Spy Magazine Is Back, Just in Time for the Election

Just as Things Are Getting Really Tabloidy, Beloved Satirical Pub Pops Up on Esquire

Published On
Oct 11, 2016

Editor's Pick

Just in time for the presidential election's increasingly tabloid-y turn, we say hello, once again, to an old friend. Spy Magazine, the satirical publication known for its smart, skewering pieces on prominent figures in entertainment, media, politics and society, has returned in the form of a pop-up mag on Esquire.com.

In its day, one of Spy's favorite subjects had been Donald Trump, which it famously and frequently referred to as a "short-fingered vulgarian." So a reappearance now seems quite fitting, according to Kurt Anderson, who co-founded the magazine with Graydon Carter and wrote this in his introduction for the comeback: "It's as if SPY, a retired superhero, is making a brief but necessary comeback."

Many people approached Mr. Anderson over the years about resurrecting Spy, which debuted in 1986 and folded in 1998, he said in the introduction. "But I couldn't quite see a place for it in such a cluttered media landscape already so thick with so much satirical intent."

But then the last year saw, Mr. Anderson said, "the withdrawal of Stewart and Colbert from Comedy Central, the death of Gawker, the return of Hillary, and especially the rise of Donald Trump As Trump became the Republicans' presumptive nominee, lots more people, pretty much every day, said to me, 'SPY really needs to be rebooted, if only just for the election' I guess maybe they're right."

The new Spy dives into a favorite topic with a piece entitled "Is Donald Trump Genetically Defective?" -- a medical investigation of the candidate's digits.

Another article takes a sojourn to the Trump family gravesite in Queens, while yet another examines the similarities between Trump's speech strategies and those from Neil Strauss's 2006 best-selling pick-up manual, "The Game." Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, gets some love as well, in a piece entitled "TV Writers Know How to Make Hillary Clinton More Likable."

Esquire Editor-in-Chief Jay Fielden is overseeing the new Spy with input from Mr. Anderson and Hearst Magazine Chief Content Officer Joanna Coles. The editor is Josh Wolk, a former editorial director of Vulture and editor of Yahoo Entertainment.

Esquire and Spy teamed with Wieden & Kennedy on four new covers that will release each week, as well as faux ads that will appear on the site each day until the election. W&K's new Executive Creative Director of Content and Editorial Design Richard Turley, perhaps best known for steering the striking conceptual covers and design at Bloomberg Businessweek, is overseeing the project from the agency side.

The debut of the pop-up happens to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Spy's debut. As part of the return, the magazine will revive some of its popular series such as "Separated at Birth" and "Logrolling in Our Time."

"The election is on everyone's mind, and Esquire has been covering it relentlessly, as we have always done," Mr. Fielden said in a statement. "Now, in the last dash to the big day, is the perfect time for us to inject that special Spy sense of humor and hijinks into the proceedings."


Oct 11, 2016
Spy Magazine
Spy Magazine

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