Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Recently published in...


Comics Buyer's Guide #1662, where I review:
Green Lantern: Rebirth #1 Special Edition
and:

The Flash: Rebirth #4
DC Comics
$2.99, color, 32 pgs.
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Grade: 2.5 Stars (out of 4)

When compared to Green Lantern: Rebirth, in which the usually reliable Geoff Johns masterfully redeemed Hal Jordan, The Flash: Rebirth has thus far been a letdown. Final Crisis brought a reluctant Barry Allen back from the dead, and this six-issue series plays off of that resurrection, featuring an aloof Barry and a strange-acting Iris Allen.

In this issue, Reverse Flash battles Barry, Jay Garrick, and other speedsters, with the fights frequently getting bogged down by speed force technobabble. For example, Max Mercury delivers this yawn-inducing groaner: “When you run, you generate the kinetic wall between the present and the time barrier. It’s an electrical energy that exists in every dimension, every universe and every era.”

Geoff Johns likes him some DC history, and Flash fanatics will feel a tinge of nostalgia when Johns references Julius Schwartz’ late, lamented “Flash Facts,” and when he refers to Linda being Wally’s connection to the corporeal realm. As always, Ethan Van Sciver’s art is beautiful, the pages crackling with electricity, the characters appearing bold, detailed, and larger than life.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tron

Tron Legacy, a 3D film from Disney, is "only" a year away (Dec. 17th, 2010 is the official release date). To say I'm looking forward to it is an understatement. I loved the original Tron, primarily for its cool concept and groundbreaking visuals. Here's hoping the new movie has a tighter, more coherent plot than its progenitor.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Recently published in...


Comics Buyer's Guide #1661, where I review:

Gotham City Sirens #1
DC Comics
$2.99, color, 32 pgs.
Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: Guillem March
Grade: 3.5 Stars (Out of 4)

Written by Harley Quinn creator Paul Dini, Gotham City Sirens stars Batman’s three sexiest enemies: Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Cat Woman. Issue #1 finds the enigmatic Cat Woman rescuing a pair of innocents from a skull-faced super-villain named Boneblaster (his sonic pulse gloves can splinter bone), with Ivy stepping in to lend a helping vine. The titular trio moves in together—a great concept for a monthly series—first with a mesmerized Eddie Nigma, and then on their own.

Harley, Ivy, and Cat Woman have distinct, well-defined personalities. Instead of telling readers this, like a lesser writer might do, Dini shows readers this through the characters’ actions (Ivy seems at once majestic, na├»ve, and sinister regarding her love for plants, for example). In addition, there are fun moments galore, including comical appearances by Zatanna (in which Ivy shows just how formidable a foe she can be) and a shady real estate agent known as The Broker (who finds hideouts for super-villains).

Pretty, pleasant, eye-pleasing art by Guillem March (Joker’s Asylum: Poison Ivy) seals the deal.



You can subscribe to the Comics Buyer's Guide, which is the world's longest-running magazine about comics, here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Geeks Speak

Kevin Muldoon of Retro Gaming Consoles interviewed me recently regarding my writing career and interest in gaming.

You can read the interview here: http://www.retrogamingconsoles.com/

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Recently published in...

Video Game Trader #14, which contains four sample pages of my new book.

You can access these (and other) sample pages here.

And you can subscribe to Video Game Trader here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Can't hold a Kindle to my eBook!

Classic Home Video Games 1985-1988 is now available as a downloadable eBook for Amazon's newfangled Kindle device, and for that ubiquitious gadget known as the iPhone. The eBook edition of CHVG 85-88 is only $19.24. Click here for ordering information.

Wonder Woman & Green Lantern ain't got...

nothin' on me.

