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Jandos Rothstein

An Exquisite Corpse of a Magazine

Jandos Rothstein Design and Production - 03/18/2008-12:01 PM

Acido Surtido is a remarkable and lovely poster/magazine published in Argentina by a small editorial team with support from the Ministry of Culture. Printing only 2000 copies, I feel fortunate that I have had the opportunity to review a nearly complete run of the stunning mag. In some ways, AS is similar to Lumpen in that both publications are free, both are lovely because of, and not despite of low production values, and both are the product of a cheerful but competitive collaboration among artists. Contributors at AS, I gather, work separately but meet to assemble the final arrangement of panels that make up the magazine. But, unlike the Chicago pub, Acido Surtido (which roughly translates as "Acid Mix") is almost entirely visually driven. AS is, in essence, an exquisite corpse of a magazine—while each issue is based on a theme, how contributors approach the core idea is individualistic, or even idiosyncratic. In fact, a few panels seem included not because they are particularly interesting on their own, but because they make the overall piece stronger by providing white space or a dash of whimsy in an otherwise serious issue.

While AS is both more graphic than literary, and unfurls into a poster (occasionally, one side is devoted to a single image) it is also, in every sense, a magazine. The juxtaposition of various contributor’s work create the deep interactions that the best magazines relish in—but here it is image and image rather than text and image that work together. As you unfold AS wonderful little moments occur (like the one below) in a carefully orchestrated interactive experience. The reader feels as if he or she is opening a present or untangling a mystery.

Read and see more here ...

Also, below, a link to a whole side of another issue, too large to put on this page and do justice to, based, as it is on the 25″ x 37″ original.

Acido Surtido 14

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Buy Jandos' new book!]

Josh Gordon

Who Says Magazines Are Not Interactive?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 03/18/2008-11:56 AM

Not my 14-year-old, Jenni, who (with profound apologies to GL magazine) found a way to interact with that publication in a way that is ... well, meaningful for a 14-year-old.

Magazines, and most print media, are more personal because you can hold them in your hands. From here interactivity can take on many forms: physical coupons, tear outs, inserts, pop ups, contest entry forms, and blow ins. There is a physical interactivity that comes from the act flipping pages. There is a lot of interactivity that comes from the more personal physical connection that only print can make ... even for a 14-year-old!

More here ...

Mark Newman

Editors vs. Art Directors: Part II

Mark Newman Design and Production - 03/13/2008-17:28 PM

Apparently my last blog post—Editors vs. Art Directors—really struck a nerve, judging by the number of responses (22 by my last count). When the attacks got personal (name calling, questioning the legitimacy of my own magazine, etc.) it made me realize that there are some pretty deep-seeded feelings on this issue.

The overall point of the last blog was that while the editor and art director are partners, the burden of responsibility always falls onto the editor. I’ve seen a lot more editors than art directors lose their jobs due to a magazine’s poor performance in my career. However, I have routinely seen art directors get the majority—if not all—of the praise for how great a magazine has turned around while the efforts of the editorial staff go totally unnoticed.

That said, many of the art directors whom I sent the blog link to agreed with my comments. Maybe it helped that we worked (or still work) together in some capacity, or that they understood, not only where I was coming from, but my healthy attitude toward art directors.

Catherine Neill Juchheim, my art director at Southern Breeze, the REAL magazine I edit, says that it is essentially up to the A.D. to ride herd over the material as well as the editors and sales people. “Whether it is a duel with the editor (no, 1,000 words of copy will NOT fit there!) or a fight with the sales guys over those last minute ads (and money always wins), it is up to the intrepid art director to make it work.”

Anthony Picco, who served as my art director for four years at a not-for-profit, completely understood and agreed with my comments because we respected each other’s profession as well as each other as people.

“My job is to make the information in the magazine attractive, readable, and enjoyable,” Tony says. “I fully understand that there are times that business politics dictate cover choices or lead articles. I have no problem accommodating that. In a healthy working relationship, I am happy to listen to editors' suggestions.”

However Tony admits that he prefers less specific comments from his editors (“The cover looks too busy,” or “This article has to look spectacular”). He adds that nothing annoys him more than when an editor tries to do HIS job with the “Make that type red” or “I want the type justified, not flush right.” Or as he puts it: “Nothing drives an art director crazier than an editor who is a frustrated art director.”

