Posts Tagged ‘magazine cover’

Rathborne’s Dr Who portrait was worth the wait

May 3, 2017
Ray Rathborne's Radio Times cover of Jon Pertwee as Dr Who

Ray Rathborne’s Radio Times cover of Jon Pertwee as Dr Who

Ian Jack has done a fine obituary for The Guardian of Ray Rathborne, the photographer who took this striking, eye-popping portrait of Jon Pertwee, who had just taken on the eponymous role in Dr Who in 1970.

Jack notes that Rathborne ‘was driven by a search for perfection that occasionally tested the patience of those who worked with him’. I know the feeling, but when you get results like this, it was clearly worth the wait.

 

 

‘First’ Madonna magazine cover sells for £180

March 5, 2017
Madonna cover from i-D dated March/April 1984

Madonna on the cover of i-D dated March/April 1984

A copy of the March/April issue of i-D from 1984 has sold on eBay for £179.99. It was marketed as ‘MADONNA’s 1st magazine cover’ and the listing went on:

This is the super collectable and rare Madonna issue. It was her VERY FIRST magazine cover. Spotted in a club in Paris, and photographed by Mark Lebon when she arrived in London. There’s no interview as such, a couple of quotes, including these snippets: ‘I moved to New York because my father wouldn’t let me date boys… I was 17 when I saw my first…’

But this ‘first cover’ claim seems dubious when No 1 magazine had her on its cover dated February 4.

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

Madonna magazine cover – No 1 from 4 February 1984

And Smash Hits followed 12 days later. This magazine also sells well across the world, fetching £28 in the UK and $49 recently in Australia. In addition, a collection of 31 Madonna magazines described as ‘all mint’ and ‘some very rare’ from 1984 to 2017 sold in Oz for $407, attracting 13 bids. The lot included the 1984 i-D., as well as Playboy, Face and Tatler Madonna issues.

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

Smash Hits, dated 16 February 1984

The March/April issue of i-D may well have been on sale in February, because monthlies usually come out towards the end of the month preceding the cover date, but as early as  the 4th, No 1‘s cover date, seems unlikely.

Even so, the Madonna i-D magazine seller, Vintage Magazines, has listed another copy on eBay – but upped the price to £250!

Despite Madonna’s popularity in the music press, the first reference I can find to her in newspapers is in ‘Eurythmics singer brings his studio’, a feature by Todd Webb in the
16 August 1984 Daily Oklahoman, an American paper. The profile of Dave Stewart mentions that:

his travelling notebooks – cassettes containing miles of taped songs, song fragments and melody lines – have yielded three songs for the new Tom Petty album, a new song in the making for Madonna, and plans to ‘experiment in the studio’ with [Lou] Reed

No doubt, Madonna experts will be able to identify the track – and this press cutting is undoubtedly one many fans aspire to as well. Just a few months later, The New York Times of 6 January was talking of how:

No phenomenon illustrates more pointedly how pop music history seems to run in cycles than the overnight success of the 24-year-old pop siren known as Madonna. The month before Christmas, Madonna’s second album, Like a Virgin sold more than two million copies (‘Madonna’s siren song’ by Stephen Holden)

It takes another six months before Britain’s mainstream press picks up on a phenomenon that swept its pop magazines before anywhere else. Surprisingly, it was The Times that leapt in, though with a highbrow angle about women’s liberation:

The United Nations decade for women reached its climax here with Playboy and Penthouse rushing to beat each other to the newsstands with nude pictures of pop star Madonna. For those who do not follow the pop scene closely, I should explain that Madonna is not a successor to the Singing Nun but the very latest sex symbol. Her stage costume consists of lacy underwear, bare navel, micro-skirt and crucifix. (‘Liberated – with frills attached’ by John O’Sullivan, 13 July 1985)

(I should explain that the Singing Nun was Jeanine Deckers, a Belgian nun – with the stage name Sister Smile – who beat the Beatles to No 1 in 1963 with Domenique, but became addicted to drink and drugs and died in 1985.)

A month after its decade for women article, The Times was quoting Madonna’s press team in a piece about pop and film soundtracks, saying ‘she’s the hottest crossover dream to burn up the charts since Elvis’. From nowhere to Elvis in a year, not bad going – and then she hitched up with actor Sean Penn and the anti-Madonna ‘flirt rock’ reaction kicked in.


