As promised months ago (bimonthly?), here is my comparison of the *elusive* Before & After magazine and Dynamic Graphics' Step-by-Step Electronic Design.
I have before me 29 issues of Before & After, from Vol. 1 No. 1 (1990) to the perpetually current Vol. 5. No. 5 (Apr/May 1997); and five issues of Electronic Design, Vol. 10 No. 6 (June 1998) through Vol. 10 No. 10 (Oct 1998).
After months of empty promises ("...we're nearly ready to unveil B&A") on their web page and "the next issue will be in the mail within six weeks" in their e-mail, the B&A people now have this to say at about their "design class in a magazine":
Before & After is now one continuous story presented in step by step sections. It begins with a situation -- it could be your company! -- leads the reader through gathering and evaluating imagery, selecting suitable type, working in the "artbox," (play!) creating a style concept (design!), developing a compositional plan (structure!) and finally laying out pages.
Sounds like B&A won't be running the variety of tips and how-to's that we all seemed to love -- unless they are pertinent to the "one continuous story." As each of the 29 issues arrived, there was always something I could pick out for a design I was working on. Seldom were more than four pages devoted to a single theme, and even those pages contained additional thumbnail tips on the side. Now with this "one continuous story" concept, I wonder how much will relate to what I'm doing on a day-to-day basis -- unless, of course, I'm recreating B&A's featured "story."
Electronic Design, on the other hand, is more of what B&A was in the existing 29 issues, but taken one step further. One, two, or four pages in each issue are devoted to using specific tools or creating certain effects. In the five issues I have, equal time has been given to Illustrator, Photoshop, FreeHand, Painter, Dimensions, PageMaker, QuarkXPress, and third-party extensions and filters. Along with the final result of an effect is step-by-step instructions for achieving it for print and/or web use. Electronic Design inspires me to think in ways I never did before. Of course, it does drive the campus Print Shop crazy when I try some of them!
I've seen Electronic Design issues for sale locally in a CompUSA store at the cover price of $6 US or $8.25 Canada.
B&A is *theoretically* published every other month at $36 per year with 16 pages per issue. Electronic Design is monthly at 20 pages per issue and advertised inside the magazine at $60 per year, but I've received subscription offers in the mail at $48 per year. You can do the math to see the best per-page price...
My last e-mail to B&A to learn the status of the magazine was dated 6/22/98, and I did not receive a reply. I'm just curious enough to see what the next issue contains. I can't imagine what's taken them 16+ months to create. But after being given the run-around, my expections are not high and I won't hesitate to request a refund for the remaining year I paid for in advance three years ago.
University of Missouri-St. Louis
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