Posts Tagged ‘magazine covers’

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!’

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A scary number of magazine covers

April 14, 2016
Cosmo Stylist Blast Trace Men's Vogue - just a few of the magazine covers

Cosmopolitan, Stylist, Blast, Trace, Men’s Vogue – just a few of the 29,000 magazine images sitting on my hard drive

Doing a backup of my picture files has just informed me my machine is copying over 29,754 images! And they are all magazine covers and spreads. That’s really scary. 10MB of memory for that lot.

Photojournalism and photomontage in the 1930s

December 2, 2015
Weekly Illustrated magazine pioneered photojournalism (3 March 1936)

Weekly Illustrated magazine pioneered photojournalism (3 March 1936)

The 1930s saw a revolution in photojournalism in British weekly magazines with German pioneers using Leica 35mm cameras. The leader of the trend was Weekly Illustrated, under the editorship of Stefan  Lorant, who had worked on Münchner Illustrierte Presse before being forced to flee Germany. In London, he confirmed his place as one of the most influential editors of the 20th century.

Lorant relaunched Clarion magazine for Odhams as the large format Weekly Illustrated in 1934, and went on to launch both Lilliput (1937) and Picture Post (1938). He turned to his old colleagues who had also left Nazi Germany, including  Felix Man and Kurt Hutton. They had rejected bulky plate cameras and flash guns in favour of Leicas and available light, a technique that produced much more natural-looking images. The techniques were taken up in the US, by Life two years later.

The cover of Weekly Illustrated above from 3 March 1936 is also notable for its use of photomontage, which was also developed in Germany, particularly through the work of the Dadaist John Heartfield. The magazine cover uses at least three photographs: Edward VIII, the liner and the shipyard workers. Behind the liner is the gigantic Titan crane at the Clydebank shipyard, which can still be seen at the site. Spot red has been used to colour the Queen Mary’s funnels and a tint of this for the faces and the hair on two of the men.

As with so many magazines at the time, Weekly Illustrated was printed using photogravure by Sun printers in Watford. It took over Passing Show in 1939, to become Illustrated and was the main competitor for Lorant’s Picture Post, which it outlived, closing in 1958.

>>Weekly magazines

>>The Secrets of Magazine Cover Design

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

 

What can we do with the nipples this month?

August 15, 2015
Cute cover-up: Naomi Campbell on the cover of GQ in April 2000

Cute cover-up: Naomi Campbell on the cover of GQ in April 2000

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, GQ was down there fighting for sales against the likes of FHM and Loaded by putting naked women on its covers as often as possible. Well, nearly naked. The delicate rules of the newsagent dictate that nipples cannot be shown.

This cute magazine cover-up for Naomi Campbell on the cover of GQ – sister title to Vogue at Conde Nast – in April 2000 has to go down as one of the best examples.

You can imagine the cover meetings at the time: ‘Well, how can we show as much naked flesh this month without revealing a nipple?’ They were taped up, covered in subtly-draped clothes or hidden under type. Sometimes, they were just blatantly airbrushed out, as in the example of Abi Titmouse below from FHM (then published by Emap) .

FHM June 2004. But what's happened to the nipples on Abi Titmuss?

FHM June 2004. But what’s happened to the nipples on Abi Titmuss?

 

 

More genius of colour printing – Vogue cover

June 20, 2015

 

The 'London Babes' cover from Vogue in December 1993

The ‘London Babes’ cover from Vogue in December 1993

This is a great issue of Vogue, with Danish fashion model Helena Christensen on the cover photographed by Nick Knight (his second Vogue cover, the first being the month before). Inside, is Steven Meisel’s ‘London Babes’ photoshoot styled by Isabella Blow. From a printing point of view, the cover is interesting for several reasons. The Blighty colour cover I discussed last week was printed colour letterpress. That technique produces quite a crude result compared with modern-day offset lithograph printing, which is used for most magazines today, including this 1993 Vogue. Nick Knight is renowned for his digital manipulation of photographs and as a proponent of its ‘extremely exciting’ possibilities.

Detail of Helena Christensen's eye from the cover of Vogue in December 1993

Detail of Helena Christensen’s eye from the cover of Vogue in December 1993

The detail of Helena Christensen’s eye from the Vogue cover demonstrates several things. First, the skin tones are purely made up of magenta dots. Compared with the Blighty cover, the dots are finer – more like 300 lines per inch than the 150 of the 1950s. Click on the images here to see them at a larger size. Notice how much blue there is in and around the eye – this looks to me as if a blue shadow has been added in Photoshop. Similarly with the blue highlights in the eyebrows and hair.

Detail of Helena Christiansen's lips from the Vogue cover

Detail of Helena Christensen’s lips from the Vogue cover

This close focus on Christensen’s lips shows a much higher density of the magenta, a tinge of yellow at the centre of the mouth and then a shadow of cyan, which becomes heavier moving to the right. Below is a a magnified image of the whole face, with the bottom of the G from the title across the forehead. This is printed in solid magenta.

