The latest issue of US mag Anxy has a completely graphic cover: a swimming-pool toned expression of the word ‘masculinity’ itself. It would seem that the subtext is that it’s angular, harsh at times, but striking and appealing.
Masculinity has popped up as a theme in quite a few magazines that have passed through our hands in the past few months: usually in a way that questions those hard edges without rejecting the concept – much like Johnny or the latest issue of Sofa – but occasionally rolls with the punches, like the latest Athleta. In this issue of Anxy, femme and gender non-conforming masculinity (above) butts up against the violence and fight-club culture of a ‘gutter-punk’ compound in rural Ohio (below), opening up conversations around a huge spectrum of the meaning of the word.
Anxy’s remit is in their name – we’re all anxious these days – and founder Indhira Rojas wanted to open up the conversation around mental health and wellness. The way she did it was with a sleekly-designed magazine that wouldn’t carry any of the stigma around opening up. It was only a matter of time until Anxy confronted this particular subject matter, and as Rojas mentions in her intro, acknowledge and confront oppressive masculine behaviours that we all are brought up with – either to display or to submit to – no matter how painful the process might be.
Much of it is illustrated in the house style, like this piece (above) addressing the paradox of talking about masculinity at all when men already take up so much space. The illustrations are fairly toned down, which allows the text room to breathe, but still manage to add an extra angle to it.
Interviews with US TV stars like Karamo Brown (above) or Terry Crews reflect the stars’ own struggles with masculinity, the way they are perceived, and what they do to tear down those walls. In Brown’s case, particularly, anyone who has watched Netflix’s reboot of ‘Queer Eye’ won’t have come away with a dry eye after he artfully gets to the root of what it is that’s on his client’s minds.
Anxy taps into something that speaks to a lot of people. However after four issues they are still crowdfunding before print. Whilst this works as a starting point or to launch a change of direction I wonder what happens when the hype game becomes unsustainable? It also takes some of the element of surprise out of the excitement of getting a new magazine when you’ve debuted the content far in advance of copies hitting the shelves.
However it achieves it, the conversation about toxic masculinity is one that needs to be opened out to a new audience, and if this polished and attractive magazine is how it reaches more people’s dialogues then that can only be a good thing.
Founder & Creative director: Indhira Rojas
Editor-in-chief: Bobbie Johnson
Guest editor: Sarah Rich
Design & Art direction: Alma Avila & Nicholas Law