Wednesday, February 28, 2018

SNES Omnibus Contributor Spotlight #9 - Jason Heine

A professional musician, entertainer, and convention organizer, Jason Heine is an expert on sound and production, and his stories give the SNES Omnibus project a well-roundedness found in few other gaming books. It was cool meeting Jason at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo last year, and I look forward to seeing him this summer at the Game On Expo in Phoenix, where I’ll be a guest panelist and exhibitor. A good friend of my buddy John Lester, and a respected name in the industry, Jason has the kind of energy, creativity, and enthusiasm that makes gaming a fun and unique hobby.

Here’s Jason’s bio as it will appear in The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendoand Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M):

Jason Heine is a producer and entertainer from Phoenix, Arizona. His audio work includes soundtrack composition, sound design and voiceovers. His work can be found in video games available on Steam, Super Nintendo, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Jason is Co-Owner of Game On Expo in Arizona, the largest video gaming expo in the Southwest. He produces the immensely popular All Gen Gamers Podcast featuring Pete Dorr, Gamester81, Happy Console Gamer, Metal Jesus Rocks, and Sexy Ben, as well as The Music, Games & Gear podcast. Jason is a professional drummer and performs nightly improv drum covers on his Heine House Twitch channel.

Monday, February 26, 2018

SNES Omnibus Spotlight #8 - Jeffrey Wittenhagen

When I first met Jeffrey Wittenhagen a few years ago, I didn’t quite know what to think. He was friendly enough, but a YouTuber writing books? What!? In the time since, I’ve discovered that he has a lot of energy and enthusiasm for gaming, and that he's been writing game reviews since the 1990s. Our writing styles are decidedly different, but he has a devoted following for his self-published books, his podcast, and his videos. This video (adult content warning), made by a fan, will give you some idea of the devotion I’m talking about.

Moreover, Jeff has a trait I appreciate: he can handle constructive criticism and still remain friends with said critic. When I gave his NES book a middling review, he took it in stride, which shows me a great deal of character and confidence. Further, he’s since collaborated with said critic, contributing some very interesting stories to my SNES Omnibus project.

Jeffrey Wittenhagen is an avid retro video game author, collector and gamer, and he’s a member of the VGBS Gaming Podcast. Jeff has written and published several books, including Hidden Treasures and successful Kickstarter releases of The Complete NES, The Complete SNES, and NES Oddities & the Homebrew Revolution. Supplementing the books are “Video Game Compendiums” consisting of personal stories from contributors. Jeff is always working on tons of projects and puts as much passion behind them as he possibly can.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

SNES Omnibus Spotlight #7 - Matt Raithel

Matt Raithel is a valuable contributor to the SNES Omnibus project, writing engaging stories that required very little editing on my part. He’s a professional through-and-through: a video game developer with a vital presence in the industry and by all accounts a bright future. He was featured in the Jan/Feb issue of Nintendo Force Magazine, a tribute he clearly deserves. I’m proud to have Matt on the SNES Omnibus team:

Here’s Matt’s bio as it will appear in TheSNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M):

Matt Raithel has, within the past decade, held a production role in over 50 video games ranging from the iPhone to the Wii U, all while helping grow three different game development studios. He currently owns and leads the team at Graphite Lab, a video game development studio which was listed as “One to Watch” by Game Informer Magazine in 2015. Matt is also on staff at Maryville University in St. Louis as an Instructor of Game Design, where he teaches classes focusing on game design principles as well as the history of game design.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Pre-Order The SNES Omnibus by March 1 to get ALL the Free Bonuses

There's still time to get ALL THE PRE-ORDER BONUSES if you order The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendoand Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M) direct from me. You simply need to do so by March 1.

Bonuses include:

*My autograph in the book, personalized if you'd like

*YOUR NAME listed/immortalized in the patron section of the book's sequel, The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 2 (N-Z)

*A set of “Classic Home Video Games” book marks

*One of my signed Twin Galaxies trading cards

*A digital copy of my book, Retro Pop Culture A to Z:From Atari 2600 to Zombie Films (sent through Facebook)

*In addition, 1 out of every 10 people (chosen at random) who pre-order the book directly from me will receive a free download code for a digital copy of a game for a current console or handheld

Click HERE for more information. Thank you! 

