Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sufferin' Succotash

Let me name some magazine titles (don't worry, this will be fun): New York, The New Yorker, Chicago, The Chicagoan. I told you it would be fun. And no, you're not seeing double!

New York Magazine and Chicago Magazine are produced for the locals of those towns, whereas The New Yorker is produced for the world. (And that magazine has definite comics connections: Maus creator Art Spiegelman has done some great work for The New Yorker (like the above Plastic Man cover delicacy) and, in fact, his wife Francoise Mouly (with whom he published Raw Magazine thirty years ago, in which Maus first appeared in serialized form) is the longtime Art Director of the magazine (and she was herself even a colorist for Marvel Comics in the late 1970s).)

In the 1920s and 1930s, The Chicagoan was published using The New Yorker as its template. A coffee table collection of highlights came out a few years back and I thought very highly of it. This week, The Chicagoan returned as a periodical, and I am here to tell you today that is is quite an excellent magazine. I like the look of it, the shape of it, the feel of it, the heft of it, and yes, even the content of it. I like everything about it!

I knew last week that The Chicagoan would be coming out with a very limited print run of just 5000, so I wanted to plan ahead about reserving a copy. I went to a certain retail location that will go unnamed and asked if they would be receiving a shipment. The gent looked up "Chicagoan" on his inventory computer but came up with a listing only for that hardcover that I mentioned above, nothing for the upcoming magazine. Dejected, I went home. I tried to think of ways to find out where I was going to be able to secure my copy.

Two days later I had the bright idea to look up The Chicagoan on Twitter and BINGO! I struck gold. They were tweeting location after location where the magazine could be purchased. "Pop-up newsstands" they called some of them. In came a tweet that the same spot where I had gone asking just days before (and where the attendant had had no idea what I was talking about) now had the magazine in stock! I hurried myself over there and asked for The Chicagoan. The attendant (not the same one as on the earlier day) pointed to the rack where Chicago Magazine was and I scanned around but didn't see what I was looking for. A pure exercise in pantomime ensued, as I inquisitively looked up at the attendant and then he pointed to that same rack again and then I scanned around again and I came up dry again. Had I been slurring my words like some overgrown Sylvester the Cat that the gent couldn't hear what I was asking for? As I stood up and spun around, I happened to spot an individual rack on the main counter and it was devoted to (yes!) The Chicagoan. My fingers fumbled onto one of the three remaining copies and away I went.

I applaud the strategy of the "limited" rollout of this magazine and the whole concept of "pop-up newsstands" as a plan for selling it. Far more energy and excitement were generated this way than if TC (sorry, but I'm getting tired of typing "The Chicagoan!") had just matter-of-factly shown up at bookstores. The Hayfamzone Blog wishes much good luck to TC (and you can follow both of us on the Twitter!).


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