This edition of Entertainment Weekly inaugurates what we expect will be an exciting annual feature of the magazine-a double issue devoted entirely to the world of popular music, from Soundgarden to Johnny Cash-but it also marks a difficult farewell. The pages herein are among the last to be massaged, molded, worried about, nitpicked, and generally overseen by Michael Grossman, 35, EW's unique and ubiquitous design director. Michael is leaving to become a partner and creative director at Meigher Communications, where he will preside over the launch of several new magazines and information services. Because we know Michael, we know he'll do well. A veteran backpacker, accomplished skier, and pretty good cook, Grossman grew up in Berkeley, Calif., and began his career at the advanced age of 18. He has designed or edited some 20 publications-from dailies to annuals, from books to comics, from scholarly journals to mass-market publications. Since signing on as a member of EW's founding staff in 1989, Michael has been responsible for the entire look of the magazine, from the bars of color that differentiate the review sections to the bold splashiness of our features to the energetic, info-packed visual style of ''The Week'' pages. As the magazine's appearance evolved, his innovative design and pioneering use of illustrations won EW dozens of awards, inspired any number of imitators (just check your local newsstand), and brought us two prestigious National Magazine Award nominations for design, in 1992 and '93. In short, Michael's fingerprints are all over every page of this magazine, from cover headlines (he wrote most of them this year) to sidebars. He even edited our recent story on the future of entertainment, and we're going to miss his enthusiasm, dedication, and passion for our common enterprise. ''Good editors think visually,'' says Michael. ''Good designers think journalistically. I think we've done that at EW-it's been a great community to be a part of.'' Fortunately, we get to welcome back a former member of that community as Michael's successor. Early next month Robert Newman, the design director of New York's Village Voice newspaper, will return to EW, where he last worked in 1991 as senior art director. Early in his career, Bob was editor/cofounder of seminal Seattle music monthly The Rocket, and he has also worked at publications as varied as Guitar World and Newsweek. During his earlier sojourn at Entertainment Weekly, Bob was largely responsible for, among other things, designing our lively News & Notes section. ''I'm excited to be returning, because EW is now the visual standard by which all weekly magazines are judged-and Michael should get credit for creating this fusion of contemporary design and sharp editorial content,'' says Bob. ''The challenge for me is to take what Michael's done and continue to present readers with a very exciting and provocative look.'' We know Bob is equal to that challenge, and we look forward to his return and great days ahead.
James W. Seymore Jr., Managing Editor