Tagged: dickinson

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:


Dickinson fully embraced white space:


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:


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


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.

Well done, Elvis


Most alumni magazine covers devoted to presidents lack . . . how to put this . . . visual interest? But the new Dickinson cover is an exception. The school’s outgoing president, William Durden, whom I spoke to on occasion during his years at Johns Hopkins, is known for his bow ties and distinctive red eyeglasses. What a charming and clever cover, drawn by Dickinson student Elvis Swift. Well done, young Elvis.

Update: When I hastily scanned the Dickinson table of contents for the name of the cover illustrator, I found “Elvis Swift, 2013,” and without thinking about it took that to mean that Swift was Dickinson Class of ’13. My bad. Elvis Swift, as Matt Jennings was delighted to point out, is a professional illustrator and doodler whose work can be found in a variety of publications and media. As we say in the business, UMagazinology regrets the error. And particularly regrets that it was Jennings who pounced on it.

While on the subject of notable covers, take a gander at these. Click on them to enlarge the goodness. First up, Oregon Quarterly, art director Tim Jordan:


Next, UCLA Magazine, art director Suzannah Mathur:



Finally—yum—Denison Magazine, art direction by the people at EmDash:



Storm chasers, colonels, and a president who could draw

Superb cover from Dickinson, for an interesting cover story by Lauren Davidson about a couple of artists named Todd Arsenault and Ward Davenny, who chase storms not for science or adrenaline, but for art. They drive thousands of miles in Tornado Alley, take pictures, shoot video, talk to people, then go home and produce art influenced by what they have witnessed. (Davenny’s art is on the cover.)

“This subculture of tornado chasing was something we had no idea about,” Arsenault explains. “There’s this whole subset of people who are obsessed with these storms. A lot of people can’t even verbalize why they’re drawn to it: It’s a quasi-religious experience for them, and they leave work and travel in convoys or caravans. And it’s interesting how they can clash with the scientists sometimes—it’s what they call a convergence when everyone descends on the same storm at the same time, and it gets dangerous. And this was before reality TV, so after that started, it just got totally out of hand.”

Davenny nods and adds, “What’s interesting about the subculture is that we then became part of it. People would see us and say, ‘Oh, those guys are the artists.’”

Found another entry for my list of alumni magazines with quirky names: The Colonel. This one is published by Nicholls State University in the splendidly named Thibodaux, Louisiana, and Nicholls State’s sports teams are known as the Colonels. (I’d like to see this catch on, if only to begin receiving The Banana Slug from the University of California, Santa Cruz, The Fighting Camel from Cambell University, and The Eph from Williams College.) Nicholls State also publishes an annual magazine with the assertive title Voilà! Stephanie Detillier edits both.

I have a well-documented low tolerance for stories about university presidents, past or present. So when I saw by its cover that Occidental had a feature on past president Remsen Du Bois Bird (which, I’ll concede, is every bit as splendid a name as Thibodaux), I groaned. But the story—a series of journal entries made by Bird during the 1928-29 academic year, is a pleasant surprise. Not only are some of the entries entertaining—”Miss Hutchison reports that Janet Hoit, taking some mother with her daughter through Orr Hall, received this statement from the same mother: that the daughter was registering at Occidental because all the better colleges were full! In the words of Nehemia, ‘Oh God, strengthen thou my arm.'”—but Bird illustrated is own journal, and some of the drawings are great.

UMag inbox

I am tempted to call Denison Magazine the best alumni magazine in North America. I hesitate only because the field varies so widely, making comparisons too dodgy to stand up to much scrutiny. Denison, Harvard, The Penn Stater, and CAM all are excellent alumni magazines, but serve such different reader constituencies and different institutions that stating one is better than the other ends up being pretty silly. But I will say this. We now receive about 200 alumni magazines here at the UMagazinology Galactic Compound and Undisclosed Location, and for the past year, the one I consistently look forward to the most is the one put out by Maureen Harmon and her talented crew.

The Fall 2012 edition does not disappoint. As everyone should know by now, Denison does this great thing with its cover “story,” making it a graphic feature that starts on the cover, continues on the inside front cover and the first five pages of the magazine, and uses the back cover, too.  This time, the magazine recognizes that the theme for campus programming this academic year is “creativity and courage.” The magazine hired illustrator Peter Arkle to draw the ensuing six-page spread. (As always, click to enlarge the images.) The result was a sort of creative artist’s notebook recording dozens of examples of courage and creativity, everything from the serious—Desmond Tutu, Manal al-Sharif, ancient Athenians dreaming up democracy, Pussy Riot standing up to Putin—and the not-so-serious—“A woman adds red pepper to her grandmother’s spaghetti sauce recipe.”

The editorial content in the rest of the magazine is first rate, as usual. What a great issue.

Michelle M. Simmons, editor at Dickinson, has had a little work done. On her magazine, I mean. The Fall 2012 issue debuted a redesign by Landesberg Design (which has also done design work for Kenyon and Oberlin print material), and gave me an excuse for more scannerfest. Below, old cover on left, new cover on right.

There’s much to like with the new design. What stands out to me is the typography. Here is the table of contents, for example:

Great feature spread (for a story about getting and holding a job in contemporary journalism, God forbid):

And I really like this one:

While I’m indulging myself with another scannerfest, here’s a nice spread from Berkeley Engineer explaining the use of nanoparticles to deliver drugs directly to tumors. Jason Lee did the illustration. Karen Rhodes edits the magazine.

Finally, there’s some sort of strange gang sign business going on at the University of Kentucky. Thanks to Kentucky Alumni (Kelli Elam, editor) for bringing it to light. Word of caution: In Baltimore, this kind of thing gets you shot.