Cycle World fires “Song of the Sausage Creature” art director

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sausage-creature

It’s ironic, but Hell For Leather seems to be the publication of record for any items involving print motorcycle magazines these days, i.e. the whole “Dexter Chronicles” affair and the busted Kawasaki ZX-10R embargo. So the following may be of interest. Elaine Anderson, Cycle World‘s longtime art director, is no longer with the magazine, a move lost in all the recent firings and bloodletting at the Newport Beach offices. Given the shoddy way I was shown the door after 25 years at CW, I doubt Elaine will get the send-off she deserves. Loyalty and long service don’t seem to count for much anymore.

Until late last year David Edwards was the longtime editor-in-chief of Cycle World magazine. Lately, he’s not the only one to feel the pointy end of parent company Hachette’s boot. This past August, the publisher, ad manager, ad coordinator and senior ad man all got the heave-ho. We also hear the marketing guy, in an apparent fit of self-preservation, is jumping ship. Now we find out that among the missing is Elaine Anderson, the magazine’s award-winning art director. — Ed.

When I took over as editor-in-chief in 1988,  back in the hoary old pre-Internet days, newsstand sales — always an indicator of a magazine’s viability — needed to improve. To that end, we became as timely as we could, often turning around a major cover story in a week or less to get the news in the earliest issue possible. All that hard work by the edit staff would come to naught, though, if the story looked like it was just thrown at the page last-minute. Elaine was there to make sure that didn’t happen. There may have been better art directors (though I can’t think of any), there may have been quicker art directors, but there has never been a better, quicker moto-mag art director.

On a smaller scale, Elaine was responsible for the look of perhaps the most memorable story ever to run in any motorcycle magazine, Hunter S. Thompson’s “Song of the Sausage Creature.” She insisted that the story needed longtime HST collaborator Ralph Steadman’s artwork and worked with him on the unforgettable lead illustration.

During my tenure at the magazine, Cycle World became the largest-circulation motorcycle monthly in the world, and a large part of that success was due to Elaine Anderson.  As she leaves the magazine after 26 years, I just wanted to make sure she got her due.

This article represents the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the position of HellForLeatherMagazine.com or any of its parent companies, subsidiaries, or affiliated organizations.

  • jake

    Good to see people getting the recognition they deserve.

  • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

    What’s happening there is as unfortunate as many of the other terrible choices made around the industry. David, cheers for being a stand up guy about this. Grant and Wes, the tasteful editor notes are appreciated. And I hope Elaine finds a more grateful home.

  • http://thewriteratlarge.com Sheryl Bussard

    David Edwards in Hell for Leather; how cool is that? Of course, the subject matter is awful news; really sorry to hear about Elaine. She’s as iconic as you and Larry and the others. Hope you’re well – sendind good vibes from Sandpoint, Idaho.

  • BuellDoc

    Loyalty and long service don’t count with this generation,their is someone in the wings always to take your place. No one is valuable, just a number to delete.

    • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

      Painfully true in the corporate world.

  • johnb

    The pie has definitely shrunk. You two were here for some excellent years for sure, though, and 25 years will go down in history as the longest reign by far for an EIC at CW if history gives us any clue. And you are both missed, sniff…
    Speaking of good years, what was the budget for the HST/Ralph Steadman story anyway!? The mind boggles at how times have changed… (interesting sidenote: the CW editor who put that story together, Brenda Buttner, is now a business analyst at FOX News).
    Slurping a piquant Charles Shaw Shiraz and toasting both of you, someday we’ll meet again at a great Diamandis Christmas Party in the sky… Cheers!

  • CafeRacer8509001200

    Cycle World has slipped away from me over the years. I still subscribe, but when that runs out I’m probably done. The magazine no longer really relates to me. I almost never go to their website. Maybe I’m a luddite, but I prefer to turn the pages. I like to bounce from one end to the other then back again. I still like opening the mailbox to find it. I’m in my later 40′s. I own three bikes and I’m a gear whore. I should be the poster boy for their demographics,and they’re losing me. “Song of the Sausage Creature” was so controversial back in the day. I loved it! That is one issue I saved.
    So, why are they losing me? Seriously, the only things I look forward to every month is Kevin Cameron and 25 Years Ago. Kevin never fails to fascinate and I often remember those old issues. Bless Peter Egan’s heart, I used to hang on his every word but lately his columns are so similar. I’ve already read about how he sold one bike, bought it back, drank a beer and looked at it in is garage. Shoot, didn’t he already do that a few years ago with the same bike he’s writing about now? Road tests are nearly useless to me. The only time I look at them is to Google a particular bike I might buy. I already know the race results that I care about.
    This world is full of unique personalities and untold stories. Surely, enough of them have an element of bikes to them to justify a feature driven magazine independent of being scooped? I still lament the loss of the short-lived Twistgrip magazine. Maybe they were just ahead of their time? Build one like that, and I’ll be back. Give me something to READ!