The family and I took in a trip to Six Flags over the weekend, and I just had to pose with my fellow Justice Leaguers, Wonder Woman and the John Stewart Green Lantern. The Pink Thing was delish, but it's not much of a weapon.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames

Written by Leonard Herman, who also authored ABC to the VCS, Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames is now back in print. For ordering information, check out Lenny's website:


http://www.rolentapress.com/



Friday, October 30, 2009

Brandon, aka Obliterator918 on the Digital Press message boards, took this video footage of OVGE 2009:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Review

Thanks to Earl Green for the following write-up about and photo of my books in his report on OVGE:

Author Brett Weiss had his new Classic Home Video Games book for sale too, and I made sure I grabbed one by the end of the show; this is a companion volume to his incredible all-encompassing volume covering the early years of the industry; this volume covers the NES (a huge library which takes up a lot of the book), Sega Master System and their contemporaries. Very highly recommended.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oklahoma Video Game Expo 2009 -- REPORT!

I got back late last night from the 2009 Oklahoma Video Game Expo, which was held at the beautiful (and quite accomodating) Spirit Bank Event Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is about a 4.5 hour drive from where I live in Fort Worth, Texas. Fortunately, the drive was well worth it as I got to catch up with friends, sell and sign a bunch of books, and even unload some extras from my collection. Kudos to con promoter/organizer Jesse Hardesty for putting on a great show.

Both editions of Classic Home Video Games for sale.


I sold a number of hard-to-find ColecoVision games and much more.



An interactive display...

...of the infamous Nintendo Power Glove.


Trade-N-Games was on hand, selling games and their photo/price guide, Classic '80s Home Video Games. With its color pictures and prices, their book would make a nice companion to my first book (Classic Home Video Games 1972-1984), which contains descriptions/reviews of each game.


Boxed NES goodness from Trade-N-Games. Check out their online store here: http://www.tradengames.com/productcart/pc/home.asp.

A number of arcade cabinets were set on free play, including Space Duel, which famously appeared on the cover of The Who's It's Hard album.


Cool Pac-Man collectibles.


Proof that women attend video game conventions.


It was nice catching up with Rob "Flack" O'hara, who had a table next to mine, selling boxed systems and copies of his books, Commodork and Invading Spaces. You can check out Rob's always interesting blog here: http://www.robohara.com/.


Though they weren't for sale, it was cool to see all these fighting games on display.


It was nice visiting with Earl Green, whose DVDs are indespensible for classic gamers. You can catch up with Earl here: http://www.thelogbook.com/earl/


Darren "98PaceCar" (on the right) had a table next to mine, and it was a blast hanging out with him, joking around and talking videogames. Thanks to Darren for watching my table periodically so I could check out other tables and take restroom breaks.


One exhibitor had at least one copy of every known videogame-based board game on display. Very cool.

All in all, OVGE 2009 was a success. I had some laughs, made some extra cash, and even won the Atari 2600 tournament, which included 3-minute rounds of Berzerk, Kaboom!, and Centipede. The prize was an Atari Jaguar (which will make a nice backup system, since I already have one) and a Coleco tabletop Pac-Man, which is an excellent addition to my collection.

One more thing. Before I even got to the con, I stopped off at a couple of Vintage Stock stores and made a great find: Mattel Basketball 2 and Tandy Championship Electronic Football, both boxed with manual and in excellent condition for only $7.99 each.

Recently published in...


Comics Buyer's Guide #1660, in which editor Brent Frankenhoff asked us writers to submit our holiday wish lists:

Here's mine:

1. Bone Volume 1: Out from Boneville from Scholastic. Introducing this fun, funny, and adventurous series to a traditionally non-comics reader of any age would be a great Christmas gift indeed. And it’s only $9.99 in color.

2. The Flash Archives, Vol. 1. Robert Kanigher, John Broome, and Carmine Infantino (bolstered by editor Julius Schwartz) introduced Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash, by way of ingenious (if sometimes endearingly ridiculous) SF stories that remain enjoyable today.

