Paul Raven made a comment today on his blog comparing the artwork on a couple of different magazine covers. Warren Ellis has recently been on about cover design as well. So I thought today, I’d look at the latest batch of covers for every magazine I could remember, and write some generalized thoughts on the design. I’m a self-taught designer, so take my comments and criticisms with a grain of salt.
Uploaded in no particular order:
I’ve read often that space scenes sell magazines. What do you think? If you saw this on a newsstand, would it compel you to buy it? The typography here is so ridiculously conservative, staid. San serifs for the win, I think not. The sharp points to the title face are high tech-ish, in direct contrast to the title itself, which is about the funniest title for a science fiction magazine ever. Those harsh corners seem to convey the harder nature of the content, a harder SF, maybe.
This reminds me of the covers of literary journals. What does it tell me, graphically, about this magazine? The images convey death, creeping unease, but the juxtaposition of the bright, red text hints at a violence too. The Dark -> in the upper right hand corner seems a bit odd to me. Also, do you think the number of the issue is really the most important information to convey on the cover? Does this design sell a magazine? What do you think?
The art here is very modern, very cool by my eye. It reminds me of something Dave McKean might do. It says more fantasy than science fiction to me, but I could conceive of a SF explanation. The bright reds and oranges really make it pop, although the yellow sidebar tends to blend a bit with the palette. I would have considered changing up that color, maybe, but it’s at least a thoughtful color scheme. I think this cover conveys what the magazine is, but the sidebar doesn’t convey any importance of the articles to me. All content is weighted equally.
Authors, but no titles. And we know from experience that the cover art does not signify anything about the story content. I really like the typefaces used here. I’m not sure if Clarkesworld sells on the newsstand, but I might pick this up thinking it was a comic book. Dunno if that is a good or bad thing.
Combines Lovecraftian images with steampunk images. Masthead is dominant, and color scheme fits well with the artwork. Pretty modern feeling in its choice of artwork style. There’s often a lot of texture in the artwork on these newer zine covers, have you noticed? I’m intrigued by this art. Does it scream horror to me? No, but the tentacles are a pretty good hint at the content. The main typeface strikes me as a bit goofy, not very elegant. I haven’t read it, so that might be a good representation of its content–less gloomy horror, more fun horror?
I had to really dig around to find this one. It seems that the Realms website has not updated their Current Issue page since August 2006. As someone else said, it makes it look as if the magazine went out of print in 2006. Which I assume isn’t the case… Anyway, this cover surprised me because I really expected to see a media tie-in. My beef with this cover is that it’s covered in text. The art is pretty nice, even if it reminds me of the kind of art you would see in Dragon magazine in the mid-90s. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I find it interesting that this art here is missing the texture you are seeing in the newer magazine cover art. How many typefaces are going on here? 3? more? The cross in the masthead makes me think this has something to do with Christianity. I really do not like the greenish circle with the “Plus” text.
Very dynamic, very hip. Again, a lot of texture in this art. The breaking out of a standard blocky layout really makes this cover stand out from the rest. I really like the effect of the art interfacing with the text, making it seem almost like speech bubbles. The hierarchy of information here seems solid, and well organized. This cover is designed to sell magazines to people who have never seen the magazine. It’s probably not hard to tell that this is my favorite.
I think this cover design loses the title of the magazine a bit, which is not something I would shoot for. The hierarchy is clear, and the art once again invokes that literary journal feel, as well as the size. I like the typography too. Nice, clean lines.
The less said about this the better. Just about the only thing that doesn’t bother me is the bar code placement. The font for the authors is not readable at a distance–it’s too tight. So catching a name on the newsstand isn’t too easy. The color palette says “I am gloomy.”
Robot design circa 1970s? Check. Kind of an odd color scheme and very conservative typography? Also check. This cover could have graced Asimov’s in the early 1980s and it would fit right in. That’s not even a dig at the authors, all of whom I respect and enjoy. This cover says “still the same magazine you bought on your way to seeing Empire Strikes Back!” Not a good thing, in my opinion.
So what do you think? Which of these magazines would you have bought purely based on the covers? What trends do you observe?