Survival by rebellion

“If you have difficulty remembering our names, you can call us ‘tall guy’, ‘four eyes’ and ‘fatty’,” says Roy Tsui with a smirk as he points to his teammates, the spectacled Seven Chan and the stronger-built Bu Yiu, who signal at the familiar calls of their humorously self deprecating nicknames.

It’s no surprise the trio of lyrist-cum-writer Tsui and the ex-DJs are quirky, given their brainchildren are the latest cynical Chinese social commentary magazines, the monthly Black Paper and the weekly 100 Most – the latter which broke even and then showed a
profit within only three months after its launch in March and is now looking to extend its print run from 90,000 to 100,000.

As well, its official website features only brief instructions on how to purchase its back issues at a price double its retail dollars.

The lifestyle magazine is divided into 100 small blog-like blurbs that include current events, celebrity profiles, fashion tips, factual studies, how-to guides, lists, crosswords, food/app/advertising campaign/movie/book/music reviews as well as celebrity columns that are all wittily written and laid out in a photo-shopped jungle of graphics, cartoons, digital illustrations and wacky photographs (one popular layout of late, for example, was a Q&A interview in a Whatsapp conversation).

All these gimmicks, says the trio, are part of the 100 Most package that gives it its popularity.

“We are a magazine for the public; we’re about pop culture, and we relate to everything starting from the second you get out of bed,” says Tsui.

100 Most doesn’t really have a demographic, it’s suitable for the young at heart.  So, our format and our writing, service a sector or reading pleasures different than that of long-form journalism,” Chan says.

“Everyone wants to be innovative: magazines’ long-form writing is to offer something new in the market; it’s, in their way, a form of survival. But a lot of people in the market are already doing it,  so our strategy is to package it completely differently. I don’t think
in-depth journalism is a problem, it’s just not new.

“Look at it this way, 100 Most is sort of like the dessert in the world of media. If you only read mainstream media, you’d have a very bitter way of looking at life, but you can’t survive only on the dessert either.

“We like to educate people about our society. If they already know about the news, we hope they’ll be at least entertained by our take of it.”