Another former cohort, Samuel Fontanez, who worked as a staff artist and is now art director of a magazine I used to oversee, took exception to my seemingly iron-fisted management mantra. “While I agree it’s the editor’s job to reel in the A.D. into reality when he thinks they’ve gone too far, [the editor] is not the only person on staff privy to the magazine’s audience,” he says. “Any art director who doesn’t know the audience or industry he or she is doing layouts for is basically a temp who has overstayed his or her welcome. So I think we deserve a little more credit in that area.”

John Scott, another former colleague who worked on two monthly publications where I was the managing editor, feels a lot of the issues between editors and their art doyennes are simply due to ego. “I think all editors and art directors have big egos, whether or not they admit it, so naturally there will always be clashes,” John wrote in his response to my initial post. “However, it is the ones on both sides that know how to control their ego and not let it get in the way that are the most successful. It is a team effort and there must be mutual respect and a bit of humility.”

John adds that if those egos get out of control, the end product will suffer and the work situation will be miserable. “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? That's always gotten me through plenty of situations.”

Many of the initial blog responders took issue to the “art director is always the wife” statement comparing the editor/A.D. relationship to a marriage. Sam was no exception. To wit, he says that if art directors are the wife, “then I suggest we make Lorena Bobbit our patron saint!” (Anyone who doesn’t remember Lorena, Google her. And by the way, Sam … ouch!)

Catherine was also not a fan of the husband and wife mentality and stresses equality among the players. “It's the 21st century now, people; how many wives out there are truly subservient to their husbands?” she ponders. “It’s an equal partnership or else it ends in divorce.”

John admitted that the “editor has final say,” but added that doesn’t necessarily mean they are always right. I agree with this sentiment whole-heartedly. In one of my blog comments, I talked about how my art director and I were seemingly up against the editor-in-chief (who had been in that specific industry for over 15 years) and a mousey associate editor regarding a particular cover design. Jonathan, the A.D., created a stunning, emotional visual from an idea I had. Instead, the EIC opted for tired stock art that did nothing for the magazine. [PS: The magazine folded five months later and Jonathan and I are the only ones still working in the magazine industry.]

Unlike John, Tony acquiesced: “The editor is always right, in theory,” he says, “but there are ‘Editors from Hell’ and I have worked for some of them. What does an art director do when an editor has no taste whatsoever—not even bad taste—and yet that editor wants to interfere? What do you do with a micromanager editor who believes you can only do your job properly if your hand is held every step of the way, from concept to completion? Ultimately, I have been fortunate—only about 70% of the editors I worked for were insane.”

Whether or not an editor is always right, Catherine agrees that it is the editor—not the art director—who has the first and last word with a magazine. “It is the editor who writes or assigns the stories that sets the tone for the art director to follow,” she says. “It is the art director’s vision that brings those stories to life across the pages, but it is the editor's determination as to whether the art director's vision is in keeping with the spirit of the editorial written.”

Art directors lucky enough to have good editors basically have free reign with the look and feel of a magazine, which comes from mutual respect, according to Catherine. “It’s also an open communication atmosphere where the editor and art director freely share ideas and perhaps even cross the lines of responsibility at times. Mark listens to any story ideas that I might have for Southern Breeze and I listen to him when he has an idea for an image to go along with something he has written. We also tell each other pretty candidly when we think something isn't going to work, and why. That way, both parties are invested in all aspects of the magazine, and both are driven to produce the best issue they can, time and time again. That is the only way to a successful magazine.”

However, an atmosphere where the editor and art director are constantly at odds will only result in a second-rate magazine and a very tense environment. “There is just no way a publication can succeed if the two ‘parents’ are constantly fighting,” Catherine says. “That will just produce a take-side atmosphere and pretty soon the whole office is in an us-versus-them uproar and nothing good will come from that.”

And the final word has to go to Catherine: “To the editor who may consider his or her art director a freak or diva: it takes one to know one. And I think Mark would agree!!”

Boy do I!