3. Super Friends: The Lost Episodes DVD. As a huge Super Friends fan, I purchased this recently released, two-disc set and discovered that there were two or three episodes that I have little recollection of seeing back in the day. Includes an episode where Superman journeys back to Krypton in his Supermobile an hour before Krypton exploded.

4. Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell (hardcover). Originally published in 1936, this is the best piece of fiction I have ever read, telling the story of impoverished poet George Comstock, his tease of a girlfriend, his job as a lowly book clerk, and his seemingly unkillable plant. Anyone with artistic aspirations should read this humorous, yet heartbreaking novel.

5. Classic Home Video Games, 1985-1988 by Brett Weiss. Okay, this is a shameless plug, but anyone with a fondness for the era of gaming that gave us the Nintendo NES, the Sega Master System, and the Atari 7800 could do worse than this book, which describes and reviews every game for those systems (moreover, there’s a foreword by ex-comic book writer Bill Kunkel).

The top gift idea for me:
Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music Director’s Cut (40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition with Amazon Exclusive Bonus Content).
I was born during the Summer of Love (1967) and didn’t have hippie parents (meaning I wasn’t one of the little naked two-year-olds at Woodstock), but I am a hippie at heart (if not in execution) and would love to snag this DVD boxed set from some sympathetic flower child.

Also, CBG #1660 includes my review of:

Nick Magazine #157
Nickelodeon Magazines
$3.99, color, 32 pgs.
Grade: 2 Stars (out of four)

Like many newsstand magazines, Nick Magazine has shrunk in size, with this installment weighing in at only 34 pages. Dubbed the “frighteningly funny October issue,” the mag contains mostly comics, including four SpongeBob strips, the funniest of which has Plankton zapping Krusty Krab customers with a cyclopto-ray. The second funniest (not to mention the grossest) finds SpongeBob clipping (and replacing) his fingernails.

Another strip worth mentioning is “Don’ts” by the legendary Gahan Wilson, whose work has often appeared in such weighty publications as Playboy and The New Yorker. “Don’t” exhibits Wilson’s trademark creepy characters, dark surprises, and downright amusing moments. Comic book fans may miss it if they blink, but Evan Dorkin has a small cartoon panel on page 20.

Otherwise, Nick #157 is readable, but nothing special. The real shame is its thinness. The Internet is an incredible tool and source of entertainment, but the unfortunate downside is the effect it’s had on the magazine publishing industry. Most kids, teens, and twenty-somethings seem to prefer online content to flipping through actual magazine pages.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Oklahoma Video Game Expo 2009

While the family holds down the homestead this weekend, I'll be up in Tulsa at the Oklahoma Video Game Expo, signing copies of my new (and old) book, selling classic video games, and hanging out with fellow gamers.

Here's the official press release:

Oklahoma's Only Retro Video Game Exhibition Returns!

Classic video games will once again rise from history as mid-America's one and only OVGE returns for the sixth Oklahoma Video Game Exhibition.

On October 24, 2009 video game collectors and enthusiasts from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, and even further will come together at the Spirit Bank Event Center in Tulsa to celebrate the history of the video gaming industry. “Before the OVGE, people from the surrounding states had to travel across the country for an event such as this,” said Jesse Hardesty, founder and organizer of the OVGE. Doors will open to the public at 9:00 a.m. and close at 5:00 p.m. Cost of admission for ages eight and above will be $5 dollars at the door.

In 1972, the video game industry began with the release of the Odyssey by Magnavox, the first multi-video game system for the home. However, in the early ‘80s an overflow of games and poor sales forced many companies to close resulting in drastic drops in prices for their merchandise. Companies still in business could not compete with the low pricing and lost money from their over stocked inventory causing the great crash of the video game industry in 1983. Since the rebirth of the industry in 1985, with the introduction of the Nintendo Entertainment System, video game sales have flourished.