Here's the centerfold art that will be in the book, which features more than 2,000 images total:

SNES Omnibus Contributor Spotlight #6 - Rob Strangman

I’ve never met Rob Strangman in person, but I hope to at some point in the near future. From corresponding with him online, and from reading his stories in the SNES Omnibus project, I surmise that he’s a personable and genuine dude, passionate about the industry and about his friends and family. Rob is a veteran writer about video games, and I’ve read and enjoyed a ton of his stuff in the long-running Digital Press fanzine. His magnum opus, Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman, is one of my favorite gaming books, thanks to its nostalgic bent and personal stories.

Rob Strangman is the author of Memoirs of Virtual Caveman, a book about his experiences growing up during the “golden age” of gaming. He’s a regular contributor to both Little Player magazine and the Digital Press fanzine. Rob first made a name for himself in the online classic gaming community in 1998 with his website The OPCFG, then later went on to found the Splatterhouse fan page, West Mansion: The Splatterhouse Homepage. Due to his work on West Mansion, Rob was asked to be a consultant on gameplay and authenticity for the 2010 video game, Splatterhouse (PlayStation 3/Xbox 360).

Monday, February 19, 2018

SNES Omnibus Contributor Spotlight #5 - Rusel DeMaria

One of the biggest thrills with writing and editing The SNES Omnibus set as been working with other authors, especially people like Rusel DeMaria, who has been at it even longer than I have. A true veteran of the industry, Rusel is an invaluable contributor to the project, writing stories and giving insights on certain key Super Nintendo titles as only he could. His reflections on creating strategy guides for various games are extremely interesting.

Here’s Rusel’s bio as it will appear in The SNES Omnibus: The SuperNintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M):

Rusel DeMaria played Spacewar! in 1967. After this experience, he wanted more from this new medium, which he got later with Pong, Atari, ColecoVision, Intellivision and the Bally Astrocade. Rusel then discovered PC games and wrote for A+ Magazine, PC Week, Byte and Macazine, where he became the PC DOS Editor. Rusel wrote a book about shareware in the mid-1980s, and by 1990 he was senior editor for PC Magazine and a contributing editor on GamePro. Rusel founded the “Secret of the Games” strategy guide division for Prima Publishing, and he was a gaming journalist during the Genesis and SNES era. More recently, he wrote High Score Expanded and is the author of Game of X, which is about Microsoft. He’s also a game designer and consultant, currently the narrative lead on a new space combat simulator, Starfighter Inc.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Video Victims - Arcade Game Episode of the Super Friends

If you like video games, cartoons, and superheroes, and I know you do, check out Video Victims, an episode of the Super Friends. Bizarro traps Superman, Wonder Woman, and Samurai in a deadly arcade game. There's some type of 3D Pac-Man going on, plus a different take on Asteroids. Click HERE to watch the entire episode. Enjoy! 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Huge Shout-Out to Old School Gamer Magazine Publisher Ryan Burger

In a recent email advertising Old School Gamer Magazine #3, publisher Ryan Burger included ordering info for my SNES book. (Check below.) Thanks, Ryan!

Issue #3 on the way to the press tomorrow, publishes digitally Tuesday!

We have almost finished up Issue #3 and are working to have it in your mailbox by the end of February and in your email box next week.  Great articles by some of our regulars covering Maze games, plus other content with reviews of new retro hardware and more!

Stay tuned as the issue will be emailed to you next week!

Check out Old School Gamer HERE.

New SNES Book From Brett Weiss - Column Writer For Old School Gamer!


