Saturday, July 19, 2014

In the beginning . . .

I lived through the dawn of geek culture.


I saw Star Wars six times in the theater as a child, and lived in its wake - The Black Hole, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Star Trek the Motion Picture, Logan's Run, Tron.
I'm still afraid to put my hands into a hole.
I watched Doctor Who on Public Television at 11:30pm on Saturday nights, right after Monty Python.  Watched reruns of the Star Trek animated series on Saturday Mornings.  Watched Battle of the Planets and Star Blazers at 6:30am on the UHF channels, long before Anime had its own section of Suncoast Video.

For me, no Doctor came before this one, or after.
I was drawn like a moth to the flickering screens of the video arcades.  Dropped quarter after quarter on games like Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Star Wars.  I basked in the blacklight of the walk-in Tron cabinet.  I witnessed the mysterious beauty of laser disk games like Dragon's Lair and Cliffhanger.


I collected comics like Conan, Iron Fist and Power Man and read along as Tony Stark battled his inner daemons.  I read the great 80's comics: She Hulk, X-Men, Fantastic Four- and anything else drawn by John Byrne.  I read Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when it was cool.  I traded the entire Jean Grey Phoenix series for Eagle Comics's reissues of 2000 A.D.'s Judge Dredd series.  A financial mistake for sure, but culturally it was a revelation.

My first RPG was D&D Basic - red box edition . . . a second hand copy.  My first war-game was Panzer Blitz . . . a second hand copy.  I spent more time salivating over catalogs from companies like SPI and Yaquinto than I did actually playing games.  I started creating my own games.

I traded comics for games like Boot Hill and Top Secret.  I found Microgames as a low cost alternative and, later, Steve Jackson's Car Wars games.

Underrated.  Why hasn't this been reissued?
Just as I was coming of age, I was introduced to miniature painting by a teacher with whom I also worked at a summer daycamp.  I was drawn to some odd lead-bits that seemed to be a mix of D&D and Star Wars characters, from some british company named Games Workshop.
Right.  Wots all this then?

Then I found girls, cars and beer, and never looked back . . . until twenty-two years later, when I found a handful of half-painted miniatures in the bottom of a box of high school memorabilia.