An intriguing side effect of opening the magCulture shop has been the welcome exposure to magazines I might have seen a year or two ago but overlooked since. An example is this weeks Magazine of the Week: Garage, the art-fashion biannual published by Dasha Zhukova that takes its title from the Moscow art institution.
The 266pp large-format magazine arrived here last week. The lead story is a Marvel-inspired shoot by superphotographer Patrick Demarchelier, styled by Charlotte Stockdale; five supermodels- turned- superheroes each star as a Marvel Comics character. Lexi Boling is Captain Marvel, Karlie Kloss is Black Widow… you get the idea. And as with any self-respecting modern biannual, the issue offers a choice of five covers – each superhero has her own front cover.
The photo story is strong, but what moves the issue into Magazine of the Week position is the design applied to them. The strong hand of German creative genius Mike Meiré is evident here, pouring his elegantly misformed typography across the pages (aided by his team including designers Charlotte Cassel and Tobias Tschense).
Online and in print the magazine team make a big deal about Marvel being ‘the most popular visual artists of all time,’ and that popular comic context provides the perfect foil for Mieré’s typography. His perverse misreading of the official type playbook can sometimes be overbearing but here it’s spot on: without copying or parodying comics, he provides a contemporary comic book design unlike anything I’ve seen in a magazine recently.
Subtle references to comic tradition abound: speech bubbles, repetitive lines to express movement and ‘frames’ of text (below, left).
The relationship between the cover story and the rest of the issue can be seen on the Contents page (below); all the headlines jump playfully in size and between caps/lowercase and serif/sans. But the Marvel header stands apart in colour and detail.
The rest of the issue follows the Contents page in tone; the simpler, black and white typography still refuses to play the rules; text reluctantly shifts to accommodate pullquotes squeezed between columns (above) and a page of gallery listings ignores most conventions of the form (below). Service pages like these are easily templated today; it’s refreshing to find a semi-systemised presentation that’s jarringly alive.
What’s striking about the whole magazine is that it looks fun. This is not a dour, cheeks-sucked-in fashion mag posing in the dark of a nightclub, it’s a celebration of art and popular culture with content and design in perfect unison. The fun is heightened by some very animated additions to the Marvel shoot; download the Garage app, scan the images on your iPhone, and bang!
I’m not usually a sucker for this type of interactive playing but this works really well with the subject matter (below). I’ll be paying more attention to Garage from now.