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

 

 


 

Madonna – a scarce face on Cosmopolitan covers

March 7, 2016
Madonna on the front cover of Cosmopolitan magazine in the US for May 1990

Madonna on the front cover of Cosmopolitan magazine in the US for May 1990

Madonna has appeared quite a few times on Vogue covers, but just twice on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine in the US. In May 1990 she fronted the magazine and the designers made an unusual use of the title to promote its 25th anniversary:

That COSMOPOLITAN girl is twenty-five … and the future is hers

The pop singer was well established as a cover choice by this time, with the first Madonna magazine cover dating back to 1994. But Cosmopolitan seems to have keen to make up for a quarter century without Madonna with its May 2015 issue – when both Madonna and Cosmopolitan celebrated their 50th birthdays (though neither seems to have wanted to be associated with that age!). The publishers, Hearst, ran the cover below and three other Madonna covers. The thing all three covers had in common, as well as Madonna, was ‘Sex! Sex! Sex!’, Cosmo‘s favourite cover line.

Madonna rides again on the cover of Cosmopolitan with its May 2015 issue

Madonna rides again on the cover of Cosmopolitan with a mask and pearls  for the May 2015 issue

But celebrity covers have been rare for most of Cosmo‘s history. Originally, the cover girl was chosen as a ‘Cosmopolitan girl’ who espoused the philosophy of the magazine.

Of course, it wasn’t a silver anniversary for the British edition of the magazine (that only appeared in 1972), so Claudia Schiffer, German supermodel and now Suffolk resident, was the choice for May. Note the cover plug for the Zest insert, Cosmo‘s health and beauty spin-off, which was launched as a standalone magazine in the autumn of 1994.

Claudia Schiffer, German supermodel, on the cover of the UK edition of Cosmopolitan for May 1990

Claudia Schiffer, German supermodel, on the front cover of the UK edition of Cosmopolitan magazine for May 1990

>WATCH OUT for my V&A book on British Magazine Design (Waterstones UK)

>WATCH OUT for my book on British Magazine Design (V&A shop)

>WATCH OUT for my V&A book on British Magazine Design (Amazon US)

>Cosmopolitan magazine profile

Merry Christmas – from ‘Mother Christmas’

December 25, 2015

 

 

 

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)

I peed on my shoes laughing before Pravda landed on the streets of Thatcher’s Britain

October 8, 2015
The first issue of Pravda monthly in English in 1986

The first issue of Pravda monthly in English in 1986

It’s 29 years ago and the latest monthly magazine to hit the news-stands is an English-language version of Pravda – the newspaper of the Communist party of the Soviet Union. The 44-page, A4 magazine proudly boasts it was founded by Lenin in 1911, on the 5th of May to be precise, and announces its battle cry ‘Workers of the world unite’.

This was still the Cold War. Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s prime minister and Mikhail Gorbachev was the Russian president facing up to Ronald Reagan in the US. A headline inside, ‘How Star Wars flouts the law’,  attacks the US strategic defence initiative with its bluster about energy weapons mounted on satellite systems. BBC Radio 4 is presently serialising Thatcher’s official biography by arch Tory Charles Moore, a former editor of the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph and Spectator magazine, where he writes the weekly Notes column.

Besides Star Wars weapons and the Chernobyl fallout (also the subject of a recent Radio 4 series), it was the era of my favourite piece of grafitti, seen on the wall of the otherwise spotless men’s loo of the French House pub, underneath the pavement in Soho’s Dean Street. In 1984, in the run-up to the election battle against Walter Mondale, someone had scrawled: ‘Lee Harvey Oswald, where are you, when your country needs you most?’ Not a Reagan fan then, but the former actor won by a landslide. I peed on my shoes laughing.

Badges from the Pravda title

Badges from the Pravda title

The Pravda masthead shows two Lenin badges and the hammer and sickle in front of what I take to be the battleship Potemkin –  scene of the failed mutiny of 1905 made famous by Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 film.

Nowadays, you can read Pravda on the web.

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

New Statesman’s curious case of John Major’s ‘mistress’

August 23, 2015
new_statesman_2015jul17_660.jpg

New Statesman’s ‘motherhood trap’ cover illustration earned the ire of several women politicians (17 July 2015)

New Statesman is a leftwing magazine that, as befits a political weekly, likes to stir things up occasionally. This recent cover for ‘The motherhood trap’ by Helen Lewis generated a fuss when it was criticised by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon as being ‘crass’ and reinforcing prejudice. The Tory leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, tweeted: ‘oh do sod off’.

