Mischief versus Integrity at New Escapologist

If we were to bring New Escapologist back as a printed magazine (which I often toy with but might be serious about this time!), I’d like to return to the central gag: that it’s a highly improbable magazine for “Escapologists.”

I’m always amused by impossibly niche magazine titles like Cigar Aficionado, Total Carp, and Potato Storage International, all of which are real!

New Escapologist (whose title has the perfectly conventional structure of New Scientist, New Internationalist, the New Statesman, New European, New Woman) would be the perfectly conventional magazine for a very niche community.

I wanted imaginative people to see it and think of Houdini with his playfully shackled feet up as he reads the latest dispatches in escape artistry. And for the less imaginative to boggle, “Where is the market for something like this?”

Maybe I nurtured a hope that we’d feature in the “guest publications” bit on Have I Got News for You.

However, somewhere between the pilot issue in 2007 (which also suffered from the premise-detracting complication of trying to resemble an in-flight magazine) and Issue Two in 2008, I became enamored with the bookish self-published era of the Idler magazine. They in turn were inspired by the self-publishing ethos of William Morris and perhaps also Bill Drummond. I admired (and continue to admire) the slightly anticapitalist ethic of publishing meaty essays instead of ephemeral magazine-quality material like product reviews and op-ed columns. I liked that they had perfect-bound spines and would look nice on the shelf.

For better or worse, the aspiration to integrity trumped my more natural sense of mischief.

So! If we were to bring the magazine back from the dead next year, my vision would be in part to return to that basic gag of a super-niche magazine for Escapologists.

We could still have meaningful essays in the form of feature articles and we could still solicit interviews with “prominent citizens” like we used to, but we could also have things like book reviews, letters to the editor, the latest in personal escape tactics, a travel column, a non-boring finance section, an escapological agony aunt, and all that sort of thing.

What do you think, oh gentle reader? Would you like to see a more magaziney New Escapologist true to its roots in 2023? Or a continuation of the Victorian-looking essay format? Or should I leave it buried forever? Leave a comment here or drop me an email if you have feelings.

If I really decide to run with this, I’ll post a more in-depth survey to collect your opinions. But some comments now would certainly help to stoke the embers and bud-nip any problems (like mixed metaphors?) upstream. Thanks in advance.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at wringham.co.uk

14 Responses to “Mischief versus Integrity at New Escapologist”

  1. Mouche says:

    Victorian was great but the magazine you describe sounds like fun! I’d definitely subscribe

  2. Cat says:

    Yes, please start up the magazine again!

  3. Frans says:

    Yes I’d like to get a magazine. Will you use TeX for the typesetting? If so, an article in the magazine about how you do/did would interest me.

  4. Thanks Frans. To be honest, we’ll probably do it in Adobe Illustrator this time but I haven’t 100% decided yet. I have a lot of nostalgia for all those nights spent typesetting with TeX and it worked really well.

  5. Murry says:

    I like the idea of broadening the scope beyond essays. Interviews, letters to the Editor, tips and escapology finance all sound interesting and fun. Have you ever considered some kind of forum? I’d be interested in engaging other Escapologists.

  6. Hi Murry. Thanks for the vote of confidence on the mag. The forum thing is an interesting question and I haven’t thought about it lately so thanks for that prompt as well. I like forums and I post at a particular one regularly, but I always felt there aren’t enough Escapologists active online to make it work for us: there’s 1,600 people on our mailing list and we have good open and click-through rates, but we get so few comments here at the blog. You need a certain number of people to really make it work and it can’t feel like a chore to any people who actually contribute. Jacob’s ERE forum might also have our corner covered. Hmm. I’m not sure. On the one hand, I like the Web 1.0 nature of a forum and would like to encourage it. On the other, a general part of the New Esc ethos is to get people off screens and either onto paper or out into reality. I wouldn’t say never and I’d really be happy if it took off, but those are the issues. Further thoughts welcome!

  7. Murry says:

    I think those concerns are valid, particularly the one about getting us off screens, although I do quite like lingering here while I’m getting paid.

    Maybe the solution is for us regulars to be more active in commenting. The Guardian “below the line” comment sections are conversational and lively despite it not being a forum.

  8. I would definitely like to see more comments here but I don’t want to nudge/beg for them in a “like and subscribe!” way and I don’t want anyone to feel obliged. My feeling is that if it hasn’t taken off, then it hasn’t taken off. Maybe I’ll run a post about it to ask why. If we have a letters page in the new magazine, my hope is that becomes a forum of sorts (albeit a super-slow one) with reader interaction. If we built a proper Web forum, Murry, would you be interested in being a moderator?

  9. Murry says:

    Yes, I’d be happy to help if you decide to go down that route. I’d have to choose a suitably escapological username. Tiresias maybe!

  10. Ideal! (I’m glad someone has been paying attention. 😉 )

  11. Tania says:

    What a splendid idea! A magazine-y NE sounds great, but I do also really love the aesthetic of the original so perhaps a Victorian stylee magazine? I’d be happy to write for it again, if you wanted anything in particular. And, of course, I would also subscribe to support a RL endeavour.

  12. Tania! You’d be very welcome. Is your specialty still romance and courting?

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