Our 2016 personal highlights
To celebrate the new titles and developments in the magazine industry in 2016, we’ve picked a few particular highlights from the year. The magCulture team have each selected one title that stood out for them. More than just another best-of list, we hope they highlight some general themes we’ve seen play out over the year.
Design-wise, we’ve noted the rise of a new kind of ‘new ugly’ in reaction to the prevailing minimalism, a shift from an obsession with hobbies and pets as a theme to magazines that engage with more hefty issues like feminism and migration, and an emergence of titles that play with smaller, less bookish formats while still including long-form writing. It’s been another exciting year watching new magazines arrive and favourites mature.
The Real Review is the size and shape of a duty-free chocolate bar, or a slim clutch; feels confident in a tall, quiet way; is at once slight and weighty. The texture is of those poorly printed Times supplements with their elasticated slacks ads in the back; the cover - with its single-colour, retroish graphic - conveys an almost fusty academic reserve. But once opened the lush, kodachrome-like colour and sharp imagery hit, and the deception (the prank?) is laid bare: suddenly it feels coquettish, then rakish.
Inside, a trove - and perhaps even a call to arms - for the progressive, the forward-thinking and radical, or those simply possessed of a critical eye and a suspicion that the built environment through which we slouch, scuttle and saunter may offer some understanding of “what it means to live today” (a manifesto to stand square-shouldered in our culturescape with all the audacity of Mies van der Rohe’s Mansion House Square project, pictured across pages three and four). Pocket-sized, pocket friendly, pocket pet of the flaneur: not one for the library but the streets - a read for the dérive.
Jamie Atherton, magCulture shop manager
With 2016 being unsettling on so many levels, I’ve decided not to choose a new mag, but an old favourite that I know I can depend on. There’s never any doubt that Apartamento will deliver on all fronts: excellent design and photography, page after page of envy-inducing homes, and of course, the best collection of spines the magazine world has to offer. It’s my go-to mag for inspiration and a title I find myself pulling off the shelves to reread or reference once archived.
Omar Sosa, Apartamento’s art director spoke at the very first Modern Magazine back in 2013 which was also the first event I produced with magCulture, so it holds a special place in my heart for that reason too!
Stephanie Hartman, producer
This film-journal-meets-fanzine is often left out of top magazine lists, yet it’s silently evolved and strengthened over this year and should be regarded as one of the most imaginative young cinema magazines around at the moment.
Each issue of Fireflies invites contributors to write or draw their interpretation two film-makers. One half of the magazine looks at one director, and then when you flip the title around, the other half looks at another. What’s so engaging about it is the way that you’re invited to draw comparisons between the two sections; through a multiplicity of interpretations, your own one then begins to form. It’s a treasure trove for cinephiles and occasional cinema goers alike - a choice of the year for it’s independent spirit and unique structure.
There are a lot of magazines that get made with the intention of entering the world of ‘independent magazines’. Fireflies doesn’t have that kind of awareness about it, it isn’t filled with the indie cliches or ironic self references. It’s simply emerged out of a passion for film, and its form is the perfect and most sensible expression of that.
Madeleine Morley, magCulture journal editor
This monochrome magazine, the size and shape of a stylish spell book, offers an escapist exploration of the spookier side of femininity, by introducing real life, honest to Goddess, witches. What being a witch is remains open to interpretation, but seems to involve sexy alternative lifestyles, new age spirituality and atmospheric photo shoots. Launching earlier this year with an issue dedicated to The Maiden, the current issue returns us to The Mother, a figure filled with the human magic of child birth, tied to the lunar cycles and surrounded by occult symbolism of eyes and embryos.
There is strong element of wish-fulfilment throughout Sabat, mixing the retro-tug of ‘Buffy’ and ‘Charmed’ with more contemporary concerns, such as how to feel empowered via sassy Insta-posts as well as knowing your cycles and your solstice seasons. The much anticipated thrid and final issue will conclude the planned trilogy of female archetypes with The Crone and will be published just in time for the Spring Equinox.
Beth Bramich, magCulture shop
The New Yorker
Choosing the New Yorker might seem like an easy way out - anyone could have selected it at any time over the last 100 years. It has been an established part of the US scene that long, and for many remains a journal of record not just of that country but the general liberal progressive outlook favoured by western democracies. It doesn’t always get things right but you know you’ll read a well-argued, fact-checked point of view. A view you are free to disagree with and argue back about.
Yet suddenly those very values (let alone views) are in question. The US president elect has casually celebrated ignorance as he’s scapegoated his way to power, and in the process encouraged the abuse of truth, science and expertise.
All media have a duty to fight back and the New Yorker has stood strong, clarifying its stance via a series of brilliant front covers and publishing the stunning piece ‘Obama Reckons with a Trump Presidency’ in which editor David Remnick tells the story of the rise of Trump through the post-election eyes of the outgoing White House team.
Now that we’re heading Trumpward there are other publications that have caught up with the need for a clear editorial line but too many didn’t take the situation seriously in the run up to the election. The New Yorker did, and deserves praise and support as it faces up to the abuse its stance will bring it.
Jeremy Leslie, magCulture founder