Texas MonthlyThe American Society of Magazine Editors earlier this week announced the finalists for its 2007 Best Cover Contest. Topping the list for best cover of the year are Esquire for its December 2006 Best & Brightest issue, featuring actor George Clooney; The New Yorker’s September 11, 2006 cover featuring a tightrope walker over New York City; and the July 2007 Africa issue cover of Vanity Fair, which featured legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama—one of that issue’s 20 covers shot by Annie Leibowitz.

“They are a reflection of our culture and our world,” ASME executive director Marlene Kahan says of the best cover of the year finalists. “They provide a snapshot of not just American culture and celebrity but global concerns and national tragedies.

ASME received 300 entries this year from 138 magazines, down about 17 percent from 350 entries last year, Kahan says. Other finalists include Condé Nast Traveler, now-defunct LIFE and Wired for Best Celebrity Cover, The American Lawyer, GQ and TIME for Best Concept Cover and Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair and W for Best Fashion Cover.

One of Kahan’s favorite entries this year is the January 2007 issue of Texas Monthly. “There are always those enduring coverlines,” Kahan tells Folio:. “Will you ever forget that infamous National Lampoon coverline, ‘If you don’t buy this magazine we’ll shoot this dog’ which was brilliantly spoofed by Texas Monthly this year: ‘If you don’t buy this magazine, Dick Cheney will shoot you in the face’?”

The winners will be revealed Tuesday, October 30, at the American Magazine conference in Boca Raton, Florida.