Jason Fell

Republican Congressman Proposes Fining Sites That Allow Anonymous Comments

Jason Fell emedia and Technology - 03/13/2008-17:01 PM

Kentucky Rep. Tim Couch (R-Hyden) has proposed a bill that would require people who contribute comments or other user-generated content to Web sites to register their real name, address and e-mail address with the host site. If passed, Web sites that violate the requirement would be fined $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

Apparently, Couch proposed the bill to call attention to what he says are unkind and often untrue comments about people being posted online by anonymous Kentuckians—specifically high school kids in his district who badmouth each other online.

While this may seem ridiculous on the surface, it raises a good question. How much responsibility does a Web site operator or media company have in regards to monitoring its user-generated content?

As someone pointed out Wednesday at McGraw-Hill’s Media Summit, magazines don’t hire anonymous reporters to write their stories, so why should they allow anonymous people to post content to their Web sites?

What do you think? Weigh in by leaving a comment below. (And, yes, anonymous posts are OK with us!)

Dylan Stableford

Cover Critique: Rolling Stone's Barack Obama Endorsement

Dylan Stableford Design and Production - 03/13/2008-14:01 PM

In the midst of a fascinating 2008 presidential race, Rolling Stone unveiled its endorsement of Barack Obama last week with this cover. Like anything this race seems to touch, the cover was immediately tagged as controversial (with some cable news pundits suggesting the magazine touched up Obama's skin color to make him appear "whiter").

Putting that, and Jann Wenner's politics, aside for a moment, FOLIO: asked some of its friends in the design world to weigh in on the cover. Here are some early returns:

Dan Trombetto
TITLE: Art director, FOLIO:
CRITIQUE: From a design standpoint, the composition and typography are very straight-forward - nothing very interesting going on there. The use of an Obama illustration portraying him as a glowing savior peering off into an unknown future? It seems a bit melodramatic. But I’m sure it will get some religious folks up in arms and create some controversy, which is probably the desired effect. If nothing else, it sure gives Barack a lot to live up to—especially since “A New Hope” contains no question mark after it.

NAME: Marco Turelli
TITLE: Art director, Wine Enthusiast
CRITIQUE: Doesn’t really do much for me. Coverlines don’t help sell it to the reader. Barack isn’t looking out into the distance nor is he making eye contact, so in effect he isn’t creating a sense of “greater purpose” nor is he connecting with the viewer. I would expect a more provocative coverline like “America’s Only Hope.” I’ve seen much better from RS in the past when covering political figures. They need to get Woodard back. Hillary’s Last Stand could have been fun though.

Paola DiMeglio
TITLE: Associate art director, Psychiatric Times
CRITIQUE: First reaction was that this looked like something from a Jehovah's witness "The Watchtower" cover (those brochures that they pass out for a quarter) ... has this religious feel to it. It's more like he's doing a Superman stance. Maybe they should have put the "S" shirt under his jacket with the cap. That would have gotten the effect, but maybe taken as more of an insult than an endorsement. I don't really care for the fonts but I see it's their standard serif font. It looks more like The New Republic or The Week instead of Rolling Stone.

NAME: Randy Dunbar
TITLE: Freelance designer
CRITIQUE: Presumably this an illustration. As illustrations go, it's unremarkable. And Barack appears to have more lines on his face than Georgia O'Keefe. He also appears to be all ear. Personally, I am not inspired by this cover—by design, color, graphics, etc. If this is the "new hope" cover, the future appears to be cloudy ... I did check the cover out at the RS Web site and in a smaller version. It has more impact ... whatever that means ...

NAME: Robert Siel
TITLE: Production director, Sumner Communications
CRITIQUE: Very solid cover. I like the painterly touch to the illustration. Nothing really pops out at me about this cover, either great or bad, but it's solid. The stance of Barack and the one touch of color on the red tie seem to symbolize a Superman pose.

NAME: Bryan Canniff
TITLE: Owner, Bryan Canniff Designs
CRITIQUE: I have several reservations about this cover. If I were a Barack supporter I would not be too happy about his angry expression. The candidate for change seems to be looking forward to hard times ahead instead of "A New Hope". He looks so mad he is literally steaming. The blue color scheme is also not very positive. It makes his skin look even redder in contrast (and angrier). I don't see the need to cover up so much of the logo, unless it is an awkward attempt to say Rollin one. It looks forced since his head is so small and there is no need to show more of his rumpled suit and askew tie. Starting with his pitifully small light yellow name, the typography is very laid back and the layout is too predictable and unexciting.

