I started this post on May 13, 2009. I'm busy, so sometimes it takes me a while to get around to stuff. Too, this type of thing infuriates me so much that I have to fight myself to figure out a way to effectively communicate through the rage, which can sometimes take a bit of effort. Saying FUCK ALL YOU MOTHAFUKAS might feel satisfying in the moment, but that's not very useful in a big-picture sense. Finally, apologies for the quality of some of the images. My camera has not been feeling well.
Because there's nothing certain types of white people respect more than physical evidence, for this entry I'm mostly going to share images of things that are old, from the days before the internet(s). I did not get on the internet(s) until I got my first computer about a year before I went to Clarion, so we're talking 91-ish.
This post might grow down the road as I find more physical evidence. If so, new stuff will either be integrated below or tossed up top. Here is the dividing line:
Newly added old stuff is between this here break in purple...
On July 10, 2010 it hit me that ! Death 40-Feet Tall !, a project predicated on the Deep Geek relationship between Moi and my best friend (biracial, identified as black), qualifies for entry here, as we met in the Olden Days before I had internet(s).
Gotham Public Works key fob, which I've had since 1991. D'oh on not posting this the first time around. In case you don't notice it, the legs to the right belong to the little Optimus Prime I've had since I was 17.
Gotham is the homeport of Batman. Back then DC Comics went through a phase of awesome IWW-style iconography for some of the supplemental items they rolled out. I bought them even though at the time my interest in Batman was minimal unless Frank Miller was at the helm.
I also had a Death watch from Sandman from around the same time, but it stopped working years ago and I guess I tossed it.
Two page, handwritten letter from Bobbie Chase, assistant editor, G.I. Joe, dated 3.10.87. S/he was responding to my letter asking for Deep Background information about the October Guard for a paper I was writing about 'how the Joes promote U.S./Soviet relations through their friendly interactions with the October Guard'. Chase consulted with Larry Hama, G.I. Joe writer at the time, in her/his response:
I altered my paper based on their response, and my prof made talk to the class about my paper. 1987, two years before the Berlin Wall came down.
...and this here break in purple. Anything below is from the original posting.
This is my Buckaroo Banzai one sheet from 1984. It was a gift from the manager of the movie theater at Severance Mall in Cleveland Heights, who gave it to me at the end of the run because I went to see this movie at least three times weekly during that summer, and toward the end of the run I was often the only person in the theater. It is in terrible condition because it is old and has survived several moves, a couple of which were cross-country, or nearly so. I could replace this ripped up thing with a fresh new version, but I never will.
Taking this picture, I realize I should probably break down and spend the money to get this thing framed before it completely dies. When funds allow I'll probably go to that place on LaBrea that has a full sized replica of the original Gort in the window. I'll go there for the *sole* reason that !they have a full sized replica of Gort in the window!. Because that's how I roll. Also I read the source material forever ago and I know that Gort was not his original name, and that the movie and its source material are dissimilar in the same way Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep are entirely different works yet sharing the same base vibe.
I no longer have my BB t-shirt because eventually it just fell apart, but here's the first printing of the book*** (which at one time some fans would have paid serious moolah for), the headband, a little JetCar game and one of my patches. The other Banzai patches are on my ancient denim jacket somewhere in a box in the garage. This particular patch spent many years sewn to the cover of my DayRunner. Now I carry it in the zip pocket of my Franklin Covey, next to my pocket-size Constitution and emergency pack of Midol. I've had this patch since 1985. The headband and the game I got sometime in '91 or '92, upon getting online and discovering eBay. (The first thing I bought on eBay was Silverback #1, a comic I had been hunting for years. It's part of the Grendel cycle.***)
My Team Banzai name is BBI Zulu. Why? Because I said so. I 'registered' it with World Watch One over a decade ago, around the time I obtained my very own internet(s) access and stumbled across the existence of BB freaks who were not people I went to high school with. When the 20th anniversary rolled around I found out via one of my email lists that some of the people originally involved with the early fan groups were putting together an anniversary newsletter, and wanted submissions. I wrote a haiku, they published it, I was thrilled.
I've also got a bunch of other BB stuff. Obviously the anniversary dvd. But the most interesting of the pile is one of the original media kits (gifted by the film reviewer at one of the previous day job outlets) and the videotape reel created for media outlets.
