Posts Tagged ‘Town magazine’

Flann O’Brien and Town’s girl in red water

September 14, 2015
Town magazine and the`Girl in Red Water up to her Charlies' cover from September 1965

Town magazine and the`Girl in Red Water up to her Charlies’ cover from September 1965

A query about Irish writer Flann O’Brien has given me the chance to delve into one of my favourite magazines, Town, famously owned by Michael Heseltine, known as ‘Tarzan’ during his time in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.
Joe Labine, from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, was keen to see the profile of O’Brien by Michael Wale in the September 1965 issue – the one with the ‘Girl in Red Water up to her Charlies’ cover (to use a term coined by 1950s supermodel Barbara Goalen).
O’Brien is famous for his column as Myles na Gopaleen (literally, Myles of the Small Horses) in the Irish Times. He had begun writing in Gaelic for the Irish Press in the 1930s, and wrote books such as At Swim-Two-Birds (1939) and The Third Policeman (published after his death in 1967 but written 26 or 27 years before). The two-page article by Wale, ‘I must be shouting at my enemies…’, was followed by excerpts from the Irish Times, his book Hard Life and Sago Saga (in preparation).
Joe explained his query:
I would love to have Wale’s interview with O’Brien because it’s very rare. I am giving a lecture on Flann O’Brien this week to scholars at Metamorphoses: The III International Flann O’Brien Conference. [However,] few of us have ever actually seen the Town article.
It’s very important though, because in biographies of Brian O’Nolan (Flann O’Brien and Myles na gCopaleen were pen names), a few writers mention that in Town Brian O’Nolan claims he ‘met James Joyce in Paris several times’. By all other accounts this is just simply not true however. Town is the only magazine in which he ever made the claim. I would like to try and figure out why. Perhaps he thought it was just a men’s magazine that wouldn’t hold him accountable or ‘fact-check’ as journalists say. I don’t know.
The article does indeed make the claim. In a section on influences on himself, he brings in Joyce:
Indeed, I suppose I was influenced by Joyce. Some authors, no matter what you think, subconsciously can influence you. The same is true of Joyce himself by Proust, and believe it or not by inferior people like Henry James, and he must have read a lot of Sexton Blake [a Sherlock-Holmes-like fictional detective].
I met him [Joyce] in Paris several times. He was a morose, completely self-contained little man. I was curious about him. I admired certain aspects of his work. There has been a lot of rubbish written about him, especially by Americans. I’ve met some of them, ignorant swine…
Excerpt from Brian Nolan interview talking about James Joyce

Excerpt from Brian Nolan interview talking about James Joyce

There has always been less emphasis on exhaustive checking of facts on British newspapers and magazines than in the US. The culture is to trust – and hence hold responsible – the writer. However, Town was one of the best magazines of its era. Other writers in this issue included Leningrad author Brian Moynahan, motoring expert Eric Dymock, the legend in his own lunchtime Jeffrey Bernard, Right Stuff author Tom Wolfe and Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald.
The full three pages of the article are shown below (click on the images to see larger, more legible versions).
Michael wale profile of Brian Nolan - Flann O'Brien - in Town, 1965

Michael Wale profile of Brian Nolan – Flann O’Brien – in Town, 1965

Final page of Michael Wale profile of Brian Nolan - Flann O'Brien - in Town, 1965

Final page of Michael Wale profile of Brian Nolan – Flann O’Brien – in Town, 1965

Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey in Town magazine

October 1, 2014
Opening of 5-page article on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey with sketches by Clive Arrowsmith in Town magazine

Opening of 5-page article on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey with sketches by Clive Arrowsmith in Town magazine

Clancy Sigal wrote the words and Clive Arrowsmith did these sketches on the set of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey for the July 1966 issue of men’s magazine Town.

This was a special film issue, with articles about Len Deighton’s Funeral in Berlin, the girls of Casino Royale, Bryan Forbes (who had already directed Whistle Down the Wind and written the script for King Rat and would go on to direct The Stepford Wives in 1975) and beach fashion spreads with the cast of Robert Aldrich’s  The Dirty Dozen.

The 5-page article, ‘2001: An informal diary of an infernal machine’, was written two years before the film’s release. The article opens with a whole page sketch showing an image of Saturn behind Dr Heywood R. Floyd (William Sylvester), a detail that is changed in the actual film, where the Discovery spaceship follows the monolith’s radio signal to Jupiter.

Sigal, a US novelist and screenwriter, points to a problem that still bedevils people today after seeing the film:

Arthur Clarke is going up the pole, trying to meet with Kubrick to put the end together. Kubrick is finishing the picture and, probably, wondering how to end it.

