Thursday, August 28, 2014 interview

To coincide with the release of Drop Target #6, Rob McClurg over at just posted a lengthy email interview that he conducted with Jon and myself.  We were both impressed with Rob's deep, thoughtful questions.  So if you've ever wanted to know more about how Jon and I put together Drop Target, or how we're feeling about pinball these days, pour yourself a cup of tea and go give it a read! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Drop Target #6 is now available for ordering!

Drop Target #6 is now available for online ordering!  Here are all the details for our latest issue:

DROP TARGET #6 - The Design Issue
60 pages - 5.5" x 8.5" - B&W printing
First Printing: 8.5" x 14" full-color centerfold, screenprinted cover

VIDEO MODE: The History of Pinball (1997)
- FROM ZEROS TO HEROES: The Dream Factory - Jon takes a trip to the Stern Pinball factory!
- TILT TALK: Steve Ritchie and George Gomez interviewed by Jon
DREAM MACHINES: Giant Robo Pinball by Jon Chad, Big Mushroom Hunter by Gabby Schulz (AKA Ken Dahl), and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by Alec Longstreth
PINHALLS: Headquarters Beercade - Chicago, IL
SPECIAL WHEN LITERATURE: The Pinball Philosophy by John McPhee
PINBALL ARTIST - JOHN YOUSSI: an interview by Ryan Claytor!
BANG BACKS: Redesigned Replacement Parts
REPLAY REVIEW: Star Trek (Stern, 2013)

I want to do a post about how this issue came together recently in Vermont, but I suspect I'm going to be busy for a week or so, filling orders.  Jon and I are both really excited to share this issue with everyone!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vermont Rendezvous!

Good news! Jon (who now lives in Northampton, Massachusetts) and I (who now live in Alameda, California) are meeting next week in White River Junction, Vermont with one, sole purpose... TO FINISH DROP TARGET #6!!!

Well, okay, technically we have TWO purposes, the first being to teach the Cartooning Studio workshop at The Center for Cartoon Studies.  

But at night, when we are done with our teaching duties, we will be finalizing the layout, printing and binding the books using the famed CCS production lab (where we have created all of the first printings of Drop Target).  All the pieces are quickly coming together as we get closer to the deadline, and it's shaping up to be a great issue!  

We're really excited to share it with everyone, especially after the long wait.  Thanks for your patience, and we'll post some process pictures on the blog next week as it all starts to wrap up.  More soon!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DTZ6 Interview!!

Quick update this week!  Alec and I are starting to kick the production of DTZ6 up!  Both of us are really committed to getting this out by the end of the summer!  One of the more daunting tasks on my list of DTZ6 to-dos is the transcribing of an interview that I did at Stern HQ.  There, I got to talk to Jody Dankberg, Steve Ritchie, Mark Galvez, George Gomez, and Gary Stern.  Phew!  Not everything will make it into the issue, but I'm going to be transcribing it for posterity.

Ha ha, that's right, I'm old school!  I got this audio recorder in college, and it has served me well ever since!  If I can digress for a second, I just want to stress that this recorder is the Roles Royce of audio cassette recorders: the Sony TCM-210DV Voice Recorder!  JUST LOOK AT THIS THING!  You can change the speed that you record and play back content!  You can change the recording setting to double so that you get double the millage out of your audio cassettes!  There is a pause switch that allows you to pause either your recording or your playback.

In summary, the recorder is cool, and transcribing the interview has been a lengthy process.  The highlight was easily when I realized that the meeting between me and George Gomez was captured here ON TAPE.  NERD.  OUT.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Reading from Yesteryear

A couple weeks ago, my fellow Center for Cartoon Studies faculty member and all-around great guy Stephen Bissette handed me an article that he had cut out from Wired magazine.  It had been delicately cut out of the magazine, and all 3 pages had been placed in its own manilla envelope with "FOR JON CHAD!  ABOUT PINBALL!" scrawled across it.  He gave it to me, knowing of my love of pinball.  I just got around to reading it last week, and it was a very surreal experience.

As I opened the article to its first page, I was shocked by the headline.  As I tore into it, I realized that this was the grimmest look at pinball that I had ever encountered.  Here's some passages that really put a stake in my heart:

"Toll the bell, dead"
"Pinball machines were too heavy, bulky, and delicate...the arcade dinosaur had met its mammal"
"In retrospect, pinball was only a bridge between the machine age and the digital age.  Like it or not, we have reached the farther shore."

What is all this about?  I thought that we were living in an age where you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting an article from a local paper writing, "remember pinball?!" in reference to some new barcade-type outfit opening up.  This is supposed to be the fat years for pinball, right?  What's going on!?

In full disclosure, I only got one page into the article before I stopped, and it finally dawned on me, "wait, when was this written?"  I know that that must seem like the dumbest thing in the world, but I really hadn't thought of it.  So, low and behold, this was written in February 2000.  Doing some quick math, that's, like, 4 months after Williams closed the doors of their pinball division.  FOUR MONTHS!

Suddenly, the article took a new light.  It wasn't infuriating like the first page had been, where I was thinking that Wired just had their facts grievously wrong about what I saw as a thriving pinball scene.  Instead, it was sad, and frightening.  THIS was the length that people were convinced that pinball was dead.  WIRED MAGAZINE was willing to put it in print and run it.  I feel so lucky that Alec and I got into pinball when we did, but this makes me admire those who went through the pinball dark ages!  It's a testament to the strength of the community, and the enduring enthusiasm that pinball fans, operators, and designers have for the craft.

Again,  going through the early 2000's wasn't part of my pinball narrative, so reading this article and seeing the articulation of the sentiments at the time was really fascinating.  If you are interested in checking it out, I found it archived HERE.