Brett's forthcoming book, The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M), is now available for pre-order (it's due spring/summer of 2018, but you can pre-order now). You can pre-order through Amazon HERE, or you can pre-order directly from me (U.S. only, the Check out the SNES Book! link is at the bottom of this page or click here) and get some COOL FREE BONUSES.
The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M) features more than 2,000 full-color images, including box art, cartridges, screenshots, and vintage gaming ads. This is a beautifully illustrated, massive (9x12), professionally published (by Schiffer Publishing), full color, hardcover book—416 pages of Super Nintendo goodness, including a super cool work of art centerfold by the amazingly talented Thor Thorvaldson.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

20 Things You Need to Know About The Black Panther

My article about the Black Panther is in the new issue of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. You can read it online HERE. Happy reading!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Todd Rogers "Dragster" eBay Sale - The Final Word

The retro gaming community has been rocked with scandal. Decades-old world record scores on classic arcade and console video games are being called into question.

The two most prominent cases revolve around Billy Mitchell (star of the 2007 documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters), who has been accused of using MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) for some of his high scores on Donkey Kong, and Todd Rogers (seen in the 2007 documentary Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade), whose 1982 score of 5.51 seconds on Dragster for the Atari 2600 has been shown to be technically impossible.

According to the Washington Post, “Rogers said he took a Polaroid picture of his 5.51-second time and sent it to Activision, the game’s publisher, which confirmed the score. In 2000, Rogers’s score, as recorded by Activision, would eventually be formally imported into the databases of Twin Galaxies, a group that keeps track of video game records around the world. Through the ensuing years, other game records would rise and fall on the Twin Galaxies scoreboards, but the closest anyone could come to Rogers in Dragster was 5.57 seconds.”

In 2001, Guinness World Records recognized Rogers as having the longest-standing video game record in the world, but Twin Galaxies has thrown out all of his records—not just his Dragster time—and banned him for life from its online database of record-breaking scores.

In a recent statement, Twin Galaxies said: “The presented software analysis model concluded that achieving score times of less than 5.57 seconds is not possible under standard and normal play conditions. Beyond the software analysis evidence, which speaks directly to Todd Rogers’ Dragster 5.51 score time, this dispute case has collected a significant amount of circumstantial evidence as that extends well beyond Todd’s single score performance. We have evaluated this evidence carefully and found it to be compelling and relevant.”

For his part, Rogers stands by his scores, and David Crane, the programmer who created Dragster, released a statement in support of Rogers: “My position is very simple. The high scores published by Activision in the 1980s were authenticated using the established methods at the time, by the governing authority at the time. I have no doubts, then or now, that Todd Rogers achieved the scores attributed to him, provided the necessary corroborating evidence to support those scores, and earned the right to be named world champion by the accepted validating authority.”

Personally, I've known Todd Rogers since I met him at the Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas more than a decade ago. He introduced himself and was very friendly. Years later, at the 2015 Classic Game Fest in Austin, he came up to my exhibitor booth to say hello. By sheer coincidence, I had a couple of copies of Dragster displayed on my table marked $5 each. Knowing a good photo-op when I see one, I grabbed the Dragster cartridges, asked Rogers to hold a copy of one of my books, and had my son, who was helping me at the booth, take a picture of us.

A short time later, something strange happened.

After Rogers left my booth, I went to the restroom and left Ryan in charge.

When I came back a few minutes later, Ryan handed me the aforementioned Dragster cartridges, and there was some scrawling on the labels with a black sharpie. Much to my surprise, Todd had come back while I was gone and signed them without asking. I was stunned and a little irritated. Who does such a thing? At least he could have asked if I wanted them signed. This was my merchandise, after all.

I was tempted to confront Todd and tell him that doing such a thing was uncool. But he had always been nice to me in the past, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Plus, he meant well and thought he was doing me a favor as he seemed to think his autograph would make the games more valuable. And Dragster was a cheap game anyway, so it was no great loss, even if the games didn’t sell because they were scribbled on. (Rogers is fairly well-known in the retro gaming community, but hardly a household name, especially before the cheating accusations. As such, his autograph wasn’t really worth anything.)

