It’s not often you get to hear the story behind the cover of a magazine, but personally whenever I catch someone speaking of it, my ears prick up in excitement. Our magazine Printed Pages is quarterly, and the cover is often a too-many-cooks, arguing around a table sort of affair – which I actually love. What’s always boggled my mind is how The New Yorker goes through this gruelling tongue-biting process every week. It’s largely down to cartoon expert and art editor of The New Yorker, Francoise Mouly. Her and cover-obsessive contributor Mina Kaneko spend their time debating and discussing which artist would be up for the challenge of inhaling the essence of New York at that very moment, and translating it into an instantly engaging, witty image. The best part is, once the cover is out into the world, they speak to the artist about the process of making it, and what the city means to them.
For the last week or two we’ve been running features on the site about online publishing and its many different branches. For us, the way The New Yorker translates its print publication through to its site is second to none. By taking the cover of the mag and publishing an in-depth interview or critique of the design on their site, they’re totally bridging the gap between print/online that can be very difficult to get right. To celebrate our love for The New Yorker, and to get you as hooked on their Cover Story feature as much as we are, we decided to fill you in on some of our favourite behind-the-scenes stories. Want more? Check out the rest over here on the Cover Story section of their site.
Adrian has been a long-term contributor to The New Yorker, and you can see why. His work totally sums up the vibe of the city: modern, but traditional in the sense of the sentiment of its inhabitants. Being kind of against shopping at Whole Foods and buying books off Amazon, but just doing it anyway with a wince.
When being interviewed by Francoise and Mina about his Memorial Plaza cover, Adrian says: “When I heard that the 9/11 memorial and museum were going to be the top tourist attractions in New York this summer, I first sketched only tourists going about their usual happy activities, with the memorial in the background. But when I got to the site, I instantly realized that there was a lot more to be captured—specifically, a much, much wider range of emotions and reactions, all unfolding in shockingly close proximity. I guess that’s the nature of any public space, but when you add in an element of such extreme grief and horror, the parameters shift.” You can read a brilliant interview with Adrian by Mina Kaneko about the rest of his covers over here
Tomer Hanuka: Perfect Storm
Fantastic cover here from Tomer Hanuka, depicting a couple in a warm apartment gazing out on to a blisteringly cold, snowy New York. Is there any felicity quite like being indoors, hearing the noises of central heating pipes clang with hot water juxtaposed with the rattling of window-panes from icy wind outside? I don’t think so. Turns out that Tomer’s cover was inspired by a short story about two long lost lovers recalling a similar situation:
“…and then I do suddenly get a picture of that time, a fleeting memory of a morning facing a New York window with a bowl clenched between my naked knees, and I say, just to be saying something, “Your hair is even redder than I remember,” which makes her burst out laughing, happy that I haven’t abandoned the game.”
You can read a nice sum-up of this piece of work over on the Times of Israel too.
Christoph Niemann: Rainy Day
This looks simple enough, right? a digital collage resembling the view through a wet car window in a wintery city. I challenge any ilusratyor out there to do a better job of summing up that exact situation with more style than this. With a few blobs Christoph transports you to the back seat of a cab, rubbing your hands together, peering out into the blur of the icy street. Spectacular. For this Cover Story, Francoise and Mina simply put Christoph’s two other images beneath the one they eventually chose, to see his train of thought and show/remind you what a genius he is. No interview or caption necessary. Totally beautiful.
Chris Ware: Protocol
Here he is, the cartoonist that can reduce most of his readers to tears with one flick of his brush pen: Chris Ware. Chris has made some of my personal favourite New Yorker covers, but his recent comment on America’s reaction to the spread of Ebola is spot on. For this Cover Story, Francoise and Mina handed over to Chris entirely, inviting him to write a piece on the inspiration behind the cover. The result is a story detailing Chris’ recent trip to get a flu shot with his daughter, and what he experienced and witnessed with regards to the current state of US health care. In true form, it’s self-loathing, calm, kind and a little wistful. The covers of The New Yorker can often hit home a message, or tone, instantaneously, but none can communicate volumes like Chris Ware can. In one image, you just get it.
Behind the Screens
The “golden era” of independent publishing has seen an awful lot written about magazines; their enduring influence as well as the challenges facing the industry. Sometimes those discussions have overlooked the amazing things happening in online publishing so in November, we plan to rectify that. For the next few weeks we’ll be speaking to the people who have been beavering away at making the internet a very pleasant and addictive place to visit, finding out their secrets and asking them why they do what they do.