Category: Uncategorized

Comic Wars: Revenge of the Yoe

What have I started? No sooner did I make note of The University of Chicago Magazine‘s telling a story through comic graphics, then I heard from Richard Anderson at Occidental about his magazine’s comic feature. Now the esteemed Mary Ruth Yoe has countered with an “oh yeah? well we did it in 2000″ riposte.

OK, the gauntlet has been thrown. Can anybody beat 2000?

From Chicago April 2000, “Nice Guys Finish First.” Now, does anyone want to claim that they were way ahead of  Beloit in the use of squirrels in campus videos?

And speaking of video, though it’s not really one of my keener interests (and UMagazinology tends to concentrate on print), I’d like to hear from editors pointing me toward fine examples of video magazine content. I don’t mean your school’s thank you video or homecoming videos or recruiting videos. I mean video that augments content in your print magazine. You know where to find me.

ComicCon, alumni magazine edition

On Monday, I lauded The University of Chicago Magazine for presenting a feature story in comic form. Richard Anderson, editor of Occidental, got in touch to alert me to something I’d missed from its Spring 2012 issue—the history of Occidental’s founding, told in a six-page comic written by Anderson and drawn by Roman Muradov. Complete with talking squirrels. You can’t beat talking squirrels.

Occidental should get together with the people at Beloit College, who seem to have a squirrel thing, too. (Click both words.) They could stage SquirrelFest.

Remember, it was my idea.

How could you miss me unless I went away?

I know, I know, long time no post. As you may have noticed, UMagazinology went on an unplanned hiatus while Blogmaster D poured his limited attention span into his day job at Johns Hopkins Magazine and then traipsed up to Newfoundland for a vacation. Also, there was a bit of pondering whether the blog would continue. But I am back from vacation and fresh from a meeting in which management expressed enthusiasm for the blog’s continuation, so UMagazinology will resume regularly sporadic publication any day now. Glad to be back. More to come.

Now you know (first of a series)

Five things I would not know had I not been reading the Spring 2012 issues of alumni magazines:

— Seventh-day Adventists eat haystacks. Lest you imagine some of the faithful grazing alongside the livestock, haystacks are, as best I can determine, Adventist taco salads: a carbohydrate, usually corn chips, topped by beans, sometimes ground meat, cheese, chopped vegetables, and maybe guacamole or sour cream. Source: “Needles in the Haystack” by Mia Lindsey in Columns (Southern Adventist).

— People once declared Neil deGrasse Tyson “The Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive.” Yes, it’s mean to, but still one has to ask: Was there much competition? Source: “Star Power” by Rose Cahalan, in The Alcalde (University of Texas).

— For the last few years, an anonymous alumnus of Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, has been sending $100 bills to random undergraduates just before Christmas. The students find the money in their mailboxes, with no clue as to the sender. Source: “Christmas Mail” by David Gutsche, in The Classic (Northwestern College).

— In Antarctica, astronomers launch balloons that carry telescopes to the edge of space. If the launch team succeeds in placing the balloon in a high-altitude wind pattern called the Polar Vortex, it will drift in a large circle and land, two weeks later, only about 100 miles from the launch site. Unfortunately, one telescope’s parachute failed to release and dragged the instrument for 150 miles, spewing pieces of it in a long trail of expensive debris until it disappeared into a crevasse. Source: “Balloon to the Edge of Space” by Kirk Warren, in Oberlin.

— Editor Maureen Harmon once kicked a puppy. She swears she didn’t mean to. Source: “No Miss Manners” by Maureen Harmon, in Denison Magazine.

Editors Forum 2012

Some of what I took away from the CASE Editors Forum 2012 in Atlanta:

Just did not seem like an Editors Forum without Jeff Lott and Tina Hay. Though Lott’s absence did mean I got more sleep.

The ever natty Shawn Presley’s opening presentation on getting some humor into our magazines introduced a phrase I did not expect ever to hear at an Editors Forum— “vagina cookies.” If you weren’t there, please don’t ask me to explain, but I will add that he was talking about actual baked goods. Presley, editor of the estimable Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin that has copped two of the last three Sibley awards, damn their eyes, argued persuasively that most of our periodicals need more wit, which works especially well in the front of the book. Kenyon mines Twitter feeds, campus events, the student newspaper, student parties, student interns, and bulletin boards for weird, quirky, funny, sometimes mildly raunchy bits that can enliven a page and remind readers that their undergraduate years were, among other things, great fun. Unless they attended Chicago or Johns Hopkins.

Editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich, when he wasn’t drawing caricatures of Newt Gingrich or a nationally renowned blogger who shall remain nameless, said that by putting off everything until deadline panic forces an idea, he’s more creative. Don’t know about you, but I’m going to try that one with my boss.

Brown Medicine did a brilliant thing when it had to write the dreaded “we’ve got a new building on campus” story. It announced the new facility by producing a photo essay—portraits of the men and women who built the building. Boy, was that smart.

Tracy Mueller, managing editor at OPEN from the University of Texas’ business school, tossed out a great story idea from her magazine: students who are also parents. Could be especially good if you’re writing about undergraduates in that situation.

From the keynote: Sarah Vowell has one of the strangest deliveries in all of broadcasting/author appearances. From now on, anytime I read anything by her, I will hear her voice. (This also applies to David Sedaris.)

When it comes to a conference presentation, Tom French is a real pro. In his talk, sort of a highlight reel followed by some advice, he emphasized that the engine of any story is “what happened next?” He spoke of the “pleasure of unfolding” in a good story, and the necessity to zoom in: The more macro the topic, the greater the need bring your writing down to the micro. Another great piece of advice: As a writer, follow those who are never followed.

I came out of his session with an idea: Write about a single moment. A single moment in the lab. A single moment in a performance. A single moment before a crucial shot in a game. You are not to steal this idea. It’s mine. Mine.

Was not that impressed with Atlanta until a) I ate the fried chicken and corn pudding at Wisteria and b) went to the “From Picasso to Warhol” show at the High Museum. Lot of good pictures in a spectacular space.

Minneapolis next year? Really? I’d be very happy if the conference alternated between San Francisco and New Orleans, but maybe it’s just me.