Electric Monk

Edited by Andy & Madelaine Key

by Stephen Agar

Until this year Electric Monk had never been out of the top three in the Zine Poll.  Now it is commonly said that Electric Monk (like Viz) is “not as good as it used to be” with the result that Monk slumped to 10th in this year’s Zine Poll.  The thing that immediately hits you about Electric Monk is the smart DTP newsletter-style layout.  Lots of columns, boxes, large type, shadows, etc.  All very complicated and quite distinctive (though as with Lies, the effect is marred by subzines providing copy of a less elaborate nature).  I do question the wisdom of using 

a three column
layout on an A5
page because I
feel that it
contributes to
a feeling that
there is not a

lot in the zine
as your eye can
just zip over
the pages with-
out taking very
much in. I
suspect that

narrow columns
are to blame
for the fact
that Andy’s
hobby chat gets
more and more

OK, it’s not quite that bad, but you get the idea. 

As one of the few zines that isn’t looking for more Diplomacy players and Diplomacy gamestarts, the laws of supply and demand suggest that it must be a good place to play Diplomacy (though the zine doesn’t include maps with game reports).  Electric Monk appears to have no interest in Diplomacy variants at all.  Richard Walkerdine runs the ruins of the once great Mad Policy as a sub-zine in Electric Monk which seems to satisfy his current low level of editorial urgings and Tom’s Bit presumably satisfies any similar cravings that Tom Tweedy may experience. 

Hobby news in Electric Monk can be very selective, the Keys preferring to devote pages and pages to What I Did On My Holidays or some such.  Still, if that is what their readers want, then who can criticise them.  Andy & Maddi put a lot of work into the greater hobby good by producing Mission from God, though to my mind that doesn’t quite justify the level of smugness which occasionally surfaces in Andy’s musings.  He may well ridicule the idea of advertising in Private Eye as being old hat, but he has yet to suggest any new or better ideas, though his comments on my Introduction (in a private letter) were useful. 

There is a respectable amount of non-Diplomacy games in Monk, and lists are open for Hols der Geier, Crossword, Lifeboat and Lechlade Halt.  Andy often includes some chat about games in general rather than being just a Diplomacy purist, though I have yet to see any articles on Diplomacy itself. 

As a relative newcomer, I guess I have never seen Electric Monk when it was at the height of its popularity, but the zine is certainly friendly and not unpleasant.  The sorts of words that come to mind when thinking of Electric Monk are words like clean, warm, bland, comfortable, undemanding, pretty, empty and a trifle dull. 

Reprinted from Spring Offensive 10