Hello, how are you doing? My friend mentioned the children’s magazine Highlights on social media and listed what they liked best about it. It’s funny because we’re both queer poet-artists who do radical mental health and have so much in common. But we mentioned totally different parts of the magazine. This is what I liked about Highlights magazine.
I loved looking for the hidden objects in the picture. Maybe because paying attention is something I’m good at, and I wanted to hone my skills!
Searching for something is a theme of my life. I dreamed long quest dreams at night, when I was a teenager. Tromping through the forest with my friends, looking for something important we never found. Maybe that’s different.
I loved the ridiculous binary morality of Goofus and Gallant. Probably because I was trying so hard to figure out what my culture expected of me.
In regular life, expectations are so confusing. In the simplistic Goofus and Gallant world, I could study the caricature and try to extrapolate out.
I loved letters to the editor. Yes, I always have treasured regular people talking. Kind of like Antiques Roadshow! That and X-Files were the only tv shows I liked as an adult.
In the Highlights letters to the editor, I remember reading scientists argue about how many kingdoms there are. That gave me a thrill, to hear these various ways of categorizing reality. I thought I might become a scientist myself, one day. I idealized scientists very much.
This is the realization that made me laugh the most. I liked reading the masthead. The masthead-love foreshadowed that I would enjoy publishing as an adult. I liked to see the format and the names. I enjoyed learning about the roles they cared to list, and looking at the gender breakdown by name.
Guess what Ming replied with? “I like reading the masthead too,” Ming said. Wow, we have some geekery in common.
My early love of fonts indicates that I had an eye for design. To this day I love fonts, and I love handwriting also.
Sometimes I’ve talked to Ming while he’s proofreading and realized that fonts look the same to him. I can tell them apart almost like recognizing and identifying plants.
I’m partly faceblind–people look the same to me. I recognize people by their voice, body shape, gait, hair, and clothing. Often I’m not sure who someone is until they start talking. But typefaces have a lot of differences and personality to me, like plants.
Seeing personalities in fonts seems almost like a form of synesthesia. But I think everyone experiences that, right?
Most people don’t see colors in numbers like I do. Synesthesia and face blindness are both common in people who have autism.
questions for discussion
Did you see Highlights magazine when you were a kid?
Did you see other magazines? Ming enjoyed Mad Magazine for Spy vs Spy. I read my mom’s Reader’s Digests religiously.
What magazines have mattered to you, over the years?
What do you wish you had learned in magazines when you were a kid?
Are magazines important ways of transmitting and creating culture?