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Prints not dead

A RENAISSANCE of independent women's magazines was examined at LFB's November meeting. Our speakers included Alice Snape, new editor of Oh Comely, one of the longest-running indy women's 'zines. (See also our report on the talk by Stack Magazines founder Steve Watson from the same meeting.)

Steve Watson, Alice Snape, Elizabeth Krohn; photo: Hazel Dunlop

From left: Steve Watson, Alice Snape, Elizabeth Krohn

LFB member Alice has been in post for two issues at bi-monthly Oh Comely, started "about eight years ago, as a bedroom project by three friends from uni" dissatisfied with women's magazines. Having previously worked on "a lot of big fashion magazines", Alice feels that Oh Comely is an antidote to the "false expectations" these put out.

Oh Comely is strong on illustrations and first-person stories by unknown women, articles on "how people feel", with "gentler" forms of expressing views. Alice decided to take the photo "portrait of an unknown woman" off the cover and replace it with illustrations to reflect the "thoughtful nature of what we do."

Elizabeth Krohn with a copy of Sabat; photo: Hazel Dunlop

Alice Snape with a copy of Oh Comely

At Oh Comely there are "only three of us and we're all part-time" in a " very passionate team." They "don't have a board of probably old white men telling you what to do," they're not "bound by advertisers... don't have to put certain content next to certain adverts."

The magazine's "not making money at the moment" - it's now "technically owned" by Iceberg Press. Alice does "get paid" I don't get a lot of money." You can order Oh Comely with free delivery from its website, or see it W.H. Smith and now Waitrose, Alice hopes "we can increase the circulation."

They "do pay each and every person who contributes to the magazine - the rates might not be in line with some of the big ones because we just don't have the budget."

Alice predicts that "print is going to be more popular again - people don't want to consume everything online." Most of Alice's readers "want to sit down and read the magazine from cover to cover".

Elizabeth Krohn with a copy of Sabat; photo: Hazel Dunlop

Elizabeth Krohn with a copy of Sabat

We also heard from Elizabeth Krohn, founder of Sabat, a magazine for "the modern witch" that "you wouldn't be ashamed to read on the Tube." Its "trilogy" of three issues has now finished, since then there's been a one-off poster special and some limited edition reprints.

In an unusual twist on online habits, many readers send Instagram photos of their treasured copy of Sabat enjoying pride of place as a "magical object." Its "Gothic aesthetic" includes "hidden" images printed along the edges of the pages, "something you can only do in print."