Empire of the Ant-man…

The UKs best-selling entertainment magazine gets a refresh


Simple effective design and drop cap
Loads to look at
Loads to look at

Empire has always been one of my favourite magazines to read and I am a long-time subscriber. I enjoy the magazine’s editorial consistency and mix of features and reviews. The design has always been – outside of stunning features – either rather plain or bonkers (random colour slabs behind review copy anyone?). The July 2015 issue is however, rather beautiful…

The two review sections – In Cinemas and Review – have a lovely new grid system that allows plenty of white space (without feeling empty). I love the big splash images and the delicate greyscale drop-caps. I also think the ‘like this, watch this’ box outs help break up the page well. Alongside the reviews are fantastic catch-up viewing guides, tables and more.


The whole issue is linked via a delightful set of arrows that flow throughout – pointing to important information, tidbits and images – encouraging the reader to examine even the smallest details.

The colour palette is quite muted using greys and creams alongside blues and greens but don’t let that put you off – it really lets the images and movie features stand out.

There is some weird pacing in places. I don’t personally like features that start on a single page and the Magic Mike XXL feature is a little lost because of this but, I’ve worked in magazines long enough to know this was probably due to advertising constraints.

All in all this is a very solid start and I can’t wait for the next issue to drop through the letterbox.


Back in time…

Learn how to travel back to 1066 with issue 141 of Your Family Tree magazine.


When designing magazine covers flexibility is the key. You might have a fixed template but you need to bear in mind current trends and be able to follow these – whilst retaining your identity.

One of the current trends is to have fewer cover lines on your digital editions. When readers view your magazine on web-based newsstands – such as GooglePlay or Apple – most words are too small to view. Removing words enables you to promote the most important messages and enlarge images and logos. As you’ll see from the image above I have removed the top word-mechanics of the magazine and this has allowed the movement images and give an illusion of space on the smaller digital cover.

The single most important message on this issue was ‘going back further in time with your research’. I wanted the ‘time’ aspect to jump out and decided that the best approach was to have a combination older documents and a timepiece. I also wanted to have the illusion of moving in time so we blurred the hands of the clock. The simple blue san serif typography (Sanuk LF) also jumps out to the reader. Only ‘time’ will tell if my approach has been a success.

Your Family Tree issue 141 is on sale now. If you’re interested you can find more information on the issue and ordering details here.

© Future Publishing Limited.



Superb illustration perfectly captures tale of real-life World War One heroism.


Your Family Tree’s real-life reader case studies are some of the most popular articles within the magazine. Every issue YFT features two stories that highlight a readers research and the story that unfolds. We take great care in getting the image right and honouring the contributors memory as accurately as we can.

This particular reader discusses her grandfathers rampant gambling and multiple marriages but uncovers a story of previously hidden heroism.

A fantastic illustration from Garry Walton perfectly encapsulates the bravery and skill of pilots who fought during the First World War.

Your Family Tree issue 140 is available from all good magazine retailers from 25 February, and you can order printed copies via myfavouritemagazines or the YFT Facebook page. A digital subscription is a great way to read YFT if you’ve run out of space for your magazine collection (or an overseas reader) and there are fantastic discounts as well!

Image © Future Publishing Limited.

What is light without dark?

Top Cow’s The Darkness arrives on the Madefire Motion Book platform…


The Darkness, one of the best comic books of the last two decades, was launched yesterday on the Madefire Motion Book platform. The Darkness tells the tale of Jackie Estacado (a Mafia hitman) who on his 21st birthday, became the bearer of the Darkness! This ancient elemental force allows those who wield it to access an otherworldly dimension and have control over the demons who dwell there. As you can imagine, this macabre character from creators Marc SilvestriGarth Ennis, and David Wohl, is a perfect match for the dynamic Motion Book platform.

“Madefire really brings comic “motion” books alive in a way no one else has yet to master,” says Matt Hawkins, President of Top Cow. “The Darkness is alive in a way we’ve not been witness to since the release of the last video game.”

CCO and Co-Founder of Madefire Liam Sharp stated: “The Darkness is one of the seminal books to emerge from the Image revolution of the 90s, and it’s as powerful today as it was back then. Add sound, motion – the element of surprise! – and you have a title ideally suited to the Motion Book format! Lock all the doors, close the windows, and settle down for a chilling night-time read…”

A Motion Book is the perfect bedfellow for any classic character and this year has seen launches including Hellboy, Batman, Transformers, Star Trek and even My Little Pony. You can discover more of these excellent titles from Madefire at www.madefire.com and you can read/download The Darkness Motion Book and more on your iPad via the Madefire app and on your desktop via deviantART.

Stand to attention…

Discovering the last 300 years of British Military records with Your Family Tree 127


Your Family Tree 127 is a bumper special-edition that includes a free 48-page guidebook. I wanted to stir reader emotions once they had ripped the magazine from it’s bag. The nostalgic Victorian soldier was chosen to peek over the free gift because I thought that his mournful gaze would draw the reader in. He is a soulful looking chap but doesn’t have much else going on behind him. Adam the editor and I decided YFT127 should have a montage cover, in order to show as much military history as possible. I also wanted there to be a subliminal British ‘feel’ to the cover and elected to use the trusty red, white and blue colouring and a Spitfire. We’ve had a positive response from readers thus far. What do you think? You can find out more about YFT127 here.

Baby Love…

Encouraging people to start their family tree.

YFT124coverwebWell Christmas is almost upon us and it’s at this time of year most people start researching their family line. This could be to do with seeing so many relatives, seeing nostalgic repeats on the TV or hearing those christmas tunes of years gone by on the radio – who knows? All we know is that there is an upswing in ‘newbies’.