First spread of the Town magazine article shows one of the astronauts and the maintenance vehicle

First spread of the Town magazine article shows one of the astronauts and the maintenance vehicle (the right side of the page was cut off in the scanner)

Arthur C. Clarke – one of the best and most prolific of the SF writers who lives in Ceylon, where he has business interests, according to the text – was, of course, trying to finish his book.

Sigal speculates about an outcome similar to the ‘benign being that blessed’ Clarke’s Childhood’s End, though ‘it could turn out to be the hydrogen bomb in a rubber mask, like in (Madame Odinga Oginga from Outer Space) Sam Katzman’. He was prophetic on another point:

HAL may yet turn out to be the most interesting actor in the story.

Final spread of the Town article shows a sketch of the frozen scientists that is similar to a sketch shown to HAL in 2001

Final spread of the Town article shows a sketch of the frozen scientists that is similar to a sketch shown to HAL in 2001

In the film, one of the Discovery’s two crew members, David Bowman (played by Keir Dullea), is seen making sketches of the scientists in suspended animation, which he shows to HAL.

One of the sketches is similar to Arrowsmith’s at the bottom of this spread.

Clive Arrowsmith did illustrations for other issues of Town and is probably the famed photographer, who worked as a graphic designer for television after leaving art school before taking to the camera.

The article makes no mention of Arrowsmith having been commissioned by Kubrick to work on the film. So the question is: which came first? Did Town commission the article and then Kubrick take up the sketch idea, or had Kubrick commissioned Arrrowsmith to do the sketches and the latter took the article idea to Town?

In 2001, Kubrick shows one of the astronauts making sketches of the scientists in suspended animation

In 2001, Kubrick shows one of the astronauts making sketches of the scientists in suspended animation

Detail of Clive Arrowsmith sketch in Town magazine - compare it with the still from 2001 below

Detail of Clive Arrowsmith sketch in Town magazine – compare it with the still from 2001 above

One of the Discovery astronauts shows a sketch to HAL in a scene from 2001

Through HAL’s distorting camera: Dave Bowman, one of the Discovery astronauts, shows one of his sketches to the ship’s computer in a scene from 2001

>>Town magazine covers and history

 


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

 

 


 

Port men’s mag reviewed

March 2, 2011
Port magazine launch issue

Port magazine launch issue

Jeremy Leslie at Magculture has reviewed new men’s mag Port. Like all his posts, it’s well worth reading. Particularly worth noting the reference to typographer and Eagle designer Ruari McLean‘s book – OUP described it as the world’s first book about magazine design when it came out.

This post is being written in Pages on an iPad and pasted into WordPress. Why? Because when I type in WordPress I see nothing! Previews OK though. Weird. Any solutions out there? As a writer I find the iPad frustrating – forever switching between keyboards. And who would have thought the navigation arrows we so important? Wayheyhey – there’s an app for that. Thanks Sarah at the FT!

Town magazine – the complete set ?

November 21, 2009

Chris Gregory has come up trumps with what appear to be the final two images to complete the set of Town covers at Magforum.com.

Here they are: February and March 1966, neither of which I’ve even seen before. But this raises the question: is the set really complete? The years 1961-67 have 12 issues of the men’s magazine that rode the wave of the Swinging Sixties and made a reputation for Michael Heseltine’s Haymarket, but 1963 had an extra Christmas issue: were there any other extras? Hopefully, someone out there will let us know.

Town magazine February 1966

Town magazine March 1966

About Town’s boredom turns to Telegraph’s fear

April 14, 2009
About Town discovers boredom

About Town discovers boredom

Britons are ‘living in fear’ as record numbers suffer from anxiety, the Telegraph tells us today. Yet, in 1962, it was boredom that was troubling us according to About Town magazine (above).

Today, ‘ terrorism, knife-crime, MRSA and bird flu have all made people more anxious’, the paper says. So how come nuclear attack, choking smogs and the fear that England might never (or for the Scots, might) win the World Cup, not turn people into winging ninnies in the early sixties?

Probably because there were more obvious comparisons to put such problems in context. As Town points out, ‘Life was never boring during the war’. When you’ve seen up to 1,400 people killed in one night in air raids on one city, the threat of even atom bombs has a real context. No wonder boredom – ‘a word you never heard on Victorian lips’ – had made an appearance. Now, we have people, like  the Mental Health Foundation to make spurious comparisons with last year’s statistics because that’s about as far back as they go.