Legends - The First Five Years Part 2
"The First 20 Issues"

by Marcus Pan

Ace and I began work on what was to be Legends Magazine No. 1 in my basement on a big, ugly, orange couch. It was after eleven at night. I work best at night, so we threw around ideas until it got late and quiet, then began to work on the issue. That was the only night he was there to help me with this project. Unfortunately, nothing he had drawn or attempted to draw ended up being used and it was me that put the whole thing together.

I took an essay I had written a little while back, my first attempt at a fantasy poem which later became the first Song of Albinor and a few game playing pieces and packaged it all together in a ragged looking thing called Legends No. 1. The cover had what looked to be a sword drawn by a drunken three year old (by yours truly) and proclaimed the feature article, Christian Hypocrites, which was the first part of my series. On the bottom in big letters was "Editor - Marcus Pan," a tribute to my lonesome work on the project. I even grabbed a humor poem rolling around work and stuck it at the end. The Credits page of this issue was inadvertently copied along with page 5 in error, so words were written across more words and it basically looked like shit. The copier was my father and the huge, oversized monster of a copy machine (reminiscent of Stephen King's The Mangler) at AT&T in Berkeley Heights. To this day few know that AT&T helped bring forth Legends Magazine. It was labeled as "October, 1990," but didn't hit the streets until the fitting holiday of the Winter Solstice, December 22. The entire issue was completely handwritten, looked like crap and was quite embarrassing, but was amazingly accepted by my friends and the Society for Creative Anachronisms and floated throughout Penzic.

The fantasy and humor themes continue to this day in Legends Magazine and issue 2 was no exception. The entire magazine this time was also written by hand, by myself (excepting one reprint) and followed (I believe) within a week right on the heels of issue 1. It contained the second part of my series entitled Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair. The cover showed a shadow of a distant castle on the hill and the handwriting was a little better, so things started to look up right away.

Issue No. 3 marked the first time anyone other than me had anything to do with this project directly. The cover, faded and washed out when copied, was drawn by a friend who used the name Wild Thing. A poem by my then girlfriend, Mary Mayfield, appeared as the page 1 piece and marked the first time any writing was contributed. Of course, part three of my series, entitled Testimony of a True Adventurer, appeared and this is the piece that propelled Legends to fame as it directly attacked and destroyed nearly every case the CLM made about what AD&D did to a person or people. Copies of this issue, released in the beginning of 1991, were seen as recently as the summer of 1995 floating through some SCA, Penzic and Ren groups.

Family, friends and SCA members clamored for more, so within a month issue 4 hit the streets. The artwork on the cover was done by me and came out very nice, celebrating the first in a new series entitled The Albinor Chronicles which highlight, in storybook form, the best AD&D sessions I've played or DMed in my campaign milieu called Albinor. This piece was loved by many and is one of my best. On the up side, this issue was the first done on a typewriter, a rickety old thing on which the p's and the d's came out real light and had to be handwritten in. It was also the first issue that had to be copied on single sided pages so the issue appeared much bigger than it was. On the down side, again I did all the work here except for some reprinted pieces. The heart containing "Tyger -L- Foxx" shows how much of a personal nature of myself the magazine really contains.

As the Albinor Chronicles series continued with The Broken Lands, a new one by Mary Mayfield, who penned the new alias Mar-ee, debuted with the first chapter of Arganatheon in issue 5. This series was never completed as we broke up and she deemed it necessary to burn all bridges. Gaming rules still took up huge chunks of the magazine and Mar-ee's work debuted on the cover.

Legends No. 6 was one of the best covers I ever created, showing a horse mounted fighter in full plate mail, lance pointed forward in combat. This cover heralded one of Legends' most highly acclaimed original works (by myself) detailing the first part of The Avenger, a brand new class for AD&D players. This issue also featured the third chapter of the Albinor Chronicles as well as one of my lyrical pieces. Issues still hovered between 10 and 15 pages each.

Legends No. 7 debuted Erric Z. as the cover artist, a new illustrator known simply as Rose and it's claim to fame was the continuation of the avenger rules that began in issue 6. Chapter 4 of the Albinor Chronicles, Trial of Castle Skarda, also appeared as did the first full-page illustration, by the newest artist Rose, called Angel of Mercy.

Illustrators of issue 8 included Mar-ee and the newest face, Bradley. A writing by him is also found at the bottom of page II. This issue only contained two articles Goals, a reprinted gaming rules piece and Into Drow Castle, the fifth chapter of the Albinor Chronicles.

