The original LAT magazine

West coverWest cover
West coverWest cover

Native Intelligence contributor Adrienne Crew made a nice find for fans of L.A. media history: a web archive of covers from West, the Sunday magazine in the Los Angeles Times that was overseen by Jim Bellows, founder of New York magazine and later editor at the Herald Examiner (and later still, creator of "Entertainment tonight.") Bellows named Mike Salisbury as art director, leading to an enduring admiration for the design of the magazine that Otis Chandler killed in 1972. Steven Heller puts up a slide show of 22 West covers and blogs at Design Observer:

When veteran magazine art directors get together to drink mojitos and reminisce about the glory years before advertising pages broke up editorial wells and when covers were based on ideas not personalities, one title always gets mentioned: West....

The illustrations and photographs were the crème-de-la-crème of conceptual art, and consistently so. How many magazine covers and spreads are still recallable after thirty plus years? It is easy to remember one or two, but in West’s case, I really can conjure most of them....

Smack coverContemporary subjects were the mainstay but Salisbury’s special documentary themes, including the history of Mickey Mouse, Coca-Cola art (the first time it was published as “art”), the visual history of Levis, Hollywood garden apartments, Raymond Chandler locations, and Kustom Kars. “A lot of these were my concepts and production. But design was not my sole objective: cinema-graphic information is a better definition,” he notes. Of all the issues only the "Smack" cover, a skull with bright red lips, was controversial. “The same reaction people had to the [Barry Blitt] New Yorker cover about Obama, I got for the 'Smack' cover, as in ‘don't give me too much reality over Sunday breakfast.’”

Click on covers for larger size. Browse the rest with dates.

The current LAT magazine: An editor's note in today's second issue of LA, the latest effort at a Times Sunday magazine (with a history), says that the Merl Reagle crossword puzzle was restored due to reader demand. The magazine is also now online (last month's issue only, as of tonight) and claims the first print Q-&-A with liberal blogger Digby (plus a piece on the cliche of Hollywood's conservatives.) I count at least five stories by or about Hollywood and its celebrities — a lower percentage than last month — and one about non-glamour Los Angeles, a Samantha Dunn story on the Tapia farming family in the Valley.

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