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Listen to This: A History of the Magazine Cover

March 7, 2014

Dog Ear Consultants

The San Francisco-based design radio show 99 Percent Visible aired a great little program recently about the thought process behind magazine covers. Former Rolling Stone art director Andy Cowles offers some history of the modern mag cover, including this interesting tidbit: Most major newsstand pubs had mascots that appeared on their covers. (Esquire had this strange little Monopoly man named Esky, for instance.)

The biggest, boldest voice here is George Lois, famed Esquire art director. You don’t know George Lois? Sure you do. He did this:


His suggestion for better magazine covers? “When you look at a magazine cover from 20 feet away, it should knock you on your ass.” The guy gives great quotes throughout.

Another interesting tidbit: Cosmo invented the cover line in 1965. So there’s some interesting magazine nerdery: The first-ever cover line was “Working Women’s Problems by Betty Friedan.” Fantastic.

Listen to the whole thing.

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