After the Dragster cheating scandal story went viral, I posted the story of the autographing incident on Facebook to a few retro gaming groups, voicing my amusement and mild annoyance that Rogers had signed my games without asking. While many commenters thought it was an odd thing for him to do, I got several inquiries from people wanting to purchase the cartridges.

I went rummaging around in my garage, rifling through my convention boxes, and discovered that I still had one of them. (I thought I had both, but apparently one of them had sold at a convention.) I immediately put the signed copy of Dragster on eBay for $19.95. To give the cartridge some provenance, I included with the auction a certificate of authenticity with my signature and the photo of Todd and myself. Nothing fancy, but something you could display with the cartridge in a shadow box, which is exactly what one of the bidders said he was going to do if he won the game.

Much to my surprise, the auction, which ran for seven days, took off and several collectors got into a bidding war for the game. When all was said and done, it sold for $830—an almost unthinkable sum for a primitive racing game that unsigned only goes for around $5 to $10. Ironically (in more ways than one), it turns out that Todd Rogers was right. His signature did make the cartridge more valuable. Just not in the way he would have ever imagined back in the pre-scandal days of 2015 when he signed it.

Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story. The winning bidder flaked out on me and didn’t pay for the game, so I had to file a report with eBay and get my closing costs back. Luckily, there was still plenty of interest in the cartridge. After several inquiries, I offered the game to filmmaker Darrin Peloquin. A fairly well-known name in the retro gaming community, Peloquin is the director of The Bits of Yesterday, a documentary on video game collectors.

“The cart is representative of a bygone era when video game scores and crazy accomplishments mattered,” Peloquin said after he agreed to the purchase of the signed copy Dragster. “I remember when you would hear gossip around the schoolyard of another kid who did an impossible thing in a game. Everyone would be filled with different emotions, from jealousy to doubt to excitement. In the analogue days, we just had hearsay and really low-quality pics and videos. I think this cartridge is plays into that mystique, regardless of recent findings on Todd Rogers and his ‘impossible’ score.”

Peloquin said he plans on keeping the cartridge and displaying it in his collection.

“It is definitely a conversation piece,” he said. “Of all the signed items out there by Rogers, this one has the now infamous ‘5.51’ impossible score on it. It’s proof that he toted that accusatory lie for some time, and I feel like it’s like owning a piece of the Berlin Wall or something.”

While I was disappointed that the winning bidder on my Dragster cartridge failed to pay, I’m very happy with the sale overall as I know that the game is in good hands, and I got a fair price, which, out of respect for the buyer, will remain undisclosed. Perhaps the cartridge will make an appearance in one of Peloquin’s future films.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

SNES Omnibus Contributor Spotlight #4

By all accounts, Dain Anderson is a devoted family man, a great guy all around, and an asset to the retro gaming community. I'm extremely grateful for his contributions to the SNES Omnibus project. Not only did he write some stories for the the two-volume set, he generously let me use images from his highly popular website, Nintendo Age. Thanks, Dain!

Here's Dain's bio as it will appear in The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its games Vol. 1, (A-M), which will ship this spring (summer at the latest):

Dain Anderson is the founder of, an online community dedicated to retro video game players and collectors. The seed for Dain’s love of video games was planted during the age of Atari but didn’t fully blossom until the age of the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Dain enjoys reliving the retro gaming memories he experienced as a kid by passing them along to his two children.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

SNES Omnibus Contributor Spotlight #3 - Cat DeSpira

Never one shy to give her opinion, Cat DeSpira is a passionate gamer and arcade aficionado. She's also a gifted writer who has penned a number of very personal, very interesting stories for my forthcoming book, The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M). Cat captures the zeitgeist like few others, taking readers back to the 1990s in colorful, vivid, memorable fashion. She's also been a stronger supporter of the SNES Omnibus project. Here's her bio as it will appear in the book:

Cat DeSpira is a Pacific Northwest writer, researcher and preservationist whose work uncovering the lost history of gaming has been featured in documentaries, podcasts and several publications. She is most known for her investigation into the urban legend of Polybius and her role in the documentary, TheVideo Craze: Where Were You In ’82? An avid arcade game collector, Cat is convinced that every room dreams of becoming an arcade.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Arcade and Other Strange Tales - Signed Copies Now Available

My new book of short stories and essays, The Arcade and Other Strange Tales, is now available. You can order a signed copy direct from me or get one on Amazon. To order direct, simply PayPal $12.95 (this includes shipping) to, and I will mail you a signed book right away. For a limited time, I will include a free digital copy (PDF) of the book with your direct order.

