About a month and a half ago, the powers that be at GOOD Magazine promptly laid off six of the Los Angeles-based publication’s nine full-time staffers. Shortly thereafter, two more of them quit. In the time since, those eight erstwhile GOOD editors and designers have reconvened, begun work on an ambitious new project, and raised over $40,000.
That new project is Tomorrow, a single-issue magazine created by the former GOOD team and funded by Kickstarter. “It’s a chance for us to continue working together, which is something that we really loved about being a part of a team at GOOD,” says former GOOD executive editor Ann Friedman. “It’s a chance to take what might have otherwise been a stressing situation, take a little bit of control over it, and use it to create something awesome.”
Friedman can’t recall who came up with the initial idea, but it happened three days after the team was fired, when a few of the editors gathered at a neighborhood bar to commiserate. In an impressive demonstration of the relentless optimism so central to GOOD’s mission and appeal, they immediately began planning their next move. Before the tight-knit group parted ways, and with the distinct possibility that some would be forced to leave L.A. in the immediate future, they’d gather their talent for one final go at creating something together. They took to Kickstarter and funded the project in under five hours.
“I want this to be an artifact of where I was at this point in my life, and these people I worked with and really loved,” says former GOOD senior editor Cord Jefferson. “It’s nice that I’ll be able to have this thing that I can show my kids and show people for the rest of my life, this one last thing that I was able to put together with these people who are so important to me.”
Taking a “Next Big Thing”-themed issue the team produced for GOOD as a jumping off point, Tomorrow will focus on highlighting the things bubbling below the surface of mainstream culture, waiting to emerge. “What is on the cusp of becoming a big deal? What’s something, like a trend, or a person, or an idea, or a business, that has been slowly happening, maybe in a subculture, or maybe it’s just below the surface, that is going to effect a much greater group of people in the immediate future? That’s a frame that we’re thinking about for a lot of this,” says Friedman.
The editors hope that the freedom from advertisers and the pressure to maintain a viable business, afforded to them by the single-issue, Kickstarter-funded model, will make for a better, more creative product. They’ll be able to publish content that wouldn’t necessarily fly at a mainstream magazine–Jefferson mentions the sex- and porn-centric writing of Tomorrow co-founder Amanda Hess as an example–and won’t be plagued by the pressure to heavily feature big-name writers that’s sometimes felt at bigger publications.
Jefferson’s excitement about that freedom is palpable. “It means we can be may more weird, and a little bit dirtier, and a little bit more interesting than we have in the past,” he says. “For the foreseeable future, this is going to be the one time in our lives when we can just write whatever the fuck we want and not have to worry about what anybody else says.” For his part, Jefferson will be using the opportunity to write something that isn’t about race, the topic he’s most widely associated with. “I want to stay away from what people expect,” he says.
Production won’t start on Tomorrow until the Kickstarter money arrives later this month. In the interim, the team has been regularly updating its Tumblr and Twitter accounts, vetting freelance pitches, and holding informal, semi-regular meetings at the Echo Park coffee shop Fix. Jefferson mentions support from people at both the New York Times and the New Yorker, but the team is reluctant to name specific contributors.
A recent Tumblr update from the Tomorrow crew gives a preview. “We’re going to explain why economists and video game designers need each other,” it teases. “We’re going to find out what happens to teens (and tweens) who are scouted by college and pro sports teams before they’re old enough to drive. We’re going to diagram the human body of tomorrow, which is really more machine than man.”
There are no definite plans to continue working on the magazine after the one issue is published, but Jefferson and Friedman are hopeful that the team will stick together in some capacity– “even if that means, say, publishing a magazine together once every five years,” says Jefferson. “But as of now there’s no solid plan, which I think is exciting,” he continues. “The future is ours to decide right now, which is one of the main tenets at the heart of Tomorrow.”