We like magazines, we work in magazines and we have lots of magazines, and we have, unsurprisingly, tended to find that similar things are true of many of our readers. So when an esteemed friend of Manzine suggested we inaugurate a magazine appreciation column to celebrate this common area of interest, we thought it was a sensible idea.
Here, then, are selected editorial and advertising highlights from two 1948 issues of Fortune, the American business magazine that was founded just after the Great Depression. It's a large format, perfect-bound beauty with a embarrassment of editorial and advertising riches, from smart stories on the impact on the new craze of the year, TV, to numerous celebrations of the possibilities of plastic. Founding art director Thomas Cleland had started out as a self-taught book typesetter in his teens, and the text treatments are as striking and accomplished as the photography and witty graphics. Basically, it's rather brilliant and bold.
And it's about making money, which is just as interesting. Most "magazine people" I know aren't vocal fans about money magazines. (As a magazine more about the broader culture of global capitalism than the specifics of revenue generation, The Economist doesn't count.) I'm guilty - I'll raid the Forbes website for cold, hard realities when I'm writing some lifestyle fluff, but I'm not used to saying I like money magazines. These exquisite specimens made me wonder why.
I think it's because we “magazine people” are generally magazine snobs. We date from an era when magazines were like secret clubs or cults, often carried as badges of coolness which signified that their readers were more aesthetically refined and discerning than the average. The money magazine, the title that venerates wealth and above artistic achievement, seems all commerce and no art. When there's no mind-expanding and noble photostory with poor people in a desert, no groovy new video director, no Wolfgang Tillmans mention in the listings, no Beastie Boys, we feel that a magazine is somehow impoverished, cold, heartless.
But glossy magazines have always been about money (and these days non-glossy ones are usually about loads of money too). They are about acquisition and "aspiration", they are about lower-middle class merchants pretending to be upper middle-class aesthetes, which is why we console ourselves with the arty bits and bookish pretensions between the ad whoring. They exist solely because their advertisers' investment allows them to. They can't go on if they're not bought. They are about sales disguised as something more edifying and intangible. The word "magazine" originally comes from the Persian term for storehouse, so no wonder Fortune is brilliant, a beautiful, terrifying, Vorticist vision of three-colour graphics and rampant industrialization: it is about money and not ashamed of the fact. And it has a quarter-page ad featuring a resort where there is no closed season on shooting mountain lions. Peter Lyle