May 31, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 58°F


A local alternative

Those interested in learning about the closest place to purchase a sword, finding the best burgers in town or discovering where they can get their fortune told finally have somewhere to turn — Ithaca’s new magazine Ithaha.

Emily and Marshall Hopkins, publishers of the new magazine Ithaha, relax Saturday at their home downtown. The married couple was formerly on staff at the New Yorker magazine before coming to Ithaca to start the magazine. Diana Cowdery/The Ithacan

From sword shops and psychics, to cartoons and tasty burgers, articles featured in the new local magazine Ithaha aspire to raise a few eyebrows with sensible humor. First published Nov. 12, the colorful, glossy magazine is primarily made up of food reviews, style features, travel articles and cartoons.

The magazine’s publishers, Emily and Marshall Hopkins, are a married couple who met while working at The New Yorker. Marshall Hopkins, a former New Yorker editor, publishes cartoons for Ithaha, while Emily Hopkins, who worked as a fact-checker at The New Yorker, will bring her expertise to the magazine as well.

“The magazine is a place for people to find out about what’s noteworthy and amusing about Ithaca’s residents,” Emily Hopkins said.

More than 1,000 copies of the first issue of Ithaha magazine have been distributed at coffee shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and local retail stores in Ithaca. About 300 Ithaca College and Cornell University professors, politicians and business owners received complimentary copies in the mail in an attempt to raise the magazine’s profile.

Senior writing major Jenna Scatena said she’s glad the number of local publications is on the rise.

“It’s an interesting idea to have local revelations,” she said. “I was very impressed by the magazine’s design.”

The style section features a spread titled “Ithaca Is Gorgeous” — three pages dedicated to photographs of beautiful and well-dressed Ithacans.

Emily Hopkins has been working with the magazine’s photographer, Dave Burress, to stop fashionable people on the street to snap a shot of their attention-grabbing looks.

“What fun to open up a colorful, glossy magazine and see yourself, or your friends, or just beautiful people you wish you knew,” Emily Hopkins said.

She said cartoons are one key element that so many magazines forget about. The last issue featured two gag cartoons — single paneled cartoons as opposed to comic strips — reminiscent of the ones seen in The New Yorker’s pages.

“I can’t believe that more magazines don’t include cartoons,” Emily Hopkins said. “A good, funny cartoon brightens up any page.”

One of Marshall Hopkins’ favorite pieces in Ithaha’s debut issue was a feature titled “Who is the Most Powerful Ithacan?” The centerfold included a flow chart of cartoon heads of local officials such as Cornell University President David Skorton and County Legislator Louis Cassanti with a quotation on who they believe the most powerful person in the Ithaca community is.

Mostly local writers, from former Ithaca Times editor Jessica Del Mundo to award-winning poet Anna Pollack, contribute their humorous and investigative writing style to the magazine.

Paul Hansom, an Ithaca College English professor, wrote “I Have Tea in My Veins,” an article exploring the Ithaca tea scene that informs readers about where to find the best tea for the best price.

Hansom said there is definitely a place for a localized magazine like Ithaha in Ithaca.

“It reminds everybody there’s a lot of great things going on,” Hansom said. “Hopefully it will get people out exploring their surroundings.”

Emily Hopkins said fun and gossipy pieces, like the centerfold on power, always run the risk of offending people.

“Mistakes are almost inevitable,” she said. “But we try to check ourselves and adhere to high editorial standards.”

Emily Hopkins said she believes what boosts people’s morale and lifts their spirits is fearless honesty, bold humor and a tell-it-like-it-is editorial policy.

“I don’t want to put out a magazine that doesn’t raise some eyebrows,” she said.

The magazine is currently funded by the Hopkins, their relatives and advertising. The two plan to fund Ithaha entirely by local advertising.

Businesses reluctant to spend money on advertising because of the struggling economy could cause the magazine to fold.

“We’re counting on businesses seeing the value of an independent, entertaining voice and wanting to ride our coattails,” Emily Hopkins said.

Ithaha’s upcoming December/January issue, which will debut Monday, will include the “Best-Ever Ithaca Holiday Shopping Guide,” featuring the best gifts, for every budget, on any reader’s shopping list.

“It’s the kind of magazine, we hope, that people will hang on to, read cover to cover and talk about at work and parties,” Emily Hopkins said.