave in the Daily Mail's Weekend supplement - 30 August 2014

Joan Collins talks about married life as a slave in the Daily Mail’s Weekend supplement this year

When it comes to longevity as a magazine cover star, the prize has to go to the actress Joan Collins. I’ve identified her as far back as 1951 at the age of 18 on the cover of Tit-Bits and there can’t have been a year since when she hasn’t graced a magazine, from Picture Post, to Span, to Film Review, Woman, Playboy and OK! That’s 63 years a cover star.

But although she may not be showing her age – the Weekend supplement cover here is from August this year – Collins is getting on (she’s 81!), so who can rival her in future? Two names spring out –  Madonna and Kate Moss (far too early to consider Lady Gaga). So what are their chances of rivalling Joan Collins?

Madonna on the cover of Smash Hits back in February 1984

Madonna on the cover of Smash Hits back in February 1984

Joan Collins had a massive boost to her career with the role of Alexis in Dynasty and such reworkings are vital to a long career. Madonna is back in the news at the moment over the ‘artistic rape’ she says she suffered because someone stole demo tapes from her new album. There’s no doubt the US-born singer and actress is a brilliant self-publicist. She has been recognised as the best-selling female record artist on record. Now 56, Madonna’s first Vogue cover was February 1989. Before that, she was a Smash Hits cover in 1984, when she was coming up to the age of 26. That’s 30 years as a cover star and, assuming she is still popular when she’s 81, another 25 years to go, total: 55 years of cover stardom.

Kate Moss in Corinne Day photograph on cover of the Face magazine in July 1990

Kate Moss in Corinne Day photograph on cover of the Face magazine in July 1990

Kate Moss turned 40 this year and marked it with a Playboy cover. Her modelling fortune was made by her appearance – as a scrawny 16-year-old – on a 1990 cover of style bible The Face shot by Corinne Day. Moss was the face of the Third Summer of Love (the others being 1967 and then the rave summer of 1988).

Starting at such an early age clearly gives Kate Moss an advantage. She has 24 years behind her and, assuming the 81 limit again, 41 years to go. Total: 65. That early start at 16 gives her a potential two-year edge on Joan Collins and a full decade on Madonna. Her first cover was on the Face, a relatively niche title, whereas Tit-Bits in 1951, the launch platform for Joan Collins, was probably selling a million copies a week. In contrast, Moss has been on a Vogue cover – frequently twice a year – just about every year since 1997, whereas Collins has never been on a Vogue cover.

On a personal level, Collins is on her fifth marriage – including Anthony Newley, one of the most gifted actors, singers and songwriters of his generation (Goldfinger title song, a dozen top 40 hits, roles in Dr Dolittle and Eastenders) – and has three children.

Madonna has been married twice – to Dead Man Walking actor Sean Penn and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director Guy Ritchie – and has four children. Moss has been married just once and has a child from her relationship with Dazed magazine co-founder Jefferson Hack.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether Kate Moss, or Madonna, has the staying power and the ability to appeal to such a wide range of people as Joan Collins.

WATCH OUT for my book on British Magazine Design, a highly illustrated large format hardback from the V&A

Hachette Filipacchi to close Sugar

January 19, 2011

Sugar teen magazine cover November 1994

Hachette Filipacchi UK is to close Sugar magazine. The decision by the French-controlled publisher comes after the teen sector has already seen most titles wiped out as readers switch to mobile phone and the web.

Even so, Sugar is the most popular monthly in its market selling more than 110,000 copies a month – though this is down from 486,000 in 1997.

HFUK has blamed teenagers’ appetite for free content and Guardian columnist Sarah Ditum seems depressed by the magazine being drowned in freebies, ‘tempting in purchasers (they may not even bother to read the magazine) with gifts that outvalue the cover price’.

Like many such closures, the website sugarscape.com will carry on.

Teen magazines profiled

Hachette profile