But New Statesman really got itself into deep water in the 1990s with an article, ‘The curious case of John Major’s “mistress”‘.  It sparked a libel  case that became curiouser and curiouser, damaged the PM and had a stunning denouement – nine years later. At the time, the article nearly sank the magazine as it celebrated its 80th anniversary year with a revamp to try and boost its 22,000 circulation.

New Statesman 1993 jan 29 John Major Clare Latimer

The curious case of John Major’s ‘mistress’: New Statesman of 29 January 1993 with a photomontage by Richard Camps showing Clare Latimer in the background

It was January 1993. Major was the son of a trapeze artist and former City banker who had never been to university. He had risen through the Tory ranks to take over as prime minister and leader of the Conservatives after the ousting of Margaret Thatcher in November 1990. He then won a tight election in 1992. Major himself was regarded as the grey man of British politics. However, his government was plagued by sexual and financial scandals and led to the label of ‘Tory sleaze’. Prominent among these scandals was actress Antonia de Sancha selling a kiss-and-tell story to the News of the World of a ‘toe-sucking’ affair with David Mellor. Major vowed to back his culture minister ‘through thick and thin’, but Mellor eventually resigned as a minister. Such scandals derailed Major’s ‘back to basics’ campaign that aimed to encourage support for traditional morality and the family.

The New Statesman article set out to investigate who was driving persistent  rumours that Major was having an affair. It had been obliquely referred to in newspaper diary columns and the satirical puppet-based TV series Spitting Image. The standfirst and headline summed the article up:

It is the ‘story’ that dare not speak its name. Steve Platt and Nyta Mann investigate the rumour, gossip and nudge-and-a-wink innuendo behind … the curious case of John Major’s mistress

It talked about a ‘deliberate attempt to undermine the new prime minister’, ‘dissatisfied Thatcherite Tories’ and ‘investigative muckraking’ by the newspapers. The ‘mistress’ often surrepticiously cited was named as Clare Latimer, who  had done the catering for events at 11 Downing Street when Major was chancellor from 1989 and carried on working for him when he was PM.

Major and Latimer separately sued for libel, against both the New Statesman and the satirical magazine Scallywag, which also carried the story.

The New Statesman insisted the article never intended to assert that an affair had taken place. It was ‘anatomy of a rumour’. But Major and his lawyer, David Hooper, who was reputed to charge £250 an hour, pressed the writ. The magazine’s wholesalers, distributors and printers quickly apologised and paid damages without a fight. These were seen as ‘soft’ targets. However, they, in turn, were able to make New Statesman pay these costs. In an article that argued Major had damaged his reputation in bringing the case, the Sunday Times estimated the damages at £26,500 to Major and £30,000 to Latimer with costs of £80,000 (11 July).

Paperboy threatened by libel laws: New Statesman of March 12

Paperboy threatened by libel laws: New Statesman of March 12

New Statesman editor Steve Platt fought the case, quickly raising £100,000 from an appeal to readers for donations towards its costs (as Private Eye did in cases such as its fight against Robert Maxwell). It campaigned for reform of the libel laws to protect printers and distributors from such claims with a cover story entitled ‘Would you sue your paperboy?’

Its legal bills topped £200,000 and the magazine came close to collapse. However, Major settled in July for just £1,001 in damages, in what the Sunday Times called ‘a derisory climbdown’.

The Economist agreed, describing Westminster talk of ‘John the Wimp’ (10 July):

A popular reading of Mr Major among his Tory critics is that he is a man who throws in his hand when the stakes get raised against him. This week’s settlement seems to bear that out.

New Statesman hits back: the cover the week after Major settled the case (16 July)

New Statesman hits back: the cover the week after Major settled the case (16 July)

But the magazine survived. Major left the leadership after losing the the 1997 election to Tony Blair (an article by the then shadow home secretary, ‘Why crime is a socialist issue’, was one of the cover lines alongside ‘The curious case’), but stayed on as an MP until 2001. Then, in 2002, former Tory minister Edwina Currie ‘shopped’ Major, revealing she had an extra-marital affair with Major in her memoir Diaries (1987–92). The book told of a four-year affair when they were party whips from 1984, a time when they were both married; Major to Norma, and Currie to her first husband, Ray Currie.