UPDATE: Tim O'Brien, the illustrator behind the Obama cover, responds ...

What do you think? Drop us a line [dstableford AT red7media DOT com] or drop your own critiques in the comments section below.

Jim O

What Went Wrong with the Postal Rate Hike?

Jim O'Brien Design and Production - 03/12/2008-14:19 PM

Recent data from the Postal Service indicate that Periodicals Class mail only covered 83% of its costs in fiscal year 2007. This news comes on the heels of the "cost based rates" that went into effect last July and were designed to reduce the Postal Service's costs. Many people in the industry are now wondering "What went wrong?" The answer is that "nothing went wrong," once three basic facts are understood:

  1. Since the new Periodicals Rates went into effect on July 15, 2007, the USPS' data only reflected 2-1/2 months of mailing under the new rate structure (the USPS fiscal year ended on September 30, 2007).
  2. In an effort to mitigate the impact on smaller mailers, the July, 2007 rates only reflected 40% of the actual bundle and container costs. As a result, mailers did not receive accurate pricing signals and some companies actually reduced the number of drop-ship entry points. This reduction resulted in increased USPS transportation costs.
  3. Many mailers focused 100% of their attention on implementing the new rate structure and spent very little time reviewing their mailing practices an implementing changes in 2007.

As a result of these three factors and others, the Postal Service did not reduce its costs in FY 2007. With this as a backdrop, the question now becomes, "Will the new rate structure have a positive impact on Postal Service costs in 2008?" To drive costs from the system, mailers need to make changes. Here are a few changes that are taking place at one mailer and in the printing industry.

Changes at Time Inc. 

Time Inc. is making a number of changes to its mailing behavior and these adjustments may be of use to other publishers. For starters, each title has been analyzed to determine if all or a portion of its circulation can take advantage of co-binding, co-mailing, and/or co-palletization. Today, six Time Inc. titles participate in co-mail pools and the company will soon begin to co-mail a portion of their large circulation monthly magazines. Most people think that large circulation titles are not good candidates for co-mail because they have little to gain in presort improvement, but that perception may soon change.

Todd Black, Time Inc.'s assistant director of postal operations, working in conjunction with Brown Printing and Time customer service, has developed an innovative plan for Essence magazine and other large circulation monthlies. It begins when Time customer service determines Essence's presort. The label data for the carrier route copies is sent to Brown Printing in its usual fashion and the copies are produced using selective binding. Following production, the carrier route copies are included in Fairrington Transportation's co-palletization pool and drop-shipped. Essence also has a number of copies that do not lend themselves to co-mailing (polywrapped, personalized wraps, etc.) and these copies are also included in the co-palletization/drop-ship pool. The balance of the non-carrier route labels are not presorted and customer service produces a SLIR file that is transmitted to Brown for inclusion in their co-mail pool. After manufacturing (using conventional binding) the copies are co-mailed, entered into the Fairrington pool-shipping program, and drop-shipped to 96 ADCs. As a result of this combination of co-mailing and co-palletization, virtually 100% of Essence is drop-shipped with very few sacks and a significant presort improvement.

Time Inc.'s weekly titles have also been reviewed and improvements have been made. Since these weekly magazines have large circulations and carrier route percentages in the 75% to 85% range, there is little opportunity for co-mailing and drop-ship improvement. However, certain editions of the magazines do quality for co-palletization. The best example of this is an edition of People magazine that is produced in one plant for a national distribution. Prior to the implementation of the new rate structure, this edition was placed in sacks and entered into the postal mail stream at the printing plant. Today, these copies are included in the Fairrington co-palletization pool and drop-shipped. As a result, these copies have shifted from "100% sacks and zero drop-shipping" to "nearly zero sacks and 100% drop-shipping."


In addition to the co-palletization, Time magazine co-binds its Life and Style supplement along with its regular issue four times per year. Entertainment Weekly will co-bind a special issue along with one of its regular issues in May.

