Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Arcade and Other Strange Stories - eBook


To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first time I got paid to write something (a short story from 1997 included in this book), I've retitled and rebranded my eBook of short stories, plus added a new introduction and a new essay called "The Retro Video Game Craze." You can check out the new cover, the new intro, and read the first few pages of the The Arcade and Other Strange Tales by clicking HERE.

(The original KISS pinball machine and Mortal Kombat play prominent roles in the title story.)



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Back Issue Magazine Hits 100


Against all odds, Back Issue has hit the magical 100 mark in a tough era for the magazine industry.

Established in 2003, the colorful periodical is published eight times a year by TwoMorrows Publishing. The editor is author and comic book scribe Michael Eury, who has a lengthy interview in this issue conducted by industry veteran Robert Greenberger. As an occasional contributor to Back Issue myself, I found the interview fascinating as Eury answered many questions I’ve been curious about for a long time, such as how he got the Back Issue editor gig to begin with and when he began reading comic books.

Back Issue 100, which has a nice heft to it that you won’t get from reading on your phone (though it is available digitally), focuses on Bronze Age fanzines and fandom, meaning the early 1970s up until sometime during the 1980s. There’s a history of comic book newzines (meaning the issue dips into the 1960s), such as The Comic Reader, along with a full chapter on The Buyer’s Guide to Comic Fandom (later The Comics Buyer’s Guide), written by the original publisher himself, Alan Light. Other chapters cover such fanzines as FCA, which stood for Fawcett Collectors of America, and Squa Tront, which was the best of the EC fanzines.

One chapter starts off interesting but then gets caught up in sales minutia that only hardcore fans (such as myself) will care about. “My DC Comicmobile Memories” is by DC’s former “Answer Man” columnist Bob Rozakis, who wrote little Q&A tidbits in the back of DC comic books decades before Google and Wikipedia. Anecdotes from his days driving the Comicmobile van, such as the little boy who always approached wanting ice cream (he struck out on two accounts—he only had a nickel, and the van only sold comic books), are a lot of fun, but casual fans may want to simply skim the sale info, which goes on for more than three pages.

Rounding out the issue are entertaining and informative chapters on The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide (featuring an interview by Robert Overstreet himself), FOOM (Marvel’s folksy fanzine), and The Amazing World of DC Comics (DC’s slick “prozine”). All three chapters feature commentary by people who were there, such as FOOM editors David Anthony Craft, Scott Edelman, and Tony Isabella, who can be forgiven for lapses in memory—this was many years ago, and FOOM was a minor part of many jobs he was doing for Marvel at the time.

Saving the best for last, my favorite part of the magazine is the "Super DC Con ’76" chapter written by Eury and featuring memories of the fabled event by Rozakis, Jack C. Harris, John Workman, and a fan named Jim DeLorenzo, who went with his dad when he was 14 years old. Jim includes photos of his convention ticket, the Superman statue that was presented to then-New York City Mayor Abe Beame, Superman’s birthday cake, Jim getting an autograph from Neal Adams, and more.

All in all, this is a fitting way for Back Issue to celebrate 100 issues. Here’s hoping for 100 more!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987 - NOW AN EBOOK

My most popular video game book, The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987, is now available via Amazon Kindle, which is a free app on your smart phone, tablet, or computer. You can check it out HERE. Or, you can order a hardcover version of the book, signed or unsigned, directly from me HERE.


There have been many top 100 books before, but rarely one like this. Here are the best of the early video games, shown in over 400 color photos and described in incredible detail in the entertaining and informative text. Each game's entry features production history, critical commentary, quotes from industry professionals, gameplay details, comparisons to other games, and more. This book celebrates the very best of the interactive entertainment industry's games from this highly crucial, fondly remembered decade. This pivotal period was marked by the introduction of the indispensable Atari 2600, Odyssey2, and Intellivision, the unleashing of the underrated Vectrex, the mind-blowing debut of the next-gen ColecoVision and Atari 5200, plus the rebirth of the industry through Nintendo's legendary juggernaut, the NES. Whether you're young or old, new to the hobby or a hardcore collector, this book will introduce you to or remind you of some of the greatest, most historically important games ever made.

