This month, we celebrate Dragon #400—a truly impressive milestone! The first issue of "The Dragon" appeared back in June 1976—which means this month also marks the publication’s 35th anniversary. To help observe this double celebration, we’ve asked past editors and editors-in-chief to share a few words about what Dragon has meant to them, as readers, as gamers, and as staffers.
Kim Mohan served as editor-in-chief for issues #49 (May 1981) through 114… and again, from issues #199 to 217 (May 1995; with issues #115 through 198 helmed by Roger E. Moore). Kim’s first issue included the samurai class, a look at wishes, a conversation with the artists Tim Hildebrandt—and the following announcement from publisher Jake Jaquet:
Welcome to issue #49 of Dragon magazine. Those of you who do not normally read that tall skinny box to the right of this column should do so at this time, as there have been some changes in the structure of the magazine staff since last issue.
It is difficult to not sound like I am beating my own drum as I say that I am now publisher, but such is the case.... Also on the promotion list is former Assistant Editor Kim Mohan, who now becomes Editor-in-Chief. In actuality, Kim has been performing all the functions normally associated with the title of editor for some months now, and it is only fitting that he now receive the title to go with the hassles.
Wizards of the Coast: Before you started working on Dragon magazine, can you remember the first issue you may have bought, read, or that simply resonated with you?
Kim Mohan: I imagine that everyone who came after me as editor has an answer to this question. Not me. I don’t remember seeing a copy of Dragon before the day I started working for the magazine. I’m pretty sure I was the first person hired at TSR who wasn’t a gamer.
Wizards of the Coast: When you became editor-in-chief, were you given any mandates regarding Dragon’s content? What was your own vision for where you wanted to take the magazine?
Kim Mohan: Mandates regarding content? Not that I remember. Pretty much any topic was fair game back in the heyday of rules variants. We never had a shortage of articles or article ideas. My only conscious goal as editor-in-chief was the same as any editor’s: Produce the most imaginative, most compelling material you can find, get it done on time, and then do it all over again next month.
Wizards of the Coast: How would you describe your time working with Dragon, perhaps in terms of alignment: chaotic neutral? lawful good?
Kim Mohan: You have to be lawful to make a magazine, because every editorial cycle is about turning chaos into order. You start with a bunch of pieces and a bunch of pages, and your job isn’t done until all the pieces are shined up and laid out onto those pages. You can’t be evil, because there’s no such thing as an evil editor. I tried to be good, and most of the time it worked out.
Wizards of the Coast: During your tenure, were there any particular articles or issues that stood out to you—either as exemplary of what you wished for the magazine, or that were just particularly difficult to put to bed?
Kim Mohan: I could see myself answering this question differently every time I thought about it. Dragon broke a lot of new ground in the early years. I remember being proud of the full-blown adventures that became a regular feature of the magazine back before Dungeon magazine came into existence. Other big productions stand out in my mind, such as any issue with a Tom Wham game in it and the extravaganza that was issue 100.
Particularly difficult to put to bed? They all were. If you’re an editor and a perfectionist, you never want to let go of anything until it’s flawless. But if you do make something flawless, you probably missed your deadline.
Wizards of the Coast: Who were your contemporaries at the magazine (and your predecessor as editor-in-chief)? Did they give you any words of wisdom for Dragon?
Kim Mohan: The people who raised me from a wyrmling were Tim Kask, the first editor of Dragon and the guy who hired me; and Jake Jaquet, who preceded me as editor and went on to become publisher of the TSR Periodicals empire. During my time in the job, our most prolific contributor was Roger Moore, who eventually accepted my offer to come to work for TSR and ended up moving into the editor’s throne, er, chair, when I left.
Did Tim or Jake have any words of wisdom for me? Probably, but I’ve forgotten them by now. Or maybe they just told me to have fun. I certainly did that.
Wizards of the Coast: Do you have any words of wisdom of your own for future Dragon staffers?
Kim Mohan: Just because Dragon isn’t what it used to be doesn’t mean that it isn’t what it used to be. Anyone who works on making this magazine has a tradition to uphold. Whether on paper or digital, the words that make up an issue of Dragon magazine are part of what drives our game and our hobby forward. Because a magazine provides the sort of immediacy that a big ol’ hardcover D&D supplement can’t (and that’s even more true in the digital age), Dragon can help players and DMs stay in the vanguard of what’s going on with the game. Keep every issue fresh, keep it new, keep it engaging, and Dragon’s role will never diminish.