Maybe not as well-known, but certainly as symbolic as Time’s “Man of the Year” covers, Time Magazine’s X covers have marked the historic end of American enemies. Osama Bin Laden is about to join the ranks of the famously X’d out.
In May of 1945, the first of the X’s was Adolf Hitler shortly after the discovery of his body.
Then in August of that same year, the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan triggered Time to illustrate the fall of the rising sun. It is assumed that the red in the rising sun symbol was the reason for using black in the X instead of the red that was used in the other covers. It is also the only cover that uses that style of X – more of a charcoal-drawn feel where the other X’s appear as red paint sloppily painted.
April, 2003 – Time gave us the Saddam Hussein X-out. The cover was released as U.S. forces occupied Baghdad and sent Saddam on the run. Saddam Hussein was actually not killed until 2006 when after an Iraqi trial, he was hanged.
The most recent x-out by Time’s artists and journalists was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in June of 2006 after being killed by a U.S. bomb.
And the piece de resistance, the grande finale, the best of the best – May, 2011, the cover of a Time special issue will be adorned with Osama bin Laden’s ugly mug covered by a bright red X. This cover brought to you courtesy of U.S. Navy SEALS – Team Six – “DevGru”