Still, many video game players are returning to classic video games. With the advanced graphics of today’s video games, why are so many people fascinated with the classics? “Even though modern game systems have amazing graphics and sound, the most important aspect of any video game is that it actually be fun to play. Because classic game systems, like the Atari 2600, had very simple graphics, game designers had to focus on the game-play. Those same games that were fun in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s are still just as much fun today,” stated Albert Yarusso, modern video game programmer and co-founder of AtariAge.com.

"With video gaming being today’s main form of home entertainment, the history behind it should not be forgotten,” said Hardesty. “The Oklahoma Video Game Exhibition is providing the youth and their parents a chance to visit and interact with that past.” Numerous video game systems, computers, and arcade machines, will be set up for the public to play. Vendors and exhibitors will have memorabilia on display with many items for purchase.

The OVGE is organized by a group of gaming enthusiasts who want to share their hobby and passion for classic and modern video games with the public.

For more information, visit http://www.ovge.com/index.html

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Recently published in...


Comics Buyer's Guide #1659, where I review:

Chew #1
Image Comics
$2.99, color, 28 pgs.
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Rob Guillory
Grade: 3 Stars (out of four)

Tony Chu is a “cibopathic,” meaning anything he eats (other than beets) gives him information about that food, such as where it came from, who picked it (in the case of apples), or who slaughtered the cow to get it (in the case of beef). Naturally, Tony’s gift makes him an effective police officer, but perhaps a little too effective. After biting off the face of a perpetrator to glean information regarding the deaths of several young women, Tony gets in trouble with his boss.

Chew #1 begins as a buddy cop team type of book—picture Beverly Hills Cop decorated with gore and psychic phenomena—but takes a different turn about half way through the issue. The concept is gross and a little off-putting, but this is a fairly entertaining take on the psychic detective subgenre. There’s a bit of sociological science fiction at work as well, thanks to the bird flu making the consumption of chicken illegal.

The stylized art is at once grim and cartoonish, making it a nice fit for the funny, funky story.



Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cheap Trick @ Kate's Track Shack

Like many retro-gamers, I enjoy many old-school endeavors, including building models, watching classic movies and cartoons, and collecting and listening to LPs (love that thick, rich, meaty sound). One thing I've left safely in the past is 8-track tape technology, which is a fragile, flawed, outdated way of enjoying music. I'll never forget listening to Kiss' Destroyer in my Dad's old truck, with songs fading out, only to kick back in as the reel would change to the next track (or however the technology worked, or, more accurately, didn't work).

Despite my current disinterest in 8-tracks, my retro sensibilities find it incredibly cool that Cheap Trick, a band I grew up listening to, recently contacted my sister's sister-in-law about producing copies of their new CD in 8-track form. Kathy and Dan Gibson run Kate's Track Shack (http://www.katestrackshack.com/), which is located in Arlington, Texas, about 25 minutes from my house. They buy and sell 8-track tapes and players and have become quite well-known in their field (as exemplified by Cheap Trick actually contacting them).

To purchase a copy of Cheap Trick's new album (called The Latest) on 8-track (or on CD or LP), check out the band's website: http://cheaptrick.shop.musictoday.com/Dept.aspx?cp=10_21036.

I may no longer listen to 8-tracks, but hats off to Cheap Trick and to Kathy and Dan for helping keep the '70s--an era that gave us Alien, the Atari 2600, Star Wars, and a million other great things--alive and well.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Classic Home Video Games 1985-1988 -- REVIEWED!

The first review for my new book showed up on Amazon today:

For anyone that is interested in the Nintendo NES, Atari 7800 and Sega Master System this book is well worth purchasing. This guide does a good job of providing a quick and informative overview of all US licensed games for each system. Considering that there are over 700 games for the Nintendo NES alone, a guide like this helps the potential gamer to home in on games that fit their taste. That way you can only purchase games that you might enjoy.

Overall the book is an interesting read and I doubt that anyone who plays video games wouldn't find it interesting.

