Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Magazine Covers We Loved in 2007

Magazine Covers We Loved in 2007
By Nat Ives

Nobody -- at least none of the media elite up North -- knew how beautiful the words "garden" and "gun" sounded together until Rebecca Wesson Darwin introduced this magazine last spring. And it wasn't until the fall issue that we realized how well a black-and-white photo of a woman with a Beretta could work on the front of a magazine. We haven't asked about newsstand sales; we're too busy imagining the mystical place called "21st Century Southern America."

It ain't easy living in New York, much less living single in New York -- or getting good dating advice from a magazine. But Time Out New York found it it is entirely possible to make fun of New York singles in its Dating issue, so we were treated to this hilarious and, OK, possibly cruel cover photo of one reason you're so not being romanced right now.

Sometimes all a magazine needs to do is find the simplest way to tell the story. We're sure the housing-market coverage inside this March issue of The Economist is remarkably written and insightful -- but we never found out, having found in this image all we needed to know about the then-approaching mortgage debacle: Its downside will be deep.

Not everyone appreciated W's concept for multiple covers of its Art issue in November, for which renowned painter and photographer Richard Prince basically scrawled fake autographs on some celebs photos. "Hey, Richard," he wrote on an Angelina Jolie cover, pretending to be her. "Shine on!" wondered if this was false advertising, given the lack of a Jolie interview inside. For some reason, though, we called it art.

Although we by no means endorse magazine covers that depict people sitting on toilets -- that's disgusting, folks -- sometimes an image just kills with its timing. Columbia students laughed in September when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was translated as telling them, "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country." Here, a neighbor in the adjoining stall either has a "wide stance" or would like to discuss the issue further.

We were, like many people it seems, rooting for Britney Spears to return to form and really blow everyone away in her comeback performance at MTV's Video Music Awards. The train, car, bike and bobsled crash that followed left us speechless and, we kid you not, concerned. Entertainment Weekly had the words for it that we did not. We're still concerned about Britney, too.

This cover took home the "Best Coverline" award from the Magazine Publishers of America at last fall's American Magazine Conference, but it's even more than that. It's also a genuinely frightening image. Beyond even that, the cover is an hommage to perhaps the best cover ever, National Lampoon's 1973 masterpiece that threatened, "If You Don't Buy This Magazine, We'll Kill This Dog."

The right photo plus the right pull quote equals a cover portrait that is neither cruel nor promotional. Given the audience figures circulating toward year-end, in fact, this July cover looks downright generous. But it's not; a profile of Katie Couric's "impossible year" demands a chance for Ms. Couric to say that this isn't quite how she hoped things would go, either.

Esquire isn't any more above using sexy semi-dressed women to move newsstand copies than any other men's magazine, but it's not addicted to them. It actually found a way to start 2007 with a cover design featuring a veteran who lost two legs and one arm in Iraq. That did a lot more for us than Esquire's "Sexiest Woman Alive" ever did.

OK, this isn't a magazine, nor is the cover even pretty, but this list isn't the Pulitzers, either. The New York Post deserves recognition for reporting the news (for those who care about baseball) and what seems to be the truth -- at the same time.