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viceversa magazine
instructor: soonduk krebs

vice versa was a magazine in the 1940's created by a secretary who went by "lisa ben". it is considered the oldest gay periodical in the united states. it was passed from person to person and never sent through the mail due to laws about "obscene" content. it was described by journalist rodger streitmatter "contained no bylines, no photographs, no advertisements, no masthead and neither the name or address of its editor... yet it set the agenda that has defined lesbian and gay journalism for 50 years." i saw this as an opportunity to completely redesign an interesting piece of history. the main challenge in this project was trying to find a balance between vintage and modern aesthetics. i wanted to reflect the time period while still keeping it looking fresh. i accomplished this by using old photographs and typography, while at the same time using very digital design elements.

for the first segment, originally titled "in explanation", lisa ben introduces the magazine's purpose and comments on the current state of other publications. she expresses that there are magazines of every kind, except for the taboo topic of homosexuality. i reflected the text by collaging old magazine covers that demonstrated the predominant romantic themes present at the time.

for this section lisa reviews a small play about a murder mystery. i wanted to capture the ominous vibe of this production, so i stuck with strictly black white and red. the type was designed to reflect not only the original typewriter format of the magazine itself but also how the play's script would appear. she gives the entire plot of the play in thorough detail, which is interesting as the original play can no longer be found. this is also the case for the next article, as the film she reviews is now considered "lost media".

i wanted to capture the media frenzy surrounding this film, so i made a collage of quotes from posters and articles surrounding it. the text is a bit distorted, which highlights the energy of the words. a film centered on gay themes was extremely rare at the time, so the reactions to it were dramatic. the film itself is dark in subject matter and tone, so i exclusively used greyscale and faded brown. lisa condemned this film for its negative portrayal of gay people, and finishes the article with a larger societal point of how same-sex love should be treated as equal. to end on this more hopeful note, i used more lowkey and pleasant images.

every issue of viceversa includes a section where the readers could submit short stories or poems. this poem was a nice break from the dark tones of the previous articles in this issue, so i wanted the imagery to reflect that.


to expand a bit more on the brand i created, i made some pieces of collateral. the bags were an exploration of what would exist if this magazine was made today. the poster was a collage of pulp fiction novels, which were one of the few pieces of media that broached the topic of homosexuality during that time period. the subscription cards i made to mirror the secretive distribution of the original magazine.