I really love that movie and book. Remain bummed Mac Rauch never wrote another BB book. Slightly less bummed that the tv show never got off the ground, though I did join my brethren writing a letter to the studio encouraging them to do so!
Oo! Have a funny-to-me current times BB story to tell, but I don't want to get off track here so I'll do that later and link it.
My high school gaming group introduced me to comics. And even though they would at times roll their eyes at what I liked to read - ! AMETHYST PRINCESS OF GEMWORLD ! - for the most part we were superhero people. Here is the high school yearbook inscription from one of them. You can't read it clearly, but you can see the Fantastic Four logo in his note. Part of it says Marvel forever and DC to(sic), love Adlai, the master of mutant madness.
I read some Marvel books back then, but was mostly a DC reader, especially once they launched the Vertigo line.
At lot of my yearbook inscriptions reference our high school geek life. They were scribbled by boys and girls white, black, Jewish (orthodox and secular), Mexican, Korean and Filipino. Those were my friends.
There was a comic book shop one block from school, right next to the Wizard of Za pizza joint. The guy who ran that place is the one who began my awareness of indy comics that were not made by Marvel or DC. thus changing my Universe. There was another comic book shop downtown, where Tony Isabella worked. I'm sure there were others in the city, but these were the two I patronized. I remember the first time I went to the downtown one on a day word was Isabella would be on duty, I was so nervous.
House full of comics in longboxes, here. Take my word because I'm not about to drag all that stuff out and photograph it. At the time I was upset, but now I smile at my first run Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which my little sister thought were coloring books, and so she she did to them what came natural to her. OMG my parents did not understand why I wanted to kill her.
In high school I wrote and produced a science fiction radio play called "The Case of the Crying Kopru." It was Sherlock Holmes combined with Doc Savage, set in a future universe of space colonies.
Despite what my Ego The Size Of Everest claims in that note written in my high school scrapbook, listening to it now? It is hilariously bad. But it is so sincere! Awful as it is, I had a fabulous time doing it. Friends, family and a couple of theater club students helped with the voices and sound effects, and a guy in the AV club stepped up to teach me how to edit tape.
I actually did three or four more of these, all of them sf or fantasy, but this is the only one I kept for some reason. More likely I simply lost the other ones.
This is my "The Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Coloring Album" published by Troubador Press/San Francisco in 1979. I didn't come across it unti 1983. Here's proof, in my own 1983 handwriting:
Every once in a while I pull out my coloring book, grab my pencils and start in on the next bit. As of this 2009 typing I'm on p. 10. The book has 31 pages. Chances are pretty good I won't finish this book before I die. I don't care. It will be willed to my eldest nephew, who is on track to become a member of the Tribe.
Here are some pages from my D&D coloring book:
Here are my dice, carried around (as Tradition demanded at that time) in a Crown Royal bag. These are not all my dice, just my fave ones. Only the faves go into the bag. The translucent green ones were called 'ice dice' and were a very big deal at the time. There is a story behind each individual fave dice. When I was in high school my Dad bought a bottle of Crown Royal just so I could have a dice bag like everybody else. You know what that is? That's I love my child even though I don't actually get it, is what that is. (Because my parents are not drinkers, it took about 19 years before that bottle of Crown Royal was emptied.)
Many, many years later, while in the previous day job that I admit I sometimes still miss, I had a hilarious conversation with members of a vice squad in Central Florida about the use of Crown Royal bags by people who were not drug dealers. Until I brought them up to speed they had no idea that there were people on Earth who had a legitimate reason for carrying around Crown Royal bags unrelated to the cocaine trade.
I was introduced to gaming in high school via friends and a math teacher. I remember his name but I don't remember how to spell it. Phonetically, it's Mr. DeeGerOnEeeMoh. He was a short Italian guy of intense energy, great humor and Deep Geek. Though I think it did disappoint him that I was a complete failure in any math class I had to endure, I think he enjoyed my vast enthusiasm for pulling from history and literature to create stories via gaming. I do remember how he would occasionally sneak concepts of algebra and calculus into gaming sessions! It wouldn't take us long to catch on and glare at him.
I *love* gaming, and one of the things I regret about the demands of an adult life is eventually having to leave it behind for the most part.
