Maxim January 2009, ‘Young Hot Hollywood Special Issue’

MAXIM January 2009 cover

I picked Maxim up this evening in Walmart – what better way to spend a Saturday evening? This magazine takes me straight back to men’s mag mid-90’s in the UK. It feels slightly weird buying a magazine with Hilary Duff on the cover – isn’t she only twelve years old or something? Now, kudos to Maxim, they’re not pretending to be anything other than a magazine full of hot chicks for men. There’s no crap about how to dress, how to be sensitive to anyone’s needs, how to knit, nothing. In fact the only cover-line not directly referring to women says “THE BEST 99 BEERS ON EARTH”. Straight to the point.


Turning to the first contents page, there’s another full-length shot of HIlary Duff, but the first thing that struck me about the page…ok the second… was just how dialed down and low-key the layout and graphic elements are. I think this is a really refreshing approach, but would probably be more effective when used in tandem with some bolder photography. It’s not that it’s badly done , or doesn’t work, it’s just kind of flat. I think it’s admirable however when designers do show restraint.

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The second contents page – a left-hand page read – shows several images and a small block of copy at the bottom – very symmetrical and templated. I’m not sure if it’s the design, the image content, or the editorial content which makes me feel the same as the previous page did – nothing. Notice also the red banner at the top with ‘Contents/Departments’ in it is exactly the same as on the previous right-hand-read contents page, and doesn’t change design at all to accommodate the switch to the left. In fact, it’s probably more effective here than it was on the previous page, as at least the word ‘contents’ is now read on the outside edge of the page, at the top, on the left, instead of being an inch and a half away from the gutter.


Again with the Editor’s Letter page, same red banner at the top, right-hand-read page, and title vanishing into the gutter. Maybe it’s because the red isn’t a bright red, it’s fairly dull and subdued, and the font used isn’t bold or flashy, just very plain. Besides that, the Ed’s letter is just a block of copy, with completely normal looking formatting, and a blah back and white portrait at the end. A text-based chart at the bottom that calculates the ‘human cost of testing hundreds of beers for this month’s definitive guide’ could have been so much more fun looking, but instead is easy to ignore.

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The readers letters page gets more interesting, but I think it’s mainly due to more formatting and white space being forced into use by the content. There’s a way better graphic at the page bottom than on the previous page, on readers new year’s resolutions.



A couple of pages on and we come to a double page spread of someone called Joanna Krupa, which opens the front of book section ‘INCOMING’. On turning the page, we lose the red bar at the top, and are treated to a much more inviting looking page (except for that nasty looking shadow created under the Mercedes at the top of the page – chill with the drop shadow! Is the car meant to be floating while simultaneously being illuminated by floodlights?). I like the title and type treatment across the center of the page, and I always like effective use of numbered smaller pieces like this when it serves a purpose, but I got kind of confused with what they were trying to do with the last entry #1 type treatment, in the bottom right corner. Where’d the number go? Is that meant to be it outlined?

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Turning the page, an awesome, fun guide to what you can do in Tampa while you’re at the Super Bowl. It’s easy to read (though I think the individual entries could have been a little shorter and used a larger typefeace), fun to look at – and actually contains real, useful information. Admittedly, it could have all been presented just as effectively in a half-page space, and the ‘map’ portion of the graphic is pretty much useless, but nonetheless, a good read.


A couple of pages later we get to the opener of the ‘RATED’ section, which I almost completely blew past as I assumed it was a double-page ad. Really unfortunate ad placement there.


Turning the page, I had the same problem, even though this is a spread of editorial! The right hand page looks just like an ad, and to add to my confusion, a few pages further on I run into this…


… a double page ad that looks like editorial! Doh!


Awesome full-page pic of Denis Leary. Shame it wasn’t opposite an effective ad, instead of some so-so looking product editorial that looks like it belongs closer to the front of the book (we’re on page 40 of 96 now).


Next page, and we’re on a double page spread of editorial that looks like it came out of some crappy b2b or regional mag. The color banner at the top has returned in full force, and the cheesy, completely tame images used do nothing to liven up the page or make me want to read.


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There’s more of the same, and a couple of semi-interesting shorter pieces (the beer guide did so little for me in design and content that I can’t be bothered taking a picture of it). The main feature – featuring large photos of the women listed on the cover – is exactly what you’d expect in a mid to late 90’s men’s mag. The I came across this spread (above) and actually stopped to read – love the photography, flares and all. The black banner at the top doesn’t do much for me, but does look lot cooler than any of the previous red, blue or pink ones used throughout. The following pages containing the bulk of the story are a little hard to read – the copy reversed out of the image is pretty small. I also think they should each have been placed opposite a full-page ad, each preferably non-bleed, white-spacey ads. But cool anyway.

Explore posts in the same categories: Advertising, bad magazine design, boring, color choice, contents pages, cool, Covers, design, Illustration, Infographics, Magazines, men's magazines, Photography, Readers, Typography, Why is it like this?

One Comment on “Maxim January 2009, ‘Young Hot Hollywood Special Issue’”

  1. Guadalupe M Pankratz Says:

    While I do not relate to ladies posing and nice stuff like that, I was happy to find Denis Leary and his two dogs photograph. I am kind of biased, I guess.

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