Quick flick – Blanket

by Steve Watson in September 2011
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Blanket has been around as an online-only magazine for a few years now, and its creator Bec Brown has been talking about making a printed version for almost as long as I’ve known her. Yesterday the first ever paper Blanket landed on my desk.

It’s a radical departure from the old Blanket style, thanks in large part to Bec’s collaboration with Daren Newman. The two are both based in Manchester and the city’s Victorian architecture and design has clearly influenced the magazine, with its beautiful 19th-century Gothic flourishes. I had to try a couple of times to read the coverlines – partly because of that ‘B’ reversing into an ampersand.

The device works better inside, with this embossed ‘B’ on the title page…

And debossed ampersand on the following page. Very nice.

Blanket was always about showcasing the work of illustrators and artists, and it continues that mission in its print incarnation. There’s some lovely stuff, especially the embroidered images by Laura McKellar and posters by American designer Jason Munn.

But my favourite bit is the story on women criminals from the early 1900s, which plays on the popular stereotype of femmes fatales and Thelma and Louise characters. Blanket sent descriptions of women criminals to three illustrators, who let their imaginations run wild to create their artist’s impressions of the women.

This one is by Paul X Johnson, based on a description of Eugenia Falleni, alias Harry Crawford: “Eugenia Falleni spent most of her life masquerading as a man. In 1913, Falleni married a widow, Annie Birkett, whom she later murdered. The case whipped the public into a frenzy as they clamoured for details of the ‘man-woman’ murderer.”

Then the actual mug shots are printed on the following page, showing the reality of these women criminals and hinting at the sort of hardship they lived with.

It’s an elegant idea that carries an effective, insightful message. And it shows how much more value there is in creating original stories rather than simply reproducing artists’ existing work. It’s nice looking at a collection of illustrations or reading an interview with an artist, but this sort of editorial working with design is what makes for a really interesting magazine.

I’m not sure when the next issue of Blanket will be out but I’m already looking forward to seeing it, especially if they can build on this first issue to tell more of their illustration-based stories.

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