Meet ‘Janice,’ a humor mag that wants to be weirder than the Internet

'It’s slightly reactionary.'

Feb 29, 2020, 11:18 am*

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Nayomi Reghay

In a world abundant with listicles and memes, it’s rare to sit down and leaf through a magazine. Why turn a page when you can scroll, baby, scroll?

The folks at Janice, an illustrated humor magazine, have launched a Kickstarter in order to give you the opportunity to do just that. They’ve built a strange new world and want you to be able to enter at your leisure, unencumbered by multiple open tabs, pop-up ads, or the incessant ding of notifications.

“At first the idea was it’s a f***ed up New Yorker,” Ryan Haney, co-editor and creator of the magazine, told the Daily Dot. “It has all the same pretensions but just a little off.”

Haney says the magazine truly came to life when he and co-creator Matthew Brian Cohen partnered up with illustrator Maëlle Doliveux. Doliveux’s illustrations are colorful and inviting, beautiful yet garish.

Maëlle Doliveux/Janice Magazine

“She turned our big jokes into really beautiful art,” said Haney. “[Maëlle] really makes it into this weird vision. She [gave us] a unifying voice.”

Their first issue, “2014: A Look Ahead,” was published in early 2015. It featured articles that fit its cheeky title, like “Take Action Against Climate Change, Without Letting Earth Get All Cocky About It,” “A Review of the Playstation 4 and My Own Wasted Potential,” and “Get Ready for a Whole Buncha Popes.”

Following the digital release of the inaugural issue, Haney and Cohen maintained Janice as a humor website. The writing skews absurd, but the humor is familiar: topical, quick, Web-appropriate. But Haney expressed an itch to do something bigger and stranger. 

“It’s slightly reactionary,” he said. “There’s a lot of really good humor writing on the Web, but you kind of just get these little pieces that are thrown up and a lot of things are topical or one-offs. We figured if we took it offline we could maybe make it something cool where you could find stuff that’s longer or darker or weirder than usual.”

Doliveux shared his sentiment. 

“I think that, as much as Internet culture is a wonderful thing that connects us to people around the world, and broadens our horizons, and shows us pool party bears, I think that it has also shortened our attention spans,” she said. “When people see a piece of writing online that extends past their scrollbar, it can be difficult to give that piece of writing a chance. When you have a printed book or magazine in front of you, you are making the time to enjoy that writing, and to let it surprise you.”

The second incarnation of the printed world of Janice is full of surprises. Janice contains a world where noir detectives are piles of pig meat who struggle to resist the urge to copulate with three layer cakes, classifieds advertise “reasonable psychics,” and poetry is heavily laced with L.A.’s premium grade prescription marijuana.

Haney, Cohen, and Doliveux want to deliver something funny and beautiful, and possibly even weirder than all the weird shit you can find on the Web.

The Kickstarter for Janice‘s second issue features reward levels that offer a peek into their strange world. At the $15 mark, you can select your copy of the magazine with the cover ripped off; sprayed with perfume; signed with the name (but not the actual autograph) of a Hollywood star; or topped with a smattering of onions, mustard, and “extra spread.”

Haney describes the magazine as a space influenced by other spaces they love. “We definitely take a lot of inspiration from places like McSweeney’s and the New Yorker,” he said, “but this is a place where you can be a little ruder.”

Image via Maëlle Doliveux/Janice Magazine

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*First Published: Feb 21, 2016, 4:08 pm