The best magazine covers of Christmas past

By Anna Doble
Newsbeat online editor

Published
image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive

In 2015 we saw some legendary magazine titles vanish from newsagent shelves.

Their declining physical sales are largely down to our obsession with reading stuff on our mobiles and online.

But before we start waving goodbye to magazines (made from paper) have a look at these Christmas specials.

There's Snoop Dogg "smoking" a candy cane. There's Liam Gallagher with angel wings. And there's a Prodigy elf.

This is what we found...

Stars dressed as Santa, lots of 'em

December and January magazines of the past feature a fair few celebrities dressed in fake fur and red nylon.

Here is Snoop Dogg in the Christmas issue of Rolling Stone a decade ago, proving that he, like Father Christmas, has been the same age since the dawn of time.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionMerry Snoopmas: How not to "smoke" a candy cane

This was Gwyneth Paltrow's sexy Mother Christmas look back in ye olde 2003...

image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionWhen in doubt, reach for the white fake fur

Rock god Mick Jagger jingled his bells on the cover of Record Mirror in 1977...

image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive

These Christmas specials are among a vast collection of 70,000 magazines about pop culture - dating back to 1910 - being sorted and scheduled to be digitised at the Hyman Archive in south London.

Subject to obtaining a special licence, the plan is to scan and tag every page of every publication and then plug that information into an epic database of pop culture. It's no wonder they need elves...

image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionNewsbeat gets some help tracking down long forgotten Christmas magazines that deserve to be seen

Way back in 1979 the man behind Band Aid was a pop star in his own right - Bob Geldof was the singer in the Boomtown Rats and a Christmas cover star.

Here he is bossing the oracle of pop music that was Smash Hits. The magazine helped launch thousands of pop careers from Kylie to the Spice Girls.

image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionYes, this magazine was aimed at children and young teenagers and yes they are necking enormous bottles of champagne
image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionRaging against the synth machines, it's electro legends Pet Shop Boys who seem delighted it's Christmas time again

And then there's this...

The December 1999 issue of High Times magazine, a publication all about... cannabis (and the campaign to legalise it).

Yes it really exists and is still going in the US.

image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionFather Spliffmas... ho hum

Things can and do get weirder...

This is the most unlikely Mixmag cover you will ever see and surely the only time in the dance mag's history that a man in a kilt featured on the front cover.

Who can spot the Radio 1 legend normally seen behind the decks in Ibiza?

image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionMixmag, the holy grail of dance music, in 1988. It literally has all gone Pete Tong. That's Dave Pearce next to him and Westwoooooooood at the back

Let's take a closer look at Mr Tong...

image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionDance music royalty disguised as a golf club dinner: Fresh-faced Pete Tong, with fellow DJ legend Dave Pearce behind him

When fur stocks run low, try angel wings

Magazine sales were so massive in 1995 that NME put out a choice of front covers - fans could choose between Liam from Oasis or Damon from Blur.

image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionI'm lovin' angels

A time when computer games looked like THIS

The Atari gaming console is your Xbox's great-great-great-great-great-granddad. Check out that Star Wars game at the bottom. #Want

image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionThis leaflet came inside the magazine below. We wish so much the Argos catalogue still looked like this
image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive

Liam Gallagher wrapping paper

In 1996, the NME helpfully gave its readers free wrapping paper featuring the gurning face of Liam Gallagher.

image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionWrap your mum's bath salts in this, go on
image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionFather Ted, choirstarter!

We found lots of weird cartoons

This cartoon featured on a festive front cover in 1997.

image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionLiam from the Prodigy as an elf, obviously

Here's the full cover. Yes, it's Liam and Noel AGAIN. Were there any other human males alive in the late 1990s?

image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionGallagher yule cagoules. To be fair, they wore these all year round

Meanwhile, the Easter Bunny got confused in 1988. We blame climate change.

image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionWe'd never heard of Mad magazine either but we already love it
image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionBeavis and Butthead magazine had a spanking Christmas in 1995
image copyrightBBC/Hyman Archive
image captionWe don't understand it but we love this enormous Santa on the cover of the New Yorker, 1997
image captionWhere the magic happens... that's 70,000 magazines right there, that is

Special thanks to James Hyman and Tory Turk at the Hyman Archive.

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