With this issue SI becomes the first all-color national weekly magazine—that is, the first to permit the use of four-color illustration on every page. Our use of color increased markedly back in 1981, but until this week FACES IN THE CROWD, one or more pages in the substantial last article in each issue and, indeed, this department, remained black and white, while the contents page and SCORECARD used two, rather than four, colors. No longer. And CONTENTS has gained not only color but also an additional page to enhance its appearance.
This is an article from the Sept. 5, 1983 issue
A man who savors the new capability more than most is Art Director Harvey Grut. Grut joined the magazine in the prepublication days of 1953 as what was then known as a cutter/paster. In the '50s he was mostly cutting and pasting black-and-white photographs—including shots of such moments as Roger Bannister, in our first issue, winning the "Mile of the Century" in Vancouver. "A color picture of a news event was impossible," Grut recalls. "Color had to close six weeks in advance."
As our use of color increased, so did our ability to get it into the magazine quickly. By 1978 we were able to run color news photos from a weekend event, but a small SI task force had to fly from New York to Chicago on each occasion to design the layout there.
"It was such an antiquated system, compared with today's," says Grut. "We projected a slide onto a piece of paper on the wall, moved the projector until the photo was cropped on the paper the way we wanted it in the magazine and then took a pencil and traced a rough outline of the picture that the engraver could follow. Six hours later someone would wake us up at the hotel across the street to approve it."
We have progressed considerably since. Many of the photographs in our report of the first track and field World Championships (Aug. 22) were taken in Helsinki on Sunday, processed that night in London, couriered to New York via Concorde Monday morning, viewed here at 11 a.m.—and closed for an issue that was en route to subscribers and newsstands 21 hours later.
But as SI's color capabilities became more sophisticated, those last remnants of black-and-white illustration in the front and the back of the magazine became more conspicuous. "It was like watching a football game on television in which the first minutes were in black and white, the middle in color and the final minutes in black and white again," says Managing Editor Gilbert Rogin. "It didn't make sense."
"Color is part of the impact of sports action," says Grut. "It's a fleeting moment on the field or on the TV screen, but in the magazine the reader can savor it more fully, captured in color." The move to full color brings continuity to the magazine and affords Grut's department a welcome artistic consistency. Also more work, of course. To which Rogin says, "It has been a challenge to do this. It has been, all along. But when people open their eyes, they see in color, not in black and white. Since man began depicting his world on the walls of his caves, millennia ago, he has painted in color."
Welcome, then, to our world of color, A.D. 1983.