The following is an introduction to Laser and Sword Magazine.
So, I’ve decided to revive the serial short-story with a long-term two to three year goal of making it commercially viable. I’m a man born after my time, I guess. A nostalgia buff in the extreme: a twenty-seven-year-old who has willingly shelled out money to watch films made before his parents were born. I’m also a man with a vision and a dream.
I’ve always been a nostalgia buff. Every Saturday night, I podcast public domain episodes of the 1950s Dragnet show, which was produced more than 57 years prior. Not only that, I’ve got a growing audience, with an average of about 2,000 downloads a week for the past six weeks.
When the podcast began to catch on, a friend suggested it would be great if I did two Dragnet episodes a week instead of one, so as to alleviate his long wait between shows. I didn’t have the time to do it, but there was a better reason to keep with the one show a week format. It allowed people to be able to step back into time and experience the episodes as those who first heard them did. In essence, what we’ve provided on the Old Time Dragnet show isn’t just the episode plus some commentary, but the actual experience minus commercials.
On top of this, H. Michael Brewer’s Book, “Who Needs a Superhero,” brought home to me the importance of Super Heroes to our nation identity. Spiderman, Batman, Superman, etc. capture the imagination of our culture. Their stories have been told to every American generation for decades. They’re not only compelling heroes, but as Brewer wrote, they are illustrative of many great biblical truths without the writers even intending them to be.
Superheroes can also be a lot of fun. Their adventures are usually more spectacular, more daring, bold, and thrilling than the adventures of regular action heroes. While I remember many great superhero movies and TV shows from my youth, comics have, in many cases, become incredibly dark and border on immoral.
I dreamt of capturing the fun and power of these characters. I spent months wanting to create my own heroes, but unable to come up with compelling characters. Then, a flash of inspiration, and as the 1960s Batman TV show would say, “POW! BOP! BOOM!” a story was born, complete with costumed characters.
What to do with these stories became a challenge. To write them out as a novel didn’t seem right. I wanted people to get a chance to know these heroes before buying a long novel about them.
It was then that I hit on the idea for a magazine of serialized stories. Zorro, Flash Gordon, and many other great characters were introduced through Pulp Fiction magazines in the early part of the 20th century. If it was good enough for them, why not? Of course, serialized short fiction has all but died out. Television and comic books both have inserted their knives. Short fiction magazines have become more intellectual, with one shot characters that are here today and gone tomorrow.
But maybe, it’s ready for a comeback. So, I decided to start a magazine to serve as a forum for Christian serialized short stories.
This quarter’s premier issue not only includes a story from my new hero universe, but also includes the first of a series on A.L. Snyder, an established character I introduced in the anthology Light at the Edge of Darkness.
Thus, with two of my own stories, I had enough to begin a magazine.
So, I launched Laser & Sword Magazine with several ideas in mind.
First, I decided to publish Laser & Sword on Lulu. As a POD publisher, Lulu allows me to put my work out with no up front, out of pocket costs.
Second, I launched the Old Time Superman Show featuring episodes from the 1940s Superman radio show, which in most cases were serialized. My thought is that, if people enjoy radio serials, perhaps they’ll enjoy my magazine.
Third, I set up a newsletter that people can subscribe to from the Laser and Sword home page, so they can learn what’s happening with the magazine and development for the next issue.
Fourth, we’re pleased to announce a special blogger subscription rate. To purchase a normal e-issue of Laser and Sword, it’ll cost $1.25 an issue, or $5 for four quarterly issues. With our blogger subscription, bloggers get access to all issues of our zine for $2 a year simply by placing an ad for our magazine on their blog for the life of their subscription. Contact me if you're interested.
Finally, I’m confident enough in the stories that I’m willing to give away the first issue (at least the electronic version), so people can sample the magazine for themselves, get to know the characters, and see if they'd like to follow their adventures.
If You Build It...
Of course, there's always the question of whether I'm serious. Will this work? Can someone actually be successful selling a genre that's been out of style for decades? What's next? A new Adam Graham leisure suit?
Just as people have subscribed to the Dragnet podcast in order to experience the radio show episodes in their original airing order, exactly like those who listened heard them nearly sixty years ago, I think many people would love the experience of episodic fiction: an exciting cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more, fun characters, and a sense of anticipation when you get the next issue. That, not a pdf file or soft cover magazine, is the actual product.
Will our plucky entrepreneur succeed in blending nostalgia together with modern speculative fiction and printing methods? Will he find his audience? Find out in the next thrill packed post from the editor of Laser & Sword.