C’est Magnifique (Review)

Edited by Pete Sullivan

by Stephen Agar

All Diplomacy zines (with the possible exception of Greatest Hits which arguably isn’t really a Diplomacy zine) are produced to a formula.  C’est Magnifique is perhaps more of a formula zine than many, but a very successful formula it is too. 

As with many zines, C’est Magnifique is in A5 photo-reduced booklet format, all the issues I have seen being 16 pages long (4 sheets of A4).  Of this about half of the zine is taken up with the games Pete runs (Diplomacy, Downfall, Railway Rivals and Monopoly), the rest comprising a brief editorial (when the muse takes him), shortish letters column and a good resumé of all the zines Pete has received since the last issue.  In an editorial on the forthcoming US Presidential Elections back in June, I particularly liked Pete’s observation that “H. Ross Perot is not going to go away” made days before Perot pulled out of the race.  Some people have since ridiculed Pete have making that statement, but as I type this Ross Perot has re-entered the fray, so Pete was proved right after all. 

I also like Pete’s bird’s eye view of what is going on in the hobby (enigmatically entitled While My Guitar Gently Weeps – everything in C’est Magnifique is named after a Beatles track) and I do not think it is fair to criticise him (as Mark Nelson has done recently) for not making this news round-up more critical, because that is not its purpose.  What Pete does is paint a quick thumbnail sketch of the contents of a wide variety of zines, often no more than 5-6 lines long, including the name and address of the editor, professed frequency and cost.  This provides subscribers with a sense of the hobby and the means to diversify if they want to.  Of the 23 zines mentioned in issue 117, 8 are from the US, which makes C’est Magnifique one of the most international zines around. 

One of the many good things about C’est Magnifique is that it is run efficiently to four week deadlines.  Indeed in the year May 1991 to May 1992 Pete produced 14 issues (just), with a frequency of exactly one issue every 4 weeks (as compared to Ode’s average of one issue every 5.8 weeks according to Pete’s figures).  Like John Marsden, Pete has an excellent track record having been producing C’est Magnifique regularly since 1985 without a hint of staleness. 

Pete does seem to be a little touchy though, although this does not come across in the zine itself.  Spring Offensive has only been around for 4 issues yet Pete has already written twice complaining that I was attacking him. Pete is defensive when he has nothing to be defensive about. 

I am a little surprised that C’est Magnifique only carries 2 games of Diplomacy (another one finished in the most recent issue).  The reason I am surprised is because C’est Magnifique must be one of the most reliable and speedy zines around to play in.  Perhaps Pete hasn’t attracted many new subscribers in recent years, while the old faithfuls play Downfall and Railway Rivals.  Who knows.  Okay, C’est Magnifique isn’t at the forefront of DTP and doesn’t include lengthy articles to fill out its pages, but what it does it does very well indeed and, perhaps with the help of some new blood will no doubt go on from strength to strength. 

Reprinted from Spring Offensive 5