Magazine premieres

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Some people take their obsessions and collect things, filling up closets, storage spaces, garages, even bookshelves. Others collect things and then decide to share them -- that’s what Danielle Huthart did with her Premiere Issues archive.

She’s posted the first issues of almost 200 magazines, mostly from the 1990s to the present. Many come with a stats sheet, like a baseball card -- founder, editor, creative director. After the project started -- inspired by the iconic Ray Gun magazine -- people started submitting their own first issues to build the online collection.

As Huthart’s interests are art and fashion, design and culture, the main archive display reveals what some of our expectations are. Logo magazine (not pictured above) parodies these expectations. Its first issue’s cover looks like a sketch, with a woman in a bikini labeled ‘famous person’ and directions to ‘smooth out skin’ and ‘reduce waist’; words along the side read ‘HOT SEX/fashion/diet.’

Each magazine’s premiere issue has to announce itself, and most do something to interject themselves into the existing visual conversation. Ray Gun used fonts in unexpected, sometimes illegible ways, like the distortion in the music it covered. George wanted to establish itself as a hipper, sexier political magazine, so there’s Cindy Crawford as George Washington -- with a bare midriff. And home design magazine Nest, instead of going with a sparkling, enviable interior like most shelter mags, featured a room wallpapered, walls and ceiling both, with black-and-white pictures of Farrah Fawcett. Nest intended, its cover declared, to see the beauty in obsession.


There is beauty in Huthart’s site. I just wish it were augmented with wilder and earlier magazines -- anybody got the 1966 premiere of Crawdaddy? Or a 100-year-old copy of Vogue they might share?

Hat tip to the NY Public Library for the link.

-- Carolyn Kellogg