Reflections of a Teenage Zine Publisher

by Heath Gardner

If someone was to rev up their ol' net-browser and search for Diplomacy sites, they'd see that Diplomacy is a popular and thriving hobby, with thousands of participants.

This may be the case with play-by-email Diplomacy, but I am writing this article to inform you about what some believe is a dying hobby: Postal Diplomacy.

I first began playing Postal Dip a year and a half ago or so, but it was a locally-based flyer type deal that wasn't really an interesting read. Looking around on the Dip Pouch in between e-mail games, I saw something about Crossing the Rubicon, a now-folded zine, published by Jamie McQuinn, ex oficio maintainer of The Diplomatic Pouch's Postal Section. I sent Jamie a quick note and soon I was subscribing to the zine.

To make a long story short, I loved it. The whole experience of Postal Diplomacy was much more intense and exciting to me than e-mail diplomacy (DISCLAIMER: These opinions do not represent those of The Pouch, or anyone else; just my own personal preference). But, I'd been hearing about the "decline of the Postal Hobby" through the three or four zines to which I subscribed, and sure enouugh, before you could say "Army Galicia support Turkish Army Rumania to Budapest," Crossing the Rubicon had folded.

So what does a supposedly intelligent, involved sophomore in high school with extremely challenging classes and a rather busy social life do? He creates his own zine. That's right, with a small group of supporters, I was able to turn out Naima Equinox #1 and only (hah!) lose about $30 in the process. But I plan to continue doing this so that the postal hobby does not "die," per se. Heck, I don't know how good you could say Naima Equinox is, but I'd like to think it's a little better than death....

Before I get too caught up in advertising for my zine, I'd better re-direct the topic of this article. I want to talk a little more about the postal hobby. A postal 'zine is a little more than just Diplomacy. I can't say this without sounding cheesy, but it's like a community, and a lot of good friendships are developed within the community. In each issue, there's letter columns (like the Pouch Deposits), discussions on whatever the editor is interested in (music, etc., etc.), non-Dip games (gasp!), and much, much more! So it's a good read. The extra-long deadlines may seem unattractive, but imagine getting to diplome with your allies so much that you know the plans in and out, and thus you execute the moves with more precision.

Since I immersed myself in the Postal hobby, I have pretty much removed myself from e-Mail diplomacy. I simply couldn't sustain my friends, my girlfriend, school, my magazine and forty emails a day about games online. So even us addicts have priorities.

Well, the point is, I urge you to at least try the Postal experience. I'd be glad to send you a sample copy of my zine for free, with no strings attached, if you'd like to just see what it's like. What have you got to lose? Nothing. So write me and ask.

Heath Gardner

If you wish to e-mail feedback on this article to the author, and clicking on the envelope above does not work for you, feel free to use the "Dear DP..." mail interface.