As the cover of the premiere issue makes clear, Zonetrooper aims at becoming the magazine of sci-fi, fantasy, comics, and RPG. Expounding upon this premise, co-editor Bill Gladman explains in an editorial that Zonetrooper is “what happens when two guys get an idea stuck in their already overworked minds that just won’t go away.” That the idea to which Gladman refers is starting a magazine–or megazine, as the publishers have begun to call it–specializing in all of the aforementioned areas of entertainment speaks not only to the chutzpah that he and fellow editor Joseph Shover demonstrate as they dive head-first into the already saturated sci-fi indie-zine market but also to the ways in which print-on-demand technology has changed the publishing landscape.
The magazine, it turns out, can be ordered through Lulu.com, which means that putting it out doesn’t represent a major financial investment for the pair. This, however, is not to say that it doesn’t represent a major investment of time and effort–an investment that’s reflected in the fact that much of the writing in Zonetrooper is by Gladman and Shover. Through Gladman, we meet Jack the Rabbit, living legend of the Purple Plains, in the first two chapters of The Book of Noheim, while from Shover, we get Cronac: Temporal Enforcer (part one) and Major Tom’s Journal (part one), a reimagining of the David Bowie classic “Space Oddity.”
In addition to pieces by Gladman and Shover, the magazine features work by some other new talents as well. A manga-influenced comic strip calle “Cygan” by Stacy Gaston offers an explosive and bullet-riddled vision of a potential future, and game designer Joseph Matthews offers some thoughts on the problems (and solutions) of designing a role playing game centered on military campaigns. Though I’m no expert in this field, I can say without hesitation that Matthews has clearly put a lot of thought into the topic and offers a number of potential scenarios and variables for curious gamers to consider.
Perhaps the most interesting piece in Zonetrooper comes from game reviewer Levi Mendenhall, who offers commentary on the failure of videogame manufacturers to adequately support new games as they throw the majority of their marketing weight behind proven titles like Tomb Raider, Sonic the Hedgehog, and the Mario franchise. In short, it seems as if the videogame industry is playing the same game as the publishing industry: throwing big money behind the same-old same-old in order to keep quarterly profits high. Which is why magazines like Zonetrooper and small presses matter: they may not always put out the prettiest product, but at least they’re doing something new and something different. And, in so doing, they’re keeping imagination and creativity alive.
Given that Gladman and Shover are as interested in breaking new talent as they are in promoting their own work, Zonetrooper represents a golden opportunity for up and coming sci-fi writers, comic strip artists, and game designers. And the good news if you fall into any of these categories is that you can read the entire first issue online at Myebook.com to see if your work is in line with what the editors are looking for. After all, as Gladman notes in his introduction, one of the things that Zonetrooper is willing to do is find writers and artists that “the spotlight may have forgotten.”
So to recap: it’s a new publication, it specializes in sci-fi, and it’s a potential open market for writers, artists, and game designers. It’s called Zonetrooper, and you can read it for free by clicking on this very sentence.