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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Planète magazine covers

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Planète was a French magazine of “Fantastic realism” which ran throughout the 1960s. I’ve never seen a copy but sight of the immediately recognisable covers has always fascinated because this was the magazine established in the wake of the huge success of The Morning of the Magicians (1960), a unique “Introduction to Fantastic Realism” by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier. Rather than enthuse at length about The Morning of the Magicians I’ll simply point you to this piece by the late RT Gault from his now-defunct website.

Pauwels and Bergier’s book was oft-imitated but never equalled during the 1970s. Where later authors such as Erich von Däniken tended to plough a single, narrow furrow, Pauwels and Bergier leapt breathlessly from one subject to another: alchemy in the 20th century, Forteana, a lengthy examination of the occult preoccupations of the Third Reich, speculations about nuclear physics, speculations about biological mutation, Hollow Earth theories, etc, etc, all the time dropping quotes from HP Lovecraft, Arthur Machen and Albert Einstein. It’s a very heady mix which is great fun to read even though there’s nothing like a solid argument that comes out of it all.

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Planète continued the blend of Futurology and fringe philosophy while using the magazine format to print translations of science fiction and fantasy stories; among other things it was notable for bringing the stories of Jorge Luis Borges to a wider audience in France. The magazine’s name may have been science fictional but the magazine as a whole is closer to the kind of borderline sf/art magazine that New Worlds became under Michael Moorcock’s editorship in the late 1960s. I’ve never seen Moorcock or anyone connected with New Worlds mention Planète but the covers at least pre-empt the style adopted by New Worlds during its large-format run: consistently bold typography and imagery that only obliquely relates to the contents.

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All these covers are from Noosfere where the story contents for each issue are also listed. No credits for the designer, unfortunately. If anyone knows who was responsible for the magazine design then please leave a comment.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
The Absolute Elsewhere

 


 

Posted in {design}, {fantasy}, {magazines}, {occult}, {science fiction}, {science}, {typography}.

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7 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by tristan eldritch

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    One of the reasons why The Morning of the Magicians remains so superior to its many imitators is that Pauwels and Bergier, like their mentor Fort, don’t really insist that their speculations are necessarily true; instead the book aims to stimulate and open up the mind by bombarding it with possibilities. It has as much in common with a Surrealist Manifesto as anything else. It is a testament to the electricity of the Morning that it still conveys the excitement of discovering a new world today, even after that new world has been so thoroughly plundered by the popular culture that came after it. It is also an endlessly quotable book, and “A Few Years in the Absolute Elsewhere” remains one of my favorite chapter titles ever.

  2. #2 posted by John

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    That’s exactly it. Somewhere I have a copy of their later book, Impossible Possibilities, which comes off as a poor relation precisely because it lacks the diversity and stimulating qualities of Morning of the Magicians.

  3. #3 posted by chazza

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    Not forgetting its sister magazine of the fantastic and the erotic, “Plexus”

  4. #4 posted by John

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    I’d love to see more of Plexus. It’s been mentioned here a couple of times in the past because of the artists they used.

  5. #5 posted by marly youmans

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    More than 100K in circulation at the height of sales–that’s astonishing.

    Interesting to see.

  6. #6 posted by Paul K.

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    Nothing to offer about the designer but the design looks like it owes something of a debt to the images and approach to be found in the various volumes of André Malraux’s musée imaginaire de la sculpture mondiale – first published in the 1950s – not least in its collapsing of conventional art historical fields into a unifying global one, and then drawing out the parallels that emerged in defiance of conventional academic categories of time and culture.

  7. #7 posted by guest

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    I’ve seen the statue on #15 from a Du magazine published four years(Oct ’68) later. It’s a treasure from the abbbey of conques en rouergues. The meditative quality of all of these covers is so calming, even as they get a bit psychedelic towards the later issues.

 




 

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