Turn back the pages: Gail Anderson’s Michael Jackson scrapbooks

[Gail Anderson] I loved me some MJ in the early 1970s. This was the Michael Jackson of the ABC and I’ll Be There days, way before all the crazy. I loved all the brothers: Michael, Marlon, Jermaine, Tito and Jackie — the original Jackson 5. But it was Michael who made my young heart race. You could call it puppy love, but that would be quoting a Donny Osmond song, and any self-respecting Michael fan knows that’s just wrong.

My love for Michael Jackson knew no bounds. I remember entering a contest in 16 Magazine (my teen bible, along with sister publication, Spec) where fans were asked to design a costume for Michael, submit a letter and enclose a picture. The prize was, of course, a date with Michael. I’d like to report that my outfit and loving prose earned me those intimate moments with my beloved, but I never even got a rejection letter.

I still have a stack of those Spec and 16 mags (they were never called magazines), though many of the pull-out centerfold posters are long gone, having spent time taped to the pink walls of my bedroom in the Bronx. But lots of my Michael Jackson pictures from the early ’70s ended up in not one, but two scrapbooks that were salvaged from old photo albums that my mother discarded once people started switching over to those groovy sticky-page ones that you now can’t peel the pictures off and regret ever having bought.

I was going through some old stuff on the bottom shelf of my bookcase recently, and I pulled out a puffy green book with brittle kraft paper. I got a whiff of that great old book smell, and it was 1972 all over again. I couldn’t believe what I’d found, and was so pleased that I’d had the good sense to hang on to that little piece of my childhood: my Jackson 5 scrapbook. And then I was just a little creeped out to discover that I’d actually started a second one in a red scrapbook (but it looks like my affection was straying to Elton John about halfway through, since many of the pages were blank).

Look at the love that went into those Jackson 5 layouts. I mean, really. The juxtapositions! The silhouettes (except for the way I cropped poor Jermaine’s ’fro)! I added captions and embellishments to make my layouts sing! I wrote headlines and designed type! I made sure to give all of the brothers decent real estate — even Randy, who wasn’t an original member of the group, and whose afro was much less impressive. I cared.

My scrapbooks were held together with Scotch tape and Elmer’s glue, and I’m happy to report that all of the pictures are still in place. I’ve still got my original Jackson 5 Motown albums and Michael’s early solo efforts, along with a bunch of stray singles. And I’ve got my Spec and 16 mags, of course. It just wouldn’t be the same if these were all digital files and MP3s. Maybe that’s all “kids today” will have left of their Twilight and Jonas Brothers collections. But I sure hope not.

Gail Anderson is creative director/Design at SpotCo, the New York arts and live entertainment advertising and branding agency. An AIGA medalist, Anderson is one of America’s most prominent and accomplished graphic designers. She is a graduate of SVA and now teaches there.

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Comments (5)

  1. Posted by Laura T. on 07.9.10 at 12:26 pm

    These are great! Makes me want to burrow into my basement for evidence of my “Mrs. Paul McCartney” stage (yes, in fact there was engraved stationary involved)…My scrapbook included listings from the newspaper every time the Beatles were on television, a stock certificate for ONE share of stock in Apple (EMI) worth $4.75 upon purchase and which cost the company thousands in un-cashed dividend checks consecutively issued for $.08, then $.06 then $.04 EACH paying period and required invitations to their London stockholders’ meetings…the letter and signed photo from Jane Asher (Paul’s OTHER girlfriend at the time) who responded to my letter about “research” I was doing on English actresses… and of course articles from every imaginable magazine. Ah, those were the days….

  2. Posted by kristen b on 07.9.10 at 4:03 pm

    What fun!! MJ’s Dad might pay a pretty penny for this. Or someone else!! This belongs in MJ Hall of Fame.

  3. Posted by Beth W on 07.9.10 at 4:16 pm

    This is AMAZING! I love that your design genius was discovered at a young age via your Michael Jackson obsession. Classic. You can’t ask for more than that!

  4. Posted by Rena on 07.9.10 at 6:11 pm

    No wonder you are such a type designer. It all started with ABC. What a hoot. If you had found them a year ago you could have made a fortune.

  5. Posted by jen on 05.28.15 at 4:27 am


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