Pinball MEGA-update

Tue 4/6/2010

Okay, okay. Enough of all this SELF-PUBLISHING nonsense. I know what you readers are REALLY itching for... another post about PINBALL! (Right?)

Yes, Jon Chad and I have still been chasing the silver ball a few times each week, in search of the perfect game. I set a new personal best of 136 million points on the Episode I machine and I've GOTTEN to the Jedi Master round a number of times, but I have yet to beat it (and there is still Jedi Spirit to achieve after THAT!)

It seems like it will only be a matter of time... In the last week or so, my games have been consistently hanging out in the 100 million points neighborhood. These scores are partly due to some recent, much needed maintenance on our pinball machine!

See, a few weeks ago, Mark went into the Pizza place to play some T2 and there was a Pinball Repair Guy working on the machine! Mark told him about some of the troubles we were experiencing on the Episode I machine, so he went over to the pool hall and tightened the flippers, loosened the TILT sensor a bit (thank god!) and cleaned the playfield. Alas, the jet bumpers are still broken, but these other repairs have made a big difference in our gameplay.

However, my thirst for Pinball stretches WELL BEYOND the humble borders of White River Junction, let me tell you! I am becoming more and more obsessed with pinball, and it seems like the deeper I delve into the world of the silver ball, the more cool stuff I turn up! FOR INSTANCE:

1) Claire sent me a link to this TOTALLY RAD Pinball Column in McSweeney's by Mark Walters. As of this blog post, there are five entries and hopefully there will be many more to come! Walters comes across as a sort of Pinball Samurai - wandering the earth, in search of forgotten pinball machines. He writes about the machines themselves and how to play them, but he also writes a lot about WHERE the machines are found and the people who interact with them. It's very funny, and if you love pinball, you will love this column.

2) One night I came across the craziest YouTube channel ever which details Ben Heck's process of building a pinball machine FROM SCRATCH. And I mean, he started with NOTHING and built the whole machine by hand. He built the cabinet, attached all the parts, wired them, wrote the computer coding for the dot matrix display, created his own animations and sound work, did all of the playfield and backglass art, built ramps and mini-games and designed the logic of the gameplay. And WHAT game you ask?


Yeah... Bill Paxton. WHO KNOWS why he chose Bill Paxton, but this game is an incredible achievement in engineering and design. There are over two hours videos in the YouTube Channel, where you can see every step of the process. But if you just want to check out the finished machine, watch this one. Ben Heck? My hat is off to you, sir!

3) Another night, Jon Chad and I were looking around for more pinball information online, when we came across the site for a new documentary film about pinball called Special When Lit. The trailer looks COMPLETELY AMAZING. There are some really beautifully filmed pinball sequences, and they have footage of the best pinball player in the world playing, as well as interviews with most of the key designers and business people that were involved in making pinball machines back in the day.

The film is currently touring the documentary film circuit, and racking up QUITE a few awards while doing so. Their shop says there will be a DVD version of the movie available some time this year, so now I am constantly checking the site, hoping to get my hands on this awesome looking film!

4) As a thank-you gift, my Golden Age Team got me a copy of the out-of-print book Pinball Art by Keith Temple. It is fully loaded with tons and tons of amazing backglass and playfield art. Thanks team!

5) I know this post is already a little long, but trust me, I've saved the best for last...

Now, remember in my last pinball post I told you all how I had discovered that there was a pinball zine in the 1990s called Multiball Magazine? Well, check THIS out...

Using the internet, Jon Chad and I found an uncertain, but VERY LIKELY address where we could PROBABLY reach the previous editors of Multiball Magazine. So we wrote an impassioned, two page letter, begging for any remaining copies of Multiball they might have lying around, and we put it in a big box CHOCK FULL of every issue of Phase 7 and all of Jon Chad's minicomics. Yes, we poured our very hearts and souls into this box and sent it off into the void, not knowing if it would reach its destination, or the Pinball Wizards of Multiball Magazine.

Then we waited...
And waited...

But THEN we got an email! The box was received! And another box, A BOX FULL OF MULTIBALL MAGAZINES was on its way to us! CHECK OUT THIS AMAZING HAUL OF PINBALL GOODNESS!!!!!

That's issues 2-6, 8, 12, 15-20 and 22. Between these and the issues at the IPRC we can read a COMPLETE RUN of the zine, except for issue #21 (PLEEEEEEASE let me know if you have a copy of issue #21!!!) Even just with the ones that came in the mail, it is incredible to see how this zine started as a free, quarter-sized, photocopied zine and ended up as a $5, offset printed, full sized magazine with a color cover and 7" vinyl records with songs about pinball in them! (THANK YOU SO MUCH BC & SDS!!!)

The day the box arrived, Jon and I created a two-man reading group. At the start of each week, we each take an issue and start reading it. Midweek, we trade the zines and each read the other issue. Then on the weekend we get together and discuss the best parts of those two issues. All this careful research is in preparation for a PINBALL MINICOMIC that we have decided to do!

We are still in the planning stages, but it's already shaping up to be pretty epic. We both have a lot of things going on, so we're going to keep things pretty loose, but we're going to aim to have the first issue out by SPX in September. I will (OBVIOUSLY) post more about this once we nail down some more of the specifics. For now, everybody get out there and play some pinball!!!

8 comments on this entry

I think he made the Bill Paxton game just so he could use the "Game Over man!" quote from Aliens.

Greg Apr07

he chose bill paxton to use "GAME OVER, MAN!" duh! that is seriously cool that he built it from scratch. i'm jealous. i think.

Alec this is awesome information. It is especially exciting to read about the Multiball zine cache. Looks like great reading. And, of course, we're looking forward to your Pinball Minicomic!

Blake Apr07

Greg/Nate - I bet you guys are right. He probably watched that movie and was like "this would be such a funny sound at the end of a pinball game." But then seeing the amount of work which followed that whim, AND the amount of OTHER, totally obscure Bill Paxton stuff he crammed into the design of the machine, is just staggering.

Alec Apr07

DUDE! Tell me one of those issues is all about Bride of Pinbot! I see her on two covers actually. Best pinball machine ever, IMO.

Paul Apr07

how long do you play to get such a high score on the star wars machine? i wish there was more pinball machines around here. all this pinball talk is getting to me.

That's awesome you're into pinball, man! I've been off the internets for a while, so this is news to me. An old roommate of mine was super into pinball for a while. He was amazed that the basic mechanics of the game could be so entertaining and addicting. Which leads me into: WHEN DO WE GET TO SEE THE PHASE 7 PINBALL GAME? It'd be superdope to consider how you could tie in some of the plot points in your stories to the game play!

Also, to the last pinball post- I believe Milwaukee is one of the best cities to hit up bars specifically for the multiple pinball machines in them. So, you know...Come for a visit. I'll take you on a tour.

Zack - If Jon and I are having good games, we can usually play for an hour on one dollar. It buys three games but then we can usually win another game or two. So... 15 minutes a game I guess?

David - Jon and I are working on a Pinball Minicomic which will have many imaginary pinball playfields. I'll add Phase 7 to the list! And thanks for the heads up about Milwaukee, next time I'm passing through I'll make sure to play some pinball!

Alec Apr15

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