Can you recall, as a child, plunging into a picture book and immersing yourself in a strange new land? I got a similar kick this week after issue 20 of VNA magazine popped through our letterbox as part of Jen’s mailout from Stack, the ever-dependable independent magazine subscription service. VNA (which stands for Very Nearly Almost) is about street art, a distant, magical and sometimes nightmarish world of which I know nothing, save for a brief visit to the paint-strewn streets of Brussels a few weeks ago which you may or may not remember me gabbing on about.
What I like about VNA is that it is packed with lots of interesting, amazing stuff I had never seen before – which is what we all want from a magazine, right? – and the writing is engaging and focused, placing a varied collection of artists in their own particular artistic context. My favourites were Guy McKinley’s ornate, fantasy-inspired portraits and the imposing symbols of cover star Retna, who Jen informs me is apparently quite famous. There is also a painting of a child’s face seemingly embedded in a wall in Granada that caught my eye.
VNA is in a nice compact format and it only costs six quid, which isn’t bad for an indie mag. So why not give it a go? I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like in it, and I can’t say that about many magazines.
Another new visitor to our magazine rack is a new publication simply entitled Cyclist.
Essentially, it’s adapted the Cycling Plus format of clear, informed product reviews, added a dash of pro peloton features and delivered it in a stylish, upmarket package with a not unreasonable £5 cover price. Some of the photography and their feature on the Colnago factory are reminiscent of Rouleur (interestingly, Rouleur’s publisher used to be a suit at Dennis, which publishes Cyclist, and both magazines are advertising in each other’s pages).
I think what may set Cyclist apart from other cycling mags is that it feels more current – issue one included a neat spread on the trend for all things fluoro, a feature on electronic shifting and a look at disc brakes as part of the Colnago piece. More importantly, it is packed with facts, which makes it sound a bit dull, but I think clearly presented information is what cyclists value above all else in a magazine.
The writing may need to be warmer, and it will be interesting to see how it develops its own voice. The only thing I really didn’t like was a column by Velominati rule bore Frank Strack, but that’s a long post for another day. Overall, I think Cyclist has made a solid start, and you shouldn’t ask for anything more from a new magazine. Issue two is out this week. I bought my copy at Pearson Performance, so maybe you’ll find it at your local bike shop too.