ALL of my gaming characters were in some way or another black. How my dungeon masters and fellow players dealt with this was fascinating. The best DMs enthusiastically embraced it and rolled...the lesser ones ignored it. I remember when Ray, one of the best DMs on the planet, based at the Fantasy Factory, was putting together a Vampire Masquerade campaign with a storyline that stretched back to the 13th century. I wanted to create Tituba/Jihad for that game, which meant introducing information about the slave trade, select African pantheist info and the like. So I put together a quick-hit historical dossier for him about the Tukulor, Alexandar Mackay, the differences between US and Caribbean plantations, Wilberforce, and some other stuff for him to consider. Not only did he say give me more, but that white boy *independently* went off and researched, ultimately building all of what he learned into the framework of his campaign. It was beautiful.
Note: I am of the age where the term "gaming" refers to sitting around a table with books, dice, sheets, pencils, food that is very bad for you and a type of social interaction that you do not get from videogames.
This is my gaming books shelf:
Here are my first run D&D books:
Here is one of my gaming folders, and a spread of some of the character sheets inside of it from over the years:
My fave game systems were Paranoia and Cyberpunk 2020, for reasons I won't get into here. In D&D I tended to play magic users, clerics and illusionists. But my fave character class was the jester. My jester's name was Harlan (of course) and here is her character sheet:
If you click to embiggen, you might be able to see her description mentions "Fanti eyes". Because of the vast willfull ignorance among white most tribal members about myths & folklore that do not come from Europe, I know that 90% of geekdom reading this will have *no idea* of the root mythology informing my trickster. (But the guy I named her after? He'd get it, guaranteed.)
For some reason D&D rules at the time tied jesters to druid skills. I was not the only person in my gaming group to feel that was idiotic; jesters should pull from illusionists (magic), thieves (dexterity) and vaudeville. So in college, Jeff and I worked out detailed, complete guides for a more accurate jester character class.
Here are the magic items Jeff & I created for jesters. Because I've always been the Type-A OCD that I remain, it's dated! A close-up of that is included for, you know, proof.
Ooo. It's more difficult to read the pic than I realized upon upload. List of the items:
- Slap Stick
- Stitch (originally named Rod of Jesterly Might) "Stitch" because of you know how when you laugh too hard/much and get a stitch in your side that hurts like a mofo?
- Feather Duster
- Groucho's Chicken
- Grin And Bear It (originally named This Will hurt You More Than It Will Hurt Me)
- Wand of Pie Slinging. D6 based, it slung whipped cream, chocolate, banana, pecan, strawberry, blueberry. The details of what each pie type did to the victim is on another page. Pecan was the most dangerous, and thus the most rare. A jester would have to roll D20 to determine their chance of actually controlling what kind of pie would come out of the wand. Whoops. A jester has a 5% per level chance to control the flavors, and must roll dexterity or less on a D20 in order to not get hit with their own pies.
Jeff was a white boy Appalachian townie, by the way. When, during one of the old west systems we played, he and I began running The Skin Game in one campaign? The DM practically fell over in hysterics once he clued into what was going on.
I was president of my college gaming club. For the most part that meant I was the one who scheduled the rooms we used on campus and handled any issues that came up if we pissed somebody off. There was another black woman in our college gaming group. I can't remember her name, but she had a thing for being rescued. Hilarity or irritation ensued.
My college gaming group was comprised of a mix of university students and Appalachian townies. My first Redneck Friend came from this group. His name was John and he was a smart mofo completely willing to manipulate those who saw Appalachian Townie and nothing else; by the time they clued in it was far too late. He was the one who talked me out of that tree that one time I was hopped up on Jack Daniels and refused to come down. I still have and occasionally use his floppy army hat. They deserve their own post. I might not get to it, though. If I do, I'll update with a link. The townies in our group educated me in Ways The Man Works that I will forever be grateful for.
Since we're in the college era ('85-'89), here are some images from 401, a self-published comics anthology a bunch of us did as part of a class. I wrote two stories for it - one my idea illustrated by a black male artist, the other the idea of a white male artist who asked me to turn his idea into a story. It was the first time anyone had ever asked me to write a story for them.
"Tinker Toys" (my idea) was about a government military program that used children playing videogames to conduct an illegal black war in a third world country. The soldiers do not realize they are being operated by children. I think. Reading it now, that story doesn't make a lot of sense. There are some giant plot holes there...