~By Starwander

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Stop at GameStop

GameStop recently opened one of their signature stores in Southlake, TX, which is a super rich city near Dallas/Fort Worth (a recent survey found Southlake to be the highest median income city in the entire United States). I missed the grand opening (which promised game tournaments, character appearances, and the like), but I did make it out to the store this past Sunday.

On the way to the fancy new GameStop, I stopped at a regular GameStop right down the road and asked them about the new store. The guy behind the counter, who appeared to be in his early 20s, said it was a great store, but that it had only one problem: they didn't carry GameCube titles. He further stated that his store was an "old-gen" store while the new store specialized in "current gen."Characterizing any GameStop as "old-gen" is amusing at best, but I guess GameCube is retro in some people's minds.

Further, when I went to the checkout stand at the regular GameStop, Mr. "my store specializes in old-gen" looked puzzled when I placed Gradius V forthe PS2 on the counter. He said he had never heard of Gradius, which is no crime (actually, I think it is a misdemeanor in some states), but his "old-gen" cred certainly took a hit.

When I arrived at the super duper, fancy shmancy GameStop, I was impressed with its lighting, ultra modern fixtures, and the like, but it was an exercise in wasted space. I'm sure GameStop has a business model that works with McDonalds-like proficiency, but it's a shame they can't carve out a small section in their stores (especially their jumbo super stores) for homebrews or some other product that shows the corporation has a soul.

I'm not a GameStop hater like some (I've gotten many MIP bargains over the years from their previous-gen display racks, and independent game stores benefit by GameStop not carrying old-school games), but wouldn't it be cool if they carried new Atari 2600 titles (and other homebrews)? Surely, it wouldn't bankrupt that black, white, and red behemoth.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sample Pages of My New Book

McFarland has posted sample pages of my new book on their website. You can check them out here.

You can read sample pages of my first book here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Classic Game Fest 2009 -- Austin, TX

Friday, July, 31st, while my family gets the house ready for my son's 13th (gasp!) birthday party, I'll be doing a book signing at Game Over Video Games for Classic Game Fest 2009, a fun-filled event featuring a Dr. Mario Tournament, a costume contest, a screening of the Super Mario Bros. movie, and more. For more info, check out Game Over Video Games.

For a look at pics from the last autographing I did at Game Over, check out this previous post.

(BTW, I'll be home in time for the actual birthday party, Ryan, so don't worry.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cover Me

The other day, after returning home from a trip to Galveston (where I had a great time with the family, swimming, wakeboarding, and building sand castles), I was pleased to discover these two magazines in the mail.

Video Game Trader #13, which published my Super-Hero article as their cover feature.



And McFarland's Fall 2009 Catalogue, which includes listings/descriptions of hundreds of new books from my publisher.

I was surprised to find my book featured on the back cover.


Freelance Writing Opportunity for Gamers

Digital Press is looking for non-fiction video game stories for a new book.

Here is the information from Rob Strangman:

One of the most popular parts of the various Digital Press Guides is the LORE section. And one question that's been asked over the years is "will there ever be a book consisting solely of LORE stories?" Until now, though, there has not been a concrete answer.Today, I'm happy to announce that the answer is in fact yes. Joe and I have been discussing the particulars, and we're ready to start taking submissions.

This is where you come in. Anyone interested in contributing a story to be published in the book feel free to submit it to gradiusone@yahoo.com with the subject heading "DP LORE Book Entry". The deadline for all submissions is September 20, 2009. There is no scheduled release date yet, but you can expect that to be announced in the near future.

Here are some basic rules: You write up a non-fictional account of some gaming moment, memory, event, or recollection, then send it to me. This post should be in essay form (we will help with the editing) and most importantly should be as ENTERTAINING as possible. It doesn't necessarily have to be funny - but intrigue makes for good reading, and good reading increases the chance that you'll be published.

