Recently I've spent most of my blogging time researching video game consoles, which led me to stumble upon a bunch of interesting stories from the early days of gaming. I don't post much about video games, so I figured I'd go ahead and include them all here. Another somewhat random coincidence was the number of film and tv graphic designers that came across my timeline, which made me realize just how much I have left to explore in that art form.
Movies & TV
Mr. Gips passed away this October at the age of 88, and I'm embarrassed that I wasn't more familiar with his work. "Rosemary's Baby" and "Alien" are two of the more memorable posters I can remember. I'd love to put together a gallery of his work in a future blog post.
Wayne Fitzgerald also passed away recently, with over a thousand (!!!) title sequences to his name. His title sequence for National Lampoon's Vacation has always been one of my favorites, with Lindsey Buckingham's Holiday Road played over various postcards.
Georg Olden was a pioneering, yet relatively unknown, graphic designer for CBS beginning in the 1940s. The grandson of a slave, he created the program titles for everything from Alfred Hitchcock Presents to I Love Lucy. He was also the first African-American to design a postage stamp.
Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project
Marion Stokes draws a fine line between crazy eccentric and noteworthy historian. For 24 hours a day beginning in 1979, she started starting recording live television. She continued until her death in 2012 and amassed more than 70,000 VHS tapes.
I happened to catch this obscure cover of Bill Wither's "Ain't No Sunshine" on the radio and was immediately curious about the story behind it. It came from a high school band in Kingsville, TX, and the original 45 was a bit of a holy grail for collectors. Brooklyn's Big Crown Records recently re-released the 7", and it's an insta-buy.
Jerry Jeff Walker’s ‘Viva Terlingua’ at 45: Inside the Fringe Country Album
I think that Austinites tend to lose track of just how vital Jerry Jeff Walker was to the Texas music scene. He did the counter-culture outlaw thing long before Willie did, and "London Homesick Blues" was the Austin City Limits theme song for over 30 years. It's crazy to think how much has changed since then, and this article is an excellent retrospective.
I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa
With Martin Scorsese's The Irishman hitting Netflix, it's worth mentioning Charle's Brandt's book again. I read it a few years ago, and although what happened to Jimmy Hoffa is still up for debate, it's a thrilling read. I'd recommend it for anyone that's into true crime and urban legends.
You might know the Standards Manual crew from their collections for NASA or the New York City Transit Authority. This coffee-table sized book is a collection of old National Parks brochures dating back to the early 1900s. It's fun to see the cover designs evolve, taking cues from the various trends of the day.
Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation
If you played video games in the late 80s, you either had a Super Nintendo or a Sega Genesis. There wasn't a whole lot of in-between. This book explores how SEGA America was able to take on the Nintendo juggernaut.
Petty: The Biography
I tend to forget just how long Tom Petty was at the top of his game. I bought the album Wildflowers in 1994 and continued to buy his new releases all the way up to Hypnotic Eye in 2014. And that's only half his career. Among many other stories, I enjoyed reading about his upbringing in Florida and his relationship with Mike Campbell.
The World-Wide Work
There are a handful of essays that have stuck with me in my 20-ish years of building for the web. Not coincidentally, most of them have been written by Ethan. He has a unique way of taking a step back to look at the human aspect of what we do.
Sites like this make me miss Tumblr. We get so caught up in the minutiae of building a website, that we tend to lose sight of the ability to quickly spin up a simple idea. Somebody needs to Kickstart this into a coffee-table book.
This is a staggeringly comprehensive documentation of handheld video games made between 1976 and 1985. I thought the site itself was impressive until I learned that they're all from the author's personal collection of over 900 games. All in the original box. All fully functional.
Video Game Catalog Scans
I stumbled upon Hugues Johnson's site while looking for old video game artwork. As it turns out, he worked at a video game retailer called Electronics Boutique from 1992-1997 during the peak of the 16-bit wars (he even wrote about working there). He managed to save all their yearly catalogs, which he turned into high-res scans.
Ed Smith And The Imagination Machine: The Untold Story Of A Black Video Game Pioneer
When I was putting together my video game console post, I didn't know much about APF Electronics. I discovered that they were a casualty of the North American video game crash of 1983 (yes, that was a thing), but more importantly, I stumbled upon the story of Ed Smith, the second known black engineer in the history of video games.
Console Wars: Sega CEO Tom Kalinske Interview
I learned about Tom Kalinske when I read the Console Wars book I linked to earlier. He was the former CEO of Sega of America and responsible for their meteoric rise and efforts to break Nintendo's hold on the American video game market. On this Retro Hour podcast, Tom candidly talks about the dramatic rise and fall of Sega.