XXL magazine needs to have babies so that one day all magazines are this good

XXL cover detail

I cannot put into how words how much I love this magazine. From my perspective, it is almost perfect. The way it looks, the cover design and photography, the way it feels, the way the content flows when you turn the pages, the length of stories, the sizes and orders of the different sections, the interior photography, the graphics, even the ad placement all verge on perfection (but only in my humble opinion of course).

XXL January/February 2009 cover

I picked it up because of the cover. I’m not a regular reader, but I have bought several issues in the past, usually based on the cover (and also because I used to art direct a magazine called XXL Basketball in London around ’98 and ’99, so the logo always catches my eye). Platon photographed 50 Cent for the cover story. Love the detail, the color and the lack of cover-lines obscuring the photo. The reproduction is superb, and the magazine itself feels nice to hold – it’s not huge and over stuffed with ads, but has a good balance at 122 pages. The varnish and paper are nice and high-end, and I like that the cover photo wraps around the spine as well.

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The contents pages are equally cool. The first, featuring another Platon photo of 5O Cent, is very that Esquire/Clinton coverish in a weird way, maybe it’s just Platon’s style coming through. Not much copy here, and while I like all the elements I’m not so keen on the ‘TOP BILLIN” logo running down the gutter on the left (like MAXIM, see previous post), however the photography makes it extremely obvious you’re looking at editorial and haven’t turned to an ad page. The second contents page – a right-hand-read – lacks the impact of the first, but makes up for it with readability, moving ‘TOP BILLIN” to the top of the page, more defined sections and slightly easier to read, shorter copy than ran over the first pages’ photo.

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All the front of book stuff looks fantastic. Short, easy to read entries, good use of photography and graphic elements, and very little to no confusing ad placement where you’re left wondering if you’re reading editorial or an advertisement.

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A couple of pages further on we get to a double-page spread opener to ‘EYE CANDY OF THE YEAR’ Dollicia Bryan. Beautiful photography, not just because of the woman, but the consistency from page to page in color is really good (especially considering the problems you can have with black and white on a signature with lots of color).

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“It’s a wrap: 2008” uses some nice, simple graphic elements to liven up what could have otherwise been a fairly pedestrian list – it’s not awesome but i still stopped to look at it.

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Amazing looking double-page spread on Nelly, photography by Clay Patrick McBride. The shot of the vinyl on the right is really sharp, printed really well considering it’s almost solid black with just a few details. I think I like the full-page photo on the second spread even more than the first – very moody and cool.

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The cover story layout. Very cool black and white photography by Platon, and reversed copy out of black on the opposite page. Not a huge amount of design going on, and it’s not really necessary with this photography doing pretty much all the talking.

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Finally, some product pages. Nothing revolutionary but – like everything else in the issue – even when they chnge up the design of the page completely from a previous section, you’re never confused as to what’s ad and what’s editorial. There’s such a strong identity built into the layout and graphic elements, and consistency in everything from typography to use of color that you’re left with a very clear sense of exactly what you’re getting for your money.

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

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