*"This is an amazing book...detailed information...very high quality all around. - 8-Bit Eric

* "Truly beautiful from cover to cover...It should be a fixture on every coffee table in a video gaming household...Each section of the book is well-written and accompanied by high quality artwork and photos." - Patrick Scott Patterson

* "Author Brett Weiss knows his stuff...a respected name in the classic gaming community...he provides insightful behind-the-scenes information...the book is suitable for just about any type of video game fan." - The Video Game Critic

"100 Greatest Console Video Games 1977-1987 is truly an excellent book that anyone interested in video games should own. Whether you want to read about the details of the games or just admire the tons of images within its pages, this book is for you. Will you agree with every game selected? Unlikely, but thats part of the fun. If you dont find a game you think should have made it within the main book, be sure to check out the appendix at the end with 100 honorable mentions. That game may have made it there. Rating - 10/10." - Retrovideogamer.co.uk

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Coleco Expo Report by Leonard Herman




In a world that was fair and just, Leonard “The Game Scholar” Herman would be a household name, or at least as well-known as the more popular YouTubers. Not only did he write ABC to the VCS, the first comprehensive Atari 2600 book, he penned Phoenix, the first serious book on the history of video games. Alas, the world is unjust, but Lenny labors on (Phoenix is now in its fourth edition), and most everyone with a deep knowledge of retro gaming and video game history holds “Lenny the Legend” (as I and certain other gaming writers have taken to calling him) in high regard.

As a guest at the recent Coleco Expo in New Jersey, which has been getting gleefully skewered online, even by people who weren’t there, Leonard has a first-hand account of what it was like at the show. He admits that the turnout was fairly low (and my impressions are that there wasn’t nearly enough actual Coleco stuff there), but he had a nice time regardless. Without further ado, here’s Lenny's take on the event:

