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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

Pulp(science)fiction

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It's a word with two meanings. In the first, halcyon defines itself as another name for the kingfisher bird. But it's the second definition junior Derek Kagemann drew inspiration from in naming his pulp-fiction sci-fi magazine.\n"The reason why I chose it is because it also means better days," said Kagemann. "People talk about the 'halcyon days of yore,' which means 'back when things were better.' The gist of the magazine is we're trying to resurrect the styles and sensibilities of the early to mid-20th century."\nWith help from friends and local businesses, Kagemann has created, published and distributed Halcyon, his monthly vintage-style, pulp fiction magazine. Its price tag, illustrations and optimistic stories are reminiscent of the time period during the Great Depression when the hero dominated fiction writing and Americans were still able to purchase these forms of entertainment during an economic downturn because of their cheap price. Kagemann believes similar conditions exist in today's society, and hopes his magazine will fill a void in a fictional world overflowing with the anti-hero and tales of despair.\n"A lot of people are anxious about money, so I put out something that cost a dollar," said Kagemann, who has been writing fiction since he was a child. "I think there has been this fear and anxiety because the world has changed so much. People are anxious about the war or what have you. The problem is, the fiction nowadays reflects that. It's full of characters who are desperate and anxious. What I wanted to do was write a kind of fiction that's really involving but where we go back to the folk-tale hero, that impossible hero."\nKagemann added that with Hollywood's recent successful trend of turning comic books into movies, the entertainment industry is starting to identify society's need for hero-dominated stories.\nInside the cover of Halcyon's first issue, curious creatures and descriptive stories of adventure and intrigue grace the 32-page spread. Titles range from "Space Mariner X: Escape from Necropolis" to "Jupes," a light-hearted tale about aliens on Jupiter being a friendly species despite what their appearances may indicate to a stranger.\nTheir vivid tales and intricate illustrations were mostly created by friends of Kagemann. One of these friends is IU alum, Corwin Campbell.\n"I've known him (Kagemann) for a number of years," said Campbell, who contributed interior artwork to Halcyon's first ever issue in February. "He e-mailed me six months ago and asked if I'd like to do any art work for it. I've never seen anything published locally like this before. The pulp style is interesting."\nHowever, friends aren't the only ones contributing to the magazine. Halcyon's Web site, halcyonmagazine.com, has brought in submissions in from a whole host of locales. The magazine rotates every month between print and online publication.\n"That's the cool part about being on the Internet -- as soon as you have a Web site, people from all over can find you," said Kagemann.\nSubmissions have arrived from out of state and even a writer from as far as Belgium submitted a story to him via e-mail. \nKagemann points to a launch party the Blue Moon threw for Halcyon Feb. 22 as another outlet that got the magazine's name out.\n"We had amazing attendance at that," Kagemann said. "People were coming in buying 10 issues at a time. It got me in touch with a lot of people such as a local sci-fi writers' group and other artists and authors."\nWithout the generosity of the Blue Moon's owners, Kagemann's contacts might never have surfaced.\n"We were sitting in the living room when Derek walked in and asked us if we'd like to buy an ad," said Fagan Baldwin, who owns the Blue Moon with her sister, Kate Burgun. "My sister has a master's degree in marketing and she said 'You don't have a marketing plan. Let's throw a party for you.' It was a spontaneous thing that just sort of happened."\nAlthough Kagemann originally titled his magazine with a sci-fi label, he feels a slight change in genre is needed. \n"Next issue we are switching over to pulp fiction period," said Kagemann. "We found a lot of people who really related to the magazine, but said 'I really like detective stories,' and I want to include that. The more submissions I got, the more I started getting just generic science fiction stories. People honed in on the science fiction and didn't catch the pulp part. So I'm switching over to pulp fiction in general."\nPart of Kagemann's subtle genre switch will help him include a story by local author James Doerr. Doerr writes in a style similar to H.P. Lovecraft's horror fiction and his work can be found in several publications and anthologies. University-wise, Kagemann knows IU is a huge part of the Bloomington community and encourages student involvement with the magazine. He wants to work with student groups and use the magazine for fundraisers and is always open to student fiction and artwork submission. \nKagemann printed 10,000 copies for his first issue in February.\n"We are doing a lot of promotion with it," said Kagemann. "It's not a newspaper that goes stale if it's not sold within a week or a month."\nGen Con, a gaming fair held in Indianapolis this August, is one site he wants to promote the magazine. Kagemann hopes to drop 1,000 to 2,000 magazines into free gift bags given out at the event.\nAccording to its Web site, 13 shops in Bloomington carry the magazine on their shelves. The merchants range from book and comic stores such as the Vintage Phoenix and Boxcar Books, to less conventional retailers such as T.J.'s Gifts and Guitars and New Breed Tattoo.\n"We decided to take it on because it's local creators," said Don Wilds, manager of the Vintage Phoenix. "It stands out because it's a sci-fi magazine in a comic book store."\nOther retailers such as Avalon see Halcyon as an original publication as well.\n"It's the most unique magazine we carry," said Keith Pendley, owner of Avalon. "It's kind of like going back in time with the trendy, old classics."\nPendley told a story about a well-dressed 50-year-old man who came into the shop and picked up a copy of Halcyon. "After reading through it, the man said, 'Wow, this is something to inspire and spark the imagination and brings hope that there is something good again,'" he said. "The man ended up buying one for himself and one for his kid. I think that's a cool little story that really speaks to the uniqueness of the magazine."\nPerhaps Kagemann solidifies that point the best.\n"Why bother making something that's like every other magazine?" he said.

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