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The International Brotherhood of Magicians

07 Mar

U.K.'s Magicseen Magazine Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Category: Blog   Posted by: C. DENNIS SCHICK

10 Years And Counting

The story of the first decade of Magicseen

by Mark Leveridge

2004 was a notable year. Not only did it mark the last time that Manchester United won the FA Cup (!), but it also saw the birth of the idea for Magicseen. Graham Hey and Phil Shaw had worked together on other magazines and being magicians, they thought that the U.K. could really do with a vibrant conjurers' magazine that would see the magic world from a U.K. bias rather than from a U.S. standpoint.

In the summer of that year they approached me with a view to offering me the editorship, and also a partnership in the new magazine business. My initial reaction, I must admit, was one of some caution. Over the years I had seen a number of magazine ventures come and go, and with the strength in the marketplace of long established American glossy publications, I wondered whether we could create something appealing and sustainable.

But the more we discussed how the magazine should look and the way we intended to put together the content, the more sold I became on the idea, and so I was pleased to throw my hat into the ring with the two guys, and thus Magicseen was born with our first issue being launched at the Blackpool Convention in February 2005.

Colour Me Right

Right from the outset we wanted to place Magicseen apart from other trade publications; especially those still around in the U.K. At the time, colour was used either not at all, or only sparingly in the available magazines, so we decided to bite the bullet and go full colour right from the outset. Today that might seem like an obvious choice, but at the time it was relatively revolutionary, as magic magazines simply didn't go to that expense.

No Column Inches

In terms of content, we decided to avoid regular columnists. Virtually all magic magazines rely on columns written by the same people every issue, but we felt that although the content itself was different every time, there was always the chance that it could get boring when the same person was writing for years with the same column masterhead and the same point of view. So that is why we do not have regular columnists, but instead we try to surprise you with each issue, so that when you get your latest copy you are never quite sure what it will feature inside! More effort for us, but more interesting hopefully for you.

The Magicseen Style

Magazines tend to develop a style, and we have been lucky to have Phil Shaw behind the look of Magicseen right from the start. He has always given the publication a modern, vibrant look. We like to think of our mag as being a great pick-up-and-read publication, one that is attractive on the eye and which you feel encouraged to dip into. We know that many of our readers have hugely busy lives and simply don't get the time to sit down for long periods for a lengthy read, and so with this in mind we make sure that our articles are not usually overly long and can be absorbed and enjoyed even if you only have a relatively short time frame to devote to it. I think its telling that many of our readers say that they read the mag from start to finish, and we hope that this is partly because we make all our content highly accessible.

Taking The Mick

Magicseen also has a very British self deprecating style. Graham Hey is a really talented comedy writer and produces comedy material not only for his own stand up shows, but for other notable top line comedians and magicians. His humour is often reflected in the pages of Magicseen, not only in the comedy related articles that he puts together, but also in the little comments, asides and banner headlines which he writes for us. I often laugh out loud at some of the things he writes myself, and I'm the editor! So although we take the business of producing the magazine actually very seriously, the tone reflected through the pages of the mag is much more lighthearted, and I believe that it is this 'attitude' that helps us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.

Content With The Content

When deciding on what content to include in each issue we like to mix it up a bit. We think you want to get information about the top performers of the day, both well established international stars, but also those names which are up-and-coming. Our interviews look to give you a little inside knowledge about them and what they do, and in every issue we seek to include a nice balance of performers to chat to.

But we also know that most of our readers are looking to be informed about and helped with their magic. Over the decade we have therefore provided a wide range of information articles on a huge spread of magic activity and interest, articles that are designed to give pertinent information and advice in an easy to absorb format. A magazine can never hope to provide masses of detail on any subject, but it is the perfect vehicle to supply a starting point and to create an interest for readers to pursue further. I am proud of the amount of great advice and tips that many of the top names of magic have generously imparted through our pages.

Well That's Your Opinion...

Another trait that most of our readers have is the thirst for buying, or at least contemplating buying, new magic. That is why the Product Review section of Magicseen is one of the most popular in the magazine. We decided right from the start to set up a group of experienced, knowledgeable magicians, and to encourage them to give their honest opinion about the products we receive for review. 

We use guidlines for what we feel our reviewers need to consider when looking at a marketed item, and we endeavour not to simply denegrate a product if it simply doesn't appeal to us, but to evaluate it from the wider perspective of our readership. After all, what is the perfect trick for one person can be useless to the next, so the reviews set out to tell you what is being offered and whether it will do what it claims to. 

Reviews are, of course, all about opinion, but I like to think that our comments are fair and even handed - we don't have favourites, we try to be honest, and we will point out both the good and the bad in order to help you to make more considered purchasing decisions.

Keeping It Fresh

Although Magicseen is bi-monthly, to be honest for all of us involved in it the schedule feels like it's monthly! We have often been asked whether we will ever make the mag monthly, but quite frankly I can't see that ever happening. We want to keep the magazine content fresh, and we want you as readers to look forward to each one arriving. Those of you who have monthly magazines will know that often the next one is arriving before you've had a chance to read the first one! So we feel comfortable with 6 issues a year as this gives the whole production team the space needed to create something consistently worthwhile.

Magicseen Book Store

As well as producing a magazine, the Magicseen team also publishes books. It all started back in 2007 when we released WD40, Wayne Dobson's first book. We love to be involved in these meaty projects and although it generates a huge amount of additional work for us, the end result of unveiling a new publication makes it all worthwhile. 

With three books published for Wayne (Wayne Dobson and Friends and The Definitve Collection being the other two), as well as books on David Copperfield, Andrew Normansell, Chris Rawlins and now most recently John Carey, plus in addition compilations including Masterclass Volumes 1 and 2, Comedy Buffet, Comedy For The Well Groomed Performer and Best Of British, we feel we have a small but interesting range of additional material for our readers to enjoy.

Onwards Ever Upwards

When Graham and Phil first talked to me about Magicseen, none of us could have imagined that a decade later we would still be around and thriving. We are still as enthusiastic about our mag as we ever were, and we are constantly seeking to provide a great reading experience for all our subscribers around the world. We've enjoyed our first 10 years and now we are looking forward to starting our next decade. Let the fun commence!


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