I’m sure no one knew at the time, but TSR did something magical way back in June 1976 when they published The Dragon issue 1 (only later would the company shorten the title to Dragon and then finally Dragon Magazine in the late 80’s). Taking its roots from an earlier publication called The Strategic Review (a wargaming periodical), TSR established a magazine that focused completely on role-playing.
The Dragon Issue 1
Timothy J. Kask was hired by Gary Gygax to oversee The Dragon and be its editor. In the premier issue, Kask clearly stated what the publication hoped to accomplish when he wrote:
That mission is to publish the best magazine devoted to
Sword & Sorcery, Fantasy, Science Fiction and Role Playing
gaming. It is a newly developed field, and we admit to being only
as old as the following. However, we feel that our experience,
gained from publishing the STRATEGIC REVIEW, the pioneer
in the field, will stand us in good stead.
In 1976, fantasy role-playing was still in its infancy. Despite the growing popularity of Dungeons & Dragons, TSR was still taking a risk. Gary Gygax himself wasn’t sure what to expect, and years later said: “At no time did I ever contemplate so great a success or so long a lifespan.” By the time Dragon Magazine ceased publication in December 2013, 430 issues were published (the later ones online).
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Why Dungeons & Dragons?
When I look back on The Dragon issue 1, I’m immediately transported to a simpler time. No computers or graphic design programs were used to put the magazine together, and no email or text messages — hopeful contributors were encouraged to include a SASE with their submissions (+1 History check bonus for the rest of the session if you know what SASE means!).
The magazine is raw, yet powerful and truly captures the roots of our hobby in a historic, beautiful way. There’s the Bill Hannan cover illustration of a dragon painted in psychedelic colors, advertisements for gaming miniature companies now long since departed, a notice for Gen Con IX promising three full days of gaming, and a written piece by fantasy and sci-fi great Fritz Leiber. In a word, The Dragon issue 1 is magic. Pure magic.