by Duncan Adams
By Stephen Agar
five issues, I think I can now safely review The Laughing Roundhead without
being seen to slag off a new zine. The
format was quite pleasing, A3 folded and stapled (unlike Age of Reason), but the
layout... Let's be honest, issue 1 was quite dreadful.
The basic idea behind the zine was supposed to be humour and of course
what one person finds funny someone else may think banal and lavatorial (if they
were being unduly generous). It
reminded me of Ferkin (does anyone else remember Ferkin?), though I don't think
that Mike Jervis even made it to 5 issues.
that was issue one. Issue 2 saw
Duncan reviewing the general negative reaction from other editors and showing
unexpected stoicism by not getting too upset by it. The zine improved in appearance, out went the large titles
and mixed typefaces, in came two column layout, a short historical article (the
start of a series on UK castles) and a more consistent style throughout the
whole zine. Hobby news was dotted
around the zine and a nice spoof variant appeared. Frank Slight's subzine still continued to sink to depths as
yet uncharted in Diplomacy fandom, but it had some of the charm of a perfectly
dreadful 'B' movie, so it could be forgiven.
3 saw Duncan well on the road to turning The Laughing Roundhead into a perfectly
respectable and regular 4 week Diplomacy zine.
OK, there was still the odd "humorous" article, but the drift
away from turds towards satire was welcome.
I enjoyed the article on Bamburgh castle, the scene of many of my school
trips as a kid.
next issue arrived dead on time again. The
layout was more under control than ever, lots of hobby news and even an attack
on Spring Offensive which showed that Duncan was still smarting from the fact
that I insisted on referring to his zine as "The lAghing rounded" (in
honour of all the typos). Duncan,
where's your sense of humour? At
least he was nice enough to say that Spring Offensive contains "excellent
articles on Diplomacy and variants."
MidCon Duncan gave me issue 5, in which he reveals that he doesn't like Spring
Offensive because he would rather read about "Dip variants and other
related articles". Err, yes.
Anyway, in the four months between issue 1 and issue 5, The Laughing
Roundhead has matured from an ugly duckling into... quite an OK looking duck.
The zine is still full of contradictions (Duncan can spell
"cunnilingus" but not "dyke"), but now that the clip art is
fully under control, and there are more articles on things that interest Duncan
(as opposed to things he thinks are funny) it is a zine that I think would be
fine to play in, provided the style appeals.
Duncan has been successful at starting some fun games (Postal Snap,
Fictionary Dictionary and Russian Roulette), but Diplomacy has been slow to
is worth noting that despite the mixed press The Laughing Roundhead appears to
be doing fairly well. I would guess
that quite a few of the subscribers are from among Duncan's friends in the
Sealed Knot, but the more the merrier. All
in all, I think that the hobby is the richer for having the likes of The
Laughing Roundhead around. Ask
Duncan for a sample copy and decide for yourself.
from Spring Offensive 7