DargonZine 32, Issue 1

DargonZine 32-1 Editorial

Dargon is Doooooooooomed!!

Sorry, I just had to get that out. We only published two issues last year. That’s pretty bad. But things aren’t as dark as they seem.

It happens, every once in a while, that someone comes along and says “We’re doomed.”  We’re doomed if we don’t start making games.  We’re doomed if we don’t add cartoons.  We’re doomed if we don’t create videos. 

Well, maybe someday we will be, but we’re not doomed yet.  This year, we are celebrating the beginning of our 35th year of Dargon stories (our 34 year anniversary).  We started out in volume 4, issue 1 of FSFNet, published in February of 1986.  That’s before the internet even became The Internet.  It’s before the World Wide Web.  Before chat, cell phones, and smart TVs.  To quote one of my favorite movies, “When I was a child, TV was called ‘books.’”

Well, I guess that dates me, a bit.  But through 35 years, we’ve seen a lot of changes.  We first published in all ascii text, and used ascii-art for the cover pages.  When we switched over to DargonZine in 1988, the cover art looked like this

  DDDDD                              ZZZZZZ                // 
D    D  AAAA RRR  GGGG OOOO NN  N      Z  I NN  N EEEE  ||
D    D A  A R  R G    O  O N N N     Z  I N N N E     || Volume 13
 D    D  AAAA RRR  G GG O  O N N N   Z    I N N N E     || Number  1

You see? It’s a sword … with the name DargonZine written in into it … it was hi-def imagery, back then.

In the beginning, we could only handle a certain length of story because many e-mail servers only handled 100k messages.  It was virtually impossible to send images or audio of any quality.  Since then, we have gone almost completely digital, created a web presence, and have databases tracking every unique Thing, Person, Name or what have you within the Dargoniverse.  That’s a lot of data, and a lot of work over the years.

At this point, I would like to give a few kudos nods to our previous editors: Ornoth Liscomb, who founded FSFNet and helped drive the Dargon Project into existence; John “Dafydd” White, who founded DargonZine as a continuation of FSFNet, and not only holds the record as our most prolific author, but also implemented the peer review process with Wendy Hennequin, which became essential to ensuring quality online fiction; Ornoth came back for several years when Dafydd stepped down, and brought us into the modern age with a web site, databases, and maps; Liam Donahue took over after that, providing a driving force to keep us all together and modernizing (with the help of Victor Cardoso) our entire site.

Because of these resources, and the quality of the work behind the scenes, it’s been suggested to me on more than one occasion that we make DargonZine a For Profit magazine.  Sell add space, market some goods, make little Clifton Dargon bobble heads, etc.  There are both philosophical and logistical issues there, as well as legal barriers.  Legally, we don’t actually own (as an organization) the rights to the characters used herein.  There is some legalese we add about authors who leave agreeing to give up their characters, but really, it’s just so we can continue to use them in DZ.  The biggest issue is the philosophical one: we’ve been a free zine since the beginning, and we believe in writing for writing’s sake (and having fun doing it). Turning that into a capitalist machine just doesn’t jibe with what we do here.

But back to being doomed … well, we’re not at full staff, that’s for certain.  We only put out two issues last year, which is a pretty low point.  We’re not as active as we used to be.  But we have stories in the queue, and a dedicated core of some half-dozen writers who refuse to give up.  And, as ever, we are always looking for new authors to jump in.  None of us were any good when we started.  (Some would argue that I haven’t improved at all. -J )  But the spirit and intention of DargonZine isn’t that we expect professional authors to dedicate their time here – in fact, it’s the opposite.  DargonZine’s focus is a shared world that works to help new and interested authors learn the craft of writing, and improve through collaborative efforts and peer review.  And that is something at which we have excelled, when you look back at our history.   Since the beginning, sixty (60!) authors have seen print in these pages, with over 500 stories going out into the wild.  And it all gets done for free: no adds, no sponsors.  That’s something amazing, and something that has been a point of pride in my life for the past 31 years, when I first joined these pages.

I don’t ever intend to stop writing for DargonZine.  They can pull my cold, dead fingers from the keyboard when I die.  As long as I’m still around, there will still be a DargonZine, and I know a few of the other authors feel exactly the same way.  We’re here.  And if you like, you’re welcome to come join us. There’s a lot of writing ahead of us.

As a quick note, partially to ease the pain of the production process, and partially to handle speedier turn around for issues, we are working on a new(ish) format where we will be pushing out stories as they are ready for print, instead of waiting for a second or third to fill the queue, some lazy Editor to finally get around to writing the Editorial, or any other impact to schedule. So you should be seeing us in your inbox, or available online (depending on how you ingest your DargonZine), more often. Definitely (hopefully) more than twice a year.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this issue’s stories: Jim Owens brings us A View from Above: The Ocean, and Liam Donahue is here with King’s Key, part 1.



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    David Godfrey Lawn

    I liked what you wrote. Thanks.

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