Your story can be as long as you'd like but in the past we've always preferred stories that take up less than a full page in 10pt text. Grammar, spelling, editing all count but we will assist. It just gets you points if the thing is written well because that means it reads well right out of the gate. We ask that your story be truthful. You can embellish, of course, but wildly unbelieveable stories are usually cast aside.

I'm looking forward to reading what you send in! Good luck!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Classic Home Video Games 1985-1988 - NOW AVAILABLE!

For ordering information, click on the following link:

Classic Home Video Games 1985-1988

Here's a description of the book:

Introduced by Bill “The Game Doctor” Kunkel, one of the most important figures in all of classic gaming, Classic Home Video Games 1985-1988 contains detailed descriptions/reviews of every U.S.-released game for the Nintendo NES, one of the best, most popular video game systems ever produced. The book also contains detailed descriptions/reviews of every U.S.-released game for the Atari 7800 (revised, expanded, and updated from Vol. 1) and the Sega Master System, both of which maintain a loyal fan base to this day.Organized alphabetically by console brand, each chapter in this book includes a description of the game system, followed by substantive, literate, fun-to-read entries (most 125-185 words in length) for every game released for that console, regardless of when the game was produced (meaning hundreds of games are covered).

Each video game entry includes publisher/developer data and the release year, along with gameplay information and, usually, the author’s critique. A glossary provides a helpful guide to the classic video game genres and terms referenced throughout the work, and a preface provides a look at the industry at the time (and how it relates to gaming today), along with anecdotes from the author, a full-time writer who has been a devoted gamer and game collector since the days of Pong, Pitfall!, and Pac-Man.

Classic Home Video Games 1985-1988, which is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Classic Home Video Games, 1972-1984, also contains photos, historical information, and comparisons to arcade classics, computer games, and similar games for other consoles. Aimed at hardcore gamers, casual fans, and pop culture scholars alike, Classic Home Video Games 1985-1988 is must-reading for anyone interested in the history of the industry and the playability of its games, namely that fondly remembered era that gave us the Atari 7800, the Sega Master System, and the Nintendo NES.

Recently published in...

Comics Buyer's Guide #1657.

Where I review:

Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #1
Marvel Comics
$2.99, color, 32 pgs.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Sean Chen
Grade: 3 Stars (out of 4)

Mostly setup for the next four installments, this issue takes place in the aftermath of such “events” as Civil War, Illuminati, and Secret Invasion, with Reed Richards blaming himself for all that has gone wrong in the world. To make things right, he has constructed a “bridge,” which lets him observe other earths in order to see how they have solved various problems. Adding to the drama is an attack on the Baxter Building by H.A.M.M.E.R. Agents, who are soldiers in the employ of the recently empowered Norman Osborn.

Jonathan Hickman, slated to follow Mark Millar on the ongoing Fantastic Four title, appears to “get” the family dynamic and personalities of the FF. Reed feels obligated to use his smarts to make the world a better place; Sue worries over Reed, but shows leadership skills of her own; Johnny feels lost without his little black book; and Ben acts gruffly, but is a good friend. Sean Chen provides semi-capable art—the sci-fi machinery is sleekly designed, but the characters, though recognizable, exhibit odd facial expressions.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Drive-In Movie Manor

While vacationing recently with my family, we saw some amazing sights (Pike's Peak, the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, etc.), but one of the more esoteric things we did was visit the Best Western Movie Manor, in Monte Vista, Colorado.

The kids were dying to see Drag Me to Hell, but Mom preferred Night at the Museum 2, so guess who won out? If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

We stayed in the Charlton Heston room, which was cool since he's in some of my favorite films.

This was the view from our room (where you can see and hear the film being played), but we chose to watch the movie the old fashioned way: from our car.

The History of Kelloff's Movie Manor (click on the photo for a closer look).
Prior to the screening of the film, we had time to play on the sturdy steel playground, which was built in 1960.