Before we embrace 2023, here’s a look back at the year we just left, featuring the magazines shown above and more.
The first two magazines in our fast-moving GIF each featured regularly in our talks and events over 2022. Interview has already been christened Magazine of the Year in our December Magazine of the Month post for the way it reacts spontaneously to the celebrity circus. Despite being a 50-something oldie it will surely go down as the publication of record for our times. Not many magazines hit the relevancy sweet point more than once in their lifespan, but Interview is currently doing that for, what, a third or fourth time?
It was a pleasure seeing Richard Turley and Mel Ottenberg bring their magazine and its processes to life at magCulture Live New York back in May. A few in the audience reacted badly to their spontaneous wander through their slides, but for me that was entirely the point. Interview is an instant creation, an Instagram zine, printed bold and large. Its protagonist’s talk revealed their working process and personal chemistry.
The second magazine featured above is the special edition of the Buffalo Zine Pink issue from Spring 2022. The magazine was a nostalgic celebration of the millennial Barbie pink obsession—rarely has so much magenta ink been used in one publication.
This special edition had the added joy of a pink fake-fur front cover. While we didn’t manage to get fully back onto the live event wagon in 2022, we did restart our regular university field visits at the Shop, and without exception every group responded with sheer joy at that tactile front cover. It hit a nerve with that one simple idea.
Buffalo Zine has plenty more to offer than a quick-hit cover, of course, but what’s a great concept without making a cover that demands attention? That they followed the Pink issue with the culturally deeper Chelsea Hotel issue—a magazine produced while staying at the eponymous establishment, featuring the counterculture stars that lived there—sums up the richness of the magazine. They can swerve in all directions and still make something exciting. Hear more about this on Episode 33 of the magCulture Podcast.
Another concept piece was WeTransfer’s return to publishing. The file transfer site has been busy building an online voice with content, so returning to print had to add something special. The self-titled new magazine, launched with a series of international events including a panel discussion at magCulture, did just that. The same selection of articles and interviews was shared with three very different designers, all of whom designed their own version of the magazine. The result was fascinating demonstration of how editorial design can direct content. They’ve just repeated the experiment with another three designers for the next issue.
Broadsheet newspaper-zine Civilization reappeared last Spring. Hallelujah! I’ve always loved this project; aside from anything else, its messed-up design is something I could simply never produce. I appreciate the amount of work that goes into making it so hard to negotiate its pages, articles, and sentences—the antithesie of supposed ‘good’ editorial design. Many indie mags stick to a simple, smart template design that is functional and respectful etc but also easy to make. And repeat. Which is fine and sensible, but Civilization is difficult to design, to read, to understand. We need some of that, and it was great to welcome it back (and it’s another popular magazine with our student groups).
Another speaker at our NY conference was Emily Stokes, new editor of The Paris Review. She shared the redesign of the review that she had just launched with Matt Willey. Hearing the inside track on this type of project is always intriguing. The refreshed magazine has renewed verve, and while a lot of work went into a new smaller page size and new fonts etc, it was the cover (again) that delivered the ’wow’. Revisiting a previous design, the magazine name appears in smart capitals across the top of the page in black on white, with a three quarter page artwork below it.
The art of the successful redesign is to make the work look simple, and this achieves exactly that. The key quarterly task is to select the perfect art for that cover panel, something that the team have achieved issue by issue. That’s a tougher call than you’d think but the covers to date have been beautiful and varied.
Other covers of note included Pit’s series of three Potatoheads, each representing one of the magazine team. The New York holy trinity— The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine and New York—continued to produce benchmark covers. As noted in our final post of 2022, we could have featured the New York Times Magazine every week had we the space.
Other magazines made surprise returns. The legendary gay zine Butt was suddenly back on our shelves, as pink and penis-heavy as ever, but now sponsored by a luxury brand. More popular than ever, a second issue later in the year showed the reappearance wasn’t a one-off thrill, adding to the publisher’s catalogue of Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman.
Those three magazines are all based in or born of Amsterdam, a city that continues to contribute more than its fair share of excellent editorial projects. In 2022, though, Paris made its mark with a series of striking magazines. Revue Faire is one delightful example, not new but new to us, a slim design review published monthly alongside university semesters. It opens up new areas of design writing, with each issue dedicated to a single essay or interview. Another one is the heftier Tools, celebrating the act of making via a different process/technique each issue. First came ‘To Hold’ and then ‘To Weave’. It occupies a similar space to longtime favourite MacGuffin from Amsterdam, yet is quite different.
Reappearing in a slightly different form was The Gourmand; once everybody’s favourite food magazine, it seemed we’d heard the last of it. Suddenly a new book series was announced, applying the magazine’s combination of archive stories, interviews, opinion and recipes to a single ingredient volume by volume. The first one was ‘The Egg’, which did well to keep my attention as I hate the things. But it was a beautiful and logical step for The Gourmand team; I went to the launch party at the Taschen (their publishing partner on the project) bookshop and was happy to hear that the team have a half-finished new issue of the print magazine. Fingers crossed the second half is soon ready!
The next Gourmand/Taschen book will be about The Mushroom, which will surely be a huge success given the recent editorial obsession with mushrooms. This first came to our attention via the Broccoli magazine spin-off Mushroom People, a celebration of all things ’shroom. Beautifully out together and illustrated, we simply couldn’t get enough copies of the one-off magazine. We also began to sell UK magazine The Mushroom, and saw Dazed, Anorak and countless others contribute to a seemingly endless interest in mycology.
Talking of Broccoli, it’s one of a range of US magazines building on the de-criminalisation of cannabis in that country. News is it will be relaunching as a more substantial biannual this year; meanwhile Gossamer does a great job on the same subject, making clever use of print effects to create attention. This year, its eighth issue, with a 10mm hole drilled through the entire issue, was an inspiration to all magazine makers to celebrate the physical.
Such a physical sense of identity sits easily in the cannabis market; perhaps more surprising was the way Solimiya embraced its form. Reporting from the streets of Kyiv as Russia invaded, the first issue showed the young people of Ukraine as their lives were twisted out of shape. It took the form of a portfolio of images, printed on heavy stock and loosebound with a rubber band. At the time we specualted on whether a second issue would be neccesary; sadly it seems it will.
Another reappearance that has been building gently but deserves notice is that of the music magazine. The boldest example in 2022 was the launch of Disco Pogo by the team behind nineties magazine Jockey Slut. Covering a similar area of archive and contemporary club and electronic music, the magazine fills a gap alongside So Young, Electronic Sound, Rodeo, Zweikommasieben et al. We marked this revival with our We love music event at the Shop featuring Paul Gorman discussing his excellent book ‘Totally Wired’, a history of the UK and US music press.
Magazines concerned with our climate and environment are still developing; Emergence is at the spiritual end of the subject, and its 2022 issue came with an optional vinyl recording of a commissioned series of modern music (QR codes in the issue gave the reader phone access to the same tracks). Meanwhile It’s Freezing in LA! slowed down their publishing programme to re-examine their work. Look out for their return this coming Spring.
All told, we sold over 1000 different magazines at our London shop in 2022, so it would be impossible to feature them all in this overview. Even as I type I remember others I could have mentioned (Posthumanist, Objection, Linseed Journal…). We saw the general context we’re working in return to a level post-Covid normality, with the added bonus of more people producing their own magazines and more people wanting to read them.
This growth is further confirmed by the arrival of a number of new specialist magazine shops—I’ll sign off with a big welcome to our fellow magaholics at Print Culture in Glasgow, Rova in Bristol, and looking further afield, Issues in Toronto.