It hardly seems possible that DargonZine has been going strong for a decade and a half, yet today I find myself writing a fifteenth anniversary Editorial for the magazine I initiated (as FSFNET) over the Christmas break back in 1984. It’s kind of funny to realize how far we’ve come from that first mailing, where I said “I would like to see FSFNET expand to include more exotic ideas, such as original fiction”, when today I can look back and see nearly three hundred original stories! At the end of that initial announcement and call for blockquote, I added the following:
This is your fanzine, more than it is mine. It is up to you to keep it going. I have merely brought you together. Now it is your turn.
And boy, did people keep it going! Even through my five-year absence, we cranked out 82 new stories in 34 issues!
So since this is something of a watershed point for us, in addition to the usual end of year wrap-up and predictions for the coming year, I think it makes sense to look back at all our history and also take a look further ahead. Let’s take those one at a time.
First, let’s talk about 1999, which was another record-breaker. We printed an even dozen issues, which is as many as any year except 1985, our inaugural year (when issues were one-quarter current size). We printed more stories than ever (34), and more volume than ever (about a megabyte). We also printed more writers than ever before (seventeen), and four of those writers were new this year. Our Web site surpassed 30,000 visitors, doing two gigabytes of Web traffic and an additional 300 megabytes at the FTP site. But beyond the numbers, some great things happened in the past twelve months. These include the cutover to the new dargonzine.org domain, converting more than thirty back issues to HTML format, the awesome reviews we got from the Open Road and Dark Matter Chronicles, and the first stages of the deployment of our new database (mainly in the form of an updated Online Glossary).
Looking back, DargonZine has been amazingly successful. In our fifteen-year history we’ve brought nearly fifty writers together to print 275 (Dargon) stories in 126 issues. That’s enough writing to fill more than a dozen paperback novels! Over the years we changed writers, editors, computer networks, and delivery mechanisms, but today the Dargon Project and its milieu are still viable, and our mission of bringing writers together to practice their craft is as vital as ever.
So what does the future hold? Well, next year will be a big one. Of course we plan to continue to crank out stories and issues just as fast as we can. But the big changes that you will notice will be the planned enhancements to the Web site, which include a major visual redesign and functional restructuring, new detailed maps with built-in interactivity, more quick surveys, and, if time permits, the ability for readers to rate each story. We’ve got a ton of ideas about how to make DargonZine’s site more interesting and more interactive, and you’ll see it happening very soon!
And in the long term? Well, the goal will be to continue to serve new writers and interested readers in whatever ways we can, however the Internet evolves. But rather than try to anticipate what will happen, we’re focusing inward. Our writers are our leaders, and we need people with a passion for writing and helping others grow, with a sense of ownership and commitment to the project, with a compelling vision of what the Dargon Project could be, and with the wisdom and flexibility to adapt and change what we do. By establishing that kind of culture, we will be able to meet whatever challenges might arise in our trip into the coming decades.
It’s been as much of an adventure for us as any of the tales we’ve spun!