I almost didn’t answer the message. When Chris popped up asking if he could call, I was just pondering going to bed and wondered if it wasn’t something that could wait until the morning. Something, though, told me I should answer.
Chris wanted to pass on the news: our friend and former colleague Adam Banks had died the previous day, after suffering a sudden heart attack.
Adam was the second MacUser editor I worked under, after Stuart Price had recruited me out of college and straight into the basement of the MacUser labs. He had more influence, though, over the course that magazine was to take and more widely too: it’s fair to say that Banksy did more to move the design of technology magazines out of the dark ages of a PC on every cover than anyone else. But the design work he fostered pushed forward not just tech but all magazines, something that’s almost lost to memory today. When The Guardian made a MacUser cover one of its covers of the century in 2013, it wasn’t just about one cover: it was saluting 20 years of amazing and award-winning work.
The design culture Adam built, alongside creative director Paul Kurzeja, launched the careers of a bunch of fantastic young designers. How many computer magazines would have their staff profile pics by Rankin or Steve Double?
And that design-led ethos lasted for years, first under Karen Harvey, then me. I don’t think I was good at it, but even under me the impetus was strong enough for us to win a PPA Cover of the Year. I made our art editor, the brilliant Aston Leach, go up and collect it because it was far more his award than mine.
There’s a million stories about that era of MacUser. The time that our big boss Felix Dennis rang up the office to complain about a particularly abstract cover, while Adam was in San Francisco for a Macworld show, for example. Paul Price took the call and thought it was a prank, as it was his birthday. We wore the phrase that Felix had used to describe the cover — “Art Wank Shit” — with pride, and of course Adam laughed as much as the rest of us. I think he saw Art Wank Shit as what he was trying to achieve.
None of this really captures what a nice man Adam was, too. No matter what the level of stress — and magazine editing can be super-stressful — he still didn’t end up losing his temper or raising his voice about anything. I can’t tell you how rare that is in publishing.
I’m also not going to tell you the story of his stag night. Of course, Adam being Adam, this involved absolutely no unacceptable behaviour on his part (and the funniest part also needs mime actions to truly bring it to life).
He’ll be sadly, sadly missed by everyone that knew him.
Note: There won’t be a weeknote this week.