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February 2020

February 2020

Our look back at the magazines that didn’t quite find a place in our regular schedules last month includes the explicit, the abstract and a sad farewell. Plus rugby, basketball and the history of a modern classic.

Bloom #5
Meteorological Spring has arrived, and with it the latest copy of Bloom. This issue contains ‘A gardener’s essential A-Z (part one)’, a glossary of common yet essential words to know, ranging from Arboretum to Grafting. The mag also features a beautifully illustrated guide to growing seeds, an article on carnivorous plant-care, and nine tasklets to keep you busy in the garden through Spring. My favourite feature, however, is a page of two recipes for elderflower-based liquids – vinegar for dining and cordial for drinking.

Rugby Journal #9
The Rugby quarterly continues to own its niche, offering strong coverage of all aspects of the sport including smaller international teams and the women’s game, alongside star names like Mako Vunipola. Also noteworthy: the commissioned photography.

Donovan #2
This x-rated art mag from Spain provides a contemporary review of gay art from the 1950's to 1980’s features homoerotic images, drawings and graphic design – everything from posters to cartoons. It is unapologetically explicit, small in size but quite the opposite in content. Both national and international artists are featured: Roberta Marrero, Alberto De Las Heras, Daniel Riera, FelixD'Eon, Paco and Manolo, Leo Adef, Eli del Oro, Neil, Randomagus, Christian Oita, and Aaron Smith to name a few.

Doesn’t Exist #1
This new mag seeks a dialogue between film and fashion, launching with an unofficial tribute to Comms des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo. Such an abstract brief leads to a curious magazine: text and image bleed together in an absorbing but dreamy manner. A magazine that I’m glad exists, and will refer back to, despite the ambiguity of much of it.

The Idler #71
While its cover design is fairly dated in comparison to some of the younger mags on the shelves, it consistently features great articles and interviews, all looking at life through the lens of ‘slacker-culture’. An interview with cover star Damien Hirst is somehow even more entertaining than I expected. The divisive artist is as acerbic, bolshy and amusing as ever, and love or hate him, it’s impossible to suppress a smile at his unfazed honesty.

Kennedy #11, Japan
The’Biannual Journal of Curiousities’ is going throught a rich vein of developement currently. It follows its Athens special with a trip to Japan, which in practice means Tokyo. The issue is basically a report from editor/founder Chris Kontos and his wife, and makes for a rich, dense collection of personal moments that is vastly superior to any tourist guide.

Road Rat #4
After a recent spate of monochrome covers here at magCulture, this lates front cover of the car mag is one of the most striking in the shop. Marcello Gandini and Giorgetto Giugiaro are behind the design, based on Andy Warhol’s artwork for The Velvet Underground & Nico’s 1967 debut LP. Just as with the classic album, the banana-car can be peeled back, to reveal a pink cross section of the automobile.

25 Years of Arena Homme+
OK, not a magazine, but this vast book looks back at Arena Homme+ and deserves note. A series of lengthy interviews with key contributors – Nick Logan, Ashley Heath, David Sims, Neville Brody – are scattered among life-size reproductions of pages, shot from the magazines themselves and shown with post-its marking the pages. A vital record of an important magazine.

Smith Journal #33
‘Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened’ declares the final page of the final issue of Smith Journal. After eight years and ‘792 articles about people doing things “the old way”’, the mag has reached the end of the road, admitting lack of ad revenue as the reason. It’s always sad when a magazine closes, but Smith Journal was a particularly lovely one; the counterpart to Frankie was designed to take ‘unexpected, interesting, funny and sometimes complicated stories and tells them the way you would to a bunch of friends at the pub’. The features that look back are bittersweet, but this last issue is really just as good as its predecessors – I especially love ‘Smith Stuff’, pages of cool facts, little Q&As and products recommended by the mag’s editors.

Entorse #3
The large format French basketball mag is one of the few to successfully overcome our no non-English language rule at the Shop. The photography, illustration and graphics earn it that position, a particular highlight of this issue being Shoboshobo’s cartoonish 3D basketball characters. The cover unfolds as a large glossy, graphic poster.

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