Archive for the ‘weekly magazines’ Category

Magazine cover tricks: upside-down faces

January 15, 2020
Punch magazine front cover

Punch horror special from 1973: turn your screen upside-down!

Faces that can be turned upside-down to make another face have long been an illustrated  postcard gimmick, such as a Kaiser Bill card from World War I. They’re rarer on magazine covers, but here’s a Punch effort from 1973 for a horror special issue of the satirical weekly.

>>More cover design secrets

‘New Women in a New World’

January 1, 2020
Home Notes magazine cover in 1910 had high hoped for 'New Women in a New World'

Home Notes in 1910 had high hopes for ‘New Women in a New World’

Let’s just keep the New Year celebrations going. Here’s how the women’s weekly Home Notes saw things in 1910 – ‘New Women in a New World’.

The first decade of the 20th century witnessed the growth of the women’s suffrage movement. In 1903, Emmeline Pankhurst had founded the Women’s Social and Political Union. As feminist frustrations grew during the decade, suffragettes turned to smashing windows in Downing Street, mass demonstrations, and in 1909 prison hunger strikes. There were high hopes in 1910 that the Conciliation bill would give the vote to a million property-owning women, but it did not become law. In November, suffragettes marched on parliament, where they were brutally treated by police on ‘Black Friday’.

Christmas in magazines: 1904-1980

December 24, 2019
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A portly Christmas pudding for the Penny Magazine by Lawson Wood

Lawson Wood would have been 26 when he was commissioned to draw this Christmas number cover of the Penny Magazine in 1904. He would later become famous the world over for his drawings of dinosaurs, animals and, most famous of all, Gran’pop, which appeared in the Sketch. There’s always humour in his work, as demonstrated by the smiling face of the rotund man with his even more rotund pudding (in contrast to Wood’s unusually skinny monogram!).

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New Illustrated shows a girl in snow fox fur

It wasn’t until the 1990s that fur became a dirty word and this New Illustrated cover from December 6, 1919 shows a girl in snow fox fur. New Illustrated had adopted the photogravure printing process in April that year and, at the end of the war, had changed its name from War Illustrated. It was less successful with another change of name, to Record Weekly, and closed in 1920. The cover was by Harry Woolley.

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Fry’s Magazine of Sport portrays a traditional coach in 1913

Lawson Wood also drew for Fry’s Magazine, though this unsigned traditional coaching image doesn’t look like one of his.  

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John Bull portrays British and French generals toasting entente in 1914

Christmas 1914 would not have been much fun on the Western Front, even if peace did break out for a legendary day of football on parts of the line. But John Bull editor Horatio Bottomley – who would be shamed a decade later as a champagne-swigging con artist – chose to celebrate the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France with Kitchener among the generals of the two nations.  Notice how delicately they all hold their flutes.

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Christmas cheer at the front in 1918, according to the Christmas Pearson’s

An optimistic Pearson’s Christmas at the front in 1918, just weeks after the Armistice was signed. Again the cover was not signed, but the artist has made very good use of the limited range of colours. Note the free distribution for magazines sent to the troops and navy.

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Christmas is a merry time for the gent and his parcel-carrying lad on the right of this Howard Elcock masthead for Bystander in 1925, but the woman who is the focus of the image is still looking for something. The main feature promoted above the titlepiece is by Basil MacDonald Hastings, who would die three years later, aged just 46. His son ‘Mac’ would make his name as a war correspondent on Picture Post, before editing the Strand from 1945 until it closed in 1950, and then going on to be a roving reporter for the Eagle comic. He married Anne Scott-James, the Harper’s Bazaar editor and newspaper columnist. One of their children, Max, followed in the family footsteps to become editor of the Daily Telegraph and London Evening Standard.

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The Observer’s colour supplement celebrates a century of comics in 1974 (December 22)

This 1974 Observer Sunday newspaper supplement cover celebrates a century of comics, though it is dominated by two relatively new characters in the comics pantheon, Corky the Cat and Desperate Dan, who both appeared in the Dandy from its launch in 1937. In fact, they all look like Dandy characters. Also, I’m not sure why 1874 is the starting date, with Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday of 1884 often being regarded as the first comic, with Ally Sloper first appearing as a strip in 1867.

