The Fantastic Men Behind Fantastic Man

The Fantastic Men Behind Fantastic Man Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for chipingym.jpg
Ok, act cool. Don't embarrass yourself. Play it cool. Oh... doh. Too late, we're serious fanboys for Fantastic Man and the two fantastic men (sorry, couldn't help ourselves) who make it, co-founders Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom. The new issue of Fantastic Man (the magazine's 20th issue!) has just dropped in London (and will do so very soon everywhere else), so what better time to catch up with Gert and ask a few questions about what makes a great Fantastic Man cover. Oh, and would they ever put a women on the cover? The answer is below.

What makes for a great Fantastic Man cover star? And how do you juggle the often contrary forces of celebrity (for newsstand punch) and obscurity (for industry respect)?

Excitement. We love a good surprise, and we love a mix of puzzlement (Who's that?) and recognition (Oh, it's him!). We like our cover stars to be heroic. We love it if they're doing new and exciting things. Bret Easton Ellis, Jeremy Deller, Matthew Slotover, Raf Simons, Spike Jonze, Ewan McGregor, Helmut Lang, Christopher Waltz! What we love about Mr. Waltz is that he's world-famous, and you recognize the look in his eyes immediately, yet his name gives that moment of puzzlement. Who? Ah, him, of course! Amazing!

Do you and co-founder Jop van Bennekom ever disagree on who would make for a good cover star? Have you ever had to compromise?

Of course we disagree on ideas and names, but the good thing is that we're quite adept at either convincing one another or else parting with an idea if it just doesn't feel right to both of us. I can't think of an example where we had to compromise. We either find a fantastic subject we're both happy with and excited about, or we move on and continue the search. The trick with magazines, and thus with covers, is to try to avoid all compromises.

Would you ever consider putting a woman on the cover of Fantastic Man? Why/why not?

We'd definitely consider it, and we would probably decide to do it if we loved the specific idea enough. I can totally see it work to have an amazing woman on the cover of Fantastic Man. It could be super exciting.

We love that 'Oh, wow' factor in a cover - in the way that it was exciting to see Michael Jackson shot by Bruce Weber for the cover of L'Uomo Vogue in 2007. Oh wow, how did they get him? Please remember that some of our favorite stories in Fantastic Man featured women. We had Amanda Lear in menswear in the 2nd issue, in 2005, and a fashion series called Lesbian Looks in the 8th issue, in 2008.

For all its specificity, Fantastic Man is actually a highly inclusive magazine. People often ask us to describe the "quintessential Fantastic Man", which is impossible, of course. We don't apply some kind of house styling treatment to the men we celebrate. They are highly different, always unique, very much themselves, and come in all shapes and sizes - why would that exclude women?

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