I happened to note today that my first-ever professional publication was in April of 1979, twenty-six long years ago. I was sixteen and in high school when my good friend Jon Pitchford and I joked about making Dungeons & Dragons monsters out of the kinds of people who were the popular folks at school. I wrote up a short humorous monster description parodying the jocks and their hangers-on and sent “Narcisstics” off with high hopes to the official D&D magazine, The Dragon.
We didn’t hear anything for some time (which I expected, it wasn’t my first attempt at publication). I turned seventeen, winter turned into spring, then one day I stopped off as usual at the game shop (Gandalf’s Den in Eugene, Oregon, where I was soon working for most of the next four years), and the latest copy had our article in it. I remember racing over to Jon’s apartment at 13th & Kincaid near the UofO campus (he’d graduated from high school the previous year) with a copy of issue #24 to show him our names in print.
It took a letter to TSR (the publisher of both D&D and The Dragon) asking timorously about payment before we got our whopping $9 check. Split between the two of us, my portion just covered the cost of the two copies of the magazine I bought.
I wouldn’t get paid anything for writing again for another sixteen years, when I did an article for Step-by-Step Graphics on Oregonian graphic artist Steve Cowden.