Factoids From Show, American Cavalcade and Ken Magazines. From My Vault of Classic “New” Magazines – Part 3.August 26, 2016
A few weeks ago I used the very secret combination to my very beloved vault of classic “new” magazines to begin this “The Way We Were” journey. It has been an extremely eye-opening experience. To say that there is much to be learned from these masters of journalism and creativity would be an understatement.
In Part 3, I wanted to share some very important points of interest from these classic first editions with you, and a few comparisons I’ve made between yesterday and the magazine media world in which we live today.
Show magazine Vol. 1, No. 1, launched in September 1952 and was ad free. It was a small sized magazine, able to fit into a gentleman’s pocket (thus the name pocket-sized magazine), and featured the famous burlesque exotic dancer and men’s magazine model of the late 1940s through the early 1960s on its cover. The intro reads:
Show is a magazine of excitement. Most of it comes from the world of entertainment – the hush of a Broadway first night, the antics of a TV comedian. Some comes from the way people live – in small, sleepy towns; on the champagne-splattered sand of the Riviera. Wherever people enjoy life with zest and abandon, this is Show.
This magazine promises you an experience with that description. I mean, if the words chosen and the order in which they were placed doesn’t conjure up an escape unlike any you have felt in a long time then you’ve definitely been staring at pixels too long. THIS is an experience and this magazine is an experience maker. Tangible and completely palpable; Show is a magazine that could teach us all some very important “new” adjectives just from the intro alone.
American Cavalcade was first published in May 1937 and was totally ad free as well. The title alone brings an image of a procession or a parade to mind. A procession of great “fiction, facts and features,” with fascinating photos and illustrations. Its editor, Thomas B. Costain took the entire back page of the first issue to define his idea of what a magazine is, and oddly enough, things haven’t changed too much in that respect over the years:
It is the firm conviction of the publishers and the editors of Cavalcade that all material presented in magazines today should be brief and swift; that fiction should be conceived and written in the vivid lengths which O. Henry employed and in which Kipling and De Maupassant told their finest tales; that articles, always more vital and interesting when concerned with events and people, should tread closely on the heels of news.
It is our conviction also that periodical readers are being surfeited with opinion, with argument, with analysis of conditions and debate of trends. It is not our aim to be too serious, nor is it our intent to instruct or uplift the over-instructed and too vehemently uplifted public. We shall be content if we succeed in diverting and entertaining the readers who are kind enough to venture along with us.
The opportunity to tell stories in this length will, we are sure, create a new school of writers, and will be welcomed by established authors as well. Certainly nothing could be more gratifying than the avidity with which the leaders in the fiction field today have accepted the length. Our numbers, we are proud to say, will teem with the best names in the magazine world, with writers whose technique has been developed to such a high peak of perfection that their product has the strength and the richness of old wine.
We are equally proud to say that this old wine will be presented in the most modern of bottles. Our art editors have developed a method of presentation, which, we believe, is arrestingly new.
In today’s digital age, brief and to the point has become the catch phase in all media forms; short, newsy articles have become the mainstay for websites, mobile and even print at times. The long, flowing articles once relished by many magazines, were replaced by word counts that would embarrass and shame Truman Capote. But thankfully, in print, long form is returning and the art of storytelling using diversion and entertainment is being carried on, as we realize daily how important our escape from the short, new lengths we refer to today as notifications really is.
Ken Magazine was launched on April 7, 1938. It was a large format magazine that was political in nature and a bit controversial for its time. Ernest Hemingway was a contributor for the short-lived magazine that was published every two weeks on Thursdays. Hemingway was also contracted to be an editor for the magazine, but didn’t seem to be in a hurry to fulfill that job duty. In fact, by the time the first issue actually hit newsstands, there was this disclaimer in the magazine:
“If he sees eye to eye with us on Ken, we would like to have him as an editor. If not, he will remain as a contributor until he is fired or quits.”
It seems Hemingway insisted on the disclaimer and the magazine obliged, as Hemingway was a bit skeptical about Ken’s political leanings. Either way this was a magazine that’s first issue said a lot about both the content of the magazine and the content of one journalist’s character.
These points of interest from the past are made to rejuvenate today’s innovators and creators of magazines by reminding them of a few of our own discoverers; the Christopher Columbus’s, if you will, of the world of magazine media. The entrepreneurs and the risk-takers of the past were no different than those of the 21st century, except for maybe the lessons they learned. And now, we are the ones learning.
Until next time when we open the Mr. Magazine™ classic “new” magazine vault…