Cover stories

A picture asks a question and a reader answers.

At one of the first professional conferences I attended for alumni magazine types, a designer from the alternate universe of consumer magazines gave a presentation on covers. It turned out to be a long, juicy show-and-tell of classic covers from the likes of the National Lampoon, Esquire, and Texas Monthly; problematic and lackluster covers from publications better left unnamed; and examples from our own world of university and college publications.

A great luxury of magazines like ours, the presenter said, is that they don’t have to compete on crowded newsstands and thus live free from the tyranny of attention-grabbing cover lines—the print equivalent of clickbait.

This particular magazine declared itself free from that particular tyranny with its wholesale redesign in 2011. While many aspects of our book’s look have been refreshed in the decade-plus since, the cover design is (for now) untouchable, a visual invitation into a publication that, frankly, spends its words a bit prodigally on the inside.

We like to find a cover image that asks a question. In the Fall/21 issue we spelled out that question in “On the Cover,” page 2. Who was that golf club–toting Burton-Judson resident? Several readers wrote with their speculations and memories (read some in Letters). It wasn’t until this note was well underway that an intrepid reader emailed with the answer. He had found it (gulp) … in our own archives.

“I was recently perusing some of the archives of the University of Chicago Magazine for fun online—as one does,” wrote Jacob Reynolds, AM’20, “and I stumbled across the picture.” Indeed, the November/54 issue identifies the shadowed sportsman as the late Neil Weiner, EX’58.

We’re grateful to Reynolds for providing Weiner’s name, right there under our noses the whole time. And, since the pleasures to be found in Magazine back issues are many (visit, I also like his implication that perusing them is par for the course.

This issue’s cover comes with its own mysteries. Who is “the man sitting at the other end of the room”? Where did he get that Underwood typewriter? For clues, see “Interior Monologue.”

Paper chase

The Magazine is not exempt from pandemic-related supply chain trouble, and with the previous issue our luck ran out: for many of you, Fall/21 arrived up to a month after we hoped it would. Paper, in particular, is in short supply (eagle-eyed readers may perceive a slight difference in what was used for this issue). Further delays may dog us through this year, but we’ll do our best to keep the issues coming in a timely way. Thank you for your patience and for being our readers.