TheArcade and Other Strange Tales takes readers down a rabbit hole of fear, wonder and imagination. From the nostalgic "The Arcade" to the Orwellian "Filtered Future" and "What Do They Do While We Sleep?" to the deadly dark "Strange Children" and "Wormboy," this book will keep anyone with a taste for "stranger things" reading late into the night (and the next night and the next). You can read one story from the book, “Old Friend, Old Relic,” for free HERE.

Full Table of Contents for the book:


The Arcade
Filtered Future
What Do They Do While We Sleep?
Strange Children
The Creation Proclamation
I Have No TV, and I Must Watch
Washed in the Blood
Old Friend, Old Relic
The Eternal Bigot from Down the Street
The Lady Loves Dancing
A New Kind of Light

The Retro Video Game Craze                      
KISS Pinball Machines and Video Games
Video Game Movies
Retro Gaming Non-Fiction Books
Uncovering the Mystery Behind Stephen King's First Published Story
Interview with Horror Novelist Bentley Little
Interview with the Author

Paperback: 110 pages; 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

SNES Omnibus Contributor Spotlight #2 - John Riggs

I met John Riggs at the 2017 Portland Retro Gaming Expo, and he's just as nice in person as he is on his YouTube channel. We had only corresponded online prior to this, but it felt like he was an old friend, a tribute to his affable, approachable manner. (Pro tip--John is much taller in person than he appears to be on the YouTubes.) John, whose videos show you how to repair your video games, contributed quality stories to both volumes of The SNES Omnibus, including a hilarious anecdote about Mario Paint. John, how could you taint/paint Mario so?

Below this video, you can read John's bio as it appears in The SNES Omnibus:

John Riggs grew from being completely unknown in the gaming industry to being moderately obscure. He’s been a featured guest on the Metal Jesus Rocks YouTube channel and hosts his own humble channel (RIGG’d Games) showing tutorials on how to fix and save your old video games. Riggs loves the new games, but you can still find him digging through boxes of Famicom carts or filing through PC Engine CD games at various video game conventions. He’s a sucker for the classics.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Stone Age Gamer Podcast - New Episode!

The guys at the Stone Age Gamer Podcast invited me to be a guest on a recent episode. We had a blast and a few laughs discussing my gaming history, my books, pinball, retro gaming, modern gaming, and much more. Click HERE to listen.

Monday, February 5, 2018

SNES Omnibus Contributor Spotlight #1: Michael Thomasson

One of the more enthusiastic supporters of the SNES Omnibus project, and of retro gaming in general, Michael Thomasson wrote more entries for The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M) than any other contributor, and he's killin' it on Vol. 2. I’ve known Michael since the 2003 Classic Gaming Expo, and he’s been a good friend ever since. He’s a devoted family man, a fine writer, a big ColecoVision fan, and an all-around nice guy. He even designed the cover for one of my books. And he’ll talk your ear off with all kinds of interesting stories from the video game industry and from life in general. I consider myself lucky to call Michael a friend and colleague.

