Nerd Cons in Brum: Spaghetti ConJunction

I’ve covered gaming conventions before, but pure roleplaying conventions are a slightly different matter; such events are nothing but playing one-shot RPGs for a few hours (3-4 is usual, but it can go either way) with a break every so often. I’d never been to one before, but I decided to go along to this one just so I can say I’ve done it.

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2016: The Dangers of Nostalgia

There’s a magazine I often pick up when I’m waiting for a train at Birmingham New Street station – Retro Gamer. The title pretty much explains it all, but it doesn’t just do retrospectives the timeless classics like Metroid, Warcraft and Tomb Raider, and devices like the smash Christmas hit of the NES Mini, but also looking at the obscure and long-forgotten games and systems e.g. the Acorn Electron. A lot of love goes into this publication, and it’s always fun to read on the long train journey to and from work.

Another reason I buy it is because I had it on good authority that Retro Gamer was one of the lowest-selling titles for Imagine Publishing, and was only three consecutive months of bad sales away from cancellation. I say “was”, only because Imagine was taken over by Future Publishing in October 2016; Retro Gamer has been assured that nothing will change as far as they’re concerned, and they can carry on without the threat of cancellation over their heads.

That’s right… somebody in Britain had a good 2016. Continue reading

Christmas Cartoons You Barely Remember: A Flintstone Christmas

Christmas specials either become beloved classics or dwindle into obscurity. That’s just how it is – obviously, there’s not enough room for them all as timeless favourites. But what about the ones that really, really want to be timeless, but end up only sort of being remembered? Well, that’s what happened in 1977 when Hanna-Barbera made A Flintstone Christmas (not to be confused with 1993’s A Flinstone Family Christmas, which I might cover sometime in the future.)

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Christmas Cartoons You Probably Don’t Remember: Good King Wenceslas

For some reason, some animated Christmas specials just stay in your head. That’s fine and dandy if it’s some bygone classic like A Charlie Brown Christmas or Frosty the Snowman, but what if it’s some random thing that was on for one year, then never got shown again? That’s exactly what happened to me back in 1996, back when I saw this cartoon one Christmas Day.

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The Addams Family: An Evilution

Halloween is almost upon us, so I might as well wrap up my whistle-stop tour over some of the less well-known aspects of Charles Addams’ delightfully creepy kin. Ironically, it seems nowadays that the most obscure part of the franchise are the very cartoons that Addams made as far back as 1938. This might be, in part, due to an apparent lack of contemporary reprints – many were published during Addams’ lifetime, but there was a sharp decline after his untimely death in 1988.

Fortunately, Pomegranate Books decided to release The Addams Family: An Evilution, written by H. Kevin Miserocchi, back in March 2010. True, it was more to coinside with The Addams Family: The Musical which would open on Broadway to great success just a month later, but you can’t argue with synergy. Besides, the book had an unprecedented number of unpublished cartoons from Charles Addams’ estate, along with character guidelines that he wrote for the unmatched 1964 TV series.

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Cartoons You Probably Don’t Remember: The Addams Family (1992)

After the various attempts during the 70’s to revitalise The Addams Family brand, it was followed by a time of relative quiet for Charles Addams; he had his tenth anthology of cartoons (entitled Creature Comforts) published in 1981, made the occasional appearanceĀ  at comic book conventions, and died of a heart attack in late September 1988, just over six months after my birthday. He was 76.

The Addams Family, in their ubiquitous perversity, carried on not too long after the death of their creator; there was the NES game Fester’s Quest, which in a stroke of what The Addamses would consider genius, had almost nothing to do with The Addams Family (Fester fights aliens, with cameos from his relatives throughout the game) and was absurdly difficult to the point of being almost unplayable. Fortunately, the Tim Burton movies of the 90’s managed to not only salvage the brand, but elevate it to the same glory of its heyday in the 60’s.

However, whilst the Burton films are deservedly praised (whether or not they’re his best works is a bone of contention), there was something inbetween them – in 1992, to be precise – that is worth mentioning. No, not the pinball table (although I’d love to play a physical version of that…) but the first TV series based on the family that really is a scree-um for almost two decades, as well as the second by Hanna-Barbera.

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Remember when cartoons always had fun titlecards for each episode? I do…

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