When the changes have been completed on the Time Inc. magazines, Black estimates that 23 Time Inc. titles will be using co-mail or co-palletization for all or a portion of their print order. Black states that, "There are cost savings out there for everyone, regardless of your size or vendor. My advice to other mail owners is to dig deep into each mailing to find what portions you can better presort and drop ship right now. For the portions that can't, ask why and keep asking why until each mailing is optimized."

In addition to the changes being made by the Time Inc. titles, the printing/logistics industry is opening new co-mail facilities and adding new machines to handle a wide variety of products. Black recently visited the new R.R. Donnelley & Sons co-mail facility in York, Pennsylvania. In response to increases in customer demand, Donnelley already has expansion plans for this new facility. York complements Donnelley's existing facility in Bolingbrook, Illinois.

In March, Black will visit the ALG Worldwide Logistics facility also located in Bolingbrook. ALG is a logistics firm that provides co-mailing and drop shipping for the print industry.

Quad/Graphics has developed a multifaceted program that now includes: Multi-Mail (co-mail); Multi-Wrap (offline for poly wrapped Periodicals); Multi-Bind (co-binding); and Multi-Blend (inline combination of previously bound Periodicals with magazines that are being bound). These options provide a great deal of mail-piece design and production schedule flexibility for their clients while still creating volume that maximizes presort and drop ship efficiencies. Quebecor World Logistics continues to invest in solutions that will enable them to co-mail a greater range of product (specifically thin and poly wrapped mail pieces). By the end of 2008 they will double their capacity with new state of the art co-mailers.

Fry Communications in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania is now offering its customers onsite co-mailing, selective binding, blended mail at the mail table level, and co-production (co-binding). Fry reports that they are seeing substantial growth in the number of copies co-mailed and increasing interest from clients who previously were not interested in taking advantage of the reduced distribution costs. In addition, Fry now has customers who use them as a co-mailer but not as a printer. As Fry's pool size increases, the opportunity for savings increases as more copies move from a 3-digit sort level all the way to carrier route presort.

If the changes at Time Inc. and the printing/logistics industry are representative of more global Periodical Class change, we will most likely see a significant reduction in Postal Service costs and a corresponding improvement in cost coverage throughout 2008. Such changes will go a long way toward keeping Periodicals Class mail well within the CPI rate cap in future years.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: If your company has a co-mailing or co-palletization success story that you'd like to share, please send it to]

Dylan Stableford

Is This the Worst Time Cover Ever?

Dylan Stableford Design and Production - 03/12/2008-11:25 AM

Time magazine—home to such modern self-marketing marvels as the Person of the Year franchise—has put together a self-deprecatingly fun interactive slideshow. Tapping its 85-year archive of covers, the magazine is enlisting a reader vote on the worst Time cover of all-time.

Some of them, like the one on the right, I actually like.

And while it's not going to make any ex-art directors too happy, the feature is, as they say on the Internet, "sticky."

Dylan Stableford

If Spitzer Was a Glamour Blogger, He Would've Been Out of a Job by Now

Dylan Stableford emedia and Technology - 03/11/2008-16:12 PM

A full day after the New York Times' shocking revelation about Eliot Spitzer's involvment in a prostitution ring, the New York governor still, somehow, remains in office. UPDATE: Not anymore.

It took less time for Glamour magazine to fire a blogger after, as they say, a majority of readers wanted to "pulverize" him. Here's our story. And here's the note:

Our ultimate goal here is to open a productive conversation about men, sex, love and dating; clearly, that can't happen when the majority of readers would like to pulverize the blogger.

Glamour's hands were clearly tied. (Need to kill some time? Peruse the 200-plus comments posted here, here and here.) But did he deserve to be fired for, as he told Radar, being a "single guy with some issues and a lot to learn. So be it. I kind of thought that's what made my blog interesting"?

By the way, Glamour says it will name its new "Man Needs a Date" man soon. I can think of one candidate ...

Dylan Stableford

Harvard Lifestyle Magazine Featured Eliot Spitzer, Wife 'In Happier Times'

Dylan Stableford City and Regionals - 03/10/2008-23:28 PM

That didn't take long.