Issue 9 was the Wilderness Special Issue with gaming rules on various facets of wilderness adventuring. The newest series debuting in this issue, the Songs of Albinor by yours truly, is a poetic fantasy series dealing mostly with Albinor that continues to this day. Reggie, Jessy and Hollywood debuted as artists, with Jessy and Hollywood each having their own full-page piece. Wood Elf by Jessy is one of the best illustrations ever to appear in Legends' pages.

The tenth issue rocketed to fame with one of my best Albinor Chronicles, Chapter 6 - The Capture of Corellon. Another new (and unfinished) series by Reggie debuted called Mystic Warrior and here he showed he should of stuck to artwork.

Legends No. 11 was the Vietnam Special Issue featuring First Blood, the first part in Legends' reprinted mini-series about the Vietnam War. Reggie's work graced the cover. By this issue Legends was putting forth less game playing articles. The humor theme continued, but the game playing theme began to become more of a returning one that didn't run straight through issue after issue. Temporary themes, like the Vietnam War for example, started to appear.

Twelve's cover had work by Reggie and brought forth yet another series (this one did run in it's entirety) by Dawn L. McCall. The series, titled Gelfling Hand, was one of the pieces that brought Legends Magazine a slew of bad media. Not only was it "really bad" as one critic put it, but it was extremely reminiscent of the movie The Dark Crystal. This nearly killed Legends, but I managed to trudge through it. Also by this issue the typewriter had died. I was back to handwriting This issue came out in January of 1992 and marks the beginning of Legends' regularity as a monthly magazine. Before this issues would come out rather chaotically.

Issue 13 contained Number 2 of the Songs of Albinor, Part III of the Vietnam Mini-Series and Chapter 7 of the Albinor Chronicles. This issue was greatly enjoyed. Reggie took a full page with his Jungle War illustration. While game playing was still not showing it's face, fantasy fiction continued strongly.

Fourteen's cover art is one of my favorites showing a mage in a cloak, both hands raised and the power of magic crackling at his fingertips. The artwork was done by Reggie. The Vietnam Mini-Series continued as did the Songs of Albinor here.

Issue fifteen was a special double-sized issue with 24 pages. The sword on the cover as well as the header on the Credits page (both by me) came out excellent. Rose debuts the first of a long string of beautiful poems in this issue and I follow it up with one of my own. The original Angel of Mercy artwork was found by her and donated (the one in issue 7 was drawn from her memory for me specifically) to the magazine. The Albinor Chronicles, Vietnam Mini-Series and Songs of Albinor series continue.

The next issue, May 1992's issue 16, breaks fifteen's 24 page record with 25 pages. Rose's art on the cover shines. The feature, a reprinted Reader's Digest article, Scientology - A Dangerous Cult Goes Mainstream, brings a flood of hate mail from that group. The final installment of the Vietnam Mini-Series, entitled The Wounds Inside, appears as well as a full-page illustration by the one-shot contributing artist John Ferry. By this time, no game playing articles have appeared since Legends No. 9 and the readers were beginning to bitch about it.

By issue 17 Legends was beginning to look better and better. It was still handwritten, but I hung on to the idea that it gave Legends a "personalized" and therefore "more attractive for a fanzine" look. The last of Reggie's artwork was run out here with a bang a full-page entitled Bodily Harm. The newest writer, Jaken Steele, debuted with another fantasy series entitled The Last Warrior which continues today (though I haven't seen a chapter in a long while).

Reprints are becoming commonplace by issue 18. This issue matched No. 16 in size with 25 pages and continues nearly all ongoing series with The Last Warrior (Chapter 2), Songs of Albinor (Number 6 - Battle of Drow) and the Albinor Chronicles (Chapter 9 - The Battle of Drow). Fantasy and humor continue as major themes.

Issue 19, dubbed the Back to Basics Issue, hit the streets in August 1992. Game playing returns as a major theme (much to the delight of many readers) and Rose's beautiful (and one of Legends' best) full-page illustrations graces page 14. It was entitled Queen of Darkness.

Another Legends special issue was No. 20. It was called the Series Spectacular and contained not only continuations of The Last Warrior, Albinor Chronicles, and Songs of Albinor, but the return of Gelfling Hand as well. No game playing in this issue and this, combined with Dawn McCall's inability to write a good story nor stray from the Dark Crystal motif, caused me and my magazine a little pain.