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The BBC’s Listener has a Bruegel parody by Peter Brookes (1980, December 18)

Peter Brookes has a long, clever history of reinterpreting magazine covers and paintings in his cartoons and illustrations. This 1980 Listener cover takes Bruegel’s Hunters in the Snow and replaces the hunters with a BBC detector van and a team of men setting out to identify houses where the TV watchers had not paid their BBC licences. The Listener was published by the BBC and the cover can been seen as taking a dig at the corporation because the detector vans were disliked (and possibly ineffective). In 2016, the Guardian said on its Facebook page:

For years, enforcement has relied on the scary idea of ‘detector vans’ in our streets, but we still don’t know for sure if they actually exist.

Detector vans or not, the BBC gets my cash every year (unlike the Guardian, which I’ve given up on since it gave up covering a broad range of news – though the BBC shows every sign of following the Guardian‘s news-light, celebrity-heavy strategy to attract US readers).

This is one of several Christmas cover posts I’m putting up.

More Christmas goodies: self-referential Christmas magazine 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


Father Christmas in magazines

December 23, 2019
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A 1910 Sunday Companion page showed Father Christmas with holly and mistletoe

Father Christmas gives an early seasonal message on this Sunday Companion magazine page from 26th November 1910. His speech culminates with the message:

On my rounds on Christmas Eve there is no place I feel more happy in than a railway station. I look with delight on the happy, flushed faces and the bright eyes of the young travellers. And when I say, “Where are you going?” I listen for the glad reply, “I’m going home for Christmas.” Home for Christmas! What music is in the words! It spells welcome! It spells reunion, it spells meeting after long absence.

“Home, home! Sweet, sweet home!
There’s no place like home!”

No, ladies and gentlemen, there is no place like home on Christmas night.

The Sunday Companion had started life in 1860 as Good Words and Sunday Magazine, with a focus on illustrated religious articles under Norman Macleod, a minister. Alfred Harmsworth’s Amalgamated Press had taken it over in 1905 and relaunched it under the new name.

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Sunday Companion’s actual Christmas number (10 December) showed the Mistletoe Queen

Sunday Companion‘s December 10 Christmas number showed the Mistletoe Queen. Note the credit for the editors, Hartley Aspden and Arthur Burnage, at the bottom of the cover.

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Cavalcade from 18 December 1937 showing George Lansbury MP as Father Christmas

Cavalcade was one of two news weeklies launched in the early 1930s. This 1937 cover shows George Lansbury, who had led the Labour Party in 1932-35, as Father Christmas. Lansbury was a social reformer. He had supported the suffragettes in 1912 and helped start the Daily Herald newspaper, becoming editor in 1913. In 1925, he launched the short-lived Lansbury’s Labour Weekly. In 1931, after Labour was ousted, Lansbury returned to parliament and won the party’s leadership in opposition. However, his pacifist views led to him losing support after Mussolini invaded Abyssinia. Lansbury resigned as leader and spent the last few years of his life trying to prevent another war, going as far as having talks with Adolf Hitler. He died in 1940.

The Men Only cover below from December 1963 is a rather different take on Santa.

Men Only magazine front cover from December 1963

Men Only magazine cover from December 1963

This is one of several Christmas cover posts I’m putting up.

More Christmas goodies: self-referential Christmas magazine covers.

Christmas magazines: bring on the clowns

December 21, 2019
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Scary stuff: Grock the Clown on the cover of Pictorial Weekly, 12 December 1934

Clowns were a central part of Christmas for most of the last century, but many of the images of them now look grotesque and have even developed a sinister air. This Pictorial Weekly cover showing Grock ‘the King of Clowns’ is a case in point (12 December 1934).

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Blighty magazine’s cheery 1947 Christmas cover by ‘SIM”

Blighty, which had been a free weekly magazine for the forces during two world wars, has a much cheerier Christmas cover with a fancy dress clown and his leggy girlfriend under the mistletoe (6 December 1947). Note the other characters, with a cowboy and Red Indian chief of the era, and a harlequin – all popular party costumes.