Here's his bio that will appear in The SNES Omnibus:

Michael Thomasson is one of the most widely respected video game historians in the field today. He currently teaches college-level video game history, design and graphics courses. For television, Michael conducted research for MTV’s video game-related program, Video MODS. In print, he authored Downright Bizarre Games, and has contributed to nearly a dozen textbooks. Michael’s historical columns have been distributed in newspapers and magazines worldwide. He has written business plans for several vendors and managed a dozen game-related retail stores spanning three decades. Michael consults for multiple video game and computer museums and has worked on nearly 100 game titles on Atari, Coleco, Sega and other console platforms. In 2014, the Guinness Book of World Records declared that Thomasson had “The Largest Video Game Collection” in the world. His businesses sponsor gaming tradeshows and expos across the U.S. and Canada.  Visit Good Deal Games.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

SNES Omnibus Update: New York Times Best Selling Author John Jackson Miller

New York Times bestselling author John Jackson Miller is a contributing writer for The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 2 (N-Z), which will release April 28. He's written an informative essay on the turn-based strategy game, Super Conflict. Like me, John used to write for the late, lamented Comics Buyer's Guide and The All Game Guide (his specialty was the Intellivision). However, instead of laboring in relative obscurity like a certain other writer who shall remain nameless, he's now a big time celebrity in the field, penning highly acclaimed Star Wars and Star Trek novels. I'm super excited JJM took the time to contribute a story to my book. Here's his bio that will appear in Vol. 2.:

John Jackson Miller is a New York Times bestselling author. He has spent a lifetime immersed in science fiction. His Star Wars novels include Star Wars: A New Dawn, Kenobi, Knight Errant, and Lost Tribe of the Sith. He also wrote the Knights of the Old Republic comics, available from Marvel as Star Wars Legends: The Old Republic. For Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, he wrote the monthly Star Trek novel trilogy Prey. His most recent Star Wars work appears in Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, Star Wars: Canto Bight, and IDW’s Star Wars Adventures comics. He’s written about games for the All Game Guide and as editor of Scrye magazine, and he’s has written comics and prose for Halo, Iron Man, Simpsons, Conan, Planet of the Apes, and Mass Effect. Miller writes about comics history on his Comichron website, His fiction website is

Friday, February 2, 2018

Celebrity Deaths of 2017 - The Ones that Impacted Me the Most

Similar to 2016, it seems like an inordinate number of celebrities diedlast year, most notably actors and musicians. Also like last year, I’ve cataloged the eight celebrity deaths that affected me the most, in order of importance. All human life is valuable, but, like everyone, I felt the sting of certain deaths more than others.
1. Adam West. During the early 1990s, when I was the co-owner of two comic book stores in the Fort Worth, Texas area, my business partner and I worked out a deal with the owner of the Dallas Fantasy Fair to have Adam West out to our store to meet and greet fans and sign autographs. Our cost was $500 to have him out for two hours, and it was well worth it. He was funny, friendly, and engaging, and his appearance generated a lot of good will for our business.

Years later, I spoke with Mr. West over the phone for an article, and he gave a great interview. If you would have told my Batman-loving nine-year-old self that I would do business with the Caped Crusader someday, I wouldn’t have believed you. Dreams do come true. R.I.P., Batman.

2. Tom Petty. When I was in high school in the early to mid-1980s, I, like many people, would purchase blank cassettes in order to record a collection of songs. These, of course, were called “mix tapes,” which were a great way to have a variety of my favorite tunes on the go, long before the era of iPods and downloads.

My best friend and I created a series of mixed tapes we called “The Ultimate Tape” (volumes 1, 2, and 3), which included tracks by KISS, Van Halen, the Rolling Stones, and others, including southern rocker Tom Petty. We listened to “Stop Draggin' My Heart Around,” one of Petty’s duets with Stevie Nicks, over and over again, and to this day it’s one of my favorite songs. I could go on and on about the greatness of the southern rocker, but I’ll let Netflix do the talking. Next time you have four hours to kill, watch the excellent documentary, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream.

3. David Cassidy. As a kid during the 1970s, I spent plenty of time outside, riding my bike, going on adventures, and playing sports with friends, but TV was a steady part of my life as well, especially during cold, windy, winter months when bronchitis kept me inside. I wasted way too much time watching sitcoms, including The Brady Bunch, I Dream of Jennie, Bewitched, and, yes, The Partridge Family.

