Monday, March 5, 2012

Hello, world!

Greetings!  I'm better-known online for my musical endeavours, but who says we can't have more than one nerdy pathology?  Nerd, band nerd, and as it turns out, video game and comic book nerd.

Through my early '20s, I accumulated an enormous quantity (well, six or seven of the vaunted "long boxes") of overstock from Golden Age Collectibles, the last man standing of the Granville Mall's counter-culture row.  For a nominal price of $2 or $5, you could pick up a mystery baggie of seven or eight leftover overstocked comics, of various ages, from various companies, and of wildly varying quality.  ("Mystery" since you could only see the bookend comics in the front and back, and not the filler.)  By and large they were old and of little-to-no commercial value beyond the nominal recouping achieved by dumping them on chumps like me, wholesale.  Still, they made for a compelling cross-section of an industry in flux.  And I accumulated enormous quantities of them on the cheap.

It's true that when you "collect" in this fashion, you end up paying for lots that you wouldn't ordinarily buy (heh, including more than a few duplicates, whose word bubbles were clipped for intended use in comic-collages such as Frank Eric Zeidler's "Eccolage"s of, gosh, a decade ago -- but that's another story), and of course only in accumulating a significant collection of them do you achieve anything remotely resembling the context needed to piece together overarching story arcs from one issue to the next.  But I felt I more than got my money's worth from them -- appreciating finds of works written or penciled by comics professionals "before they got famous" (eg. lots of interesting Sam Kieth cover art before he hit Maxx gold), determining that virtually any Batman title is worth reading, and learning that  when Image comics can't be appreciated for the reasons its creators intended, they can be appreciated for other reasons... and always drew some comfort in knowing that the boxes of pulp were nearby.

Now however we're making room in our house for a baby and all the things it will need and, well, it's not fair to expect to impose MY nostalgia on a rugrat who doesn't even exist yet.  The cream of the collection has been sequestered and the remainder is heading out.  But before it goes...

When I'm not making music and blogging, a lot of my mind is preoccupied with the intangible and out-of-time realm of old video games.  In my formative years I didn't spend so much time playing them, but perhaps worse -- craving to do so.  Not having gotten the crappy games out of my system by playing them into the ground and getting every penny's worth out of them, they always existed somewhat in the realm of my imagination, my conception of them informed not by their crummy gameplay but by evocative cover artwork and especially such advertising as I encountered in my immature world.  Partially in an effort to determine why such games as I loved growing up just aren't made anymore, I've ended up as an amateur video game historian joining all the archivists over at Mobygames, where we glumly catalogue game credits, screen shots and the like: we turn playing games into a kind of work!  But it's all history, and we're some of the only ones who believe that it's history worth documenting, and so we plug away connecting such dots as we can while most of the principle players are still alive and with us.  One thing we document there are transcriptions of ad blurbs for games, and as an indolent youth, my greatest exposure to video game ads was, naturally, in comic books.

To make a long story short, to squeeze the last drop of value out of my comic book collection, I've embarked on a campaign to scan all of the video game ads from their pages before consigning them to their sad fate.  (Apparently I'm not the only one...)  The ultimate fate of these scanned pages will be transcription to Mobygames, but in the meantime, I have all sorts of interesting context to share in association with the ads (and barring that, snarky asides to make about the advertising industry) -- subjective commentary tangential to the project which would never turn up in the historical record.  But I can't stifle it, so I'll maintain this blog to vent the comments that, if I had my druthers, would accompany the ad copy in bright flashing letters in the margins.