Category: Covers

Great minds think alike, Pt. 2

If you recall, a few weeks ago I lamented Notre Dame Magazine arriving in my mailbox with this coloring book cover:

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The basis of my lament was that Johns Hopkins Magazine, which I edit, was in the midst of a theme issue on fun—stop that chortling right now—and our art director, Pam Li, had been mocking up a similar concept:

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Okay. Now you’re brought up to date. Which brings me to this, new in my mailbox from Denison:

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Open this one up and you find six more pages of Denison scenes for your coloring pleasure. Who’s next?

Oh, just so you know, after she abandoned the coloring book idea, Pam Li cooked up something way different for the Johns Hopkins Magazine summer issue. A click on the image will make the cover lines legible.

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Zag

zagGonzaga, from the Spokane school with the excellent basketball program and the funny name—what, you think Johns Hopkins is a funny name? well, do you? hey, I’m looking at you—did a couple of things out of the ordinary with its newest issue. For one, it published an essay by another umag editor. Brian Doyle, editor to the southwest of Spokane at Portland, writes frequently on matters of faith. He does that sort of thing rather well. Gonzaga, in its spring issue, published his “Weapons Against the Dark” on its back page and inside back cover. It begins with a Doylesque 186-word sentence:

I did not attend the Catholic university where I write these words, but I have worked here for 25 years, and there are days when I think I see something of the place and its people and poetry and possibilities maybe even more than students do; students are so thoroughly involved with growing up (or not), and thrashing after love and careers, and tiptoeing out from behind their masks and disguises, and cautiously (or not) trying to discover who they are, beyond where and who they are from, that I am not sure they have the time to see the college as an idea, a verb, a time machine, an imagination factory, a very profitable corporation, a cultural phenomenon, an evangelizing energy, a major employer, a farm for harvesting innovation, a vast verdant park, a tourist destination, an entertainment venue, and an extraordinary example of a company that sells something no one can see, smell, touch, or properly account for in other than generally ephemeral ways, if you steer away from such hard outcome data as jobs attained, marriages transacted, or acceptance rates to graduate schools.

The magazine also did a split run on the press, producing four different covers (below is the card editor Kate Vanskike sent along with my copy).

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The cheeky Vanskike offered a multiple-choice explanation:

  1. We kept arguing about the best color.
  2. Our president told us to.
  3. We’re just indecisive, okay?!
  4. We thought it would be fun.

Turns out the answer is #4, says Vanskike): “Initially when we planned a coffee cover, I hoped to do a scratch-n-sniff paper that smelled like coffee; that was nixed when the sample we received had a hideous chemical odor. No one likes crappy-smelling coffee OR paper, but people do love color, and we thought having four bright color options would be a conversation piece if nothing else, for those times and places where piles of the magazine are on display.”

While I’l lauding Gonzaga, I think “To be continued” is a great name for a final-page essay. I like the sense of it—this individual issue may be over, but the story continues on and on and we’ll bring you more of it next time.

Editors Forum Bulletin #2

The first day of the formal conference kicked off with more Sree Sreenivasan. His emphasis was that magazines have to make use of every platform there is: Facebook, Twitter, mobile platforms, Tumblr, Weibo (that’s more or less the Chinese Facebook, or something along those lines), Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube. Take every opportunity to connect and get your content out on every available platform. Other of his more interesting points:

— The scarcest resource of the 21st century is human attention.

— Think of how many people have never heard of you, but would be glad for encountering your work if you found some way to connect them to it.

— If you want to get something done at a big, unwieldy institution, call it “a pilot program” and just do it.

— Do more with Instagram and LinkedIn, two underutilized content platforms.

— Put social media addresses everywhere. Make yourself easy to follow.

— People love a peek behind the scenes. Build anticipation for forthcoming stories by alerting audiences that they are in the works and posting tantalizing glimpses of what’s coming up.

— Create hashtags for your important stories and find a way to get those into the magazine, to kickstart online discussions.

— Your social media content needs to be helpful, useful, timely, informative, relevant, practical, actionable, generous, credible, brief, entertaining, fun, occasionally funny. Or at least several of those things.

The second session featured, from New York magazine, the design director, Thomas Alberty, and the editor, Jared Hohlt, talking about cover design. I suspect they are older than they look, because they looked like roommates from sophomore year of college. (Everyone under 30 has started looking that way to me.) They displayed a lot of provocative and well-designed covers, but convergence with what university magazine editors and designers have to do was limited. For example, New York sometimes mocks up 20 versions of a cover to select the best one. None of us has the resources to do that. The presentation was more of a slideshow than a professional discussion of how alumni magazines might produce better covers.

Now there is rumor of a cocktail party. I’m off.

Coverage

On July 1, I became editor of Johns Hopkins Magazine. I was already deep into a complicated feature story on pain science, so the plan was for Catherine Pierre, who was promoted to interim communications director, to co-edit the forthcoming issue with me. But Catherine had to step right up to her new duties, which meant I was on my own finishing the magazine. So time for blogging has been in short supply.

Today, though, there’s an interlude before I have to start writing captions and heads and cover lines. Speaking of  . . .

A batch of striking covers have appeared in my mailbox in the last month. First up, great minds think alike:

car   wellesley

The Carolina Alumni Review cover is for a special food issue, which includes recipes from alumni cooks. As a resident of Baltimore, I must take exception to Robert Stehling’s recipe for crab cakes. It calls for diced bread. You do not, under any circumstances, sir, put filler like bread in a crab cake. That sort of thing will get you in trouble in Baltimore.

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Next . . . excuse me, but your cover is dripping:

stanford   holyoke   texas

The Alcalde cover story gets that magazine’s digital multimedia treatment, which is starting to make me jealous.

Finally, there’s this one. Just because it’s so pretty:

ndsu

 

More to come in the days ahead, because how much work could this new editor gig be?

UMag inbox, pre-Nor’easter edition

Weather forecasters—I am looking at you, Jim Cantore—are getting all excited about the possibility of a big-ass whammeroo of a storm hitting the I-95 corridor Wednesday night and Thursday. Just in time to put the whammy on our efforts to get Johns Hopkins Magazine out the door to the printer on Friday. Yo, weather gods, we’re in the middle of something here . . .

An examination of my teetering stack of alumni magazines turned up some nifty covers. UCLA was in a blue mood:

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Dickinson fully embraced white space:

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The more you look at the cover of Carolinian (out of the University of South Carolina) the more remarkable it gets. Put this one next to the recent Notre Dame cover and try to imagine the work that went into executing the portraits in the cover images:

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Finally, we’ve got this guy, on the cover of LMU out of Loyola Marymount. I love this guy.

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The Carolinian story on cover artist Kirkland Smith is nicely written and worth reading—and you have to see Smith’s Steve Jobs portrait—but unless I’m missing something you can’t access the magazine’s content online if you’re not a member of the alumni association. (Also, I would credit the writer of the piece, but the story is without a byline, which puzzles me.)

The LMU cover boy is alumnus Van Partible, who created the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Johnny Bravo. There’s a fun bit of video of the cover photo shoot, which conveys the disappointing fact that in the cover image he is wearing a wig. I so wanted that to be his real hair.