Stack Awards 2019: Best Use of Illustration

by Kitty Drake in October 2019
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Featuring LGBT horror comics, a glittery flip-book, and a graphic representation of the global climate strike, the shortlist for Best Use of Illustration is brilliantly eclectic. The judges for this category are Suzanne Tromp, commissioning editor of WeTransfer’s content site WePresent, and Marc Robbemond, a core member of Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum. Scroll down for more on them, and to see the 15 titles shortlisted in this category.


An Illustrated Guide to Bad Trip Advisor Reviews | Bristol

Having spent eight years working in the hospitality industry, illustrator Ian Moore decided to make a zine out of the very worst reviews he could find on Trip Advisor. Very funny and occasionally a bit frightening, apoplectic customers and their (often insane) complaints are pictured in trippy, cartoonish glory.


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Beneficial Shock! | Wiltshire

The fourth issue of the illustrated movie magazine is themed War & Peace. Gems include Casablanca illustrations, “Hollywood self-help”, and a bloodthirsty comic strip about films that were never made.


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Hacking Finance | New York, NY

No finance magazine has ever looked this good. From the dreamlike pastel clouds on the cover; to the central feature’s flip-book style illustration, of one lone man venturing into the glittery unknown — every image in Hacking Finance is in luscious technicolour.


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Illustoria | San Francisco, CA

Illustoria is aimed at children but it doesn’t feel that way. Themed around food, this is the first issue under new publisher McSweeney’s, and it’s bursting with surreal imagery. One page features a broiled grapefruit recipe where the grapefruit in question is pictured as a baby’s head.


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It’s Freezing in LA! | London

Made by a team of young scientists, lawyers and illustrators, It’s Freezing in LA! is a magazine about climate change. Spotted lines slice through the issue, a graphic representation of the numbers of people at the Global Climate Strike in March 2019.


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Kennedy | Athens

The tenth issue of Kennedy is a celebration of its country of origin: Greece. A place where, the editor paraphrases his favourite poet Varnalis, “the driving forces behind life, sex, and death are more evident than anywhere else”. Three illustrators are commissioned to capture that magic.


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Magma-Zine | Manchester

Illustrations of magazines in a magazine about a magazine shop is a bit niche. But Magma makes the whole idea irresistible. The first print product from the cult mag shop, expect charmingly squiggly pictures of all your favourite titles.



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The Nib | Manchester

The Empire issue of comics magazine The Nib features a Trump-only Mount Rushmore as its cover star. Other highlights in the issue include neon cutouts of influencers building YouTube empires, and intricate comics documenting the post hurricane recovery of Puerto Rico’s Vieques Island.


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Nork | Tromsø

Nork Magazine explores the art, culture and lifestyle of Northern Norway. For the fourth issue, the graphic design and many of the illustrations were created by the designers Bobo in Paradise. The team hadn’t been to Norway but these minimalistic visuals are an interesting reflection of an imagined, and maybe even fantasised about, North.


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Normal | Mumbai

The latest offering from Gaysi — a publisher sharing stories about what it means to be gay and desi (from the South Asian Subcontinent) — Normal is a queer horror zine. Pages are filled with monstrous transformations, murder-scenes and the occasional severed member.


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Psyche | Glasgow

Psyche is a magazine about the therapeutic potential of storytelling. Avoiding any literal depictions, illustrations tend to follow their own narrative. The risograph print means that each of the 500 copies is unique, with drawings overlaying text slightly differently each time.


Shado | London

Shado is a magazine about the experience of migration, and the second issue is guest-edited by Somali activist and psychotherapist Dr. Leyla Hussein. Illustrations are full-page, and word and image pairings deliberately foster connections between contributors living in different parts of the world.



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Terrible People | London

A magazine dedicated to dissecting the terribleness of terrible people — mouth breathers, people who snog on escalators etc. — this issue features a centrefold homage to awful internet slang: “It is what it is/ Bae/ Because internet”. There’s also an illustrated series on schadenfreude.


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Weapons of Reason | London

Where other current affairs magazines tend to focus on photography, Weapons of Reason’s reliance on illustration set them apart. The idea behind WOR is to “turn knowledge into action”, and their strikingly simple, accessible visual language is an integral part of that project.


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Wobby | London

Red Riding Hood, holding a large knife, graces the cover of issue 17 of Wobby, a Dutch quarterly for illustration, comics and literature. Printed on risograph, the theme this time is Wicked Women — one spread in the issue features three wonderful Mr. Blobby-like creatures, with the accompanying line: “Pixels are like cellulite”.


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Winners will be announced on November 14 at the Stack Awards ceremony at Somerset House. Tickets are available now.

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