Mike's ...we call them Top Shelf items today.
During the course of producing Verve magazine, I bought a keyboard designed for typesetting. It produced a punched-tape roll; this was then run off through a suitable typesetter. It's a far cry from today's sophisticated programmes.
There was no screen to view and it required very accurate typing to avoid mistakes. Most of the time, you realized a typing error had occurred and if you could read the punched holes, you could make a correction by using a hand punch. Once finished you would pay a typesetter with the appropriate output to run your tape into long typeset galley. It was a long tedious process and you needed, in my case, to type all the articles then output them. You could then proofread, type corrections and eventually cut and past the corrections across the error.
It all seemed very advanced 35 years ago!
Verve magazine failed, mainly due to lack of distribution. The distributor kept 15,000 copies in his warehouse so I was overprinting since he was only putting out 25,000 copies. He never bothered to tell me until a lorry pulled up at my home with a whole load of magazines they wanted to get rid of. Of course, it may have failed despite the distribution but I will never know for sure.
Magazine distribution has always been a nightmare, it still is today and I have a few horror stories I could tell since then.
Work for me exploded! A Distributor asked me to come up with a magazine format in the sex magazine field. I produced one called Exposed!, this became the basic format for a whole stable of magazines during the next 8 years. Gerald Kingsland (later played on the big screen in the film, Castaway in 1987) asked me to design and typeset a Victorian sex magazine he was about to produce. I put together about 3 issues before he finally did a runner!
When I say they were sex magazine they were what we call today, "Top Shelf" items. All sold in newsagents but out of the reach of children. I received a call one day and a photographer came over and gave me a set of photos of a model. He wanted to produce a magazine and asked me to write and design an article around the pictures. The model was 19 but looked younger, and she was semi-clothed rather than naked. I produced the article for him, sensual rather than sexual and he asked me to produce the entire first issue. It was a sensation and all the distributors wanted to carry it as their own title. I also produced a Gay magazine called Bono. I say produced, it was my design and typesetting but the publisher supplied the content.
By this time, I had premises inside a printing company. It was in de Beauvoir Crescent, a desolate part of Hackney, London. What a scary place! I would be there in the middle of the night, on my own, listening to all sorts of noises. More than once people broke into the basement and stole whatever they could carry.
It was the sex magazines, however, that were to become the mainstay for the next few years.
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