At Work With: Liz Ann Bennett, Oh Comely
This Monday we start the week alongside Liz Ann Bennett, editor of bimonthly independent women’s title Oh Comely. The magazine has successfully avoided the clichés of women’s publishing, forging an alternative editorial outlook based on creativity and curiosity. The 16th edition is published this week.
Where are you today?
What can you see from the window?
Being in Holborn is all about hearing: three lanes of traffic, the shouts of the fruit-seller that we’ve never deciphered, and a revolving line-up of buskers with drums who murder Beatles classics.
How many emails are waiting in your inbox?
What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
Lucky Peach, a food magazine that doubles as a bad-influence friend.
‘Oh Comely’ is a phrase that means nothing to me beyond this context – where did the name come from?
The name comes from this beautiful and sinister song by Neutral Milk Hotel.
Your editorial approach can be characterised as alternative women’s magazine, yet you’ve worked hard to make it available through WHSmiths and other mainstream outlets. How do you see Oh Comely in relation to the more mainstream women’s magazines it finds itself presented alongside – pleasant alternative or more biting critique?
Others in the team definitely come down on the biting critique side, but I’m for pleasant alternatives. Critiquing mainstream women's magazines is easy: the interesting thing is what makes them all so appealing. Naomi Wolf in ‘The Beauty Myth’ argues that mainstream women’s magazines are one of the very few expressions of a universal female culture. The internet means this isn’t quite true any more, but her conclusion still holds: we need women’s magazines, but we need them to be better.
What’s the one feature or article you’d direct a non-reader to as an introduction to Oh Comely?
I’d direct them to a feature where we tested the charm and dedication of Royal Mail by posting a series of baffling, bulky and sometimes downright stinky parcels. It's here: www.ohcomely.co.uk/public/files/Royal%20mail.pdf
What was the thinking behind the recent front cover design change?
We still have a lot of affection for the old cover design, but it was high time for a change. Acres of white space and handwriting were striking and unusual when we launched four years ago, but both elements have become much more common and acquired associations that are out of synch with the content inside.
What was the last thing your designer said to you?
“I'll be in Australia for four weeks.”
What are you most looking forward to this week?
Tracking down the creators of crop circles.
What are you least looking forward to this week?
The possibility of alien abduction.
What will you be doing after this chat?
Making coffee for the office and pondering my next move in our on-going Scrabble game.
See/read more of Oh Comely in their online archive.