Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

The Cover Story, 2003: Inconclusive, Fascinating

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

The Cover Story, 2003: Inconclusive, Fascinating

Article excerpt

Byline: CABLE NEUHAUS Editor-in-Chief cneuhaus@mediacentral.com

I'm not one of those guys who constantly mucks around in the past, but I've got warm feelings about the era during which many magazine covers were legitimate works of art. And I miss them, I do. Some of us - the passionate, crazy few - would study those covers, collect them, gaze upon them as though they sprang from the studio of Michelangelo himself. In my home office in suburban New York, I have three framed covers of Fortune, all from the 1930s, when that magazine was wrapping itself with some of the most delectable art ever commissioned for a magazine. I don't recall how much I paid for those old Fortunes, which I found several years ago at a flea market in Pasadena, but whatever it was, it was a bargain. They were glorious (and nearly type-less) covers then, and they remain glorious covers now.

Still, you wouldn't dare put that kind of face on a magazine in 2003 - not without being called reckless, anyway - and that's sort of a shame. The brutal reality of today's retail climate forces most magazine-makers to forgo pure loveliness in favor of cleverness or sexiness or wackiness.

Today, as never before, all eyes are on the cover - if only fleetingly, because, the experts tell us, you've got just seconds to sell your mag at a newsstand. Colors, fonts, images, coverlines - the moving pieces of a magazine cover - can be manipulated in a million ways, and yet, in the end, despite all the agonizing and testing, the simple truth is that there is no such thing as an ideal cover, just many perceived ideals. …

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