Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Young Matron Monthly, October 1848

Copyright 2009 Stuart Koblentz

Lonely was the woman who gave her heart (and surrendered her life for that matter) to a man under the employ of the whaling industry.  Average voyages could last up to eight years at sea looking for whales, following whales, throwing harpoons at whales, only to kill the things and then slice the whales apart for a tepid couple gallons of whale oil, and it just could on and on.  During the time that your husband was out looking for Moby Dick, the womenfolk stayed at home and waited and waited some more.  IF, and it was a big IF at that, the whaling vessel encountered a friendly ship she just might get a letter every now and then, but that was a rarity because many of the men manning the ships couldn't read or write.  While they spent their days at sea waiting, their wives were expected to remain chaste, up beat and only have eyes for "Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the All Mighty".  Heaven forbid that Mister came home after a four year stint to find that his brood had grown from three to four, and the youngest a hair past two years old.  

Well until such time that he bobbled into the dooryard laden with presents - the likes of which no person could do without - all in miniature and all carved out of whale bone, or whale tooth.  Yippee.  And if didn't return, her only recourse was to have the lout declared dead and hope some man of means would marry her so she wouldn't become the fifth wheel at her in-laws home.  After all, no one wants to spend the rest of their life as a reminder of someone else's death.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Men's Collars Weekly, July 24, 1824

Copyright 2009 Stuart Koblentz

Specialty publications have always found an audience with those who follow the subjects.  Until the 1930s, men purchased collarless shirts and then purchased collars to suit the fashion of the day.  But in the 1820s collars on shirts reached absurd heights making it next to impossible for a lady (or anything else for that matter) to turn a man's head lest he sufficate in the high collar of his shirt, or slice his nose off along the thickly starched edge of his collar.  Thankfully, someone bright person got the idea that one could have the collar and the shirt together in one garment.  Although it should be noted that fashion is fickle, and all things tend to come back into vogue at some point in time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


ZESTY, THE PICTOGRAPHIC WEEKLY was the periodical to tell stories through pictures, with minimum verbage.  For its February 28, 1909 cover, the magazine featured the richest penny pincher in the world atthe time, Mrs. Hetty Green and her daughter on occassion of her daughters marriage to a man willing to sign a prenuptual agreement.  That he was an heir to the Astor name (not so much the fortune, but he did have money of his own) was about the best she could say about him.   The cover showed the three principle parties and is noteworthy for Hetty's rapatious express of joy over the situation.  

ZESTY would fold in 1913, claiming that it had covered anything and everything worth covering in the world.  Today, ZESTY is but a mere blip on the screen of epehmeria.  Antique malls alway have one booth, laden down with old copies of ZESTY, arranged by date, and large signs inviting shoppers to buy the issue that came out the week that great grandmother was born.  "Its the gift she'll love to get!" the signs state. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hypochondriac's Home Companion, June 1922

Copyright 2009 by Stuart J. Koblentz, all rights reserved.

As we know, the Hypochondriac's Home Companion was a rather targeted audience.  The male to female readership was about 40 to 60%, with women having a myriad of things that could go wrong that men could never claim.  Though no issue was a million copy seller, one issue dealing with the shame of Flatus (Its causes and possible cures) in 1918, reached a 500,000 press run.  Not bad for its time and day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Fortnightly Groundling April 23, 1560

Copyright 2009 Stuart Koblentz

In Tudor England, the common man and woman lived for any news about anything going on around them - and there was a lot of stuff going on.  Given the intrigue left behind by the late King, Henry VIII, his son, his two daughters, pretenders to the throne and all the noble men (and women) who got sucked into the intrigue and ended up either surviving or getting their heads chopped off for puicking the worng side, one needed a magazine that could keep it and the rumors all together in one publication. 

The problem was that most common folk had no idea how to read, so pictures were very important as well, because everyone understands pictures, unless one was blind, and help for that was year away from appearing.  The Groundling was terribly popular and could be found by the money changers at any local market until Oliver Cromwell put and end to the publication during his reign.  But then his head ended up on a pike, and the publication started up again as people were wildly interested in knowing who was running the country "now".

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Stylus

Copyright 2009 by Stuart J. Koblentz, all rights reserved.
Conceived in the wee hours of the 1840s as "The Stylus" by the great Edgar Allen Poe, this journal was to celebrate all the things that Poe held so dear to his bosom: great writing, great drama, great fine arts and the good life and all of its trappings.  Poe had intended to base the journal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and name the periodical "The Penn" which he found a clever play on words.  But when the city of brotherly love turned its back on Poe and his attempt to make good, he moved the magazine to New York and rechristened it The Stylus, alluding to the new name as another pun, this time on ancient Greek origins - as the stylus was the forerunner of the pen. 

The Stylus as Poe originally envisioned it, according to Wikipedia. Oh, what do they know?

Witty though this may have been, backers failed to come forth for the first iteration of the magazine, so Poe had the cover punched up a bit by adding a better picture and some trendy graphics (see above). Poe thought himself very clever and thought that the shiny new format would toy with the great unwashed, and that his careful selection of writings would gradually expose the common man and woman to higher aspirations. However, he failed to underestimate the American public who found him a moribund little man and couldn't fathom his raging hatred for didacticism.

