Tuesday, 12:00pm
13 February 2024

Books received #56 (magazines)

Magazines with book-like qualities: Notebook, Somesuch Stories, Print Control and Backstage Stories

This ‘books received’ post concentrates on four current independent magazines that have book-like qualities: Notebook, Somesuch Stories, Print Control and Backstage Stories.

Notebook, published by MUBI

The erudite and tactile Notebook, art directed by former Atlas partner and co-founder Pablo Martín (see Reputations in Eye 95) is a carefully paced biannual mag on sumptuous paper stock (see Mark Sinclair’s ‘Analogue treasure house’ in Pulp 24) which is published by the ‘arthouse’ movie streaming service MUBI. The mailing carton is also a thing of beauty, with restrained typography and line art.

Creative & art director: Pablo Martín. Design: Irene Lee and Tom Lobo Brennan. Editor: Daniel Kasman. The publisher is MUBI founder Efe Çakarel.

One of two cover designs for Notebook no. 2 titled ‘We travelled a lot …’ [US spelling]. The photo is by South Korean director Park Chan-Wook, known for movies such as Oldboy (2002) and Decision to Leave (2022).

Over four issues, Notebook has explored and celebrated the culture, craft and literature of film with an uncliché’d, international perspective. The title includes thoughtful interviews with film-makers and long-form essays that take an original approach to illustrating the subject matter. A twelve-page feature about the digital restoration of Martha Coolidge’s 1975 film Pretty as a Picture makes good use of Sasha Tivetsky’s reportage photos of the process. There are extras for subscribers: a small notebook with issue 2; a bag with no. 3; and a seven-inch vinyl disc with no. 4.

Spread from Notebook no. 2 exploring themes of nostalgia in travel sequences.

Issue 4 of Notebook magazine focuses on sound and music, including an article about ‘Visual Music Pioneers’ that includes 1940s work by Mary Ellen Bute (below).

Somesuch Stories: Flux, issue 6
This Swiss-bound edition with an exposed spine and silver foil on its cover was launched by Somesuch, a London based production company specialising in film and TV. Somesuch Stories is an annual publication focusing on contemporary culture, providing an outlet for a diverse range of creative people. Issue six is titled ‘flux’ and gathers a variety of content – predominantly writing – in a small and well produced format.

Cover of Somesuch Stories issue 6 titled ‘Flux’. Cover artwork by Elio Mercer.

True to its theme, Somesuch Stories embodies ‘flux’ holistically; it opens and concludes with poetic compositions formed from the last and first lines of each article, weaving a narrative that mirrors the ebb and flow of the issue. The magazine responds playfully to the diverse range of content, adopting stylistic and design choices to match each submission, whether through more conventional long-form text layouts, diagrammatic writing or expressive typography. This approach positions design not as a mere backdrop but as a dynamic storytelling tool, entwined with the contents.

The publication introduces multiple short pages throughout, featuring handwritten notes and cryptic quotes or titles that contribute to its unconventional aesthetic. While Somesuch Stories presents texts mostly unaccompanied by images, they remain highly visual.

Spread from Somesuch Stories 6. The playful approach to layout is guided by the tone of voice and the contents of an article. Design by Thomas Coombes from Guest Editions.

Spread from Somesuch Stories no. 6 with short page insert.

Print Control
, issue 8
The eight issue of Print Control, a magazine launched by designer Magdalena Heliasz, focuses upon Polish illustrators and designers. The publication offers a glimpse into recent posters, publications and visual identities, with credits and technical details often overlooked in press releases and on social media. Readers learn about formats, stocks or print runs and and can consider the scale of each project, its limitations, possible budget constraints and dissemination methods. By providing a realistic context for the processes involved, Print Control’s insights serve as invaluable lessons for designers and students

Cover of Print Control issue 8, designed by Magdalena Heliasz.

The second half of the magazine unfolds with five interviews, featuring Ola Niepsuj, Tomasz Opalinski, Jan Bajtik, Magdalena Pankiewicz and Michal Laba. Unlike the project snapshots, these conversations offer readers a multidimensional view into their creative process.

Print Control, is not just a local resource but a global gateway with a bilingual format in Polish and English. Beyond representing the Polish design scene, publications like this serve as accessible entry points for the international design community, fostering a cross-cultural exchange of ideas and inspirations.

Project snapshots of publications, with Barbara Hoff: Polskie projekty, Polscy projektanci designed by Grupa Projektor (left), and TEN Album designed by Krzysztof Krzysztofiak (right) from Print Control issue 8.

Spread of an interview with designer and illustrator Ola Niepsuj.

Backstage Talks
: Empathy for sale, issue 7

Backstage Talks, an annual publication by Büro Milk, is now in its seventh issue, ‘Empathy for Sale’. With guest designer Chloe Scheffe (see ‘Rethinking editorial design’ in Eye 100) taking the reins, the magazine is vibrant, modern and full of energy. Scheffe doesn’t shy away from bright colour combinations, filling the pages with bold choices in typography and layout as well as playful photo editing.

The cover of Backstage Talks issue 7, designed by Chloe Scheffe, features blind illustrative debossing.

Steered by editor Zuza Kvetková and art director Martin Jenca, issue 7 delves into the theme of ‘empathy’ through varied material. There are short Q&As and interviews featuring musician David Numwami, creative director Brian Collins (see Reputations in Eye 105) and designer Tereza Ruller and others, plus photographic storytelling and an illustrative comic strip from illustrator Niall Breen. Two articles stand out: a conversation with Katya Watkins from Collins who discussed the agency’s ethos, aiming for a culture of diversity instead of tokenistic hiring; and some simple practical tips on ‘how to treat an intern’ by Polina Morova.

The contents are contemporary, relevant and easy to engage with. As we bid adieu to the ‘By Design Conference’ this year, Backstage Talks promises a continued commitment to fostering engaging discussions with design.

Spread from Backstage Talks.

Interview spread from issue 7. Each section of the magazine is treated with a distinctive, bright colour scheme.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.