"The Adventures of Bucket Head" (the other guy's idea) was the origin story of a minor deity who was the god of frat boys, called down to earth to help a desperate pledge. This guy had a character, and lots of pictures he had drawn of the character, but he had no story. I talked talked talked to him, or rather listened listened listened to him, until I had enough of a grasp on what he was after to construct a narrative. The biggest thing I did was take Bucket Head and turn him from an idiotic, drunken frat boy and into a bitter, drunken minor god who has to help an idiotic, naive frat boy. Once I did that, everything else fell into place.
For the record, it's horrifying to read those stories now because they kinda suck, though I think the ideas are sound. That truth aside, I had much fun writing both of them.
Now we're in the 90's. I'm living in Klan Country deep in Central Florida. My social life is based at the Fantasy Factory, a comic book store by day, gaming hq after hours. As was common with longtime players, I felt the urge to evolve from player to master. By this time a game system called CyberPunk 2020 had been introduced into the world, which pushed every button and fit every skill set I had at the time. We started adding 2020 to the rotation, and I became Game Mistress for a few of them.
Here is my 2020 GM binder (in the background are two sketches from Lewis Trondheim obtained many years later at CCI the year he was a guest and I happily stood in his line to meet him. Usually I don't stand in lines at CCI: I run other people's lines, loudly and with a Stern Yet Loving Do Not Fuck With Me approach).:
Here are some spreads from the binder:
At the end of every session I would also write the mainstream and tabloid newspapers for the next session. These included hints as to what would come, or tidbits of storylines to be created later if the players responded to them, or mocking whatever stupid thing the players did in the last session. One of the people in the group was running a character who was illiterate, so he was never handed the newspapers and because he wanted to play it straight, he never tried to sneak reading them. Much to my amusement/surprise, what the players would do is lie to him about what was written about his character in the tabloids! So I would have to figure out a way to drop him critical game info via my NPCs or, or work it into the television broadcasts.
I made these newspapers in the days before Photoshop. Any illustrations I wanted to use had to be photocopied from the source, reduced in size, cut out and glued onto the master file, which was then copied again for the final version. Some of the illustrations I took from the 2020 sourcebooks. Most of them I took from comics. Frames from Sandman, Lobo, Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, Flaming Carrot are what I immediately recognize looking at all this stuff now.
Night City Today was the mainstream paper. Here are front and back images of two issues:
Face the Fax was the tabloid paper. Fronts and backs of two issues:
FtF didn't have as many illustrations, which makes sense only if you know how that news outlet functioned within the 2020 game system.
Because I decamped for the Coachella Valley within a few months of starting this campaign, we never finished it.
What am I saying with all this? I am saying that this black girl was there, and can prove it. This black girl was there with boys and a few girls who were also not white. We didn't go to your conventions, but we were there. We already knew that in general genre was vague on the existence of non-whites as part of basic reality to begin with, because we read your works and watched your movies and television shows, and yet we were there.
We just didn't give a fuck about you and your definition of "fandom" because we did not then and do not now need your "fandom" to roll. For the most part, back then we didn't realize your "fandom" existed. Once we became aware of your "fandom"? We decided to for the most part ignore it because - do believe me on this - interaction with your "fandom" is not easy. It is in many ways a multi-front war. So we take the juicy bits we like to interact with and roll our eyes at the rest of it.
What I worry about is the Not White Like You geek younglings to come. I don't want them to have to go through what I went through. I despise the existence of the same tired calcified attitudes that are on display in the stuff from elsewhere that launched this post, and the eternally wearying defense of the same. That crap existed when I was a kid, it existed before I was born, it sadly continues into this very day. I've said this before several times, but one of my prime motivations for setting up this internet(s) port was to in some way let future not white tribal members who stumble across this place know that They Are Not Alone.
Time will take care of this. With time they will die, because they have no choice in the matter. With time, their white-centered, provincial attitudes about what counts as Geekdom will die with them. With time, a more vibrant, diverse reality-based Tribe will emerge to take your place. It's happening already. Slowly, but it is coming.
I look forward to the coming extinction.
Fuck all you mothafuckas.
***Full disclosure: This is not my original copy of the book. I would loan it out constantly, and sometime in the late-80s it didn't come home. By that time the thing was long out of print, but I'd always poke around for it when at a used bookstore. I finally found a replacement in 1992 at a used bookstore in Central Florida. It was .25, and a week later I got the call that I'd been accepted to Clarion.
***For the record: Hunter Rose is the best Grendel, and also Grendel so totally should have kicked Batman's ass. Do not ever ask me about the Batman/Grendel crossover unless you have a *lot* of time on your hands.