Ethan Switch - Friday, 5 December 2003
Scouring the obituaries leaves a sickly feeling of not having enough time in the day to ride shotgun in all those funeral processions. Time passes and the bodies move along into their destinations of burial or cremation. Gathering dust in much the same way a body left out would attract blowflies and kids on journeys of self-discovery, A Scent of Flowers Magazine, an A5 sized publication from Drake Publishing focussing on all things concerning funerals.
To glance at the publication itself beyond the words lights no indication as to the tone of the overall magazine. They have gone absolutely wild with using every font available to them and using all sorts of preset layouts. As a result of this, there is a high air of madcap fun using everything at the disposal. Nothing serious can really be accepted if the form presented is like a patchwork of several primary school newsletters or brochures.
Conflict is raised between the ads and the lack of indicia. A few ads are scattered about the place making calls for advertisers. This would suggest another issue is out there. But what of it? There's not much to look forward to as not even a mention is raised on the next issue. There is also no indication as to issue number specifics. With all that aside, leaving this out makes for a more standalone approach to the writing. The articles presented within cover all sorts of aspects in death from the coffins to cremations and probates to hearses. It would have to, there aren't any certainties to follow ups on articles.
Several product reviews pop up and do little in the way of review. No judgement is passed, no comparisons are made and no value is given. What transpires on each of these two page "product reviews" come off as nothing more than overviews. An example would be the wasted coffin reviews. Had there been something along the lines of a student editor testing out the comfort, strength and insulation of the lining, then, that'd be something. Instead, what's presented is at best a product catalogue subsection. Even that yielded little in the way of information.
As mentioned, layout is a problem with A Scent of Flowers. There is no cohesion to the articles and such they are mixed bed in a head of advertorials that aren't always clearly marked. In all the mess, the bite-sized articles even appear like ads or advertorials until referencing the contents. The feature article, "What do I do now? - A look at the funeral process," starts and stops and spreads itself out over a course of several pages with no easy break in the flow of writing.
Riding on the last page, which just happens to be numbered 66, are the contact details, cover explanation and standard roll of contributors. Why this is put in the back when it is normally one of the first pages of a magazine isn't clear. As expected, there is colour used on these glossy pages but the range is ludicrous. Like the fonts, pages are crammed with a wild array of colours. Most of the time just to change for change's sake. From the sheer lack of bylines you'd think that one person wrote all the articles. Clearly that can't be the case, unless the use of pseudonyms follows the path of the font types and colours used.
With all the asthetic problems aside, the articles themselves are fairly written albeit seemingly crammed for space and sponsored by the people or outfits mentioned in the articles. Breakout boxes along the way leave interesting tidbits, but that is the norm for most magazines. Amazingly, a single issue bears a lot of information on the different aspects associated with having to send someone off this plane. There is a lot covered in the magazine, but you wouldn't figure it to be based around funerals and death.
If you want my "review" copy and can find a way to contact me then I'll send it your way free of charge anywhere in the goddamn world. Unless of course, we've ever been in the same room or I've heard your voice.