As a monthly magazine we try and cater for those starting out with the last and first issues of the year – but the question is always how to do it? Well we obviously cater the words towards certain phrases but we always try to pick the right topic. With Your Family Tree 124 we focused on the records we all have. These are births, deaths and marriage records (BMDs for short). I wanted to avoid making the issue ‘christmassy’ and I knew I also wanted to avoid showing the records themselves. I decided that I’d create a ‘living room’ feel with wallpaper, a mantlepiece and have nostalgic photos on and around it.

I found the ‘mother and child’ photograph on the iStock photo library and instantly fell in love with the babies face and I hope the readers of YFT124 will as well. YFT124 is on sale from 4 December 2012.


© Future Publishing Limited

Busting out…

Celebrate fashion for the fuller-figured lady with Volup2 magazine.

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This magazine was found completely by accident this weekend. My beautiful wife was having trouble finding a correctly fitting bra (high street stores really don’t cater for big busts) and we were looking at fashion blogs for the curvy lady.

We were enjoying reading through the excellent CurvyWordy – which was a great help and we heartily recommend you visit if you are a voluptuous woman) – and we soon clicked though to the Fullerfigurefullerbust.com blog by Georgina Horne. Georgina sometimes models for the magazine and her site had a link to Volup2.

Volup2 is the first Parisian fashion magazine aimed at the supersize-plus model and it wishes to ‘encourage readers to revel in their every “imperfection” and celebrate their bodies in their glorious entirety’. It is designed, published and photographed almost entirely by the very talented Velvet d’Amour.

Whilst the subject might not be to every one’s tastes (although personally it is nice to see a fashion magazine without anorexic models) there is no denying the photographic skill of Ms. d’Amour. Panels are large, bright and bursting with colour. There are also some very interesting angles in the photographs.

There have been three inspirational issues so far (Femininity, Zest and Ecstasy) and all are available for download. You can read the ‘féminité • femininity’ May 2012 issue right here.


Wolverine gets his claws out on the very latest SFX magazine cover.

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SFX228 has hit the stores and all I can saw is wow! This is a bumper special that previews all the upcoming superhero films.

Starting with Marvel studio’s output, the talented team take a look at Thor sequel The Dark World, oddball team movie Guardians Of The Galaxy, the new Iron Man 3 armour, Captain America 2 – The Winter Soldier, plus the marvellous mutant goings on in The Wolverine and X-Men: Days Of Future Past! They also have a world exclusive interview with Mark Millar, discussing his new role as Fox’s hero movie mastermind.

This hero theme continues with an in-depth look at the new series of hit TV shows Misfits and The Walking Dead. Plus there’s a cool look at the world of collecting Star Wars figures and you also get the latest news and reviews from the world(s) of sci-fi.

You can pick up digital SFX on Newsstand for iPad/iPhone (with extra bonus content) and Zinio for Android/PC. If you’d prefer the print version then just pop into your nearest magazine retailer or visit www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk.

SFX © Future Publishing Limited 2012

He’s Back…

November’s Empire magazine showcases the career of Arnie, the original action hero!

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I am an avid subscriber to Empire magazine. I love the design and the in-depth articles and features. It’s constantly tweaked and often has a different way of looking at movieland. It’s less gimmicky than it’s main rival Total Film – which I also enjoy from time to time but to which I’ve never felt inclined to subscribe. Empire just reports on movies and does it very well!

I was particularly delighted when the latest issue dropped through my letterbox. Upon opening the package I was confronted by the world’s greatest ever action hero in monochromatic glory. Weirdly he’s not looking at the reader but this adds to the mystique. Arise for Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Upon browsing the contents and skipping straight to page 66, I was then treated to thirty five pages of machismo. There is the exclusive ‘He’s Back‘ interview, during which Arnie discusses his career, upcoming movies and plugs his new autobiography. This in itself would beenough for most movie-mags but Empire love to go the extra mile. There is a gorgeous ‘Weapon’s of Choice‘ infographic, detailing the accessories Arnie’s character’s have used in his movies. Followed by a fun dissection of Predator which offers a graphical step-by-step look at the classic jungle trek. ‘Bullet timed‘ is a second-by-second guide to Commando from the talented guys who made it and finally the issue is rounded off with my favourite feature – ‘Arnie Killed Me!’ This is another step-by-step chat with cast members who’ve be terminated by the man himself. Phew!

This is a great edition of my favourite magazine. If you don’t like Arnie then you’ll probably feel a bit short changed but there are all the usual superb news, reviews, features and more. Check it out!


Discover the new Age of Reptiles motion comic from Dark Horse.

Dark Horse comics are well known for their horror and franchise output – with characters such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Hellboy heading up their roster.

One of their unsung titles is the fantastic Age of Reptiles dinosaur saga by Ricardo Delgado. These are cracking dinosaur adventure tales told in the same vein as Hammer’s When Dinosars Ruled the Earth and One Million Years B.C. No dialogue, just stunning artwork alongside rip roaring prehistoric action! Fortunately for dino-lovers, Dark Horse have chosen this saurian epic to kick-start their new motion comic venture.

Motion comics are all the rage at the moment – Madefire are the current top dog – but Dark Horse have pulled out all the stops with this magnificent effort. You can subscribe to Age of Reptiles and other Dark Horse titles – such as Guillermo del Toro’s vampire epic The Strain – through Geek and Sundry. Thanks to the iPad and Android-based tablets, comics really are coming alive! Go on, give them a whirl!