Cover Review: Entertainment Weekly
My latest cover review for Folio: The October 17, 2014 issue of Entertainment Weekly, featuring a graphically intense, black and white photograph of Michael Keaton in a preview of the Birdman movie, is one of the coolest and most iconic magazine covers of the past year. Photographer Art Streiber, design director Tim Leong, photography director Lisa Berman and lettering artist Geoff McFetridge have created a perfectly balanced cover that has a cutting-edge, contemporary flavor, while harkening back to the classic EW black and white covers of the early 1990s, which still resonate with many of the magazine’s fans. And it’s a cover that perfectly balances the demands of newsstand presence, reader engagement, and social media virality.
As an early design director at Entertainment Weekly (I was there from 1994-96), I have a deep appreciation for the challenges and limitations of the magazine’s cover design. A recent forum sponsored by the Society of Publication Designers at the SVA Theatre in New York City highlighted perfectly the changes to the magazine over the past 25 years.
The essence of EW, to me, was that it always reflected the smart fan’s take on movies, TV, books, music, and other forms of entertainment. It acknowledged the validity of its readers’ obsessions. They were nerds before being a nerd was cool. Now that nerd-dom is having its day, EW has gone back to its roots in many ways, with complicated and obsessive graphics and charts, cool page presentations and lots of visual “winks” at the readers.