Detail of Helena Christiansen's face from the Vogue cover

Detail of Helena Christiansen’s face from the Vogue cover

JUST OUT – British Magazine Design, a highly illustrated hardback history from the Victoria & Albert Museum

Harry Rodmell’s Queen Elizabeth dreadnought

June 7, 2015
HMS Queen Elizabeth super dreadnought by Harry Hudson Rodmell on the cover of New Illustrated magazine (18 October 1919)

HMS Queen Elizabeth super dreadnought by Harry Hudson Rodmell on the cover of New Illustrated magazine (18 October 1919)

Today, RMS Queen Elizabeth is one the three great Cunard liners – the others being the Queen Mary and Victoria – recently seen performing tricks in the Mersey in front of the Pier Head in Liverpool. And HMS Queen Elizabeth is the title of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier.

The first warship to bear the name HMS Queen Elizabeth was a super dreadnought launched in 1913. When this cover appeared, the Queen Elizabeth had recently become flagship of Britain’s Atlantic Fleet. She had fought in the Gallipoli landings and would have an eventful future ahead of her – badly damaged by Italian frogmen in the Second World War, but repaired, taking part in action against the Japanese and eventually being scrapped in 1948.

The cover here was by Harry Hudson Rodmell, who had served with the Royal Engineers during the war.

Harry Hudson Rodmell signature

Harry Hudson Rodmell signature

Rodmell specialised in maritime paintings and, according to Hull Museums, his first published magazine cover was for the Craven Street School Magazine in 1912 (he would have been 16).

New Illustrated magazine was originally War Illustrated and changed its name at the end of the First World War. It adopted a colourful cover policy, with some excellent illustrators, from the Continent and US, as well as Britain. Initially after the renaming, much of the material was still martial in nature but it evolved to become a general interest weekly.

The publisher was Alfred Harmsworth’s Amalgamated Press and the editor, John Alexander Hammerton. From 1905, Hammerton and Arthur Mee produced some the world’s best-selling reference works, such as the Harmsworth Self-Educator, the Children’s Encyclopædia and Harmsworth’s Universal Encyclopædia. These were first published as magazines and later collected into multi-volume reference works.

Read more: New Illustrated – the first photogravure cover by Francisco Sancha

Look out for British Magazine Design – my new highly-illustrated history from the V&A

Arnold Bennett’s Savoy omelette and Paltrow’s goop

April 11, 2015
Gwyneth Paltrow is digitally gooped for the Sunday Times Magazine (22 February 2015)

Gwyneth Paltrow is digitally gooped for the Sunday Times Magazine (22 February 2015)

I mentioned the Woman magazine editor and West Midlands writer Arnold Bennett a while back with links to recipe’s for the Savoy hotel omelette named after him in the 1920s. The dish has cropped up again recently in the Sunday Times Magazine, which reproduces the recipe with some tips from today’s head cook at the hotel, Andy Cook. On the cover is actress Gwyneth Paltrow being ‘gooped’ in green goo, a cover that was actually a fake – a digital merging of the goop and a Paltrow file photograph. The cover reminds me of a Nigella Lawson  Stylist cover from 2011 – but that was the real thing (I think).

TV chef Nigella Lawson has salted caramel poured over her head for a December 2011 Stylist cover

TV chef Nigella Lawson has salted caramel poured over her head for a December 2011 Stylist cover

Self-referential magazine covers 2: Woman’s Own

April 5, 2015
This is the cover for the relaunch of Woman's Own in 1937 as a colour weekly. Note this is a true self referential cover because the woman is holding a copy of the magazine she appears on!

This is the cover for the relaunch of Woman’s Own in 1937 as a colour weekly

Woman’s Own seems to have particularly fond of self-referential covers. It was published by George Newnes, yet its great rival Odhams never seems to have used the technique for Woman.

Although the cover describes it as ‘No 1’, this issue actually marked a relaunch of the five-year old women’s weekly in the face of rival publishing group Odhams opening a colour gravure printing plant in Watford in 1937. It was from this plant that Odhams launched Woman magazine.

The technique of relaunching a magazine at the same time as a rival’s launch, or some other attention-grabbing tactic, is known as a ‘spoiler’ in the business.

The two women’s weeklies are still published today, though both are now controlled by the same company: first IPC when Odhams and Newness merged in the 1960s, and now the UK arm of US group Time Inc.

This is a fully self-referential cover because the woman is holding a copy of the magazine she appears on. Easy to do with an illustration, trickier with a photograph, but not impossible, even before Photoshop made digital image manipulation so easy.

Here are three more self-referential covers, all second world war issues, from 1941, 1943 and 1945. The second is like the one above in that the woman is again holding the cover on which she appears. Wartime covers on women’s magazines were unusual in that many of them depicted men, usually in uniform.

