Corner Office: Painting a New Picture
Think about America's oldest magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, and you're likely to think about Norman Rockwell's famous cover art. Steven Slon, Editorial Director and Associate Publisher of the magazine, will remind you that Rockwell "did quite a few covers, but not all!" Nonetheless, the wholesome styling of Rockwell's art is what comes to mind when one thinks of this venerable publication.
So how to update the book while remaining true to its history, its image and its place in our Rockwellian hearts? This is the challenge Slon confronted head on when he joined the periodical in January 2012. The results, previewed in this interview, will become officially apparent when the magazine's January/February issue arrives in the mail in late December and hits the newsstands on January 4th.
While the magazine can trace its roots back to Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette, it wasn't until the early twentieth century that it came to prominence, under the ownership of Cyrus Curtis and the guidance of legendary editor George Horace Lorimer. Slon describes this time as "a serendipitous moment for American magazines" when Lorimer and the Post "helped define what America was." With a focus on spending money for good writing and illustrations, Lorimer brought circulation to a peak of 5 million in the 1920s and established a dominance that lasted decades. Well into the '60s, says Slon, The Saturday Evening Post was still a magazine of record.
Hard times inevitably came, however, in the late 60s, with rising paper costs topped by a lawsuit thrown at the magazine by football coaches Bear Bryant and Wally Butts over a story accusing them of fixing a game. Bankruptcy was declared in 1969, and the magazine passed into the control of Dr. Beurt SerVaas, whose role it was to help with liquidation of the company.