A scant two hours and 17 minutes after the New York Times broke the story that linked governor Eliot Spitzer to a prostitution ring, I got this press release from a publicist for 02138, perhaps the last (only?) magazine to feature Spitzer and his wife on its cover.

Sent: Monday, March 10, 2008 6:03 PM
To: Dylan Stableford
Subject: Eliot Spitzer & wife Silda Wall on cover of 02138 ---in happier times

In Happier Times: Eliot Spitzer and wife Silda Wall on the “Power Couples” issue of 02138, the lifestyle magazine for Harvard influentials

Photo Credit: Jake Chessum at Capsule Studio in New York

Eliot Spitzer’s shocking admission about his involvement in a prostitution ring has rocked the political arena today.

Not long ago, Spitzer and his wife Silda Wall posed for the cover of the Winter 2007 “Power Couple” issue of 02138 magazine, the lifestyle magazine for Harvard influentials. The Harvard-educated couple, selected because of their influential careers and continued commitment to maintaining a strong and lasting relationship, seemed the picture of political marital bliss. The black-and-white cover photo showed a part of Spitzer and Wall’s relationship not often depicted in the public realm.

To read the full article from the “Power Couple” issue of 02138, go to

For a jpeg of the Winter 2007 02138 cover with Eliot Spitzer and Silda Wall, please contact me at [REDACTED] or [REDACTED].



Note: It appears Domino recently conducted a video interview and tour of the Governor's mansion with Silda. Perfect timing, that.

Josh Gordon

McDonald's Reaffirms My Faith in Print Advertising

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 03/10/2008-18:55 PM

You gotta love it! Here is a print ad for McDonald's Big 'n' Juicy Burger that uses almost no ad copy and a lot of paper to communicate how their bigger hamburgers need bigger napkins to handle them. The double-page spread was printed on napkin paper and ran in Sweden's Metro newspaper to promote the idea.

Is paper-based ad messaging dead? I don't think so!

Dylan Stableford

'Help! Grandpa's Looking at My September Vogue Again!'

Dylan Stableford Sales and Marketing - 03/10/2008-16:50 PM

CBS' schtick-tastic Andy Rooney (yes, he's still on the air), the curmudgeoniest of curmudgeons, closed last night's 60 Minutes (yes, it's still on the air) broadcast with an odd rant about the effectiveness of advertising in high-end women's fashion magazines. And, here's a shocker: Andy Rooney doesn't understand the appeal of couture fashion spreads nor the ad pages that run opposite them.

The segment ("Andy Rooney's Eye for Fashion") could've been called "Help, Grandpa Took My September Vogue Again!"

What's that? You missed it? Not to worry, the video was dutifully posted online.

Quick! Someone get Mr. Rooney those audience metrics, stat!

Click here to watch the video ...

Jandos Rothstein

Did Details Pioneer Front-of-Book Collages?

Jandos Rothstein Design and Production - 03/10/2008-12:49 PM

Left to right: Details, Esquire, Gourmet, body + soul

I first noticed it in Details a year or so ago—the first page of their newsbrief section ("Know + Tell")—traditionally the home of the most newsworthy, best or meatiest short item—had been torn down and replaced with something else: a page of bite-sized tidbits.

I don’t know if Details pioneered this approach (does anyone?) but it has very decidedly become a trend—several magazines are doing variations on this collage-like way of opening the section, in essence starting with an amuse-bouche (or seven) before the appetizers to come.

Details’ overstuffed page is still the best I’ve seen. Loaded with spare, hard-hitting language, and serious ideas, it averages more and better items than others I’ve found. It’s probably best described as a graphic Harper’s Index. Details occasionally uses a little line art on the page, but it is generally an exercise in pure typographical design—unusual and a breath of fresh air in a big newsstand book.

Esquire relies on a limited color pallet and the work of a single illustrator to hold its page together, and Gourmet’s functions more like a cover design, carving nooks and crannies in the space around a central image for type placement. Of the four here, body + soul’s stock art, sea sick colors, and vapid theme make for the weakest. They’re very proud of it though—it occupies the first page editorial page in the book.

For close-ups, click here ....

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Buy Jandos' new book!]