30-Year Cover Retrospective: 1989-2019


SLUG Magazine has been a truly unique voice in Utah and independent journalism for over 30 years. Each month along the way since our inception, SLUG print-issue covers have represented the undulations of Salt Lake City’s and Utah’s local creative communities and the impressions of musical phenomena from the reaches of the world. From local to national to global music, to action sports and Utah-based film festivals, arts and entertainment in Utah have percolated in SLUG’s coverage. Physical SLUG Magazine issues provide a visual timeline of growth alongside that of the counter-cultural zeitgeist of SLC. A kaleidoscope of SLUG covers is the result.

In this, our 30th Anniversary Edition’s “30-Year Cover Retrospective,” we’ve selected a cover from each year of the magazine’s existence. With each issue, we entreat you to take in the different eras of SLUG in an earnest curation of some of our favorite covers. Find in the following pages one standout cover from each year of SLUG since 1989. Local characters and rockist underdogs abound; contemporary, colorful, expressive illustrations juxtapose with the black-and-white grit of early photos; and the dark and sinister waltz with what’s warm and human in this menagerie of covers.

If you have a favorite issue or cover from SLUG’s storied history, our archive issues can be found on SLUGMag.com at SLUGMag.com/issues.


Issue 2 – Jan. 1989 – January of 1989 features a flyer for the Danzig, Victims Willing and Bad Yodelers show on Friday the 13th at Speedway Cafe. The iconic Danzig skull appears alongside six Misfits Crimson Ghost skulls underneath the first-ever design for SLUG’s logo. This DIY show-flyer motif would be mimicked until 1990.

Issue 24 – Dec. 1990 – What’s black and white and red all over? The December 1990 issue of SLUG. This two-year anniversary edition features red ink and is the first SLUG Mag ever to sport a color. On the cover is an evolved SLUG logo and design, and features HateXNine’s Khristmas in Kuwait album art doused in dripping blood.

Issue 31 – July 1991 – July 1991 depicts local, straightedge-hardcore number Iceburn in their first incarnation, originally composed of musicians from Insight and Better Way. While they lived under the straightedge label, their music pushed the boundaries of what would be considered “straightedge music” at the time by incorporating jazz, blues and experimental influences.

Issue 42 – June 1992Decomposers were darlings of the SLC music scene, affording them this June ’92 cover story. The music-review equation for Decomposers band may well have been “Decomposers = The Gun Club + Nirvana + Gravedigger V.” The layout’s skulls correspond swimmingly photo’s wraithlike shutter drag. Throw in some ghouls, and Decomposers’ spirit comes to the fore.

Issue 54 – June 1993N.S.C. (National Security Council) was Utah’s premier anarcho-hardcore band in the early ’90s. This inverted band-photo cover bespoke the far-left ideals of each member found in the cover story. Instead of an interview, each N.S.C. musician expressed their respective, grim outlooks on humanity and Western culture in personal essays.

Issue 68 – Aug. 1994 – With biting momentum and speed, SLUG’s 68th issue hit the streets with Jared Eberhardt’s beautifully sleek graphic at the forefront. Developed through a combination of a hand-drawn cartoon of a woman on a (then) modern Vespa and 1994’s graphic-design software (Mac Quadra 650 and Aldus Freehand), Eberhardt created August ’94’s eye-catching cover.

Issue 81 – Sept. 1995 – Sweet and to the point, the September issue from 1995 focuses on legendary punk quartet the Ramones. The interview within the mag, written by SLUG writer Madd Maxx, discusses the history of the Ramones, with first-person storytelling from Marky and Joey Ramone about how they were the sons and, eventually, the “godfathers” of punk.

Issue 96 – Dec. 1996SLUG had true shock value in the ’90s, a time before social media, when SLC was still largely dominated by conservative cultural forces. This creepy Santa Claus marionette took a jab at capitalist-fueled consumerism. The mag’s inside content was normal music content, with this Santa as a face for our then wry voice.

Issue 108 – Dec. 1997 – 1997’s December issue depicts the faces of beloved punk band Descendents—especially so since guitarist Stephen Egerton and bassist Karl Alvarez were Utah locals. It matches the layout design of the interview inside, following the same color scheme and repeating motif. This cover was used in anticipation for the Descendents show at Club DV8.

Issue 115 – July 1998 – The July 1998 cover pictures Black Flag vocalist Henry Rollins—veritably hyping up the interview inside. In the first segment of this two-part interview, Rollins discusses his various books and the release of Solipsist. This was the second time that Rollins appeared on the cover of SLUG—and it wouldn’t be the last!

Issue – 128 – August 1999Melvins took over our cover with King Buzzo shredding on his guitar. SLUG Writer RDJ recaps their show at Club DV8 from the month prior before Buzzo and drummer Dale Crover discuss early musical influences, band evolution and their (at the time) upcoming releases. Still active and wicked, we continually anticipate Melvins’ next moves.

Issue 143 – Nov. 2000 –In 2000, Salt Lake City had yet to become the burgeoning metropolitan area it is today. Outspoken former Mayor Rocky Anderson—SLC’s first truly liberal leader—sought to progress SLC out of the draconian state it was in before the 2002 Winter Olympics. SLUG Executive Editor Angela H. Brown photographed the soon-to-be nationally known Anderson.

Issue 155 – Nov. 2001Motörhead’s music and iconography have engendered outright fanaticism. In anticipation of a then rare SLC show, frontman Lemmy Kilmister told SLUG about arcane details of his storied, debauchery-ridden past. Though Motörhead didn’t play the show at Bricks (legend has it that the stage was too small for Kilmister’s liking), Motörhead’s relevances persists.

