Posts Tagged ‘magazine history’

Tremulous author frustrated in finding Poyner’s verdict

July 22, 2016
Seafoxes band

The Seafoxes playing at Jamboree tonight – musical distraction from my worries

Aaaarrrggghhh. As I wrote last night, I went out to find a copy of August’s Creative Review to read Rick Poyner’s view on A History of British Magazine Design after a restless night. But the world is against me. No copies in yet at the newsagents in Borough High Street or WH Smith and around London Bridge.

So on I go past Tower Bridge to the Design Museum. Oh Woe. The museum has finally moved. You’d think Kensington needed another museum like a hole in the head. It’ll be sorely missed by me.

History of British Magazine Design in Creative Review

First heavyweight criticism of A History of British Magazine Design in Creative Review

So, on to Tate Modern. Guaranteed to find Creative Review there. But no. All the July copies are sold out too – as they were every else (you get the impression that Creative Review might have pulled back on its newsstand distribution too far).

But is wasn’t all bad, I ended up signing copies of British Magazine Design on sale at the Tate Modern bookshop with Amy and Richard, who were very helpful in trying to track down a copy of Creative Review. Rush down there now!

So my panic over Prof Poyner’s criticism continues … but a night at Jamboree to see the Seafoxes launch their new EP should at least take my mind off things!

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

Tremulous author awaits verdict on his book

July 22, 2016
History of British Magazine Design in Creative Review

First heavyweight criticism of A History of British Magazine Design in Creative Review

Having started writing A History of British Magazine Design seven years ago and seen it published in May, you want people to tell you what they think of it (ie, how good it is!). And many friends and acquaintances have.

Then you wait to see if it will be reviewed. And wait… because it takes a couple of months before anything appears, apart from some newsy online items. Since then, there’s just been the Amazon ranking to watch – it bounces between about 25,000 and 350,000 (from the look of it, depending on a single copy being sold!). Now, a neighbour tells me, the first considered review has arrived, in August’s Creative Review, a special issue on starting out in the creative industry.

The review, ‘Britain in print’, is by critic and writer Rick Poynor, who made his name on Blueprint, was founding editor of Eye and is now visiting professor at the Royal College of Art. A true heavyweight in design commentary.

I look at an image of the review on the website. It’s a spread – that has to be good news? Gulp. Will he delve into the holes I know exist, or bombard me with others? Will he focus on the virtues or the vices? I’ve got butterflies. I knew I should have done more on the RCA and its Ark journal! And there are no Eye pages, but there are some from Blueprint, honest Rick!

But the JPEG text is too small to read and the article continues on to a third page. Now I’ve descended into panic … I’ll have to get a copy in the morning.

£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

 

Woman magazine, a ghost and an omelette

September 17, 2014
Woman magazine cover 1904

Woman magazine from 1904 with a cover design by Septimus Bennett, younger brother of Arnold Bennett, the Potteries novelist and the magazine’s former editor

This magazine cover from 1904 is from an earlier title to use the name Woman than today’s IPC / Time weekly (which only dates back to the Odhams launch of 1937).

The cover design for this ‘high class penny paper for ladies’ was by Septimus Bennett. A book, Artist in Arms, was published in 2001 and is based on the diaries of a Septimus Bennett when he was working at a Vickers shell factory in Sheffield during the First World War. At first glance, it would seem to be an unlikely link between this Septimus and the cover designer, but it looks like they were the same man – and he was the youngest brother of the Arnold Bennett – voted greatest West Midlands writer in 2005.

While Arnold is best known for his ‘Five Towns’ novels, based on the six Potteries towns, he started out as a writer in magazines. He won a literary competition in Tit-Bits – the best-selling magazine of the day – in 1889 and five years later became assistant editor of the Woman. This probably explains how brother Septimus got the job drawing the magazine’s cover. Arnold began writing fiction serials, which resulted in A Man from the North in 1898 and he became Woman’s editor in that year. He stepped down in 1900 to write full-time, including The Grand Babylon Hotel (1902), serious criticism and theatre journalism. He wrote a column in London’s Evening Standard in the late 1920s.

Nigel Slater has a recipe for Omelette ‘Arnold Bennett’, a standard dish at the Savoy in The Strand. His advice: ‘Stick with the classic interpretation unless you want the wrath of Arnold Bennett’s ghost upon you.’ Delia Smith also has a version and reckons that Bennett wrote the whole of his novel Imperial Palace (1930) while staying at the Savoy.

Septimus was an artist and designer and ran a studio in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, where he produced designs for ceramics. His cover incorporates advertising for P&P Campbell, the Perth Dye Works, which was a prominent advertiser in magazines and on hoardings. The typeset copy includes quotes from two other magazines: ‘Oldest and best dyers, Myra’s Journal’; and ‘Excellent dyers, The Lady’; the latter is still published from office in London’s Covent Garden.

Woman was printed by Unwin Brothers at 27 Pilgrim St in London for the publishers Beeton & Co. The company had been founded by Samuel Beeton and produced several famous and groundbreaking titles, including the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, Boy’s Own, Myra’s Journal and Queen. The first of these spun off the famous Mrs Beeton’s Cookbook, which was compiled from her work on the magazine. Note the cover credit: edited by Mrs C.S. Peel (the original Avenger?). Dame Deborah Primrose replied to readers’s queries. About a dozen contributors are named, all but one a woman. Several fashion illustrations are credited to Rene Robinson.

The editorial offices were at 10-11 Fetter Lane, a thoroughfare that is an essential stop on any Fleet Street tour, having been the base for many publishing enterprises, such as Railway Magazine (no 30 in 1901), the Daily Mail (no 110 in 1920-61), DC Thomson’s Red Letter for the Family Circle (no 12 in 1950) and Jocelyn Steven’s Swinging Sixties version of Queen (no 52). It is also the site of a statue of John Wilkes, a radical journalist and rebellious politician in the late 1700s.

Woman describes itself as ‘A journal of information, entertainment and practical counsel for womankind the wide world over’ on its frontispiece page and closed in 1907, a run of 19 years.

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