This photographic cover from 1941 shows the model reading another issue of Woman's Own

This photographic cover from March 1941 shows the model reading another issue of Woman’s Own – from December 1940

Another fully self-referential cover from Woman's Own in 1943

Another fully self-referential cover from Woman’s Own in 1943

Womans Own cover from 1945

Woman’s Own cover from March 1945. The issue she is holding looks like one from the start of February

£10 to New York and the inflight magazine

March 17, 2015
Freddie Laker's Skylines magazine cover from 1981

Freddie Laker’s Skylines magazine cover from 1981

One of the most popular online stories yesterday morning was Jane Wild’s story about Ryanair working towards £10 transatlantic flights.

Such cheap flights from Europe to the Americas have long been a dream – most famously espoused by Freddie Laker with Skytrain in the 1980s. So popular were Laker’s flights that the US embassy in London had processed 300,000 non-immigrant visas by April 1981 – and was expecting a total of 1m for the year. This meant there would be as many Britons going to the US as US citizens holidaying in Britain – and the rise was attributed to Laker by the US consul. Yet, as Wild points out, no airline has managed to run a transatlantic service offering rock-bottom fares and turn a profit. Some went bust trying, including Sir Freddie’s Skytrain in 1982.

And for every airline, there is usually an airline magazine. The 1981 Skylines cover shown here summarises the typical contents for such magazines, then and now:

  • Dustin Hoffman – a dust of celebrity sparkle;
  • Wine without tears – encouraging readers to dip into the duty free and buy more drinks;
  • The Laker story (and the cover) – it’s marketing material after all;
  • Money wars – business and finance for the executive travellers they are keen to attract;
  • About your flight – answering the questions and pushing other services;
  • Short story – for those who want to switch off.

But the 1980s was the era of deregulation, and by 1985, the US airline People Express and Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic were following Laker in taking the transatlantic fight to British Airways. And just as BA has been the airline to beat on that route, for the past 40 years BA’s High Life has been the inflight magazine – and for much of that time the contract magazine – to beat (I remember ‘whoops’ in the office when the InterCity magazine I was editing for British Rail beat High Life in the National Readership Survey).

Cover of BOAC's inflight magazine Welcome Aboard in 1970

Cover of BOAC’s inflight magazine Welcome Aboard in 1970

Before BA and High Life, there was BOAC and its Welcome Aboard, where the covers focused on encouraging exotic international travel and used relaxing poster covers devoid of cover lines. These days, High Life magazine ‘gets in front of over three million people every year, who spend an average of 36 minutes reading it’, says its customer publisher, Cedar. And it has spun off lots of add-ons, becoming more than a magazine, with a travel website, iPad app, social media content and inflight entertainment package.

High Life inflight magazine cover from November 2012

High Life inflight magazine cover from November 2012

Cedar also boasts that High Life uses ‘some of the best editors, writers and photographers in the world, including Michael Palin, John Simpson and Rankin’. And that’s certainly true of many customer magazines. InterCity was launched by former Nova and Observer Magazine editor Peter Crookston and former GQ editor Paul Keers took over when I left.

Magazines such as High Life and InterCity were key to the development of the customer magazine industry in the early 1980s, led by contract publishers such as BBC/Redwood and Cedar.

The first issue cover for Carlos, an inflight magazine for Virgin in 2003

The first issue cover for Carlos, an inflight magazine for Virgin in 2003

These days, inflight magazines for the budget airlines tend to be functional, with tit-bitty city profiles and short lifestyle features for their short-haul flights.

One magazine that set out to break the mould was the illustration-led  Carlos for Virgin Airlines. This thought of itself as more of a fanzine than an inflight magazine. It was loved by other editors and designers and won awards for its launch and design from the BSME for publisher John Brown. However, like earlier creative titles such as Town and Nova, it failed to make commercial sense for the airline, lasting just three years and six issues. It was replaced by Travel Notes in 2006. The Atelier Tally blog has a post of covers and details.

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

 

Joan Collins a dame after 50 years on magazine covers

December 31, 2014
Debut magazine cover: Joan Collins on the front of Tit-Bits in 1951 – she was 18 at the time

Debut magazine cover: Joan Collins on the front of Tit-Bits in 1951 – she was 18 at the time

It must have been the publicity for Joan Collins on Magforum that did it – at 81 she joins the ranks of the nation’s dames (and we’re not talking pantomimes here) in the New Year’s Honours list. Though they say it was for services to charity, we all know it was for services to magazine covers over 53 years (which is as long as she’s been an actress, and a lot longer than she’s been writing books or doing charitable works). According to IMDB, her first role was in Facts and Fancies, a 17-minute short about ‘by-products resulting from the carbonisation of coal’ in 1951.