Iconoclastic Magazines

Sunday, day of rest. relaxing, reading copies of the New Yorker.

At the moment one of my projects is to design a magazine. I'm working with the the publishers Auckland University of Technology Press to create a magazine that will serve people who 'think for a living'.

My research into magazine design has left me in something of a daze. The range is stupefying. On Tuesday evening I went to Borders Books - my favourite bookstore in Auckland - and grabbed a random pile of titles, took them to the cafe in the store (I don't like the coffee but it's comfortable and I can take books and magazines there without having to buy them - very bohemian).

I realised how similar the magazines are. Most follow standard approaches - depending on the category they are in. Design magazines look like design magazines, fashion like fashion etc. It is the quality of the content that sets them apart. The book really is a stage on which the articles and features perform.

Which brings me back to The New Yorker. I would have to rate it as a One & Only™ brand. The design is unselfconscious but aware of itself. The writing is to a dauntingly high standard, with contributions from the likes of Malcolm Gladwell and John Updike. The cartoons are justly famous and, while words play the pivotal role, pictures make an entrance when they have something to add. A feature of Richard Avedon's frank images of Americans at the time of the presidential elections began with a slightly cock-eyed portrait of a young woman in a silly hat - then went on to portray with basic dignity of a range of subjects - many of whom seemed to have a penchant for silly hats (God Bless America).

But, for all of its high brow content, it is the knowing whismy of the New Yorker that I enjoy. Tucked away in an obscure corner, like the footnote to the article that surrounded it (Murder of Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh and the testing of Dutch tolerance) was this piece :

From the Wellesly (Mass.) Townsman.
On Feb. 13 at 5.35, an employee of Andrews Pharmacy on Weston Road called police to report he had just gotten a weird feeling from a customer.

A typographic cartoon?



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