The story of Bulldawg Illustrated
by Murray Poole
BI DAWG created by UGA cartoonist Jack Davis
“A Grassroots Effort to Unite the Bulldawg Nation.”
Since the idea for Bulldawg Illustrated (BI) was conceived six years ago, the publication has indeed brought a sense of unity and participation to fans and alumni of the Georgia Bulldogs by enabling them to be a part of the publication.
“We started BI with this as our catch line,” said Bulldawg Illustrated editor Vance Leavy. “It was a grassroots effort to unite the Bulldawg Nation and over the last few years, I think we’ve done that. We’ve created a community where fans can go and see pictures of their fellow Bulldogs and keep up with their favorite Georgia teams.”
Thanks to Mark Richt’s Georgia football teams, the publication has enjoyed growing recognition over the last six years. Published weekly during the football season and six additional issues between January and August, Bulldawg Illustrated’s circulation has expanded beyond the confines of Georgia.
“We have subscribers from as far away as Washington state,” noted Cheri Leavy, BI’s editorial and advertising director. “We print 18,000 copies for home games and people can pick us up in their favorite markets such as Athens, Buckhead Atlanta, Macon and, of course, the Georgia coast where we started it.” Now, with the re-launch of its website this month www.bulldawgillustrated.com, Bulldawg Illustrated is about to expand its boundaries even farther.
“In a desire to make BI available to every Bulldog, our goal is to increase our print subscriptions, and we will now be offering the full issue on-line through our new website,” Cheri Leavy said. “Basically, everything in the print issue will be on-line and then some. We’re going to have photo galleries, where all photos in the printed issue will be available for viewing and purchase. We’ll have a tailgate recipe section where people can submit their recipes and search others’. And we’ll also have Bulldog Trivia and Fans of the Week, with prizes tied to them. And then there will be a dawg blog, podcasts and videos that will be available, as well as all the stories about Bulldog athletics.”
“After our fifth year of doing Bulldawg Illustrated,” said Vance Leavy, “it became obvious to us that we needed to expand to the huge on-line community out there and we feel what we’ve come up with for the new website will be well received. And, much like our print product, it will be a lot of fun.”
Vance Leavy said the idea for the publication actually came, not at a football game, but rather at the NCAA Final Four when it was being staged in New Orleans.
“There was a group of us who went to the Final Four a lot and that one year in New Orleans, I came across a Kansas Jayhawks publication” he recalled. “From my experience with The Brunswick News (where Leavy served as vice-president), I came back and thought, ‘we could do something like this for Georgia football.’”
“I was editor of Coastal Illustrated at that time,” said Cheri Leavy, “and when Vance suggested us doing something like that for Georgia, I thought it would be neat to come at it from a fan’s perspective and do it much like Coastal Illustrated and capture the lifestyle element of being a Bulldog and include tons of photos from UGA events. Not only would we do the sports part of it but we would also give the fans a chance to be a part of it. And by doing that, we immediately made it appealing to both male and female. Having photos of people that people know, or think they know, was part of the charm of Bulldawg Illustrated from the very start.”
And, as Cheri points out, the publication is also generational.
“We have something for all-age Bulldog fans,” she said. “Itty Bitty Bulldogs is done by Jan Bone, and it teaches preschool-age children some history of UGA and the football fanfare. Often times in a photograph we take at a tailgate, we have three or four generation Dog fans in there so it’s really neat. For all Dog fans, the sports news is important but we have everything in an issue from tailgate treats to football fashion so we do hit both men and women and don’t let the men fool you, they love the photos too.”
Vance Leavy said Bulldawg Illustrated was well received from the very beginning.
“I know people such as Sonny Seiler (owner of the Uga mascots) said he loves it because it enables our fans and alumni to keep up – not only with the Dawgs, but with one another. And that’s huge, coming from their family, which has spread the Bulldog fanfare for more than 50 years with the Uga line of mascots.”
Leavy said adding Georgia radio personality Jeff Dantzler to Bulldawg Illustrated’s staff at the magazine’s outset brought some instant credibility to the publication.
“About the time we decided to start this, we also became acquainted with Jeff, who had a speaking engagement at a Golden Isles Bulldog Club function,” said Leavy. Liking the concept of the new publication Dantzler, who serves as play-by-play broadcaster for Georgia baseball and UGA women’s basketball and is the color commentator for UGA’s men basketball while also being regarded as a walking historian for all Bulldog sports, immediately agreed to jump on the Bulldawg Illustrated ship in the role of sports editor. As such, Dantzler contributes columns, feature stories, his own national rankings, breakdown of Georgia’s opponents and much more to the publication.
“We knew Jeff’s knowledge of Georgia athletics was pretty deep but I don’t think we had an idea of how vast his knowledge really was,” said Leavy. He knows about everything that’s ever happened at Georgia and a lot beyond that.”
Another vital contribution to the publication’s popularity was the UGA cartoon art on the cover provided by legendary bulldog Jack Davis. “Jack’s art has been synonymous with Georgia athletics for decades,” said Vance Leavy. Davis’ dedication to UGA prompted the Leavys to initiate help campaign for a football endowment in his honor.
You can join friends of Bulldawg Illustrated with a print (mailed first class to your address) and all access online subscription for $49 or an all access online subscription for $19.80. Leavy said that price will not increase until Georgia wins another national championship so he’s hoping it increases to $20.08. $1 of every subscription will be donated to the Jack Davis UGA Football Scholarship.
There is also a chance to win $5,000.00 cash and $5,000.00 donation to the Butts Mehre expansion in the winner’s name. The drawing will be announced in the Georgia Tech issue on November 25,2008. Must be a subscriber to win.
For more information or to subscribe, call 1-877-4-JOIN-BI (1-877-456-4624) or go online www.bulldawgillustrated.com.