Looking for Innovation in Print: McSweeney’s 35 Has the Answers

September 10, 2010

How can you make your good magazine remarkable? How can you go beyond being just a content provider, no matter how good your content is? Well, the answers to the aforementioned questions are really simple and innovative if, and only if, your name is McSweeney’s. The magazine is the brain child of David Eggers and issue 35 has just hit the newsstands.

To quote from McSweeney’s website, “McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern publishes on a roughly quarterly schedule, and we try to make each issue very different from the last. One issue came in a box, one was Icelandic, and one looks like a pile of mail. In all, we give you ground- breaking fiction and much more.” What they don’t tell you as how innovative each issue is and how much that innovation adds to the great content and changes the magazine from a mere content provider to an experience maker.

The latest experience making issue comes with no explanation and a lot of heat-sensitive ink on the cover and inside flaps. The cover illustrations of folks walking in the rain transfers to a pond filled with all kind of fish when you hold the cover and rub the ink. The heat makes things appear and disappear. But it does that so fast that one can’t scan the cover to show you the after result. So, I had to video the cover to illustrate that latest innovative technique with the magazine. Click on the movie below to see the cover in action.

Unlike other magazines that alert their readers to such innovations, McSweeney’s makes you work for it. Inside the back flap of the magazine there are a few cover lines that one needs to rub too and see everything vanish except the phrase HOLD & SEE. Well, sorry for letting the secret out, but without the help of my assistants, I would have continued to think that someone has messed up my clean magazine and the folks at McSweeney’s are using just cheap ink and not magic ink.

A great read, a great experience and yet another example of the power of ink on paper used well. Very well indeed. Enjoy.


  1. Wow! Now THAT’s something you can’t do with an iPad! I have to find this magazine…

    • Actually it kind of is something that could be done with the iPad – and probably should be.

  2. […] Looking for Innovation in Print: McSweeney’s 35 Has the Answers […]

  3. […] Magazine has the new McSweeneys and it has a magic cover!McSweeney’s 35 Has the Answers « Mr. Magazine The latest experience making issue comes with no explanation and a lot of heat-sensitive ink on the […]

  4. […] Mr Magazine has the full story. And, as I point out in the comments, it wouldn’t have the same magical sensation as this – but it’s exactly the kind of thing playful iPad publications should be doing too. swfobject.embedSWF("http://www.youtube.com/v/rOO_pflqAIc&rel=0&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=0", "vvq-1892-youtube-1", "425", "344", "10", vvqexpressinstall, vvqflashvars, vvqparams, vvqattributes); […]

  5. I believe that it is nearly essential in the time of fading print to add some sort of depth to the entirety of the ready experience. It is this type of innovation utilized by the McSweeny magazine that may draw a larger pool of readers in and truely engage them while also bringing a new found sence of reverence for all of print. Aspects such as morphing the surface of what people are viewing has merely been attributed to mediums pretaining to electric material with screens. Readers might possibly label this as a gimic, but it is one that works for a time in which gimics are almost a vital element in the mass dispertion of the printed word. I admire that there are those out there devoted to methods using paper who are not nearly prepared to surrender their vocations and are embracing a sense of optimism for the future of the field.

  6. […] Full article […]

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