We are *extremely* blessed right now. There are a growing number of high quality independent football magazines emerging at the moment to supplement such essential regular purchases as World Soccer and When Saturday Comes. Following on from the success of The Blizzard, XI Quarterly is on sale now and promises to enrich coffee tables everywhere. We caught up with magazine founder Tom Dunmore last week to get the skinny on the new mag.
Tom, you've been involved with the Pitch Invasion and Stadium Porn websites, what's different here?
Both Pitch Invasion and Stadium Porn are blogs that look primarily at the daily culture of world football - albeit, we did try to stand back and offer in-depth coverage. XI is totally different: it's a quarterly journal in print, with each piece worked on over a period of months rather than days or weeks. We were inspired by the Blizzard, another quarterly publication, to give writers and other contributors the chance to write in long-form (and for some remuneration) - but in our case, our subject is the game in North America. I had touched on some of that with Pitch Invasion, but wanted to give myself and others the chance to do it in much greater depth. And in print.
But printed media is dead isn't it?
Well, I hope not! It's true that newspapers are. I used to love them, but I now read the Guardian and New York Times on my Kindle, iPhone and laptop without a second thought for a dead tree version. But that's essentially because daily news is entirely dependent on time: printing news the next day is a waste of it. A quarterly journal is not outdated so fast; almost all our essays (much like the Blizzard, or literary journals like n+1 in New York) could be read this year or next and lose little value. And print itself can do much to display this kind of material in a way that digital still cannot quite replicate: our illustrated pieces and photo essays are printed on glossy, thick stock, and the form has a tactile experience I don't think should be lost. Essay spreads are designed for print in particular, something our art director is borderline obsessional about.
What can we expect from XI Quarterly?
Hopefully, every issue will offer unique and original insight into "soccer" (yes, we call it soccer unashamedly) in North America. There isn't a whole lot of in-depth coverage of the game on this continent, and we think that's a big shame: it has deeper and broader roots than most people know of (the late David Wangerin was one of the first to show this in Soccer in a Football World), and there are so many stories to be told. Every issue will be themed around one topic: for example, issue one ("Coming to America") looks at the way immigration has shaped the sport, from its earliest days guided by British expats to modern day Latina soccer in North Carolina, or the (largely) forgotten connection of Gil Scott-Heron to North American soccer. XI - eleven - stories in each issue try to tell this story in distinct ways, with a mix of art pieces and long-form essays: over 100 pages (with no ads) an issue.
Tell us about the contributors.
Every issue will have a new set of contributors, new and established writers, illustrators and photographers (and maybe poets, crossword puzzlers or other things we haven't thought of yet...). Issue one has Leander Schaerlaeckens on Johan Cruyff in America and Steve Welsh (better known as Miniboro) illustrating the story of "Celtic's Black Arrow". Issue two ("Americans Abroad") will have a story of an American Catholic playing for Rangers in the 1970s, and Stanley Chow illustrating the stories of pioneering Americans playing overseas, along with much more. We want to give established writers a place to write about North American soccer in long-form, which they might not otherwise have, and to offer a platform for lesser-known contributors to be published if they pitch us a topic that explores an issue's theme in a unique way.
How do we buy a copy?
You can head over to www.xiquarterly.com and hit subscribe! Subscriptions are offered both on an annual and quarterly basis. We will be selling individual issues very soon as well, once the first issue hits the streets for subscribers - which is in the coming days...