Sega Zone

AKA: Jaunty AP Tribute Mag Sega Zone

Some yonks after accidentally buying Your Sinclair from rival publisher Dennis,* thinking they were in fact ringing up about a C5 advertised in the back of a paper, AP's sinister besuited paymasters once again absorbed somebody else's mag. This was Sega Zone, one of a few money-saving test-out "split" mags of the time where a multi-format title would (if sales went well) part zizzily down the middle into two new specialist ones, exactly like Whizzer and Chips backwards.

(In this case, the original all-consoles Game Zone split into Game Zone, now Nintendo-only, and Sega Zone, about the Master System and Megadrive. The new Game Zone was also part of the deal.)

Having bought the mag (presumably this time imagining they were ringing up about a jigsaw or a Sago Phone or something), AP's sinister besuited paymasters had the original staff killed and the mag transferred to Bath. Sega Zone lived downstairs and across a bit from AP (you had to dash through the combo Sega/Game Zone veldt to reach the knobbly stairs to the old woman's bedroom) and exerted a powerful magnetic influence on the AP bods like some kind of carpeted hoover.

Tim Norris, Jacquie and Tim Tucker moved to the new mag as Ed, Art Ed and Dep Ed respectively. The Staff Writer was Cam's Friend Josse, who had applied initially to AP (but narrowly failed to best Sal in the traditional kendo bout on top of the roof at midnight, or something). Tim N later left, to be replaced in the Ed's window-blazed corner by Jonathan Davies. In fact, if we recall aright, the only Sega Zone person not previously associated with AP was famous internationalist David The Prod Ed.*

With this mighty and atypical strength of crossover,* plus the associated bunging of reviews to trusted AP elements and guest appearance of AP-graduate freelance art types, it was hardly surprising that Sega Zone was pretty blimmin' fab and came to be known affectionately as Jaunty AP Tribute Mag Sega Zone, a title everybody on the mag really appreciated a lot and never grew tired of and generally wished an hour could be longer so they could be called it some more.

Tragically, the aceness of the mag was not enough in a saturated market. The staff were informed the Feb 1994 ish would be their last, because it would then be sold to another publisher (roughly a year after it had been bought in the first place but, hey, sinister besuited paymasters, eh?). Foreshadowing the mass scythe-up at the end of AP, the final ish of Sega Zone saw everybody involved killed off - first by explaining on the Who Do We Think We Are? page how they'd like to die, then events conspiring throughout the Back Page to bring about these collapsings. At the end of the last line, gentleman editor Jonathan Davies ("I'd like to die of a broken heart") came in to discover everyone lying around dead and died of a broken heart.

Tragically 2, Sega Zone had been sold (along with Mega) to a horrid little publisher whose speciality was "burning"; ie, buying up ailing mags to continue them with cynical profiteering brutalism in a ghastly, zombie-like unexistence as sub-30-page pamphlets, the whole thing assembled without a flannel panel by a single dead-eyed freelancer solely in order to publicise the FREE! game on the cover or to present at least 20 pages of big-print tips. The idea was that regular readers would be dim, bewildered or inattentive enough to carry on buying the zero budget monstrosity for at least a month or two. (The mags would deliberately lack page numbers and ish dates in order to maximise confusion, and the freelancer would minimally alter/type straight into original page templates in order to further the deception that this was a genuine ish from the same team, though at least this time they had to open revealingly with a disclaimer that everyone hadn't, in fact, been killed last month because here the mag was again.)

After Sega Zone, Jonathan Davies moved upstairs to become AP's Ed. It was in this capacity that, by an unthinking persistence of internal subscriptions, he was handed the first post-genuine copy of his beloved jaunty tribute mag by a cheery postbloke. The cover, of a Star Trek game, was carefully designed to appear to be a normal ish. JD impassively read the pamphlet, then, with a terrifying icy calmness, tore it into a bursting expanse of strips and staples. Of this, the correct and original Sega Zone would have approved, though it did mean that for weeks afterwards AP's mighty beings found themselves taking care not to return late from lunch or spoil their nice flatplans with smudges or generally make much noise at all.