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Bill Ballantine, a US clown, on a 1949 Leader magazine cover (October15)

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A 1945 Leader cover (December 29)

The clown photograph on the cover of The Leader, a family news weekly dated 15 October 1949, lies somewhere between the first two covers on the creepy scale. ‘Old clowns never die’ is the cover line and the image by US photographer George Karger shows Bill Ballantine in his clown make-up.

Ballantine was a US journalist who served in England during World War II at the Office of War Information on propaganda leaflets. In 1947 he joined the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in the US as a clown. In 1969 he became the first dean of the Clown College in Florida.

The monochrome clown photograph on the cover of The Leader, dates from December 29 in 1945. Wartime restrictions on the use of paper and ink were still in force then and British magazines were slow to move over to colour. The clowns feature is by Gladys Bronwyn Stern a popular and prolific novelist and literary critic, best known for her Matriarch series. Her first book was published in 1920, the last in 1964.

The Answers weekly ran a 1951 feature based on the clowns at Tom Arnold’s Harringay circus in London. The annual circus ran for eleven seasons from Christmas 1947 to Christmas 1957. This clown will be part of Chocolat & Co, an act by The Rastellis, one of  the longest-running clown families in circus history. According to Circopedia, The Rastellis performed from the early 1930s until 2002. At the bottom of the page in a Tom Arnold souvenir programme from 1953.

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‘Here comes the clown’ cover feature from Answers (December 29, 1951)

 

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Harringay circus souvenir programme from 1953

This is one of several Christmas cover posts I’m putting up.

More Christmas goodies: self-referential Christmas magazine covers.

A magazine for Christmas

December 19, 2019
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Subscription promotion for the Spectator magazine

Done all your Christmas shopping? Or are you still looking for a present? Magazines and books are a good option, particularly because you can get them delivered.

As the Spectator flyer above shows, a subscription can be ordered lasting from just a few weeks to match a limited budget rather than the usual year or more. As well as that legendary title – it’s been published continuously since 1828 – there’s the quintessentially English Country Life. There are also magazines for just about every county, such as Cheshire LifeMagazines Direct offers dozens of titles and Exact Editions provides digital issues (and archive access) from the UK and around the world.

Among the popular independent magazines, Little White Lies is a cult movie magazine with great writing and illustration at £27 for a year’s worth of five issues; Delayed Gratification is my personal favourite (single issues for £12 or subs from £26); or a Stack subscription ensures someone gets a different title every month.

oz-magazine-cover-1967-bob-dylanOne option is a classic issue from eBay or Amazon with a spectacular cover or an article of particular interest to your recipient. These can be had from a few pence for the last issue of NME; to hundreds of pounds, such as this Oz Dylan issue from 1967; and even thousands, such as a July 1915 copy of the Vorticist magazine Blast with its images by Wyndham Lewis and poems by Ezra Pound.

And, of course, there’s a magazine – whether classic or modern – for every hobby, pastime or sport, from film to cycling to collecting.

It’s a similar story for books, and Magforum has a list of books about magazines that you can search for on sites such as Abe books, eBay and Amazon. As for modern editions, Nova 1965 – 1975 celebrating the original ‘thinking woman’s magazine’ and compiled by David Hillman and Harri Peccinotti has recently been reissued at £26. It’s a classic. 

Find out more …

 

 

Amber the cross-dressing actor

November 25, 2019
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Amber the Actor is a man who has adventures dressed as a woman

The Victorians are often regarded as a frigid lot, but some their magazines took on topics such as cross-dressing and gender fluidity, though they were very niche areas.

These themes developed in magazines such as Photo-Bits, with Amber the Actor by Derk Fortescue being one example. The hero dresses as a woman and has a series of adventures in stories that ran in 1910 and 1911. .

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Amber, left, dressed as a maid

And there were real-life precedents. Vesta Tilley was one of the most famous male impersonators of her era and a star in both Britain and the United States for 30 years. Her real name was Matilda Alice Powles (1864-1952) who had taken Vesta Tilley as her stage name at the age of just 11.