I thought Keith Partridge, as played by Cassidy, was the epitome of cool. He had perfect hair and a perfect smile, he was a rock star, and of course the ladies loved him. As someone who liked girls (a lot), but was clueless about them, and as someone who loved rock and roll but couldn’t sing or play an instrument, I would have given all my comic books, Hot Wheels, and everything else I owned to be the frontman for what I thought was a really groovy band.

4. Glen Cambell. My siblings are several years older than me and were into rock music, so as a young kid I grew up listening to such great bands as Queen, Styx, Heart, Rush, KISS, AC/DC, Jethro Tull, and Led Zeppelin. My dad was a country music fan, so I had a good education in both genres. The soundtrack for our trips to the candy store in my dad’s truck comprised such classic acts as Merle Haggard, Charlie Pride, Tom T. Hall, Johnny Cash, and Glen Campbell.

I loved songs like “Galveston” and “Rhinestone Cowboy,” and as I grew up I discovered that Mr. Campbell was not only a great singer/songwriter, but also a terrific guitarist, lending his talents as a session musician to such bands as the Beatles, the Monkees, and the First Edition. My first brush with fame was meeting Glen Campbell at a small Church of Christ in Southern Arkansas, where his brother Lindell was a preacher. We were in town visiting my grandmother for the holidays.

5. Martin Landau. I’ve never known anyone who liked Space: 1999, which features Martin Landau as Commander John Koenig, more than Star Trek, and this applies to me as well. Although it could be interesting at times, Space: 1999 was a dull show overall, especially for younger viewers. Koenig seemed dry and lifeless compared to space cowboy Captain Kirk (to be fair, this had more to do with the scripts than Landau’s likability as an actor).

However, I later became a big Landau fan, thanks primarily to his prominent role in two excellent films: Woody Allen’s Crimes & Misdemeanors (1989), where he played guilt-ridden Judah Rosenthal; and Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994), in which he did a dead-on impersonation of the great Bela Lugosi. The actor, who’s probably best known for the classic Mission: Impossible TV show, was also great in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959).

6. Bernie Wrightson. Comic book artist Bernie Wrightson co-created DC’s muck monster the Swamp Thing, who first appeared in House of Secrets #92 (July 1971), with writer Len Wein. Wrightson’s detailed, spooky, atmospheric pencils were perfect for horror comics, and he later worked on several projects involving my favorite horror novelist Stephen King, including illustrations for the novella Cycle of the Werewolf, the comic book adaptation of George Romero’s King-scripted Creepshow (1982), and the fifth volume of the Dark Tower novel series.

Among many other projects, Wrightson also did production art for Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters (1984) and created 50 pen-and-ink drawings for an illustrated edition of Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein novel. He was a true legend of the industry.
7. Bill Paxton. Born in my hometown of Fort Worth, where he promoted the film industry there up until his untimely passing, Bill Paxton was a fine actor. He not only shined in dramatic roles in such movies as Tombstone (1993), Apollo 13 (1995), Twister (1996), Titanic (1997), and the criminally underseen Frailty (2001), his comic turns in such films as Weird Science (1985), where he played the obnoxious Chet Donnelly, and Aliens (1986), where he was in a state of eternal panic as Private William Hudson, gave him a well-roundedness few actors possess.

8.Hugh Hefner . In this era of the #metoo movement, a guy like Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner is difficult to admire publicly as he’s been accused of exploiting women and sexual harassment. Also, he was kinda icky. However, as is customary when someone dies, it’s time to focus on the positive, at least for a moment. Hef was a trailblazer in the magazine industry, publishing in-depth articles (yes, many people do actually read Playboy) on a variety of topics and literary fiction by the likes of Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, Vladimir Nabokov, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He was also a fierce advocate for free speech.

For better or for worse, the first time I ever saw a nude adult female was in a Playboy magazine when I was about 8 or 9. I would sneak into my teenage cousin’s room and go through the ones he had stashed in his dresser drawer. I don’t recall reading any of the articles or stories, but I do remember gazing at a busty brunette who wore nothing but red socks. What an education that was.