Thursday, March 30, 2017

I was a kid in the 80s...

...and it was a really great time for kid pop-culture, especially stuff with a fantasy & sf slant: Steven Spielberg and John Hughes and Jim Henson, Atari and Commodore 64, He-Man and the Transformers, Robotech and Voltron, on and on and on. Pretty much all the stuff that gets name-dropped in Ready Player One. And, of course, D&D, which was everywhere in those days - on TV, in toy stores, in the news, on the New York Times bestseller lists, influencing movies like Conan the Destroyer and Labyrinth. I remember all that stuff, and loved it, and occasionally want to talk about it because it had such a large influence in making me the person I am today.

For starters, I'll be talking mostly about D&D stuff (specifically the flavor of D&D stuff that I like - the early 80s, Gary Gygax version) because that's what is currently holding most of my interest, but over time it's likely that will drift and I'll end up talking about other stuff too. Like how 1982 was one of the best years ever for movies, especially genre ones. Seriously, in that single year we got E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and Blade Runner and Conan the Barbarian and Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Scarface and First Blood and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and The Thing and Poltergeist and TRON and The Last Unicorn and The Dark Crystal and The Secret of NIMH and Creepshow and so many others! I know I'm biased by nostalgia, but that's still pretty amazing for a single year.


  1. 1982 the first thing that pops into my head was Starlin. You had the first Marvel graphic novel DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL and his Epic Magazine spin off series Dreadstar, the early issues had so much potential. So many people had characters named "Dreadstar" it was pathetic. Also that year was the height of Miller's ninja-mania in Daredevil and the Wolverine mini-series the year prior was ENTER THE NINJA with Sho Kosugi which meant those copies of BEST OF DRAGON Volume 2, with the ninja class, were flying off the shelves. Starlin killed Captain Marvel and Miller killed Elektra this was just a backdrop to piles of dead D&D characters. A scant few years later began what I call the "precious character" movement which really encompasses the problems of roleplaying games at the time. I don't follow the whole idea that the problem was with people called "munchkins". Thats BS created in the 1990's to justify the new style of rpg design as talky supplements. There were talky games in 1982 but the majority of play in D&D was action-oriented dynamism. People were killing dragons left and right compared to the 90's when there were people acting like there was a fantasy endangered species list for them. All in all for 1982, people wearing Zany Zapper sunglasses with hoods probably sums it up. ;)

    1. For whatever reason, I wasn't really into comics as a kid. I had a few stray issues of Batman and the Marvel Star Wars comic, and a few even more random things (for whatever reason I remember having a solitary issue of Ghost Rider), but the first/only comic of that era that I actually followed and bought every issue of was G.I. Joe, which I loved at the time but see looking back was a blatant printed toy commercial - every year like clockwork they'd introduce a bunch of new characters to cover that year's releases, and every character had story-immunity so long as their toy was still in-print. On the downside, I was clearly missing out (and it's a little embarrassing that my wife knows way more about comics than I do and is constantly having to give me crib-notes when we watch comics-based movies), but on the upside it's nice knowing there's still a bunch of good new-to-me stuff waiting out there for me to read it :)

    2. Yeah, it was expensive especially when they started having the crossover stories in the late 70's. I was in direct sales hell by 82 going to the various shops to get the elusive issues. The weirdest part was that D&D was there for sale from day one in the shops in Manhattan. I recall the G.I. Joe series but it was kind of dry (like STAR WARS). I almost forgot they started the MARVEL UNIVERSE HANDBOOK at the very end of that year too with the descriptive "stats" for the heroes. So D&D was kind of influential.

  2. You must be a tiny bit younger than me as I hated He-Man and Transformers (they're kind of my cut-off for "good" Saturday morning cartoons) and I didn't watch Robotech till it was available on VHS a decade later, but I have fond memories from everything else circa 1982.