January and February always seem to be a fallow time for us. In the preceding months, our writers often set aside their writing and critiquing in order to celebrate winter’s seasonal holidays, and the first thing we do when we return is to sit back and set our goals for the coming year. That means that we usually don’t have very much material to print until well after the new year has begun. There’s always a longer than usual lag between our last December issue and our first issue of the new year. However, during the twelve weeks since the publication of DargonZine 15-11, we’ve done a whole lot of work, and I’d like to share some of the changes with you.
The biggest announcement is that DargonZine has finally been incorporated. While this might not sound like a big deal, incorporating opens several doors for us. It will allow us to apply for funding from various grants for the arts, and open bank accounts under the organization’s name. The official set of bylaws that we were required to develop will ensure the stability of the group, even if something should happen to the editorial staff. We are presently in the process of applying for nonprofit status, which means that any financial contributions from our writers and readers will be tax deductible. It should also assure everyone that we aren’t running the magazine to make money for ourselves.
Speaking of contributions, there’s now a link on our home page that will allow you to donate money to DargonZine using the popular and safe transaction service provided by PayPal. Over the years, readers have occasionally expressed a desire to help the zine in some fashion, and we’ve decided to give this method a try. If you want to help us defray the costs of attracting new writers and running our Web site, we encourage you to use this facility. If you’re not interested, don’t worry about it. Donations will never be required, and we aren’t going to harass you to contribute. DargonZine will always be entirely free and noncommercial.
The costs for running DargonZine have gone up a little this year because in January we began placing ads for DargonZine on the Google search engine. Our longtime readers will know we hate advertising of any kind, but we had to finally admit that we needed to find a better way to get the word out about the magazine. In the past few years, we haven’t been very effective at letting people know about DargonZine, so we decided to test whether ads on Google would bring in more readers and a cadre of new writers. Nine weeks later, the ads are definitely working, so we’re continuing to run them. An enthusiastic welcome goes out to the dozen or two new readers who discovered us through those ads. Thanks for taking the time to check us out, and we hope you enjoy the zine!
You might overlook two more changes that are hidden in our issue masthead, which appears above. The first one, of course, is that we now describe ourselves as “The Dargon Project, Inc.”, but there’s a second item that is yet another significant development for us. We are now releasing DargonZine under the terms of a license developed by the Creative Commons corporation. Creative Commons gives artists an easy yet reliable way to tell the world that the artist permits certain uses of his or her work, while prohibiting other uses. DargonZine, in particular, will allow people to copy and distribute our stories, but only if they are distributed as entire unmodified issues, the original authorship attributions are kept, and no commercial gain is made. For specific details about Creative Commons or our use thereof, see our masthead, above, and the link to Creative Commons.
One change that you’re sure to notice in this issue is the addition of a new illustrator. David Nelson, a 34 year-old graphic artist from Houston has volunteered to illustrate our issues free of charge. Loyal readers will know that our new stories have been devoid of artwork since longtime writer and illustrator Carlo Samson left the project a year ago. Although he doesn’t aspire to write for us, David is an enthusiastic reader, and his illustrations will definitely bring life to our stories. We hope that our partnership is rewarding for him and lasts for quite some time.
I’m proud to start the year by announcing so many positive changes. Things have looked a little rough around here lately, with readership slowly declining, a reduced number of writers, and correspondingly fewer stories to print. However, as you can see, we are putting thought, time, effort, and money into fixing those problems and making DargonZine better than ever. All these changes are just the beginning of a bunch of improvements and lots more good news that I look forward to sharing with you in the months to come. Thank you for your interest and your support, and I hope our stories continue to entertain and delight you as we begin our unequalled 19th year on the Internet.
We open this year with two exceptional stories. The first is brought to us by Victor Cardoso, whom you should remember from last year’s haunting “Jakob Sings of Monstrous Things”. His new work, entitled “For the Love of Amante” is another masterful tale of wonder and mystery. It also ties in with the series of recent stories that relate to Dave Fallon and P. Atchley’s “Heir to Castigale” storyline.
The balance of the issue contains the sixth and final part of “Talisman Nine”. As the name implies, this six-part story is itself the ninth chapter (well, actually tenth) of a very long ongoing storyline that began back in February 1999 in DargonZine 12-1. Dafydd, its author, has been with DargonZine since 1986, and is our single most prolific writer, having printed over fifty stories in these pages. Although this part completes another chapter, “Talisman Nine” still isn’t the end of the larger “Talisman” story arc. Still, everything is starting to come together, and like you, I’m very anxious to see the text for the much-anticipated “Talisman Ten”, which Dafydd hopes to produce this year.
It also looks like our next issue is beginning to come together, as well, so you shouldn’t have quite as long a wait for DargonZine 16-2. All I’ll say about it right now is that you can look forward to the first piece from a brand new and gifted Dargon writer! With that, I’ll leave you to enjoy this issue and the excellent works these two Dargon veterans have crafted for you.