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Love magazines? Here is a list of independent magazines from magCulture

Initially published on CBN Weekly, Oct 2023
Written by Molly Xing & Xin Chen
Edited(CH) by Hui Zhao
Translated and edited(EN) by Xin Chen, Nov 2023

Authors’ note:
Initially, we wanted to write the story about magCulture and its connection with the independent publishing scene, but we found that if we put such a shop in China, it would be really difficult for it to survive in the certain societal and cultural environment. However, we do love these independent magazines they recommended, so we decided to share the list with you first - at least let's enjoy the magazines.

magCulture is located at the intersection of Angel, Old Street and Farrington. Compared to other art bookstores in London, magCulture has the biggest size of magazine selections with a number of 700 in 2023, which is twice as when it first opened. Photo by Xin Chen

We are very sure that magazine enthusiasts can not love magCulture more.
Specializing in magazines, magCulture only sells magazines, no books, no any other items. You will not only find established mainstream magazines such as The New Yorker, National Geography and Vogue, but also a wide range of new-born independent magazines in the store. The magazines displayed in the store are easy to catch your eye because of either the special texture of the cover or their distinctive visual presentations.
The founder of magCulture, Jeremy Leslie, is a big magazine lover himself. Leslie has been in the design and publishing industry for 35 years, and started his blog magCulture in 2005 and kept writing articles about interesting magazines he found/recommended since then. In 2015, inspired by his peers in Europe, Leslie opened his own magazine shop magCulture in London.
We invited Leslie to recommend his recent favorite independent magazines to the readers of the Dream Labo (lifestyle project of CBN Weekly).

The magCulture team, with Leslie on the far left, and the team members Osman Bari and Danielle Mustarde. All of them have a background in magazine making. © magCulture

It sounds like what those experienced city walkers would do.

Flaneur means "an idler or lounger" in French, the magazine Flaneur focuses on streets all over the world.
In the 9th issue of Flaneur, the team presented Boulevard Periphérique in Paris as the theme. Said the collaborative editor Grashina Gabelmann, this famous ring road used to be the case study of the modernism of the city Paris, but it now become a notorious one - the highway divided the city into two extreme sides, one side is the beautiful city for tourists, while the other side is unsafe suburbs.
This latest issue was delayed for 4 years due to COVID-19. The previous one of Flaneur which was published in 2019, introduced Kangding Road in Taipei, the road was surrounded by historical buildings that existed since the "Japanese Occupation Era". For every issue, the editorial team of Flaneur spends at least 2 months in a particular street and connects to the neighborhood to find out local stories, and it is always published in English along with the local language.

The Paper
Everyone plans to escape Wales, but they care about people who stay.
This August, three Welsh, Erin Mathias, Oliver Gabe and Owen Davies, published the debut issue of this large-format newsprint magazine The Paper.
The first issue of The Paper focused on the brain drain problem in Wales, the articles were written with humor but in an aggressive way. 'Everyone with talent/skill/charm has fucked off, leaving the left-behinds to present, in pictures and words, the confusing, hopeless but hilarious state of life in contemporary Wales.’The editorial team grasped the daily life scenes like the local chip shops, train trips and doctor's appointments, to tell the stories about what's happening on the land now.

‘yes, I always wanted to do a printed magazine’.
Just like Leslie, Pablo Martin has been active in design (including signage and brand identities as well as magazines and newspapers) for 35 years. He joined the independent film streaming platform MUBI in 2019, to produce the film art and culture magazine Notebook.
In an interview with magCulture, Martin told Leslie that he brought up the idea of publishing a printed magazine to the founder of MUBI, Efe Cakarel, at their first meet 4 years ago, and Cakarel said ‘yes, I always wanted to do a printed magazine’. Cakarel was not the only one who had this idea - Martin found that the content director of MUBI also had it in mind for a long time, and then they made it happen.
Though Notebook is completely sponsored by MUBI, the editorial team has great freedom and can independently plan and select topics. The latest issue of Notebook is called "The Flap of Butterfly's Wings" and discusses the weather within and without movies - "w(h)e(a)ther cataclysmic or beautiful, documented or created—and to the disruptive ways film culture and industry can be sabotaged".

Flicking through, the unique reading game for magazines.

After Bloomberg, Richard Turley never had a break from magazine making but kept working on new publishing projects, Civilization was one of them.

