Earlier this month, the SMH reported that Playboy has plans to put Marge Simpson on its November cover, with an interview, centrefold pullout and more pictures promised inside (right).
As avid magophiles (and Simpsons fans), this artful trigger for publicity prompted the crew at Anthill to take a quick sprint down memory lane and assemble our own Top 10 most memorable magazine covers.
The 10 covers were not chosen for being controversial (although many are). They were not chosen for their sense of humour or use of satire (although some do this very well). They were chosen for their undeniable ability to stick in our minds.
They are not published in any particular order. That way, you can vote for your favourite at the bottom of this page (and not leave the always awkward process of ranking to us).
Top 10 Magazine Covers
National Lampoon, January 1973: If You Don’t Buy This Magazine…
There is not much controversial about this cover (we don’t really think the publishers of National Lampoon actually intended to shoot the dog) but… Sheesh! It’s funny!
Time, December 2006, Person of the year: You
In a radical break from tradition, Time magazine chose as its Person of the Year the millions of anonymous contributors of user-generated content to Wikipedia, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Second Life and other providers. The choice was personified simply as ‘You’, printed with a mirror as the magazine’s cover.
Esquire, May 1968: Nixon gets a makeover
Richard Nixon, the Republican nominee, was battling Lyndon Johnson’s Vice President Hubert Humphrey for the Oval Office. The conventional wisdom said Nixon had narrowly lost 1960 contest to John F. Kennedy due, in part, to his ‘sweaty’ appearance during that election’s first-ever televised debates. This Esquire cover suggested that this time ‘he’d better get it right’. Unfortunately, he did.
Reason, June 2004: The homes of 40,000 readers
In 2004, 40,000 subscribers to libertarian magazine Reason received a copy of its June issue, featuring a satellite photo of their own own house circled. A stunning example of clever, customised publishing, the purpose of the cover was, rather, designed to illustrate the invasive power of databases.
Time Magazine, January 2, 1939: Hitler as Man of the Year
We doubt the gruesome image by Baron Rudolph Charles von Ripper, a Catholic who fled Hitler’s Germany, leaves any doubt about the publisher’s views on the Nazi dictator.
The Economist, September 10, 1994: The Camel-Humping Issue
Ummm… M&A activity heats up after recession-induced cold? Enough said.
Time Magazine, April 8, 1966: Is God Dead?
This cover is often described in US publishing circles as the most controversial cover of all time. Obviously in some markets, God is clearly not dead.
Esquire, April 1968: The Passion of Ali
This cover (among many of our chosen favourites) was sourced from an art site called the webdesigner depot, which describes this mesmerizing piece as follows:
This smart rendition of Muhammad Ali was created to illustrate his martyrdom to his cause after he refused to join the US military due to his religious beliefs and was subsequently stripped of his heavyweight boxing title. The piece was done after the same manner as “The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian”, a popular theme through medieval art but most recognizable in the painting by Andrea Mantegna.
The New Yorker, July 21, 2008: The Obama Couple Satire
The most contemporary of the bunch, this illustration, intended as satire to undermine critics of Barack Obama, had the unintended affect of reinforcing existing prejudices against the then Presidential Nominee. (Osama and Obama are the same person, aren’t they?)
Vanity Fair, August 1991: Demi Moore, Pregnant and Nude
Decried as shameful and disgusting when it was released, some stores sent back the issue, or only sold it with a brown paper bag covering the “offensive” image.
And a bonus multimedia cover…
Esquire, September 2008: E Ink-infused Cover
Esquire’s 2008 experiment in E Ink totally blew our minds when a frequent traveller from Brisbane dumped his flashy copy on our desks. Despite repeated phone calls to the E Ink head office (along with a million other publishers), we never could get a quote. I suspect the cost set back both publisher and manufacturer more than the return.
Now it’s your time to vote!