Sunday, February 15, 2009

Classic Home Video Games 1985-1988

My publisher, McFarland & Company, has the official description and order form for my second book up on their website (though the cover art is not yet available). It's nice to see that it will be published in hardcover, like the first book:

Classic Home Video Games, 1985–1988
A Complete Reference Guide
Brett Weiss
Foreword by Bill Kunkel

ISBN 978-0-7864-3660-6
ca. 55 photos, glossary, appendix, bibliography, index
hardcover (7 x 10) 2009
Price: $55.00

A follow up to 2007’s Classic Home Video Games, 1972–1984, this reference work provides detailed descriptions and reviews of every U.S.–released game for the Nintendo NES, the Atari 7800, and the Sega Master System, all of which are considered among the most popular video game systems ever produced. Organized alphabetically by console brand, each chapter includes a description of the game system followed by substantive entries for every game released for that console. Video game entries include publisher/developer data, release year, gameplay information, and, typically, 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 comparison between the modern gaming industry and the industry of the late 1980s.

About the Author
Former comic shop owner Brett Weiss lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. In addition to his reference books about classic home video games, he has written for numerous industry magazines.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Recently published in...

Comic Effect #47, which contains my article on how I got into collecting (as opposed to just reading) comic books:

When I was a little kid back in the 1970s, I was absolutely fascinated with super-heroes and would indulge my obsession at every available opportunity. Naturally, I watched The Superfriends, the Adam West Batman, the George Reeves Adventures of Superman, and the old Marvel cartoons (the ones with the Jack Kirby comic book panels and almost no animation). However, I was so hungry for super entertainment that I also consumed it in a number of other, less conventional forms. This included anxiously anticipating each installment of “The Dynamite Duo” in Dynamite magazine and watching entire episodes of The Electric Company for the sole purpose of seeing the incredibly brief, incredibly lame Spider-Man segments.

My older brother wasn’t into comics (he spent his leisure time building car models, digging holes, and inventing strange games for us to play such as “magnets et cetera” and “bucket ball”), but thanks to a cousin who collected Iron Man, Savage Sword of Conan, Vampirella, The Amazing Spider-Man, and a whole slew of other titles, I started reading of the exploits of men (and women) in tights at a very early age. At family gatherings, while the older kids went off to who knows where and the adults watched television and chatted away in the kitchen, I would squirrel myself away in my cousin’s treasure trove of a room for hours on end, delighting in fantastic worlds that were far more interesting than my mundane existence. (My cousin also collected Playboy, but I digress…)

Eventually, I began accumulating comic books of my very own. From time to time my mom would take me to Half-Price Books, where I could purchase comics for half of cover price (duh), meaning I could get issues of Captain America, Fantastic Four, Batman, and others for around 10 to 15 cents each. I would also pop into 7-Eleven and check out the spinner racks, but they had less of a selection (new releases held no special significance to me at the time) and they charged (gasp!) cover price.

When I got old enough to earn an allowance and ride my bike to the store, my trips to 7-Eleven increased exponentially, and each time I would ride home toting a sack of Marvels and, with increasing frequency, DCs. My pile of comics grew over the years and, with the exception of the occasional trade with a neighborhood kid, I kept my books and accumulated something of a collection. However, it wasn’t until I discovered the joy of subscribing that I truly became a collector. Up until then, I was just a random buyer, an avid reader, and an eccentric pack rat.

This all changed in 1983. In various issues of DC comic books there were ads offering one-year subscriptions for the following series: Batman, Superman, Firestorm, The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Captain Carrot. I was intrigued by the thought of getting comics in the mail but wary of making such a commitment (ah, the quandaries of youth), so I settled on a single title. After pondering in agony for several minutes, I decided on The Flash. Being a young male, I wasn’t about to subscribe to Wonder Woman (a girl book) or Captain Carrot (not a real super-hero). Batman and Superman were stars of a number of different titles, so subscribing to either one of their self-titled books alone didn’t seem all that special. I liked Firestorm, but Flash had more history and was a cooler character, so off went my $4.95 for 12 issues of The Flash.

More agony ensued as I waited the obligatory eight to 10 weeks for delivery of the first issue of my measly one-title subscription. Eventually, issue #323 came to my house, and I was therefore the happiest teenager alive. The gorgeous red, yellow, and black cover (penciled by the inimitable Carmine Infantino) featured Flash and his arch nemesis Reverse Flash running toward each other at full speed (natch). The insides were just as exciting as the cover as The Flash had to leave his bride-to-be (Fiona Webb) at the altar in order to pursue a newly returned Reverse Flash, who had killed his first wife (Iris). The cliffhanger ending (featuring Flash in a chokehold) left me breathlessly awaiting the next issue (and the next). Needless to say, I was devastated by the news of the cancellation of the title with issue #350.

Despite The Flash being canceled (not to mention the character’s death in issue #8 of Crisis on Infinite Earths), I began a lifelong fascination with the Scarlet Speedster and proceeded over the next few years to hunt down every issue of the series. In addition to turning me into a collector, the subscription also hooked me on the soap opera aspect of comic books, and I began putting together runs of an assortment of titles, including Firestorm, Daredevil, and Green Lantern. Prior to the subscription, I preferred Done in One stories because they were much better suited to my haphazard buying habits.

Eventually, my rabid interest in comic books led me to become a manager of Lone Star Comics, an owner of Fantastic Comics & Cards and, currently, a member of The Comics Buyer’s Guide review crew – all evidence of a fanaticism born from a simple 12-issue subscription form that I filled out over 25 years ago.