mags of the month: february

In this month’s edition we take a look at magazines that explore love and sex, outsiders, women in motor racing, octopus fishing, and squeezed bottles of chilli sauce, as well as a whole heap of suggestions for lovers of design, illustration, photography and the written word. The magazines mentioned here have been published within the past month or so, and each have been read and carefully chosen to bring you a list of mags and stand out features from those issues.

All of the magazines from this article will be available to be chosen in our brand new mix and match magazine subscription service, where you can personally curate your year of monthly deliveries from a growing roster of magazines.

big ideas

i can’t be something to tick off of your bucket list, good for your image or your best rebellion against your parents. i can’t be a topic for discussion, a token for your subconscious or your sexual or social experiment. i can’t be your first, last or man of the hour. i shall not be your bit of rough nor your bit of queer. i shall not be an ocean you dip your toes in just to feel its warmth.
kai-isaiah jamal, consented #5, 2018

Issue 5 of Consented takes a look at ‘love & desire’, and more to the point, sex. It’s a nuanced edition which features a number of excellent essays divided into three sections: on ‘self-love’, ‘love with others’ and ‘structural love’, each that give perspectives that wouldn’t ordinarily be represented in the media, such as sexual experiences of disabled people; female masculinity in the sex lives of women; queer parenting; the fetishisation of the trans body; the hackneyed ‘self-love’ trope in dealing with mental health issues, amongst many others.

It would be easy to make the mistake to present these ideas in a voyeuristic fashion, to be guilty of what Kai-Isaiah Jamal says in the quote above, to be a topic for discussion or an ocean to dip toes into, but the choice to have people write from first-hand experience and to write candidly about their experiences allows for integrity and a conscientious space for people and ideas to flourish. Those experiences are written eloquently, and are tightly edited. Contributions like Kai-Isaiah’s on being the subject of another’s trans fetish or curiosity is told with the ache of each experience still fresh. Other essays like co-editor Ella Jay Taylor’s account of becoming a parent within a lesbian relationship do a brilliant job at defining what life is like when you aren’t part of an heteronormative society, and how that society’s expectations can interfere and cause anxiety to those who live outside of it. It’s a very-well crafted issue with lots to think about and lots to learn from it.


after crossing the finishing line, her hands inflamed from holding the hot steering wheel, she painted on lipstick, straightened a beret, and posed for the cameras. she became an instant icon.
brodie lancaster, smith journal, #25

Volume 25 of Smith Journal features a number of excellent essays in what is an eclectic combination of curiosities. New editor Chris Harrigan, in his second issue at the helm, puts together some features on wide-ranging topics alongside a clean design that makes the reading experience rewarding and attractive. Those that caught the attention are two great music-related essays, one which looks at 1980s hair metal and the other profiles musicians hailing from a Malian refugee camp, there’s a super look at the practice of forensic architecture in the war-torn Middle East, and a linguist-turned-enemy of the state to Georgia.

The essay that most intrigues us is the story of Hellé Nice who, at the end of the 1920s ditched her successful career as a cabaret dancer and nude model to become a grand prix driver, surprisingly joining several other women who made motor racing their sport and career, to which as writer Brodie Lancaster notes, “you can count on one hand the number of female drivers who have entered at least one Grand Prix since 1950”. It may be easy to get carried away by the presumptive equality of that time, and how far we’ve distanced ourselves from that place in history, but Lancaster does a great job of putting Nice’s and other women’s feats into context, that “entry into the sport was more a matter of financial access than muscle mass or racing experience”. Nevertheless, it’s an absorbing narrative, and she’s an incredible personality.


It goes on trust that when you open a copy of Little White Lies you’re going to get extraordinary illustration for your money. This edition is no different, as well as a remarkable illustration by Laurène Boglio on the lead film for this issue, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, there’s a wonderful series of looks at ‘outsiders’ in film, brilliantly illustrated by Katherine Lam, featuring films like Let the Right One In, and Ghost World. The illustrations hint at the loneliness of each of these characters, with other inhabitants of their world removed. The colour palette is grey, muted and shadowy, the characters themselves are faceless or have faces attentive to what exists outside their inhibited bubble. These are extraordinary illustrations to highlight a number of excellently written contributions from film and culture writers like Manuela and Elena Lazic, James Luxford and Thomas Hobbs.

with his short and unusual figure, his soulful but tortured eyes, and most importantly, his gaunt but always compelling face, the late british actor excelled in portraying characters who were heartbreakingly, or terrifyingly, different.
manuela lazic on john hurt, little white lies, #73

© Little White Lies #73, 2018


The previous edition of Tapas magazine made into our December round-up of new magazines and the new edition impresses once again, this time largely because of the ingenuity of its photography. Notably, the ‘dress code’, which is a section of food-inspired fashion shoots, shows flashes of brilliance. Like how in one shoot a model is dressed to reflect a bottle of chilli sauce, and that bottle is squeezed in order to reflect the curvature of the female form. Elsewhere in that section there is a model whose sweater reflects the bowl of Lucky Charms he is carrying, a KFC bucket features in another, as does a ludicrously sized bag of cheesy crips. Also in the issue is artwork by the Thai artist Lerson Pannawit who nimbly uses food in his collage work, and there a super photo series of bars and bodegas in Madrid.

Tapas magazine #14


you never know where the light would dance next, it was as if the highlands were putting on a show for us and we were among a handful of people who decided to turn up.
jack taylor, water journal, issue #4

The fourth issue of Water Journal, a magazine and a meditation on water and those who live and explore on or around it, produces a photographic feast. Amongst the many alluring features, Jack Taylor‘s diary of a five-day journey through Scotland is a highlight. His evocative writing and photography that captures the rich colours of the landscape and remote cottages dwarfed by mountains immerses the reader into that beautiful environment. Other water-related photography takes us on a boat, following the lives of octopus fisher folk off the coast of Moraira in Spain. With the sun rising on the water, photographer Jordi Ortolà captures fishermen, fishing paraphernalia and the catch. And there’s a super feature on the hermit and sculptor, Manfred Gnädinger, and the coastal sculptures he left behind in Camelle, Spain. The issue is a thing of beauty.

now available to MagShuffle subscribers:
consented / smith journal / little white lies / tapas / water journal

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