In 1912 she performed as ‘The Piccadilly Johnny with the Little Glass Eye’ at the first Royal Variety Performance. A Victoria and Albert Museum article about the music halls describes how the Queen reacted:

The only embarrassment occurred when Queen Mary saw the male impersonator act by Vesta Tilley appear on stage in trousers and apparently buried her face in her programme. At that time it would have been considered most immodest for a woman to be seen in public wearing trousers. It was only with the onset of the First World War that women ‘were allowed’ to wear them.

Her fame led her to take part in recruiting drives in the First World War, singing the patriotic song, ‘In Dear Old England’s Name‘.

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

 

 

 

 

The strange story of John Strange Winter

November 20, 2019
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The title from Winter’s Weekly magazine cover of November 18, 1893

It was not unusual in the Victorian era for the name of a magazine’s editor to be given prominence on the cover, Charles Dickens, Annie S Swann and Flora Klickmann being just three of many examples. A picture of the editor was more unusual, but this title from an 1893 cover of Winter’s Weekly magazine contains a mismatch between the image of a woman and the editor’s name – John Strange Winter.

In fact, the editor was Henrietta Eliza Vaughan Stannard, so why the John Strange Winter byline?

Although she had already been published in various magazines, in 1881, Chatto & Windus, her publishers, insisted on a male name for the author of her book Cavalry Life. They argued that no one would believe a collection of regimental stories under a woman’s name. So Stannard took the alias ‘John Strange Winter’ from a character in the book.

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 Winter is identified as the author of Bootles’ Baby under her magazine’s title

It took several years for the ruse to be made clear, by which time the name was established as a best seller, with Regimental Legends and then Bootles’ Baby: A story of the Scarlet Lancers.

Bootles’ Baby is referred to in the Winter’s Weekly’s title. It was serialised in the Graphic, the illustrated weekly, in 1885 and sold two million copies in book form with Frederick Warne. Building on her pseudonym, in April 1891 Stannard launched Golden Gates, a penny weekly illustrated magazine, and changed its name to Winter’s Weekly in January a year later. This was published until 1895.

One of the articles in the 1893 issue shown here was ‘How to become a lady journalist’. As a prolific author, Stannard was the first president of the Writers’ Club, founded the year before, and was a later president of the Society of Women Journalists.

 

 

A racy cover for Pictorial Magazine

August 19, 2019

 

Pictorial Magazine front cover by Thomas Heath Robinson for a serial by Austin J. Small, ‘Seamark’

A comparatively racy cover for Pictorial Magazine by Thomas Heath Robinson for a serial by Austin J. Small, who wrote as ‘Seamark’

Pictorial Magazine was a cheap illustrated popular weekly costing two pennies (2d) from Amalgamated Press. This racy cover promotes the start of a new fiction serial – ‘Perils of Desire’ – by Austin J. Small, who used the nom-de-plume ‘Seamark’ and wrote science fiction as well as mysteries.

The illustration was by Thomas Heath Robinson, the oldest brother of Charles and William Heath Robinson, and a popular black-and-white artist in the Edwardian era. While WH became a household name with his quirky machine drawings, the Dictionary of 20thCentury Book Illustrators suggests that demand for Thomas’s work ‘seemed to dry up’ during the First World War. Such was the dip in his career that in 1920 he and his family had to move out of their house in the Pinner suburb of north London into lodgings and then a council house.

The Philsp magazine cataloguing website lists hundreds of Thomas’s works for magazines such as The Strand, Captain and Chums, but nothing from the end of 1919 until March 1923. However, things picked up and they were able to move back to Pinner the year after this cover came out. After that, he’s continually working on magazines until 1935, when he would have been 63 years old.

Other fiction in this issue of Pictorial Magazine included ‘XV: Percy the Pocket’, another case for Detective X Crook, a reformed criminal, by J Jefferson Farjeon, a popular and prolific mystery writer of the period.

Other features in this issue included ‘Must parsons keep “mum”?’ by Reverend GA Studdert Kennedy – known since the war as ‘Woodbine Willie’ for his work on the front line.

Plenty there for a Saturday afternoon reading session.