[Pelinore.org] Imagine Magazine - A Review

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[Pelinore.org] Imagine Magazine - A Review

Post by Havard » Wed Dec 02, 2015 6:12 pm

Imagine Magazine - A Review
Pelinore.org wrote: TSR Hobbies (UK) Ltd, a subsidiary of TSR Hobbies Inc in the USA, published thirty regular issues and one special edition of Imagine Magazine between April 1983 and September 1985.

Imagine was envisioned by the parent company to be a UK version of Dragon, containing about fifty percent original content for the British market with the remainder of the content being taken from Dragon. The reality was somewhat different. The majority of the content was created by the staff of TSR Hobbies (UK) Limited, giving the magazine an independent tone.

In this series of articles, PelinoreRevived investigates and reviews the content of Imagine Magazine with the aim to answering the questions surrounding its founding and closure.

Imagine Magazine - A Review

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TSR Hobbies (UK) Ltd, a subsidiary of TSR Hobbies Inc in the USA, published thirty regular issues and one special edition of Imagine Magazine between April 1983 and September 1985.

Imagine was envisioned by the parent company to be a UK version of Dragon, containing about fifty percent original content for the British market with the remainder of the content being taken from Dragon. The reality was somewhat different. The majority of the content was created by the staff of TSR Hobbies (UK) Limited, giving the magazine an independent tone.

Imagine succeeded in challenging White Dwarf for a hefty share in the UK RPG periodical market. Despite its success, Imagine didn't generate enough profit and, under pressure from the American parent (which was at the time suffering from its own financial difficulties), TSR Hobbies (UK) Ltd was forced to cancel its publication. There are allegations that Gary Gygax never supported Imagine and speculation that the independent tone of Imagine, including the willingness of staff writers to write critical reviews of TSR products, was a contributing factor to Imagine's cancellation. In an interview given in 1999, not available online at the time of writing this article, Gary Gygax talks about the founding and cancellation of Imagine magazine (what follows is an excerpt of the interview stored in my PCs cache - you can make up your own mind about its veracity):

'Q: The highest and for many British gamers the most painful moment of TSR UK's activity was Imagine magazine. The magazine was launched as a competitor for Games Workshop's White Dwarf and, presumably, as a 'mouthpiece' for TSR products. It enjoyed a large following, seriously threatening White Dwarf's grip on the British market, but with issue #31 it was closed down. When some disgruntled staffers left TSR UK and started a new publication, "Game Master", to attempt to preserve the Imagine's experience (they kept various popular features as Pelinore, reviews, letters page, comic strips and so on), the magazine ran various articles with behind the scene details of Imagine's closure. Their pieces explicitly accused you of having never believed in the usefulness of an independent magazine for TSR UK, that you couldn't stand the freedom enjoyed by Imagine's writers to disapprove 'crappy' TSR products and to feature in approving terms competitors' titles and so having decreed, once back at the helm of TSR, Imagine's demise due to financial reasons. Perhaps these were only ex employees' poisoned arrows, but I'd like to know your opinion in thus subject (and many old British fans too!).

'A: As for lower echelon staffers believing that they were paid to be independent critics of TSR products, somehow being given free rein to exercise their budding critical talents, I can only shake my head in wonderment at such hubris. Biting the hand that feeds one has always been considered in bad taste. If such persons felt so overwhelming an urge to be independent, they should have sought employment elsewhere or struck out on their own. In short, I have absolutely no sympathy for such views. The very reason for their employment was to promote the TSR line and its success paid the wages for their livelihood.

'As a matter of fact, though, their misguided aims were not of the least consideration when I was again serving as the CEO of the corporation after the Blumes were removed from management roles. With other corporate officers assisting, we held a series of meetings to determine what steps were needed to bring TSR out of its debt position, have it again generate a positive cash flow, show a profit from sales. Of course some of these meetings were with Don Turnbull, he bringing full financial reports of the TSR UK operation to us for review. As we made drastic changes and cuts in the US operation, we also took a hard look at things in the UK. The magazine was costing money and we could not afford that, so it was cut. That's the story, pure and simple. Had the Blumes not so mismanaged TSR, such drastic action would not have been necessary. They had and I had no choice but to make unpalatable decisions. Better a magazine in the UK cease operation than the parent company go under, right? We had the bank breathing down our necks, of course, and excision as that of a losing operation of a subsidiary went a long way to demonstrate that we were serious about righting the TSR ship. By such means we kept the bank from calling in its loans.'

In this series of articles, PelinoreRevived investigates and reviews the content of Imagine Magazine with the aim to answering the questions surrounding its founding and closure.
-Havard

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