    Dave, you did a great job at that magazine. All of you did. I’m sorry it’s ending this way for you. Hell, I’m sorry it’s ending this way for Cycle World.

    • http://spitgrtzr.tumblr.com/ Guzzi Mutt

      Cafe man is right- (prolly cause we’re the same age?). I look at the transformation BikeExif is making from dead-cool pictures into some pretty interesting interviews of folks I’ve never heard of but are completely fascinating to read about.
      I don’t think print is dead by any means- there’s is nothing like having something to flip through, stuff in your bag and toss on the floor to pick up later- and of course the internet is always going to trump print for racing-news-timely-ness; but give me something to read and engage me.

  • just_james

    That article is the reason I subscribed to CW and have owned a red ’95 SS/SP for the past 5 years. It was articles like that, and the helmet testing issues, that pushed CW above and beyond and made me subscribe and keep subscribing even while I was in the military and moving all around the world.

  • Knife

    I get too many moto mags now. I need to drop one. I’ll start with Cycle World. If enough subscribers do this, maybe they will get a taste of what it feels like to fire outstanding, loyal, longterm employees.

  • jt nesbitt

    David- JT here. I just wanted to comment on “Sausage Creature”. It was in my opinion one of the finest works ever to be published in ANY motorcycle magazine. I think that it had such a profound affect on me that it drove me to explore motorcycling from a completely different and perhaps more enlightened angle. You hit the ball out of the park, as an editor, it was perhaps your finest work. Deeply imactful and challenging. I remember all of the guys at Iron Horse really going nuts over it.
    I am also terribly grateful for the chance you took on me. You allowed me, a virtual stranger to express myself (for better or worse) in a manner that launched the greatest adventure I have ever had. You have a fiend for life here in New Orleans. — JT

  • Cajun58

    Good on ya David that is a proper framing of an illustrious and exceptional career.
    I trust that Ms Anderson’s considerable talent will successfully bring her into the next stage of life.

  • ltgesq

    Cycle world has been inferior to the british mags for ages. They at least call a crappy bike what it is. As well, there are used bike comparisons, gear testing, and loads more page space devoted to road racing.
    Cycle world is (and has been) a showcase for new bike sales–period. Its attempt to spread itself throughout the various areas of biking left it without enough brand identity to survive–especially with the page size and number limitations it has.

  • david.edwards

    Thanks to all for the kind comments, good to see some familiar names among the responses. Just talked to Elaine; she’s jazzed too. She can be reached at elaineanderson@me.com, btw, for those in need of quality art direction…and aren’t we all?

    I would be remiss if I didn’t point out a couple of things: 1) Those helmet-testing stories mentioned were actually done the crew at Motorcyclist, the aforementioned Dexter Ford in particular. 2) Not that I feel any particular need to defend Cycle World these days, but that whole, “The Brit magazines are better” prattle gets old. Far as word skills, CW’s John Burns (johnb above) could write any three Brit journos under the table using only half his keyboard, imho.

    Finally, Hunter Thompson and my great regret. Not long after “Sausage Creature” was printed, he was New Orleans and left a boozy late-night recording on my phone, requesting a motorcycle. “Dave, get me a Triumph Speed Triple,” he slurred. “I shall ride that fucker flat-out 24 miles across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.”

    Not wanting to be the person responsible for the Death of Gonzo, I never acted on the request. Had I known he was going to off himself a few years later…

    • pplassm

      Great story, Dave, Thanks! I’d have lent him mine, just to see it done.

  • webman

    DE:

    The song of the sausage creature was the best article I’ve ever read in a magazine of any kind, motomag or otherwise. My second-favorite was John Burns’ wonderful turn as a latter-day mickey spillane character during his review of the then-new ducati M900 monster; it was these two articles that led me to buy the first M750 monster sold in the PHX area. The writing, and your editing, was what made me cancel all my other motomag subscriptions. Why H-F decided to cut your team loose is beyond me. If they decide to can JB, KC, and PE, I’ll burn my collection.