It’s been a fascinating year for magazines.
Elsewhere, Little White Lies reached five years of great covers and thematic movie coverage and then promptly changed its logo, Elle UK made some gorgeous subscriber covers and Elle Collections made me look again at the catwalk with fresh eyes, Monocle continued to defy expectations with further expansion and two newspaper-magazine hybrids for the sea and ski elite, Wallpaper* has continued to experiment boldly with form and content, and GOOD made a tiny shift in its vocabulary to turn its subscribers into “members” of their wider community, a move that others will doubtless seek to emulate.
Self-publishers were given a lift by an improved MagCloud offering, while The Newspaper Club got wider recognition and is now eyeing up an American expansion. And the whole Roger Black/design templates controversy faded away almost as quickly as it swept in.
Pop under Dasha Zhukova did some lovely things, and I’m looking forward to seeing how its former editorial director Ashley Heath will continue the bold, eclectic approach. On the geek side, Wired UK continued to differentiate itself from its American big brother with Europe-focused stories and graphic playfulness. Worth it for the Warren Ellis and Russell Davies columns alone.
So many smaller independent magazines have produced creative, exciting, groundbreaking work in print this year. The Kasino crew unveiled their new project, showing how they can still create an entertaining publication even while using all four colours. Residing several miles further west than leftfield, Dodgem Logic is silly, funny, angry, smart, and subversive in all the right ways – and highly affordable too, as is Manzine which gets better and better with every issue, reaching far beyond its early in-jokiness to become an essential and witty read for people of both sexes.
Over the past 12 months, Mono.kultur and Gym Class have exemplified how fantastic one-person operations can be, when that person has talent, a clear vision and the confidence to make what they want to read, while Put A Egg On It deservedly got enough attention to turn it into a going concern.
Apartamento‘s star continues to rise, taking over the mantle of Fantastic Man as the hip mag to be seen with first – only because FM has now all but established itself as a fixture in the alternative mainstream. It continues to innovate with features that merit its chosen adjective. Its new sister, The Gentlewoman, has yet to settle, but there’s certainly an audience for it out there.
OK Periodicals has moved forward boldly, and now runs its own events as well – bravo, say I. Independent publishing needs as many gathering points as it can get. Elsewhere, my fellow Colophon curator Mike’s Nico gets better and better, and The Gopher Illustrated is a top tip to watch in 2011. Its first issue was adventurous, entertaining, and featured stickers of all the images in colour, for you to place on the pages (or elsewhere) yourself. Its creators recently moved from Venezuela to the creative hub of Austin. I’m looking forward to seeing the results.
Elsewhere, IL, Eureka and the Suddeutsche Zeitung Magazin‘s designs this year suggest that the golden age of magazine supplements isn’t over. Freed from the pressures of the open newsstand, supplements should be brave and bold enough to drive the purchase of the newspaper. And speaking of newspapers, i has had another great year of design work. Its art director, Nick Mrozowski, is on his way back to the States – but we should certainly keep an eye on what his successor gets up to.
As for myself, this was the first year of Stack America, and I’m indebted to the makers of Meatpaper, Megawords, Pin-Up, d[x]i, Beautiful/Decay, Little White Lies, GOOD, Embrocation, Put A Egg On It, The Oxford American, PWR Paper, Bad Day, MYMAG, and Abe’s Penny for agreeing to let me share their creative work with subscribers. Choosing the right publications hasn’t been an easy decision, not because they’re hard to find, but because so much fascinating work is out there. There will be plenty more of that to come in 2011. (Subscribe now!)
I’ve also given talks in Bulgaria, Spain and the USA, written about magazines and associated industries for Eye magazine among many others, and wrote the copy for Turning Pages, a weighty tome filled with snapshots of inspiring contemporary editorial design. We also announced a bold new move for Colophon – lots of excitement around that, some of which should bear some fruit soon.
And of course I got trapped by a volcano and made Stranded, a print-on-demand magazine about the experience, created by those in the same situation. Sales continue to come through; so far, it’s raised more than $1300 for the International Rescue Committee. (Buy one now!)
I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch of great work that I really should have mentioned. Apologies if I didn’t include something you’ve worked on – please excuse it as an omission of forgetfulness, and not any kind of implied criticism. I hereby endeavour to review more titles, and faster, than I was able to this year.
There are, however three magazines that have had an outstanding 2010, and which I haven’t mentioned here. This was deliberate, because in the coming days, I’m going to announce my personal top three magazines of the year. It’s an individual selection, and entirely dependent on my mood at the moment of writing.
Though quite different in subject matter, what they have in common is an ability to make my brain expand and my fingers tingle when I turn the pages. No perspex blocks or shiny designer trophys will be handed out, only my respect and admiration.
And of course, there’s been the iPad. We’re in its early stages, but Letter to Jane, The New Yorker, Flipboard, Mag+ and my favourite mainstream magazine app of the year, The Times’ Eureka point to some fascinating new strides in publishing on their way very shortly. I haven’t written too much about iPad publications on Magtastic this year, a function of real-life preoccupations rather than a philosophical standpoint. That will change, quite significantly, early in 2011 – but not here. More on that very soon.
Recession be damned. It’s been a heck of year, and I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has shared their projects with me. Here’s to an even bolder, better year for contemporary storytelling in 2011. As I said in my intro to Turning Pages, this is truly The Golden Age of Print.
So what did I miss out?