Sunday, September 30, 2007

Now online...

Sample pages from Classic Home Video Games, 1972-1984.

McFarland has posted several pages from my book on their website, including the preface and various entries for Atari 2600 and 5200, ColecoVision, Intellivision, and Odyssey2. For easy access, click on the following link:

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Recently attended...

The OAF (Oklahoma Alliance of Fandom) 40th Anniversary Reunion, where Buddy Saunders, Bart Bush, Don Maris, John Wooley, Steven Fears, Jerry Weist, Bud Plant, and other key figures of early comic book fandom gathered to share memories, re-establish friendships, and even buy and sell comic books, original art, and other memorabilia.

I was born the year OAF was formed, but I was treated like an honorary member of the fabled fan club (which once boasted such legends as Al Williamson, Alex Toth, and Reed Crandall among its membership). Buddy was kind enough to invite me to the invitation-only event, since he knows I have a strong interest in comic book history.

Bart Bush, who was one of the primary editors of the OAF fanzine (which was published to inform club members of meetings, conventions, and comic book news), discusses early fandom with Buddy and Rick Kelsey (a friend and fellow writer who accompanied me to the reunion).

Robert A. Brown, one of the founding members of OAF and an editor of the OAF fanzine. Back in the day, OAF had more than 200 members and was responsible for hosting a number of major conventions, including Wintercon and various Multicons. Guests at their shows included Buster Crabbe, Jim Steranko, Spanky McFarland, Will Eisner, and other famous figures.

Buddy checks out some of the merchandise available for sale at the reunion.

Buddy Saunders with his lovely wife, Judy. Buddy owns Lone Star Comics, and during the late '80s and early '90s, I managed one of his stores. These days, in addition to numerous other writing gigs, I crank out comic book descriptions for his website,

There were a number of activities scheduled at the OAF reunion, including an auction, movies, and a trivia contest. However, impromptu talking, laughing, and networking were obviously everyone's favorite way to spend the day.

Comic book historian Rick Kelsey discusses early comic book conventions with Steven Fears, a frequent contributor to the OAF fanzine. I was flattered to discover that Fears still suscribes to the Comics Buyer's Guide and recognized my name from reading some of my reviews.

As the saying goes, a good time was had by all, including me, who had fun being an OAF for a day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Recently published in...

Comics Buyer's Guide #1635

...where I review the following:
Spider-Man: Fairy Tales #1
Mythos: Spider-Man #1
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man Annual #1
Kiss 4K #1
Consumed #1

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Now playing...

The arcade version of Asteroids.

On a recent family excursion to Roanoke, which is a little town north of Fort Worth, we went to the legendary Babe’s, which serves the best fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and biscuits on the planet. More importantly, the restaurant is next door to a little arcade that is home to a dozen or so vending machines and arcade cabinets, including a soft drink machine that serves cokes in actual glass bottles and three genuine coin-op classics: Millipede, Ms. Pac-Man, and Asteroids, the latter of which is one of my favorite arcade games of all time (along with Mr. Do!, Tron, and Phoenix).

Not only is Asteroids a personal favorite, it almost made me fail junior high school (or at least the first period of seventh grade). During the early 1980s, I, like many of my contemporaries, rode my bike (a sweet black and yellow Huffy Pro Thunder) to school, which was about a mile and a half or so from my home. Unfortunately for my academic career, there was a Quickway convenience store near the school, and it contained three popular arcade games: Pac-Man, Phoenix, and Asteroids. Instead of riding straight to school, I would invariably stop at Quickway for a game or two (or three) and eventually mastered Asteroids to the point to where I could theoretically play it forever (which would’ve made me late to life in general, not just school).

As Asteroids fans know, the game, which boasts crisp vector (line drawn) graphics, puts players at the helm of a triangular ship that can shoot and fly in all directions and warp into hyperspace in case of an emergency. The objective is to blast floating space rocks into smaller and smaller pieces until they disappear, and there are large and small flying saucers to shoot as well. Over the weeks of playing Asteroids I developed a strategy that involved keeping a single asteroid onscreen, leaving my ship free to fly up the playfield with relative impunity, taking pot shots at the flying saucers as they appeared one by one.

This method, which I eventually discovered that other players across the country had figured out, is sort of a cheat (one rather intense guy at Classic Gaming Expo 2003 said that it violated the “spirit of the game”), but it gave me my fifteen minutes of fame back in the day as I could play for hours on one quarter, building up to thirty or forty or more ships in a single session (a free ship is awarded with every 10,000 points scored). When I got tired of playing the game, I would sometimes sell (for a buck or two) the rest of my game to astonished (or at least bemused) bystanders, who would invariably lose all of my hard earned ships at an alarming rate.

During the aforementioned trip to Babe’s Chicken, I tried out my old method and only scored a little over 20,000 points, meaning I was more than a little rusty. It’s probably just as well, though, because it’s one thing to be late for school, but another thing entirely to be late to dinner.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Recently published in...

The October 2007 issue of Toy Cars & Models magazine, where I regale readers (or at least endeavor to keep them awake) with a feature about slot car racing tournaments called "Slot Cars Gone Wild."
To visit their website, click on the following link: