MEDIA: Profile; Strange phenomena for the lads

Fiona Jerome, editor, Bizarre

Fiona Jerome, editor, Bizarre



Millennium fever is growing as the next century draws nearer and the

media is rushing to satisfy people’s curiosity. The latest launch is in

February with weird lad’s title Bizarre. It’s a sort of cross between

Loaded and the Fortean Times and comes from the Fortean Times stable of

John Brown Publishing.



Its editor Fiona Jerome, is very much a John Brown home grown editor.

She stumbled into journalism by working on Speakeasy, the company’s

magazine about comics, because she was a fanatical comics reader who

knew everyone in the industry.



‘My teachers always said that reading comics was a waste of time, but if

I hadn’t read them I’d still be doing not much with a bit of debt

collecting on the side,’ she says.



She explains that that Bizarre was originally planned to be about the

Internet and the weird things you could find there, but it seemed

limiting to talk to just the anoraks. Instead, they went for 18 to 30

year old men who like tits, booze and footie mags but are also

interested in a little bit more.



The magazine, which launches on 20 February with a print run of 150,000,

will be bi-monthly and glossy. John Brown will charge pounds 2.50 and

hopes that readership will settle down at 60,000. It will feature

articles on subjects ranging from the commonplace - such as extreme

sports - to the very odd, such as Yakuza gangs in Japan who slice

people’s fingers off and the surgeons who sew them back on.



Aside from a ten-page photo section of bizarre stories from around the

world, the magazine will have a consumer section. Bizarre Buys will

cover film and media, games, the Internet, music, clubs and a range of

new products encompassing everything from food and drink to hardware and

gadgets.



But isn’t it going to be rather difficult for a comics nut to trawl the

world and find those weird and wonderful stories?



‘Well, we have access to the Fortean Times people and they have the

best contacts in the world,’ she says. ‘You can ring them up and say

‘Anything on murders involving cornflakes?’ and they go ‘Yeah, sure,

1966 I think.’ We’re obviously going to be looking for all sorts of

stuff but it’s going to be stuff that reflects men’s curiosity rather

than lifestyle. I mean, we’ll feature cool new gadgets because our

readers want to use them, not because they want to be seen with them in

a cafe.’



Jerome came to the project after developing electronic publishing for

John Brown. During her time on the interactive side, she proudly

invented the Sweary Mary Interactive Swearing Dictionary on the Viz Web

site and saw readers add hundreds of the most amazing insults to the

initial list. Sadly, decorum prohibits listing them here.



And, now that she has become involved in the world of the bizarre, is

she a believer herself?



‘Well, l think there are a lot of explanations for things that don’t

involve little green men in spaceships,’ she says. ‘On the other hand,

I’ve always been interested in the strange and gruesome and now I’m

writing about it for a living.’



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HIGHLIGHTS

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1991 Editorial production manager, consumer titles, John Brown

Publishing 

1992 Managing editor, consumer and contract titles, John Brown

Publishing  

1994 Communications manager and electronic publisher, John Brown

Publishing 

1996 Editor, Bizarre

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