Recently, he started another fashion magazine NUTS with his creative team FOOD. The idea of NUTS is to jump out of the cliche method of making a fashion magazine - no name-dropping of famous stylists or models, but more like exploring the industry with a bunch of friends and having conversations with people who are in the scene.
In Leslie's words, Turley knows well that it is the unique experience of reading magazines - there are no certain rules, people always flick through it instead of reading from the first to the ending page. NUTS has strengthened eye-catching editorial elements such as titles and images. The entire magazine uses thin gray-white recycled paper and is printed in low-contrast black and white color. There is only one font throughout the magazine to "play" with the reader's attention.

Capture the wrinkles of candy wrappers from Tokyo with 08-12.

08-12 is a no-ad magazine project by graphic designer Kara Zwaanstra, she named the mag after her birthday. The first issue of 08-12 was published this August, the 160 pages concluded the candy packaging Zwaanstra collected during her travel to Japan along with her research notes.
Through this project, Zwaanstra wants to emphasize the archive nature of magazines, she presented the packaging papers by scanning them to let the audience feel and experience the physical texture and beauty. 'You can't catch wrinkles, folds, dust or scratches through pure digital media. ' said Zwaanstra.

The queer magazine born at the turn of the century, has just been republished in 2022.

BUTT is a magazine founded by homosexuals, about their culture, and serving the community. Originally founded in 2001 by Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom, it was suspended in 2012 for unknown reasons. It faithfully documented queer life at the turn of the century and established the methodology of the two editors who later collaborated on The Gentlewoman and Fantastic Man.
In 2022, BUTT was sponsored by the luxury brand Bottega Veneta and was republished. It retains the signature pink paper and is still pocket-sized, but the content extends to a wider queer community than before. BUTT features long-form interviews and portraits, its images are often explicit with humor, and it strives to candidly tell the stories of the queer community.

A pleasant and successful printing experiment.

The third issue of Chutney, a magazine from Toronro, became magCulture's "Magazine of the Month" in March 2023 - this is a monthly column issued in magCulture's journal, with Leslie selecting the magazine that is featured that month. Leslie picked Chutney for its excellent print craftsmanship and visual design.
Osman Bari, the founder of Chutney as well as a team member of magCulture, didn't print many copies of Chutney at first, but they were sold pretty well at magCulture. Bari then decided to increase the print volume. The third issue was offset printed, while he tried to retain the touch of three-dimensional printing to continue the characteristics of previous issues. Leslie thouhgt Barry's attempt was a success. The cover is made of soft dark brown textured paper, and the title is inlaid with gold foil, which blends well with the cover. The overall color is harmonious, and the design elements and layout are "pleasant".
Chutney once covered a story about a musician Eric Arconte. The author of the article found an Iranian funk record by accident and discovered that Arconte had been composing in obscurity for many years in West Africa, France and the Caribbean, when he finally completed his solo album in 1980, it became an instant hit. “The story’s first spread sets the visual tone for the issue: vivid, overlapping colors and detailed typography,” Leslie commented on the story and its visual presentation.

terra firma
When people get together and talk about “anxiety”.

Now in its eighth issue, London-based magazine terra firma brought together artists and writers from around the world to talk about their experiences of living with anxiety. The magazine may be more like a call for topics on social media - the content is completely open to the public and is curated by photographer Sophie Willison. On average, only 35% of the submissions end up in the publication, according to Willison.
On this latest issue, Willison spent 16 months working on it, the magazine is about 200 pages long, with a heavy glossy cover for the first time.

The Whitney Review of New Writing
A literature review magazine without a single picture, will you read it?

The Whitney Review is a new project launched by American editor Whitney Mallett, it reviews all formats of new writings including novels, poetry, nonfiction, memoirs, art books and periodicals.
Many review publications gather a bunch of well-known writers to write long articles, but Mallett wants to try to change the "tradition" of print publications - as you see, there is not a single picture, and the reviews are very short, with only two columns, they look like sound/album reviews a lot. The first issue of The Whitney Review explores "spirituality, communication, self-defense, and sexuality."

An alternative "fetish" - explore the behind-the-scenes stories of objects.

MacGuffin is an old friend of magCulture - it has been in the shop since magCulture first opened in 2015. As a bi-annual magazine, MacGuffin mainly talks about design and crafts, and publishes behind-the-scenes stories about specific items. The theme of the latest issue is "The Log".
In this new issue, you can read pieces about tree fossils, matchsticks, wood carvings... everything about log. But it’s not just a DIY manual, the editorial department has worked on topics such as sinks, bottles, and pillows. For example, it once particularly investigated the aesthetic basis and traced the history of the Aesop soap bottle - why has it been used from 1987 to today? If you're curious about the answer, you are already a fan.

Find out more about magCulture here.