The news led the magazine to threaten legal action to get its costs back, saying Major’s libel action appeared to be based on a false premise.

In 1994, Currie had written a novel, A Parliamentary Affair. An Observer Magazine profile summed up the plot:

[A] cabinet member has an affair with a rent boy and a junior minister makes love to a breast-jiggling journalist on Westminster Bridge. Meanwhile, Elaine, a backbencher not to be confused with her creator, has rear-entry sex in a Commons office.

So it’s no wonder that the Guardian said of Currie’s Dairies revelation:

The nation was shocked by Edwina Currie’s revelation that she had an affair with John Major, not so much because of any moral concern over fidelity, but because the idea of them at it took us to places we never, ever, wanted to go.

Let’s give the final word to Richard Camps who did the pre-computer photomontage for ‘The curious case’ cover:

I remember watching footage on the news of rabid Tories angrily waving this illustration in parliament. A proud moment. John Major has since proved himself to be a man of unquestionable integrity and fidelity who would never get involved in anything as sordid as an extramarital affair.

The worst magazine cover?

July 4, 2015
Home Chat, a leading women's popular weekly, from 14 May

Home Chat, a leading women’s popular weekly, from 14 May 1910

How’s this for a front cover? For Woman’s Own or Hello!, perhaps? Home Chat was a leading small format women’s weekly, which, surprisingly with such designs, survived until 1959 when it was merged into Woman’s Weekly.

Marilyn Monroe magazines from 1953 on eBay

June 21, 2015

Picture Post from 1953 with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell on the cover from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Picture Post from 1953 with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell on the cover from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Among the 815,281 magazines presently listed on eBay in the UK are two classic illustrated weeklies with Marilyn Monroe covers. The first is Picture Post from 1953 with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell on the cover from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Illustrated magazine from 1953 with Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable on the cover, from the film How to Marry a Millionaire Illustrated magazine from 1953 with Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable on the cover, from the film How to Marry a Millionaire

Second is Illustrated magazine from 1953 with Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable on the cover, from the film How to Marry a Millionaire.

Both these weekly magazines are priced at £29.99 from the Advertising Archives as buy-it-now or best offer lots.

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

The genius of colour printing

June 19, 2015
Blighty pin-up cover for the popular men's weekly by MB Tompkins in 1958 (16 August)

Blighty pin-up cover for the popular men’s weekly by MB Tompkins in 1958 (16 August)

Colour printing has always seemed to me to be a bit of a miracle – seemingly every colour under the sun can be printed from just four colours, cyan (sky blue), magenta (a pinky red) yellow and black. The colours are abbreviated as CMYK – with K being black, the ‘key’ colour. In theory, the black is not necessary because the other three should merge to black, but in practice, the result is a bit washed out, more a murky brown.

In the 1950s, when this cover was printed, the colour painting of the glamorous dancer would have been photographed through a filter and a metal screen to produce a sheet of printing film for each colour. The screen would be a metal screen capable of showing 150 lines to the inch. The film would taped on to the other pieces of film of each colour for the rest of the page and then paired up with its partner page – the back cover in this case – and that assembled film used to make a printing plate for each colour. Each plate would have been wrapped around its cylinder on a four-unit press. When the paper is run through the press, each colour ink in its turn would have been passed from the printing plate on to the paper. The overprinting of the colours builds up the image.

Detail showing dots of printed ink from the lower face of Blighty magazine cover in 1958

Detail showing dots of printed ink from the lower face of Blighty magazine cover in 1958, Click on the picture to see it in more detail.

Look at the magnified detail here and you can see individual dots for each colour. In the bottom left, there are dots of pure cyan. You can see that the dots are in regular lines at an angle of about 10 degrees to the horizontal. In the darker blue areas, you can see black dots among the cyan. The skin tones are mainly magenta with yellow highlights. The red lips are a combination of magenta and yellow. The teeth are simply the white paper. You can make out some of all the colours in the black areas.

Blighty was a popular men’s weekly magazine published by City Magazines at 64 Fleet St, but it was printed 200 miles away by Eric Bemrose in Long Lane, Liverpool. The Long Lane plant closed down in 1991. The illustration was by MB Tompkins, an artist about whom I only know that he produced Blighty covers in 1958, and some pulp book covers.

MB Tompkins signature from Blighty magazine cover in 1958

MB Tompkins signature from Blighty magazine cover in 1958