Little White Lies 100th issue
Eighteen years ago a new film magazine was launched. Little White Lies—its name taken from a Radiohead song—couldn’t afford glossy photo shoots, so it led with illustrations on its front cover.
That decision quickly established a unique visual identity for the new magazine, an approach that was to prove influential on the new generation of indie mags that followed. As the magazine celebrates its 100th edition with a series of four different covers, we invited editor David Jenkins to pick 10 favourite front covers. He came back with this glorious selection…
‘magCulture set me the task of picking my ten favourite Little White Lies magazine covers in celebration of our newly-minted 100th issue. My response was… yes, definitely, but… I am physically and emotionally unable to pick ten favourites because they are all my favourites. I know, I know, that’s a tediously diplomatic response to the request, but knowing the amount of elbow grease that goes into producing every issue of this magazine, it’s impossible to single out favourites. So instead, here’s the not-very-pithily titled, ten issues that are in some way meaningful to me personally when it comes to telling the full saga of Little White Lies.’
Issue 1: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zisssou
The first ever issue that made it to shelves. I remember invading my local Borders shop daily to see if they had issues available. Eventually, after some understandable delays, I met the founding fathers and managed to snag a print issue and a few beers. I could never re-read the reviews I contributed to that issue now, but it still remains one of my proudest moments—I couldn’t believe I was associated with this incredible, innovative new magazine that was talking about movies in a way that was completely different from the existing pack.
Issue 7: Volver
By this point I’d hung around and sent enough badgering, passive-aggressive emails to gain some access the inner circle of the LWLies brain trust, and I made the case for putting a film by one of my favourite filmmakers—Pedro Almodovar—on the cover. It was a real thrill when the brass gave it a green light, and the issue came together in a way that I didn’t quite yet have the experience or the wherewithal to understand.
Issue 33: Black Swan
I was working on another publication at this point, sending through a few pseudonymous missives to keep my hand in and just stanning hard from a small remove. Even though I had zero to do with this issue, I always remember thinking that this one represented a move to the big leagues. Little White Lies was not messing about and was here to stay.
Issue 43: On the Road
By this point I had returned to the fold and got to see exactly what went into each issue of the magazine. And for this one, it was decided that the whole issue would—in the spirit of Jack Kerouac’s novel, ‘On the Road’—be created live on a single continuous scroll of parchment. The features section was created on typewriters and the illustrations were all drawn directly to the pages of the scroll. There’s even a video of it here.
I became editor of the magazine on issue 49, but issue 50 really was my unholy baptism of fire and then some. The concept was 50 years of film, 50 single frames taken from each movie, 50 essays, 50 illustrations, and it was a monster project. Major props to then-art director Timba Smits for being able to make visual sense of the madness and helping to produce an all-timer issue.
Issue 60: Eden
This was a really important one for me as it was an instance of celebrating one of my favourite filmmakers—French director Mia Hansen-Løve—and giving her amazing film a coveted cover spot. This is the only instance of the director rather than the star featuring on the cover of Little White Lies, as the issue ended up being an illustrated survey of amazing women filmmakers from across the globe.
Issue 67: Rogue One
In commercial terms, we pivot from a relatively small film like Eden to an unequivocally huge one like ‘Rogue One’—a Star Wars spin-off movie. The lead times of the magazine have often meant that it has been tough for us to put big studio titles on the cover, but for this one we made an exception because it was made by a director whose career we had followed with great interest: Gareth Edwards. And, to offer a spin on what would’ve been a knee-jerk fan artwork creative route, we decided to make this one a colour-in special.
Issue 85: Food and Film
This was the issue we were able to put out under the intense strain of the pandemic. Cinemas were closed and people had streaming platforms and physical media as their only solace. We also noticed that people were engaging in a lot of home cooking, so we decided to create a special issue that explored the overlap between food and film. I love Laurène Boglio’s cover.
Issue 89: First Cow
Little White Lies has always been known for its use of illustration in an industry that tends to be obsessed with photography. But current artistic director Laurène is interested in pushing the definitions of illustration and traditional portraiture while trying to keep within the guidelines that were set for issue one. This incredible cover tapestry, made in celebration of Kelly Reichardt’s amazing film ‘First Cow’, was created by Steph Watts.
And this brings us to date when it comes to the Little White Lies saga. I want to say that this issue was a labour of love, because it definitely was. But then all the issues are a labour of love, because print is a labour of love. There’s no such thing as putting out a quick or an easy issue. It’s all-in or nothing. With this and every magazine. This is our first issue with four alternative covers, and each interlock with one another.