MEDIA: FABLE - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Guy Duncan checks out the gay monthly magazine that aims to get beyond the genre formulas

At 184 pages long, it is with some trepidation that I pick up the

new gay monthly Fable. How many pages to be taken up with endless sex

classified ads? How many more features on gay clubbing can we take? What

more can it offer the gay market that Attitude and Gay Times don't

already cover?



Discerning gay readers can prepare themselves for a pleasant surprise -

a ban on sex classified ads and personal contacts demonstrates Fable's

desire for an upmarket positioning to differentiate itself from its

rivals.



This has led to a plethora of impressive advertisers for its first

issue, including that of Lever Faberge (admittedly, for Persil Black

Velvet), Apple Mac, Dunhill, Suzuki and Swatch. Enough to interest other

major advertisers, I should think.



Fable is certainly a glossy offering with a polished design, but what

makes it even more unusual is that it has been launched by

queercompany.com - a rare example of a dotcom reversing into traditional

publishing. But this lends it greater credentials in terms of really

understanding its market - affluent, urban, professionals, confident of

themselves. And this magazine is full of confident stuff - articles by

Julie Burchill, interviews with Zoe Wannamaker on her new West End play

and Todd Solondz (the director of Happiness) on his new film, plus an

intelligent think-piece on the war in Afghanistan.



There are predictable elements to this new magazine - indicating that

this isn't so much a revolution, but more an evolution for the upmarket

gay readers: another review of something Marlene Dietrich, another set

of horoscopes (does every magazine need one?), the fashion pages are

peppered with Attitude-esque visuals - all have a "seen this before"

quality.



But there is enough new to spark my interest - the design news section

is spot-on and the Nicky Haslam monthly cellphone conversation looks

like it could be fun over time. There's a book section of substance, for

once, and the fashion interview with the "rough-diamond" Roland Mouret

is pretty original. It's a bit of a mix of i-D, Vogue and Wallpaper, all

with an intelligent and creative gay perspective.



So what is its commercial potential? Its combination of mainstream

advertisers, innovative main features and slick and intelligent

editorial style should lead to broader appeal than just the gay market.

Even at £3.20 a month, a quick poll of my upmarket discerning

friends (currently dining in Soho) indicates this is a fair price.



The name Fable feels a bit weak - but I'm sure they've done

research.



Publisher: Queer Company

Frequency: Monthly

Price: £3.20

Initial print run: 50,000

Full-page colour ad rate: £4,312

Advertisers include: Grand Marnier, Swatch, Paul Smith, Persil Black

Velvet, Apple, Christian Dior



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