The Next Month Strip
AP01 to AP32
The Next Month Strip, a vertical stripe down the back cover against the spine, came about because AP was the first Super A4-sized mag. A singular honour, you'll agree, and instantly marking it out as special and different, except at the last possible moment we realised all the expensive, glossy back cover ads the Ad Department had just sold in advance for the first six months were still ordinary A4.
Thus, to prevent an embarrassment of thinness, the extra space on the final page was taken up by the Next Month Strip. It worked jim-dandily, preventing the usual tedium of Next Month Pages with its inflexible four line/single oblong screenshot format and ingeniously concealing our evolutionary bungling.
Like a bag of satsumas, however, the Next Month Strip's time was over all too soon. Advertisers had had new expensive, glossy back cover ads made and weren't particularly happy to see us cover bits of them up, and - erk - we'd acquired a Next Month Page proper. More importantly, we were now establishing the accepted AP work schedule of three weeks of endemic laziness followed by everything hammered out in the last two days then something going wrong at the printers/disk duplicators/shop down the road so the issue went on sale late, and having "Next issue on sale Thursday 23rd September!" displayed prominently on the back cover instead of decently hidden away in a blob somewhere on the contents page where you had to make a conscious effort to find it before glancing at a calendar and muttering, "Tch," was increasingly hazardous from a tiresomely outraged postbag point of view.
Accordingly, AP32 saw the final Next Month Strip. Its purpose was served. It had printed the Hired Guns screenshot for five months in a row as one of the pioneering AP Running Jokes That Draw Attention To Our Own Ineptness. It could retire satisfied.
Only AP ever had a Next Month Strip. We feel oddly proud.