We pause here to recognize an Advance in Civilization. For years as a subscriber, I’ve complained (often to the art director, Francoise Moulay) about the mailing labels on the covers of The New Yorker. The labels cover up a small piece of the cover art. And at least once — on a cover by Sempe — the label covered the visual punchline. And if you try to peel the label off so the artwork can be viewed without Gary Larson NYer Cover 11-17-03obstruction, the peeling rips off a piece of the artwork. This seems negligent to an almost criminal extent. Not only are readers deprived of a view of an entertaining drawing, but the magazine is sabotaging itself. Presumably, The New Yorker pays a bodacious penny for the art on its cover. And yet, it persists in a practice that deliberately blemishes that expensive art.      

Other magazines that I get have labels on the cover, too, so The New Yorker is not the sole offender in magazine journalism. But it is the most egregious because it so clearly values its cover as a showplace for ingenious artistic endeavors.

 I once recommended that the mailing label be affixed to the back cover; and to foreclose on the advertiser’s complaint, a strip across the bottom of the back cover could be left blank for attaching the label — that way, it wouldn’t (the gods forfend!) obliterate a piece of sacred salesmanship. (In effect, the back cover ad would be a few cubic inches smaller, but the magazine could still charge the same fee: it’s position, not size, that makes the back cover desirable.) No one grabbed at that remedy.

Other magazines use mailing labels the glue of which adheres the label to the cover but still permits the label to be peeled off without taking portions of the cover illustration with it. And now — at last!The New Yorker has joined that throng.

You’d think a magazine of advanced thinking and artistic sensibility would have found a solution to its most glaring (because most visible) problem, but, no, apparently it’s taken years. Ms. Moulay once explained, when I assaulted her with my usual complaint, that the machinery that affixes mailing labels was too complicated to change. Made no sense, of course; but she’s an art critic, not a mechanic.

Now, the machinery (or whatever was the problem—I say, the glue) has been adjusted, and I can peel off the label and see cover art in all its gorgeousness.

Fitnoot: If you find this sort of news and opinion refreshing in an age in which Congress’ approval rating hovers statistically around the margin of error, you’ll rejoice to know that July is Open Access Month at RCHarvey.com where there’s lots more of what’s hinted at here. The online magazine version of this blog, Rants & Raves, as well as archived R&R and the entire Hindsight archive—thirteen years of history, lore, reviews and commentary—is open to non-$ubscribers all month in the hope that they will be so thrilled with what they find that they’ll $ubscribe. Join the happy throng.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com


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Milissa Murray

I agree! And now the New Yorker is back to the old glue! Don’t you suspect that
This is an intentional act to prevent the subscriber from getting
The full value of her reduced-rate subscription?!!

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