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Fanservice Cover

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When a magazine is known for content unrelated to sex appeal, then the occasional cover with one is not a case of Covers Always Lie, but Fanservice. Most readers know the content will be mostly the same, and it's (usually) more of a thank you to the readers than a ploy for more sales (which is usually Magazine Decay).

Key points of this trope:

  1. It's for a periodic publication, like Magazines (so that there are covers without fanservice).
  2. The subject of the publications is largely unrelated to sex.
  3. Most issues do not have covers like this. Most covers are about the magazine's typical subject matter.
  4. It's not to deceive readers (usually).

A Sub-Trope of Sexy Packaging.


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  • The picture is from the Holiday 2001 issue of "Playstation Magazine" (not to be confused with "Official Playstation Magazine"), which has Keira in Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy in a really skimpy Sexy Santa Dress, complete with a bare midriff and a Cleavage Window (this was before a later game revealed that she was fourteen at this time).
  • The Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit issue is basically an entire issue like this, as a big service to its fans.
    • The 50th Anniversary issue featured two covers - the main one had Nina Agdal, Lily Aldridge and Chrissy Teigen; flip it over and say hello to Kate Upton (for her third cover in a row, technically) as a big service to her fans.
  • PSM used to have its own "swimsuit issue" à la Sports Illustrated.
  • The old ZX Spectrum magazine Your Sinclair got into trouble for doing this in 1988. Well, if the featured game is Vixen (it was crap), why not slap a Page Three Stunna with a leopard-print bikini and a whip on the front cover. They followed it sometime later with Dolph Lundgren as He-Man just as scantily clad, to which they got near zero complaints. WHSmith still put both of them on the top shelf because of their covers, though. The magazine writers called people out on this hypocrisy and then stopped printing complaints about the Vixen cover.
  • Time had an issue on childbirth in 2010. What better to represent an article called "How the first nine months shape the rest of your life" than a totally nude pregnant model covered only by her hands and strategically placed shadows?
  • Newsweek:
    • Having an article on health with a gymnast in a tank top and biker shorts posing on the cover.
    • Another Newsweek example: they got into a flap with Sarah Palin by putting a photo of her in track shorts on their cover.
  • Many issues of the S(cience) F(iction) X magazine have gorgeous women in seductive poses, with the top of their heads conveniently covering the bottom of the F, so it looked like an "E", which changed the acronym's interpretation a lot. The magazine itself has articles on things like sci-fi authors and Battlestar Galactica.
    • Readers of SFX have complained about this for years; the bottom of the F tends to get covered a lot. When the American Godzilla (1998) movie came out, they put the magazine in a black wrapper and had the subtitle "Bigger is better".
  • Focus, at least in Italy. You can put a bet on taking any cover in the last five years, and find at least a topless healthy woman. Full frontal, full back and CG are not rare at all. It's a scientific magazine, so, thrice a year, there is a article about "How to do better sex".
  • Cube issue 49 reviewed WWE: Day of Reckoning and to celebrate, put Christi Hemme in underwear on the cover.
  • Actually invoked deliberately by Hideo Kojima when he marketed the original Metal Gear Solid. Yoji Shinkawa was contacted to draw magazine covers for game mags promoting the game, and Kojima reportedly asked him to make sure that most, if not all, of the art had at least one sexy woman in it. Shinkawa notoriously dislikes drawing women, and did an artwork made up entirely of the game's sexy women to satisfy Kojima, probably as reductio ad absurdium. The art campaign was even nicknamed 'Lover's Rock' by the staff, presumably after the song by The Clash about meaningless sex for the man's pleasure as opposed to genuine romance (which the game was actually about).
  • The British SF short story magazine Interzone had a couple of (rather atypical) bimbo covers in the late 2000s, which caused some complaints from readers about sexism and/or being embarrassed to read the issues in public. They did however balance it with one cover showing a beefy man in Stripperific Gothwear having blood drained from him. (Note that the covers are traditionally not related to any specific story in the issue.)
  • The Play Magazine Muramasa: The Demon Blade cover. While the cover does show a scene that can happen (the octopus is a bonus boss), your character will not get their clothes torn off and nearly raped like this cover would have you believe.
    • Play, when they still existed, used to provide an entire magazine of pinups, Girls of Gaming. Interestingly, it was more fun to see the artists give love to obscure or long-forgotten characters (such as Annet) than it was to bask in the titillation.
  • Hobby Consolas pulled off one for issue #69 (of all numbers). In a twist of fate, it's their least sold issue (out of over 200).
  • Heavy Metal magazine, which features fantasy and science fiction comics, used various cover subjects in its early years. But it found that issues with pin-up covers sold better and gradually all of its cover subjects became scantily attired women. It helps that the magazine's founder and EIC is married to B-movie maven Julie Strain, as 90% of most of these covers seem to be modeled after her.
  • The February 2002 and August 2005 "Heal Your PC" covers of Maximum PC featured a babe in a nurse outfit applying a stethoscope to a computer.
  • T3 magazine frequently has bikini clan women on the cover, which, by their own admission, is to stop them being placed with all the boring technical mags.
    • Other shiny-gizmo mags such as Stuff followed this trend.
  • PC Format usually has a woman on the magazine's cover as a matter of course.
  • Men's Health is a magazine about male fitness, so they usually have, well, a healthy-looking man on the cover. As expected, Women's Health does the same thing, except with a woman.
  • Gay magazine Attitude does the same thing for different reasons.
  • National Lampoon: The first issue had a randy-looking young woman in a revealing costume on the cover, labeled "Sexy Cover Issue".
  • Rolling Stone: Most people featured on the cover are shown in a cool, badass, sexy or otherwise glamorous pose. Two famous examples are Jim Morrison (The Doors) featured with his shirt off and Janet Jackson nude, with her then-husband covering her breasts while standing behind her.
  • The July 2002 issue of anime magazine Animerica, the "swimsuit issue", featured a bit of Faye Valentine eye candy on the front cover.
  • Standby Say You! for the PlayStation is an indie game where you're an anime director coaching a trio of voice actresses, with the entire gameplay being dedicated on recording voices, placing them on simulated tracks, and trying to get the best take available. The fanservice-y cover depicting three anime girls (which are supposed to be the lead actresses in anime forms) in skimpy swimsuits and bikinis suggests otherwise. What's even worse that despite the anime art on the cover, the gameplay is entirely in live-action!
  • Dragon usually averted this even when putting women in fantasy outfits on the cover, but one infamous April issue from the mid 00s was done by Phil Foglio and had Dixie in her evil phase with her back to the cover and an outfit that really didn't cover her lower half. It was actually so fanservicy that that particular issue was sold in brown plastic bags.
  • As seen in this image, the very first issue of Popular Photography back in 1937 featured a showering woman on the cover, assets obscured by a strategically-placed towel. This was not necessarily representative of the contents or typical of later covers.