This month: Rolling Stone

Issue: 993; February 9, 2006
Frequency: biweekly
Launched: 1967
Circulation: 1,315,634
Editor & Publisher: Jann Wenner
Creative Director: Amid Capeci
Photographer: David LaChappelle

Concept: If there’s one certainty about consumer magazine covers designed to provoke, it’s Jesus. When Rolling Stone’s 993rd issue, featuring the outspoken rapper Kanye West as Jesus on its cover, hit newsstands last month, there were a few token outcries from conservative Christians and, predictably, a wall of trade coverage. But the cover largely failed to achieve shock value—likely the product of an increasingly fragmented and crowded newsstand, and a generation of 18-to-34-year-olds weaned on “South Park” and conditionally numb to “shocking” magazine covers. Still, it seems their “Passion of Kanye” concept was nothing new. When the Kanye cover hit, Howard Stern told his Sirius satellite radio audience that his first shoot for Rolling Stone had essentially the same concept, but editor Jann Wenner refused to run it out of fear of a backlash.

Production: The magazine dispatched celebrity photographer David LaChappelle to shoot West in Los Angeles in January. Special-effects artists gave West the Jesus-like wounds below the crown of thorns. LaChappelle also shot an Ali-esque West for the feature spread—as Stern can attest, when your boss is Jann Wenner, it never hurts to have a backup.

Our design panel says: “A chance to mouth off on someone else’s cover—what luxury and fun … elegant color palette and a provocative rebellish image: a great combo … don’t need coverlines—the image is Kanye West as Jesus … Didn’t “The Passion of the Christ” come out in 2004? … excellent execution …Classic RS: Provocative, well-executed and thought-provoking…but for Kanye West?”

The Panel: Charles Brucaliere, Forbes; Sharen Conway, Studio/monthly; Daniel Stark, Stark Design; Mayumi Hudgins, MC; Jeff Clapp, Business Facilities; Thoralf Tollefsen, Northstar Travel Media; Travis Daub, Foreign Policy

Have a unique “cover” story? Contact Folio: senior editor Bill Mickey at

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