The Very Best in New Independent Magazines

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magCulture's Jeremy Leslie gives us a guided tour of the crème de la crème of new printed matter, from the sexy and the educational to the downright delicious

When it comes to magazines both new and old, there is nobody more adept at separating the wheat from the chaff than Jeremy Leslie, the London-based designer, writer and curator responsible for editorial design studio magCulture, and all of its many offshoots – an online journal, three books, and an annual conference, to mention but a few. So who better to turn to for a guide to the very best in new independent publishing? Here, Leslie provides his knowing guide to fresh printed matter, from Canada and Australia, to the US and the UK. Buckle up and start turning those pages.  

"Promising to play with gender, sexuality and identity – the name sets the tone – Ladybeard wastes no time, launching its themed series with the Sex issue fronted by a vivid pink image of a vibrator. Inside is just as confident, the strongly composed content well designed and brightly illustrated. Cheerfully explicit, the colourful and easy representations of nakedness and sex provide a perfect context for serious discourse. A really exciting new magazine, I’m looking forward to the next instalment, the Mind issue, later this year."

Little Atoms
"Developed from the podcast of the same name, this new annual magazine reproduces transcribed spoken interviews (Lyndsey Addario, Suzanne Moore, Christopher Hitchens) alongside newly written essays (Fergal Keene, Elle Hardy, Nick Cohen) in a satisfying pocket-sized volume. The strong writing, Guardian-esque colour palette and gentle illustration (courtesy of Jean Jullien) makes Little Atoms a solid, intelligent read. The only downside is the tiny size of the text needed to squeeze in all that great writing."

American Chordata
"It wasn’t so long ago that people were writing off the literary magazine as a form; now we seem to be unable to move for the things. This is a charming new example, a small bookish publication with a strong collection of fiction, non-fiction and poetry punctuated occasionally by art and photography. Compiled by founder Ben Yarling from submissions collected online, he and art director Bobby Doherty do a great job composing the material into a coherent and satisfying whole."

Lunch Lady
"What the people that made Frankie magazine did next… this chunky little mag grew out of a blog started by Kate Berry when she was upset by her daughter being bullied about her healthy school lunch. The resulting visual treat aims to inspire families to eat healthily without getting too serious –the design is notebook-ish and colourful. Inside is a mix of recipes and first-hand stories that encourage a practical, healthy perspective on family life."

"At last, an indie mag about anthropology! If that turns you off, think again. Like the best magazines, Peeps is a magazine about people and there are some great universal stories here: we meet the sociologist hired by Microsoft, learn about the meaning of failure in China, and discover the reinvention of the city of Medellin. It’s an intelligent first issue and the introduction by editor Greg Salmela promises another open conversation about magazine-making along the lines of Kai Brach, the man behind digital culture mag Offscreen."

All five magazines are available at the magCulture Shop, 270 St John St London EC1V 4PE and can be ordered for worldwide delivery here.