Like a bar that you used to love but haven’t been to in ages, Believer Magazine is going to close.
A decade and a half ago, when I started writing in blogs, it was one of my favorite magazines. It was the early 2000s. Perhaps out of a need to contrast with the bright colors and Flash doodads of the dot-com economy, there was a sudden craze for an idealized graphical past. It was peak Chris Ware, Wes Anderson when vintagey graphic design threatened to take over culture as a whole.
The Believer’s sister publication, McSweeney’s, was perhaps the apex of the trend, with its issues shaped like boxes, pulp paperbacks, bibles, or unsolicited mail. The Believer played straight man to McSweeney’s polymorphous abundance, always with a jazz age hipster’s almost immobile coolness.
Its design was mostly the same from issue to issue, the cover a three-by-three grid with portraits drawn by Charles Burns, topped by the title, set in colorful display type. Inside, a distilled old-timey page layout evoking a golden age of National Geographic Magazines, Harper’s, Reader’s Digest.
Like with all the best magazines, it spoked to a yearning. You wouldn’t read it so much as desire the type of life where you could be a part of it.