Liz and Burton’s DEATH PACT

Liz and Burton’s DEATH PACT


I found this copy of Movieland and TV Time at the Brattle Book Shop in Boston, Massachusetts. They have a shelf with small stacks of vintage ephemera (mostly booklets with pork recipes) and old magazines (mostly Woman’s Day) that are fun to sift through.

The stuff was pretty cheap and of varying quality. I usually don’t get something if it’s ripped or badly stained (thanks to common sense) but I always make exceptions for things that are really extraordinary.

The exuberant colors and excessive variety of fonts stuck out to me when I saw the cover of this magazine, a cover that came off like toilet paper it was so delicate. I ended up buying it for a couple bucks along with a recipe pamphlet: “Mr. Ham Goes to Town.”

A poster for Movieland, featuring a posing Connie Stevens.

What is most striking about the magazine is its ephemerality, its utter linkage to the time it was created. One look at this magazine and its headlines tells you exactly what time and era it belongs in. It’s a first-hand, primary document. It’s a time capsule for May, 1963.

The magazine itself is not dissimilar to what exists today. The main difference (besides content) being that the “guts” of the magazine are not printed in color, and instead have a sepia tone (that seems fitting). The paper itself is so fragile and delicate it tears with a slight wrong press of my pinky finger along the edge; it’s as if the paper knows it doesn’t belong in 2016, and is trying to disintegrate out of my hands and into the past. As far as the design of the magazine goes, I actually found it quite striking.


The lack of InDesign, Photoshop and color meant that formatting had to be more creative to capture the reader’s eye. There are ads throughout, but mainly in the beginning and end of the magazine. There are a few full page ads, but for the most part, the actual content is centered and uninterrupted.


The best part of the magazine is perhaps how similar it is to today’s celebrity magazines as far as content and format goes. The cover is filled with eye-catching titles that today would be considered click-bait (Liz and Burton’s DEATH PACT was actually referring to a pact that could cause the death of their careers). The magazine uses this cover to grab the reader’s attention and draw them in and have them open it, then the article hooks them in and tells them to continue reading the rest on a later page in a section that is filled with advertisements.

We want to have a linear reading experience, but also have the flexibility to pick and choose what we read. The magazine allows us this through its medium as a flippable printed collection of pages. I decided to bring this very 1963 magazine into the present by turning it into a mockup for an online celebrity blog/website.

Movieland copy

The titles and headlines were all kept the same, hilariously showing how “click-baity” the old titles were that they fit in perfectly in the digital world despite being about celebrities from 50 years ago. I thought it was also very important to incorporate the advertisements in the online translation, as they are an essential part of the magazine as we know it.

Some of the ads are put in with the actual content, which I tried to achieve with a couple ads on the site (A pill that makes you skinny and an ad for a stenotype), and I also made modern versions of vintage ads that I placed at the bottom of the page (like the back page ads of the magazine).


You can “flip” through the online version by browsing the headlines for each article which are laid out in a grid, or start with the first piece and read chronologically (well, reverse chronologically) with links at the bottom of each article that lead you to the next.

It seems that while these mediums (website and magazine) are often put in opposition with each other, they (and apparently our coverage of celebrity gossip) are actually more similar than we think.

I wish I could scan the entire magazine, but I’m worried the binding will fall apart any second. In any case, here are some other snapshots to end with:

My pork recipe pamphlet
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