New Diskmag Projects And Their Fates


In the past few years, I have witnessed announcements of quite a few new diskmag projects. Unfortunately, in most of these cases these new projects did not make it to a first issue. But in some cases, there is still hope that the magazines will be released. Here is an overview of some of these projects.

-=[ Dragon International ]=-

Dragon is a Polish magazine. In 1999, it was the Polish zine - number 1 in most local charts. Six issues were released, #0 - #5. The first main editor of Dragn was Aborygen. After some issues Szum of Cryogen took over. Szum is a rather popular swapper. Since he regularly visited the #pixel IRC channel, he was also known outside Poland. Occasionally he also wrote for international mags such as Hugi and Fleur. For the latter magazine, he served as a co-editor of the last issue.

When it started to turn out that the third issue of the once promising Fleur would also be its last issue, Szum decided to try making his own English-language magazine. In Spring 2000, he announced that Dragon International, "the first and only" international issue of Dragon, was going to hit the streets "soon".

But in reality Szum didn't have much more than this announcement. He didn't even have a staff. When he asked me to find some writers for his magazine, I gave him the email addresses of Avalanche / Trinity and Spock / Wild Bits. Avalanche is a gifted Dutch writer and musician with a lot of humour who sometimes submitted texts to Hugi - unfortunately, not very often. Spock, from Spain, is the main editor of Wilby, the only diskmag with a self-imposed limit of 4 kbytes (this mag is already dead as well).

Apparently Szum really contacted these people, and they agreed to join the staff, as they were listed as co-editors in the next announcement file. But it seems that these two co-editors were not enough to get the magazine filled with content.

When I met Szum on IRC a few months later, he told me that he also had another problem: His coder would not finish the new, Windows-based diskmag engine. It seems like Szum was not interested in using the old, DOS-based engine from the Polish Dragon.

Well, to make it short: It does not seem to be likely that Dragon International #1 will be released.

-=[ Scenecity Diskmag ]=-

Do you know Scenecity? Perhaps you do; but if you don't, you haven't missed a lot either: Scenecity was supposed to be a news site like Orange Juice. But it never featured a lot of news and was not updated often, either. Anyway, the reason why I mention Scenecity here is that the Scenecity makers also decided to create a diskmag. This plan was officially announced in March 2000; the first issue was supposed to be released "soon". A month later, they wrote they were lacking articles, and as they wanted to make a quality magazine, "the publication was delayed". The question until when it was delayed remained open.

Apparently the Scenecity staff already had an engine - at least there was a screenshot on their website. In my eyes it looked more like a CD-player interface than like a diskmag engine, but whatever, at least it was different from the look of average mags. In August 2000, Sacrilege of Scenecity announced another time that Scenecity was going to come "soon". But it didn't come. It seems that another project has failed due to a lack of articles.

-=[ Sunny ]=-

Maybe you know the group Artwork: it's the group that released the diskmag Generation on the Amiga. Under the editorship of Rokdazone, Generation was one of the leading Amiga diskmags.

In summer 2000, a #pixel regular called Lau, who said that he had been a member of Artwork using the handle Niko, announced that he was working on a new PC mag called Sunny. A lot of well known names were supposed to be involved in this project, such as Looon and Visualice. "The magazine release is scheduled in a week!" - That's what I heard in summer 2000. It was the last thing I heard of Sunny.

-=[ Scenial ]=-

This is a really weird case. Scenial is not a new magazine: the first issue was released by the Belgian demogroup Access Denied back in 1994. It was supposed to be a direct competitor to Imphobia. It took two years until the second issue followed. In 1997 Scenial #4 was released, although there has never been Scenial #3. Scenial #4 was a satirical magazine with a lot of dark humour. It was quite popular in the scene.

In fall 1999, the main editor of Scenial, Venior, dropped me an email in which he stated that Scenial #5 was going to come in a week. He was still looking for some articles, and he had to finish the colouring of the existing texts, but apart from that, the mag was almost ready for release.

Well, now it's late spring 2002, and Scenial #5 hasn't been released yet. I've often talked to Venior using IRC and ICQ; he told me fantastic stories such as that he already had more than 200 articles and would probably release the sixth issue just a month after the fifth. But it would still take some time until the fifth issue would be completed, as the old DOS-based interface by Lord Cyrix was no longer up to date and the Turkish coder Spectre had not finished the new Windows engine yet. Moreover, lots of articles were already outdated, and Venior would have to re-write them often in order to keep them up to date.

I don't really know what of this I should believe...

-=[ Cheese ]=-

Since late 2001, the website has been announcing "the imminent return" of the Cheese Magazine, a Dutch satire magazine. 13 issues of this magazine were released in the years 1996-1997. The group TKB was going to start a new volume in January or February 2002. A new issue of Cheese II would be released once every two months.

Considering the fact that the first issue has already been delayed for three months, it is quite questionable whether the editors will manage to keep this tight schedule. But at least it still seems possible that the first issue will be released in this year. I've contacted Shifter, one of the editors, and asked him what was up. He replied:

"Cheese diskmag is indeed quite a bit delayed, due to some rather unpleasant priorities (the portal and new TPB releases spring to mind as being less unpleasant). There's also the common diskmag thing regarding writers who still haven't finished their articles, despite their brilliantly honest intentions to finish them any day now. The graphicians did their job on time though, I expect that's a bit of a solace :) I'm still trying to get the interface of the new diskmag workable, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a release possibly in July at SE 2002."

"Content-wise, Cheese will be full of rage, bile and mayhem slightly slanted towards the scene like it was in the old days. Rants, vendettas and pure insanity are welcome to nest in our loins", says Shifter (in an earlier mail to me).

-=[ Evolution Chamber ]=-

Another quite young project Kript0n (member of razor1911 and uva) is working on the first Portuguese scene diskmag. Despite its focus on a local scene, it's going to be in English. The focus of this magazine is tutorials for beginning coders, trackers and graphic artists. Their main problem is also a lack of articles.

-=[ Conclusion ]=-

Out of the 6 projects mentioned above, 2 (33%) appear to have problems related to the engine, and 4 (66%) appear to have problems related to the articles. As there are fully functional and very flexible, Windows-based diskmag engines available to the public, such as Panorama (which was specifically created for Hugi, but can also be used by other diskmags if they get permission from Chris Dragan) and the WildMag engine, the problems regarding the engine could be easily solved, unless editors want their magazines to have a unique engine specifically coded for their magazine.

The greater problem is getting articles. This is an old problem; every magazine had it at least at the beginning. Since writers aren't paid in the scene, getting them to contribute is a matter of motivating them in a different way. Magazines have to reach a certain quality before people are willing to submit articles themselves. Editors of new diskmags have to be ready to fill the first issues with their own articles. Also, they not only have to advertise on public news sites and similar places, but establish and intensify contact with people interested in contributing. Founding a new diskmag requires a lot of time and commitment, which many editors-in-spe are not aware of when they announce their project.

What's interesting though is that those who announce new magazine projects are usually fairly new names in the world of diskmags. They have not gained a lot of writing and editing experience with other mags, but often their own magazine project is the first thing they do that is related to diskmags. Perhaps that's why they do not manage to write enough articles to fill the first issue on their own.

Adok/Hugi - 08 June 2002