Issue 162 – June 2002 – At some point, almost every kid who grew up punk in the 2000s liked leftist punk group Anti-Flag. Camilla Taylor created this illustration and screenprint of Warped Tour band Anti-Flag for this cover amid staunch, Bush-era nationalism, hearkening to the punk roots of SLUG covers all the while.

Issue 175 – July 2003Leia Bell’s Rilo Kiley drawing brings readers to Bell’s prominent aesthetic featured in SLC staples like Kilby Court during the early 2000s. Much like Bell’s popular show posters, the 175th issue cover lists the bands The Suicide Machines, The Gossip, COSM and Foil Kit Lampy in addition to Rilo Kiley being the cover story.

Issue – 182 – Feb. 2004 – In anticipation of the first-ever Salt Lake City Tattoo Convention and SLUG’s 15th birthday, the two concepts became one as a Sailor Jerry–inspired, traditional flash-tattoo design. Inside the mag, SLUG Writer Jennifer Nielsen interviews Keet D’Arms and Nate Drew from Lost Art Tattoo about how they managed to put the convention together.

Issue 194 – Feb. 2005Bob Moss was a locally beloved, eccentric folk hero who passed away in 2011. In addition to a plethora of banjo music, he created our “Sweet Sixteen” cover in his inimitable outsider-art style. What’s more, much the cover’s script was in the Brigham Young–invented Deseret Alphabet, on which Moss was an expert.

Issue 206 – Feb. 2006 – For our 17th anniversary, SLUG Lead Designer Paul Butterfield incorporated an old childhood birthday photo of SLUG reader Ben Fox. Fox actually wore this wacky shirt and racing helmet with his birthday cake. We recognized it as a pure, individualist expression that matched our promotion of the selfsame ideal.

Issue 226 – Oct. 2007Chris Swainston photographed this issue cover six feet under in a grave excavated by hand while Travis Dinsmore buries the viewer alive for our ghostly Utah Folklore Issue. A bricolage of orange, black and sepia tones invokes a distant, hazy feeling of stories passed through time—much like Utah’s folktales.

Issue 237 – Sept. 2008 – Local artist Sri Whipple’s use and manipulation of cool and warm color shapes the diabolical visage in this oil-painted cover. It sets the mood for the issue’s cover story on local band The Vile Blue Shades. The cover story discusses the history of The Vile Blue Shades and their impact on the music scene in SLC.

Issue 250 – Oct. 2009 – If you’re involved with local music in Utah, you know recording engineer Andy Patterson. For this local audio-engineering issue, photographer David Newkirk captured the scrappiness of Patterson’s studio, where he’s recorded countless local bands and a respectable amount of national acts. With all his own bands, too, Patterson is a living local legend.

Issue 258 – June 2010 –Round Three of SLUG’s annual Beer Issue helped solidify a yearly tradition that continually highlights local brewers and all things hoppy, frothy and bubbly. Illustrated by Manuel Aguilar, the 2010 Beer Issue cover is a pastiche of ’50s-esque horror-film posters, featuring many SLUG teamsters running away from beer monsters.

Issue 274 – Oct. 2011SLUG illustrator Sean Hennefer captured the kitsch and quirk of John Waters. Bright hues of green, yellow and pink all pop from the page, illustrating the “Pope of Filth,” a silhouetted Divine, cigarette smoke and—of course—pink flamingos and palm trees (nodding to his controversial film, Pink Flamingos) in an unsettlingly bright and distorted manner.

Issue 282 – June 2012 – In spring 2012, Torche had recently released their Harmonicraft album. This record comprises forward-thinking metal as colorful as this cover by Sean Hennefer. What’s more, Torche later used the illustration for band T-shirts, and it also graced the SLUG team’s T-shirts for the Utah Pride Festival’s LGBTQ+ parade in which we marched.

Issue 294 – June 2013 – As a nod to SLUG Magazine’s sports coverage, this cover is a shot by SLUG skate photographer Weston Colton. The black-and-white layout frames skater Forrest Huber performing a backside 180 over a weathered fire hydrant. The cover story about Huber on the centerfold of the issue mirrors this cleancut layout style.

Issue 307 – July 2014Kilby Court celebrated their 15th year as one of Salt Lake City’s most beloved all-ages venues in 2014. Owners Will Sartain and Lance Saunders trace the number “15” with sparklers, appropriately capturing a cause for celebration. The photo was taken by Russel Albert Daniels.

Issue 321 – Sept. 2015 – This Eat Local Week Issue is the only of its kind—however, it catalyzed SLUG’s annual Food Issue thereafter. Squid Vishuss uses food as a common theme in her artwork. Her work recalls characters like Strawberry Shortcake, and she is known as an advocate for body positivity and promoting self-love.

Issue 328 – April 2016 – Record Store Day brews up warm, fuzzy feelings in any music lover’s heart—including SLUG Magazine’s. Illustrated by Ryan Perkins, the vibrancy of this cover and design through the use of joyful colors like bright blues and yellows depicts the excitement Record Store Day and the dreams that spring can bring.

Issue 339 – March 2017 – With style and grace, Heidi M. Gress captured this image for the Local Fashion cover. Models (L–R) Donat Mouélé and Ashtyn Beadles model clothing from Davis Hong and McKell Maddox, with hair and makeup by Amber Pearson. For the 28th Anniversary of SLUG, it’s the perfect depiction of SLUG’s elegant maturity.

Issue 357 – Sept. 2018 Trent Call illustrated the late Anthony Bourdain in his signature sketch style, framed in a sea of blue. We not only featured a reflection from SLUG writer James Bennett on his experience interviewing Bourdain, but we also capture the chef’s impactful influence with quotes in each food article of this Food Issue.