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Australia’s post-depression resurgence from 1935 to 1939 coincided with a change in the tempo of public thought and the arrival of new pictorial magazines like Pix which gave the public new ways to imagine Australia and themselves. By the early 1930s, nearly all the magazines previously published in Australia had ceased production and only a handful of the well-established titles from the turn of the century were still in circulation.
Pix played an important role in the post-war aspirations which shaped Australian’s and their sense of national identity, albeit in a playful, light-hearted manner. At the price of sixpence, the heavily illustrated magazine featured a uniquely Australian mix of scandal, sensationalism, human-interest stories, fashion, politics, culture and entertainment. Its boldly designed covers included a black and white photo, showcasing a Hollywood starlet, fresh-faced Aussie girl (often in a swimsuit) or quirky animal, shot along with attention-grabbing text .
Pix provided many local professional and amateur photographers with an additional source of income by offering top rates for ‘unusual pictures which have not appeared elsewhere’. One of the magazine’s best features was its focus on Australian content with pages of Aussie jokes and cartoons as well as international photo stories. Proudly proclaiming ‘There's knowledge in PIX - every week’, the magazine’s ‘Photo Crime’ series asked ‘how good a detective are you?’, tempting readers to examine the pictures closely for clues to see if they could solve the crime, as well as including a ‘Check What you've learned’ quiz and crossword puzzle in each issue.
Pix also favoured more liberalised attitudes towards sex in its articles and, following in the wake of the late 60s and 70s sexual revolution, became even more daring with its covers and content – often running stories focused on adultery, hedonism and nudity. At the height of its popularity in the 60s and 70s, Pix magazine was read by millions of Australians. The proliferation of tabloid periodicals like Pix, saw the launch of Australasian Post (1946-96) and People (1947-68); so similar in content were Pix and People that the two titles actually merged in 1971.
Every issue of Pix from 29 January 1938 to 25 December 1954, has been digitised and made fully searchable online as part of the State Library's Digital Excellence Program. This is a major initiative supported by the NSW Government.
By Margot Riley, Curator, Research and Discovery, State Library of New South Wales, 2017