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Sneak Peek: More Steampunk Parodies
We have a couple in the works, and we’re hoping our readers can suggest clever cover lines
Sunday, February 9, 2020
Readers of The Steampunk Explorer can probably tell that I have a fondness for magazine parodies. I’ve already created a steampunk parody of the National Enquirer, and now I have two more in the works: T, The Tesla Magazine and Cogsmopolitan. These won’t be actual magazines, just covers that hint at the contents. For both, I welcome readers to offer ideas for clever cover lines.
T, The Tesla Magazine is a steampunk take on O, The Oprah Magazine. O, as it’s commonly known, dispenses monthly inspiration and lifestyle advice in keeping with Oprah Winfrey’s brand and persona. Likewise, T will have cover lines suggesting ways to improve your life, but from the perspective of an eccentric scientist. One example: “Easy 9-Week Plan: Slim Down Your Quadratic Equations.”
As for Cogsmopolitan, one inspiration was Cosmarxpolitan, which envisions Cosmopolitan as it might be produced by a diehard Marxist of the Soviet era. The parodies were produced by a group of college students and posted on Tumblr circa 2013. Some highlights:
Shocking Truth! Is constant unceasing class warfare ruining your skin?
“My boyfriend was a counter-revolutionary.” Could it happen to you?
Red car or black car? Take the quiz!
“Oh God!” Sex tips so divine, he’ll call you the opiate of his masses
These were some of the better cover lines. Not all of them were so clever or funny. The early covers were best.
With Cogsmopolitan, the idea will be to do a steampunk version of Cosmo. It can go in one of two directions:
1. Play off the prudery of the Victorian era, where the running joke is innocent behavior (by today’s standards) cast as being tantalizing and risqué. Like “Drive him crazy with these sizzling hot hand-holding techniques.”
2. Go full-bore sexy Cosmo, but with a steampunk twist.
So what shall it be, Option 1 or Option 2? Feel free to comment on Facebook or send me a note using the contact form.
About magazine covers: Having worked as an editor, I can tell you that designing covers is an art and a science. The goal is to maximize newsstand sales, and editors of the top consumer magazines know which photos and cover lines are most likely to sell.
For example, there’s a reason why so many cover lines have numbers: “10 best ways to. . .” or “5 steps to. . .” Odd numbers are said to work best, but you do see plenty of 10s and 100s on covers. (Cosmo and O are are both published by Hearst, whose other titles include Elle, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Prevention, Woman’s Day, and Women’s Health. They have lots of data about newsstand sales.)
Our goal here isn’t to sell magazines, but to earn a few chuckles. However, the key to parody is to create something that mimics the original while giving it unexpected and ridiculous twists. When I create parodies like these, one of my first steps is to look at real magazine covers, usually by searching Google Images.
All ideas are welcome, fully formed or half-baked. Even if I don’t use them as submitted, they may spark a different idea that ends up on a cover. The final products will be posted here and on Facebook at HD resolution. We’ll also make printable high-res versions available to our Patreon supporters. If you suggest a good idea, we’ll send you a high-res PDF on request.
Printed posters may also be offered for sale on our CaféPress store, if the CaféPress guidelines allow it. They rejected a poster of the Steampunk Enquirer because it so closely resembled the National Enquirer. That’s why it’s now called the Steampunk Observer.
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