I first met Chris Cardillo at Toy Fair, 2016, during the Coleco Chameleon fiasco. We became Facebook friends, and I was happy when he disassociated Coleco from the Chameleon after it was definitively discovered that the console on display was a fraud. I assumed he was above board, and I personally have had no problems with him since then to change my opinion. So when I learned that Coleco was going to have a show in Edison, NJ, I immediately contacted them to sign up. Ever since Phoenix IV came out in November, it has been difficult for me to attend shows that are not within driving distance. The books are just too heavy to take with me on a plane and would be too expensive for me to ship. Then there's the added problem of having to ship them back home if I don't sell them all. So the idea that there was going to be a convention only 20 minutes from my house really appealed to me.
            Unlike other people who would be at the show, I was not invited, and therefore would have to pay for a table. Unfortunately, I inquired for details and learned that the tables were very expensive--much too expensive for a first-time unproven show.
            Chris Cardillo contacted me several weeks later and asked if I was going to come, and I told him I wouldn't be and the reason why. He then offered me a table at a much reduced price and I agreed.
            Over the next few months I received emails from Tina Cassano of Coleco about the show. I was mortified when I saw Facebook posts going out that showed the other writers who would be there, but there was no mention of me. And then Tina asked me if I wanted to give a talk. I agreed, only to discover that the best time they could give me was 8:00 p.m. on Saturday. I hadn't even been aware that the show would be open past five or six.
            I asked how many people they were expecting, and she said there were over 2,000 pre-orders. Unfortunately I only had 45 books to sell. I was very optimistic and thought that I should at least have enough books for 5% of the attendees. So I ordered another 50 just in case. And I had three of the deluxe color copies, but I ordered an additional five, not really expecting to sell too many because they are so expensive.
            So Saturday morning, August 5, I drove to the show. My friends, Rob Faraldi and Joe Mannarino, who both help produce my Game Scholar videos, agreed to meet me there to help out.
            It turned out my table was not on the main floor. Instead, I was set up by the arcade machines, which were loud. Tina explained to me that after people entered, they would walk down a small hall and enter this room before entering the main hall. I was located next to author Patrick Hickey, Jr, who was between me and author Jeffrey Wittenhagen. I had never met either of the two before but we soon became good friends. And throughout the day Tim Lapetino and Antoine Clerc-Renaud hung around with us. At one point the four of them decided to do a panel together and asked if I wanted to join but I bowed out.
            I did give my talk at 8:00, by which time I was tired. Then there were problems setting the projector. Because of this I don't think my talk about Ralph Baer and early videogames went to well. Even so, there were about 20 people in the audience, despite the time.
            Was there a good amount of foot traffic at different times? Were there 2,000 people? I don't think so. Someone later heard that there were just 650 pre-orders.
            That night I went to dinner with Tim, Jeffrey and Antoine. We had a great time together and decided that even if nobody showed up on Sunday, a day that is traditionally dead, we were going to continue having a good time.
            The New Jersey Exhibition Center was huge, and so the aisles were wide apart. This gave it an appearance of being very sparse. If the coordinators blocked off some of the room and made the aisles narrower, then it would have appeared to be more crowded. I didn't walk around that often, but I saw at least three large booths that were selling old games and hardware.
            On Sunday they moved our tables into the main room right next to the entrance. Again, there seemed to be traffic, which was good considering it was Sunday. I've been to many shows where Sundays were completely dead. I sold all of my hard cover books so I was happy.
            I also met Tyler Bushnell (Nolan's son) on Sunday. He was cool and very outgoing. I offered to drive him to the airport after the show since I was going that way, and we had a great talk about his father and Ralph and Ted (Dabney).
            I heard about the controversy regarding Chris and the community. I had been under the assumption that Coleco had banned homebrewers from using the Coleco and ColecoVision logos, which he had a right to do. I asked Chris about it, and he told me that there was one homebrewer that was producing a porn game, and Chris didn't want him using his logos, which I thought made sense. Later I learned how he was strong-arming other homebrewers. I have no opinion on this. All I could say that Chris and his staff were very cordial to us. They even had one girl who constantly came to us and asked if we needed anything.
            If I knew about the controversy right before the show, would I have attended? Probably. I had money and books invested in the show, which I couldn't afford to lose.
            In the end, was I glad I attended? Yes. I sold books and met new friends and contacts. Could the show have been better? Possibly. But I've been to shows that did a lot worse than this one. Did the show suffer because of the controversy? I really don't think so. How many additional people would have attended if there wasn't a boycott? I don't think whatever that number might be would have made much of a difference. ~ Leonard Herman

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Writers Wanted for Super Nintendo Book


The manuscript for Vol. 1 of my Super Nintendo book has been sent to the publisher. The book will be published sometime next year, hopefully spring.
I'm now accepting more submission for Vol. 2, which will feature all the SNES titles beginning with N-Z. If you are interested, please email me (brettw105 [AT] sbcglobal.net) with a brief description of your industry connection, and I will send you further guidelines and a list of games currently available. Here are the basics:
I'm looking for personal stories from industry folks about specific SNES games. By industry folks, I have a loose definition meaning reviewers, authors, programmers, retailers, convention exhibitors, YouTubers (1,000 or more subscribers), etc. 200-350 words per story.
No compensation is involved, but your story or stories with your bio will appear in the forthcoming volume, which will be a large, hardcover, full-color coffee table book. I'm not looking traditional for reviews (though some review content is fine); rather, I'm wanting stories with a personal slant: memories playing the game with friends, memories purchasing the game, memories beating the game, getting the game for Christmas, how a game helped you get through a difficult time, special hate for a game, etc. Another good thing to include is work experience related to a game, and some production history (though these things aren't required). The more insider info, the better, and if you can take readers back to the ’90s, that would be great. THANKS!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My New Promo Poster

My new promo poster for when I set up as a guest and/or vendor at video game conventions. Thanks to my lovely bride for taking the photo, and to McFarland for designing the poster.
Click on the image for a closer look:


Monday, July 10, 2017

My Appearance on Podcast Rock City - A KISS Podcast

I had a blast the other night appearing on a KISS podcast called Podcast Rock City. We talked about my background as a KISS fan, Encyclopedia of KISS, how I got into writing, and much more. You can listen HERE.