Thursday, September 14, 2006

Maxim's makeover.

The white cover of the October 2006 issue of Maxim didn't throw me. They've done a white cover before. I was thrown by the fact that MTV V-Jay Vanessa Minnillo was on the cover. And she was very much on the cover in 2005. She, like the magazine, has also made a transformation. Her 2005 cover featured her as a naughty school girl. On this cover, she looks like an extra in a Bob Fosse musical. Oh, she had it comin'.

Vanessa's transformation seems to reflect the design change of the overall magazine.
When I open the magazine, I am struck by the white pages. Men's magazines don't traditionally use white as a background. Maxim, in the 5 years I've been reading it, has always had black pages. The table of contents pages have been streamlined, boxed and color-coded. The layout of the articles is much more striking and clean, less cluttered. The art is better.

Maxim's new Editor-in-Chief Jimmy Jellinek, who sports a pink checked shirt a la Marc Ecko in his headshot, seems to be taking the magazine in a bold new direction. Maxim is growing up, departing from the world of Stuff and its teenage/college boy allies and becoming more like GQ.

I can't argue that Maxim is growing up as its readership does. Men's magazines don't work like that. Maxim boys will always be Maxim boys, even in suits and ties and $100 glasses of Scotch. Part of me thinks that Maxim is trying to appeal to its female readership, come off as less chauvenistic, less filled with balls-out bro-dom (which, my feminist friends, is total irony in the first place.)But more than that, I think Maxim is trying to grow its readers up. It wants to be a magazine for young male professionals like GQ. It is aiming for a new readership, a readership of men who appreciate all kinds of beauty--good layout, nice graphic art, organization and the inherent beauty of Maxim's content: women.

Maxim, thank you for growing up. You've become more refined. Even your portraits of women in the magazine have become more refined. Next time I see you, I'll buy you a $50 glass of Scotch and we'll talk about how to give my publication that kind of redesign.

Cheers, boys.

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