Cornfield Meet

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News from Fun-Fun Mountain: An interview with FoxTrot’s Bill Amend!

I’ve been a FoxTrot fan since mid-to-late 1989, when my Calvin & Hobbes calendar was nearing the end of its useful days and I tapped FoxTrot‘s “Slug-Man: The Calendar” as its successor.

I don’t think our local paper actually ran FoxTrot at the time – in fact, the calendar may have been my introduction to the strip. That creator Bill Amend not only invented a character (10-year-old Jason Fox) geeky enough to create his own comic book hero, but also turned out a series of illustrations and story panels as done by that character just struck me as incredibly original and fun. And since Jason was a Star Wars fan and a computer nerd and a role-playing game enthusiast, it was easy for me to get hooked.

Waiting for the Slug-Man and Leech Boy app...

Bill Amend and FoxTrot: Click on the image to read my GeekDad interview.

Back in February, this Avatar-inspired strip sparked a goofy sort of thought in my head about how lucky Jason Fox has been, since he’s gotten to remain a young fan over all these years, and he was as excited about Avatar as he was about the Super Nintendo and the Lord of the Rings movies. And then I started thinking about how I’d love to talk to Bill about the geeky aspects of the comic strip, especially since at the time, all the PAX East news was just coming out, and he was going to be there.

So I sent him an email, and he said yes, and though it took awhile to come together, what with the insanity of planning his panel and traveling to and from PAX, and then the launch of the latest FoxTrot book and all, it finally did happen, and the whole interview is up at GeekDad.

I’ve been awfully excited about this ever since Bill’s initial response, but didn’t want to jinx anything by mentioning it. And the guy was so friendly in both his emails and in person at PAX – I mean, he signed my friend Paul’s D&D rulebook with a drawing of Jason as a DM! – and gave some really fun and thoughtful answers for the interview that it was absolutely worth the wait while this thing unfolded, so it would be very cool of you to go read and and share it.

And as an aside, it’s not very often that as a fan, you have a chance to personally thank someone for the joy their work has brought you, so I’m grateful to Bill for both the two-plus decades of FoxTrot (which my daughter has also come to love) and for making that chance to say “thanks” not only possible, but truly enjoyable.







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April 14, 2010 Posted by | Books, Fiction, geek, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

PAX East: Day Two, Part 2

Scratch Fury, Destroyer of Worlds

Destroyer of Worlds

In February 2006, I was staying with my friends Ivan and Alexa while on assignment to cover Toy Fair in New York. The Saturday night before the show’s opening day, while a snowstorm dumped a couple feet on the whole region, Ivan showed me to the spare bedroom and also pointed out a stack of books he figured I might like. They were the first three volumes of Player vs. Player, and reading page after page after page of 1980s pop-culture references and nerd jokes and geek-tuned humor, I was totally hooked.

So it was very cool meeting PvP creator Scott Kurtz at PAX East on Saturday morning, pretty much just a few minutes after getting Wil Wheaton’s autograph.  Scott drew a picture of Scratch Fury: Destroyer of Worlds on the title page of the PvP collection I bought from his table, and when I mentioned that my wife and I happen to share a wedding anniversary with Brent Sienna and Jade Fontaine, he actually knuckled up for a fist bump. (Yes, I know May 4 is also the birthday of PvP itself, and that’s why he made it their wedding day.  It’s still cool, like having 1138 as a street address would be.)

And right next to him was Bill Amend of FoxTrot, who helped me complete an awfully neat trifecta that morning, signing both a really worn-out book I brought along, and a print of his own Penny Arcade/FoxTrot mashup.

When I met you, I was but the learner...

Both of these guys were very generous with their time and I really enjoyed meeting them and getting the chance to tell them in person how much I like their work.

Paul & Wendy and I had spent this whole morning together, and while they were at Paul and Storm‘s table talking about the upcoming concert that night, I saw a T-shirt I wanted, despite having only a little familiarity with the duo’s musical stylings. It just says “cheese” in sign language, semaphor, and French. Nothing else. And I do like me some cheese. And the shirt was on super-sale, so, Bonus.

After a lunch in the food court, Paul & Wendy and I took a stroll through the Expo Hall for awhile, and then decided to hit the Classic Arcade for a couple rounds before I needed to drive back to Rhode Island. Lessons learned: Free-play games are awesome, even when they suck, so I enjoyed the sit-down version of Buck Rogers – Planet of Zoom despite the fact that the game itself was far lamer than I remembered.

We played some Food Fight, and then Paul and I teamed up for a good round of Joust 2: Survival of the Fittest, even if we couldn’t figure out what the hell good transforming into a Pegasus was. (Turns out you’re heavier and can drop quicker for attack purposes. I looked it up for the next time I’m time traveling to the arcade at Twin Pines Mall.) With the ’80s music playing and my fingers mashing the “fly” button and my desperate attempts to avoid enemies and scoop up giant eggs, I could practically hear the whine of a DeLorean revving in the distance, and it seemed as good a way as any to finish up my time at PAX East.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Books, Current Affairs, eighties, Games, geek, Travel, video games | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

PAX East 2010: GeekDad Road Trip!

Though I made a brief note when this was initially approved and there has been some related Twitter chatter, I wanted to hold off on mentioning anything more about it until there was an official public announcement. So, check out this morning’s post over at WiredPlease Join GeekDad at PAX East 2010!

Boston. March 26-28. Be there, because This. Is Going. To. ROCK. \m/

Even with the 11- to 12-hour drive involved, I jumped at this as soon as GeekDad Assistant Editor and Frakking Genius Matt Blum put forth the proposal. And I can make it a totally budget-friendly trip since I’ve got a place to crash nearby, essentially making my costs for the weekend gas and food – and I’ve got no problem whatsoever packing myself a cooler loaded with bread and PB&J.

I absolutely cannot wait to meet and hang out with my fellow panelists and GeekDad writers, in whose mighty company I hope I shall not feel ashamed: Dave Banks, Natania Barron, Matt Blum, Doug Cornelius, Michael Harrison and Corrina Lawson. Sitting down and talking geek stuff and parenting with this crew is just so incredibly loaded with Potential Awesome.

(Penny Arcade? Of course the strip has addressed some of the issues of being a geek parent –just last month, in fact!)

And despite not considering myself a hardcore gamer, I have long been envious of those attending past Penny Arcade Expos out west, because it has always sounded like just a crazy fun nerdfest.  While the official Pax East site doesn’t have a schedule up yet, I did find a few unofficial compilations of just some of the stuff that should be going on, like this one, which mentions among others Bill Amend of Foxtrot(!!!) and writer Lev Grossman.

It also looks like this thing is going to be freaking HUGE: Joystiq is predicting 60,000 attendees, and the Penny Arcade founders said in mid-January that it’s going to be a sellout.

I’ve already got my T-shirt packed.

February 2, 2010 Posted by | Current Affairs, Games, geek, Science, science fiction, Travel, video games, Web/Tech, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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