Without the support of backers, or subscribers, the project failed again, failed again, and died a miserable little death before the first issue was produced.  It has been said that the failure haunted Poe until the end of his life, and beyond.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Imperial Concubine Gazette

Copyright 2009 by Stuart J. Koblentz, all rights reserved.
Imperial Concubine was the gazette for women in the know, who for lack of peerage or other reasons could not aspire to the formal heights of power, but nevertheless were adroit at wielding their "prowess" to get
ahead in the world through the use of their talented gifts, as it were.  The magazine was kept behind the counter of shops because of the suggestive nature of its cover's "flag" which illustrated the true relationship between the noble man and a woman of talents.

Friday, October 16, 2009


* , also known as the periodical without a name was launched in July, 1969.

Conceived as the avant guarde publication of its day, the periodical was considered so cutting edge and exclusive, no copies ever were produced.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Friday Evening Curmudgeon, March 13, 1953

Copyright 2009 by Stuart J. Koblentz, all rights reserved.
A boy never does plan about growing old and grizzled, sometimes it just happens when life serves you up something that you have to choke down, then its you against everyone else.  Maybe its because a woman turned you down, or maybe its because she took you up on it.  And then there are the women who decide to leave and steal your heart, pack it up their bags and leave for a better life in some far off hoity toity place like Fresno, or Hawhy-ah.

Before you know it, you're as tattered as the coverings over the kitchen winder.  You let things go to seed - a bowl of bread and milk is better then bread and water when the world around you starts to change just as you were getting used to the way things were.  Well, this here magazine understands its readers, even if it tells you to take a bath every once and while, and maybe call that daughter of yours that went out and married herself one of those chosen people.  Now git on out of here before I give you what for... miserable kids...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Empress Magazine, Brumaire (October) 1801

Copyright 2009 Stuart Koblentz, All Rights Reserved
Though it had a limited audience, Empress Monthly was a favorite with its readers because it understood what they were up against. 

One would think that its subscribers, who had all the comforts afforded royalty, would have a full dance card in life's little fete. Truth be told, aside from producing a male heir, the only other duties were dressing well, and appearing at the ribbon cutting ceremonies whenever a new bakery or meat rendering company opened its doors.  Wait, I take that back; as Empress you changed you clothes a great deal - like six or seven times a day.  And with all that dressing and undressing, there was no time left for being able to take a mad lark every now and then and go junking like the commoners do  - but they, of course, called it "shopping." 

For the readers of Empress, life was made up of little trade offs; and there is that constant reminder that with power comes great responsibility.  A palace here, a castle there, and all of those furs, the gold and ah yes, the jewels.  But at what price?  Well, you can't have everything in life;  if one can not roll in the hay with the farmer's son because it would be slumming, then one must be content with starting a multi-national conflict over the batting of your eyes at some other Queen's prince royale, or having the head of the Church of State drawn and quartered for disapproving of your extreme wealth, and good fortune, no? 

Indeed, it is lonely at the top.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Trailer Park Majesty, April 1971

© 2009 Stuart Koblentz – Original art work that may not be used with the express written consent of its creator.

Trailer Park Majesty was the type of magazine that the residents of the nation's mobile home parks loved to hate, but couldn't stop reading.  Like the Amish based "Budget", Trailer Park Majesty was the "Tattler of the Trailer Park."  Of course the magazine had legitimate roots.  Founded in 1930 by Earl Woolumsey, Trailer Park Majesty aspired to ennoble the lives of those who either exchanged their homes for carefree life of a manufactured home, or those who lived in "tin cans" because it, and the magazine were all they could afford.  But hey, like the sign says, "Mobile Home Living is Luxurious."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Journal of New England Haughtiness, November 1875

© 2009 Stuart Koblentz – Original art work that may not be used with the express written consent of its creator.

Of all of the Alcott's, only Louisa May understood that just as there should be a place for everything, and everything in place, so it should be with great unwashed.

Reason d'etre

I've often wondered, what would it be like if modern Magazine Culture invaded historical times. After all, there really isn't that much difference between Anna Wintour and Oliver Cromwell, is there? And it's not much of a stretch to imagine that Martha Stewart and Martha Washington were that much different, aside from Mrs. Washington's slaves being property and Ms. Stewart's slavers being called interns, right? (Well, I think that the Washington's were kinder to those working for them, but that's my opinion.)

Anyway, I've been dreaming up "what if" magazine covers for various internet sites for years so why not devote a whole blog to the idea.

So I have contacted Donna Lethal and asked her to add her ideas as well, because they are pretty dog gone great. So we'll see where this kooky and wacky idea takes us.  Want to join the Editorial Board?  We might just let ya.

I can't promise something every day, let alone seven or eight posts each day, with original graphics, writing and photoshopping (Hell, I can't even figure out Photoshop), but I'll try my best to hit my goal of 60 original imaginary magazine covers by this time next year. While you're thinking that I am hoping Meryl Streep will play me in the movie, I harbor no such illusions: I am doing this for the art of it.