Magazines are Special

The cover of Dragon Magazine 174. A ghost haunting an elf who crouches over the body of a slain comrade in a graveyard.

Magazines are special to me. Growing up, we got Highlights, with all the fun little puzzles and short stories. As I got older, I found myself getting baseball rags, computer magazines, and the venerable Nintendo Power, where I got to read about games I would never own and daydream. Dragon Magazine was my gateway drug into role playing games. And Realms of Fantasy introduced me to Neil Gaiman in a new way.

My love has never diminished. I still get magazines, be it rough ‘zines or  beautifully designed journals, there is rarely a moment where I don’t have one within reach. Magazines have become one of the last places to see the power of design in action. A medium that requires you to slow down and think about what you will say and how you will say it.

I still have a dog eared copy of Dragon 174, and honestly, the actual material isn’t all that great. As far as D&D hall of fame work, that issue in particular is not in the running. However, it did have that evocative cover, articles written with ‘zine like energy, and the Princess Ark, an anthology column detailing the fictional journeys of its crew and the game material that went with it. It is the kind of hot mess that can only live and gain momentum in a time where instant gratification was limited.

More than once, I have been accused of nostalgia, but nostalgia is the gloss we paint over the past to ignore the bad parts. I’m not in search of that. Of capturing my youth. If I am guilty of anything, it is trying to pick out the good elements and harness them. To find time to think and reflect. To listen to other voices, not be quiet until it is my turn to talk, unaware of what was said before. 

So I started working on my own magazine. I had been pondering it for weeks as I walked the dog, thinking through this essay, what the magazine could cover, what it would look like, how I would pull it off as a one man band. With most difficult things, I just started doing things. I wrote up a sample article, outlined a few more, landed on some themes, and then, this past few days, while stuck in bed with a messed up back, created the design language of the potential magazine.

And like that, it came together as a thing on my computer. I have no idea if I will ever get more than one issue done. I don’t know if anyone but family will ever bother to get a copy and read it. In the end, it doesn’t matter. It is a creative exercise like any other, which forces me to stop and think, reflect and speak. That alone, in an always on life, is worth the effort.