Media: Shame about `the Face': A Great Magazine Stifled by Its Past ; OPINION It Will Be Sad for Everyone If the Original Style Bible Gets the Chop Says James Brown

Article excerpt

Two weeks ago a mate emailed me from his bunker in the Pyrenees with some degree of urgency: "The Face is for sale, get some of yr rich mates/VC to give u the money and we'll turn it around ... with some smart people at the helm we could revive it no problemo ... international brand."

As I said, mad. But I was amazed by his passion for The Face. Surely, through his eyes, it would be considered a seed-bed for the purchase of irrelevant fashions and junk as predeter- mined by an ever-increasingly sophisticated capitalist state. No, he was a reader in the 1980s and he'd hate to see it go. The leak from Emap that The Face might be for the chop has inspired quite a response from journalists. I guess if the readers had responded likewise we wouldn't be writing and reading this now.

And therein lies the problem for The Face, which has always been a magazine loved by its industry more than by the wider public. By its very nature - a style bible - it was aimed at the early adopters, those who wanted to know what was going on at the cutting- edge.

But that stance stopped it from ever reaching a mass audience like Heat, FHM or Viz. If it had done so, its natural fall-back figure after 20 years would have been significantly higher than than the 20,000-odd it sells now. A few years ago it was announced that The Beano was to close. The media went ballistic, sales grew and the day was saved. Sadly for The Face, the outcry about the possible closure has been reserved for the media pages, not the front pages.

I have never been a big reader, and was rarely a contributor. I preferred Nick Logan's Arena. But it concerns me to see magazines of this stature in such a predicament. For those of us not obsessed with Italian style or the 1980s buffalo stance - wearing shin-pads outside your socks, a kilt, and a newspaper headline on your forehead - The Face's archetypal roll-in culture was perhaps best summed up by a letter it printed at the time it was threatened with closure during the Jason Donovan libel trial. …