I’ve never quite fallen for Hello Mr. – a quick search of the Journal shows we’ve never carried a full review of the biannual queer mag. And despite meeting its inspiring founder Ryan Fitzgibbon several times, and hearing him talk with pride, candour and humility about his project, it never quite become an essential magazine for me.
Not because of its topic – there are plenty of magazines I like that don’t speak directly to me – but because I felt its desire to support and give voice to ‘men who date men’ was more important to Ryan than the potential of the magazine as a medium.
Which is fine of course, not every magazine can or should be devastatingly innovative, but it left little for me to actually say about Hello Mr. It was doing a good job (or indeed a great job, given it has now reached issue nine) of building a community of regular readers and advancing the conversation about what it means to be queer today. But as a magazine in the broader sense I felt it was slightly characterless. Was it a lifestyle mag, a political mag?
Last weekend at Hamburg’s Indiecon event, my mind was changed.
In a brief, direct presentation at Indiecon, Ryan revealed a new addition to Hello Mr. In response to ongoing requests that his magazine expand beyond queer issues to cover lesbian, bisexual and transgender lives he decided to help others create magazines to address these interests. The result is a mentorship/incubation project called Magazines in Residence, which accepts submitted ideas for new magazines and offers professional advice and support towards creating a 16-page mini-magazine, which is then distributed inside Hello Mr.
The first of these falls out the new issue (above); Brunch Club is about being brown and queer. In the context of the bigger, perfect bound magazine that contains it, Brunch Club is a refreshing burst of an alternative aesthetic, rougher and more zine-y than its host.
The process of mentorship appears to have helped Hello Mr too; art director Zhang Qingyun and design director Ouliana Ermolova have refreshed the design and it feels more unique. The front cover images are now full bleed (the version above is the subscriber edition, with a smaller inset image) and the Hello Mr. title is subtly angled. A list of names runs at right angles to the title, crossing from the front cover onto the spine in a manner I’ve never seen done before, but which is really effective (below).
Such quirks continue inside the issue, with a brighter, looser look using new fonts and devices throughout (below).
I’ve never had doubts about the work that Ryan has done to build a community around his magazine and achieve much good in the process, but it’s great to see a new emphasis and confidence to the pages of his magazine – this reinforces everything else Hello Mr. seeks to achieve. For this reason we’ve selected it as our Magazine of the Week, and look forward not only to how Brunch Club develops, but what future launches Ryan inspires via the Magazines in Residence programme.