Monday, November 21, 2011

Music Review: The Music of DC Comics - 75th Anniversary Collection



In case you weren't aware, last year (2010) was the 75th Anniversary of DC Comics.  The company came out with a lot of cool products to celebrate, including a Poster Book of comic book covers from their entire 75 year history and the massive $200 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking. One of the more interesting releases, in my opinion, was a collection of music called "The Music of DC Comics - 75th Anniversary Collection."

What's included on this album?  You get 31 tracks of music spanning from 1941 up through 2009.  You get a lot of the ones that you'd expect (the John Williams' "Superman" theme, the Danny Elfman "Batman" theme, and the "Batman" live action TV show theme, for example). 

What I liked about the set, though, were the more obscure tracks that I either didn't have on another disc, or that I hadn't even heard of before. 

"The Superman March" from 1941 is from the old Fleischer Studios animated series, about which I've written before.  Although I have the entire run on DVD, it's awesome to have the theme song on my iPod now so I can listen to it in the car.  As much as I like the John Williams "Superman" theme, the version by Sammy Timberg is just so much more regal.  The Williams' version feels like a big sweeping theme that was created for a big budget movie.  The Timberg version feels like... well, it feels like Superman.  It's a brass-driven score and includes the famous opening "Up in the sky... Look!  It's a bird!  It's a plane!  It's Superman!"  This track leads off the album and is the start of seven Superman-related themes.  In addition to this one and the Williams' theme, you also get the opening theme (including voice-over) to the Filmation 1960s "The New Adventures of Superman" by John Gart, who is responsible for nearly a third of all of the tracks on this album; the theme song to the TV show "Lois & Clark"; "The Adventures of Superboy", also from the Filmation animated series from the 1960s; "Superboy", from the 1988 live action show; and the end credits theme to the TV show "Smallville." 

Next up is one that I wasn't familiar with at all, a piece called ""Batman: The Electrical Brain" by Lee Zahler.  This theme is from Batman's very first live-action on-screen appearance from 1943.  I have heard of these old live action black-and-white serials before, but I've never seen them.  This music was previously unreleased, making it a gem to find on this CD.  It includes a voice-over that sets up the scene.  The music that plays underneath is very typical of the era and the serials that were popular at the time. 

This tracks leads off another seven-track set, this time of "Batman" related music.  The Danny Elfman "Batman" theme from the 1989 Tim Burton film is next, which has always been my favorite Batman theme, hands down.  This is followed by the John Gart track "The Adventures of Batman" from the 1960s Filmation cartoon series (complete, as with all of the John Gart tracks, with voice-over).  Next we get the famous Neal Hefti theme to the campy 1960s live-action "Batman" show starring Adam West (complete with the BIF! BAM! POW! trumpet sound effects) and then a more modern piece - the theme to Cartoon Network's "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" and then the main title to "Batman Beyond."  The Batman set wraps up with the track "Molossus" by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard from "Batman Begins." 

The third "set" of tracks relate to the Justice League and its televised incarnations.  The first one is by John Gart from the 1960s Filmation "shorts" that aired during the "Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure" Filmation cartoon series that ran in 1967/1968. This series included a bunch of "guest star" cartoon shorts, one of which was the "Justice League."  The music in this piece is actually rather incidental - the track is mainly about the announcer listing the names of the various of the Justice League, and then ends with a triumphant brass and wind instrument fanfare. 

Following this is the theme to the 1970s "Super Friends" cartoon - specifically the incarnation that included Marvin, Wendy, and Wonder-Dog (all of whom are mentioned by name during the voice-over).  This is one of the old classic cartoon themes, even if the actual show itself left a little to be desired. 

Next up we get a newer incarnation of the Superfriends from the "All New Super Friends Hour", which this time include the Wonder Twins and their stupid idiot monkey.  The announcer, amazingly, sounds pretty much like the same guy through all of these different tracks, even though they are recorded many years apart.  The theme is by the same guy as the original Super Friends theme, Hoyt Curtin, and it's really just a different take on the same song.  But, it's fun to compare the two and hear the differences. 

We then flash forward to the 2000s with the theme to "Justice League Unlimited."   While I am a big fan of this show (and I own the entire run on DVD), I was never super thrilled with the theme song.  It's modern mix of electric guitar with orchestral type music just never worked for me.  It never seemed to capture the majesty of Earth's greatest superheroes. 

Then we go back in time to 1979's "Legend of the Superheroes", which is oddly show that I have no memory of.  It was a live action version of the Hanna Barbara cartoon series, and it aired on NBC in 1979.  I can't say that I'm anxious to see these, given the description of a Super Hero "roast" featuring an African-American character named "Ghetto Man."  As far as the music, like many of the "opening credit themes", the music track here is really incidental.  The focus is on the voice-over.  The team line-up is quite different: Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Huntress (?!), the Flash, Black Canary, Robin, and Batman. 

Going back in time again, we get a short 30-second theme by John Gart from the "Teen Titans" short that aired during the aforementioned "Superman / Aquaman Hour of Adventure" in the 1960s.  The Titans line-up includes the classic group of Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, and Aqua Lad.  Missing is Robin, who at the time in this incarnation was actually a member of the Justice League.

We also get the short John Gart track for the Filmation "Aquaman" cartoon, which again is overpowered by the voice-over explaining who Aquaman and Aqualad are.

A surprising inclusion is the theme from the live-action TV series "The Swamp Thing" by Christopher Stone.  This is another show that I've never seen, but I at least remember hearing about it.  Like most of the other tracks, this one includes a voice-over, but at least the music plays uninterrupted for about 35 seconds or so.  This one is more woodwind-based with a lot of percussion (not loud percussion, just a lot of different kinds of percussion).  It does a good job of provoking a feeling of mystery. 

Then we are treated to the theme from the live-action "Shazam" from the 1970s.  I remember watching this show on Saturday Mornings every week as a kid.  Almost the entire track except the last 15 seconds is overdubbed with a voice-over explaining who Billy Batson / Captain Marvel is.

The next two tracks are very short John Gart compositions for "The Flash" and the "Green Lantern" cartoon shorts that aired as part of the "Superman / Aquaman Hour of Adventure." The music for each is, of course, covered up by a voice-over explaining who the characters are and the what their powers involve.

After that is a slightly over two-minute track of all instrumental music from "Green Lantern First Flight", one of the recent direct to home video DC Animated Movies.  This is more of a standard musical score and theme that you would hear for a movie - it's a big, sweeping score featuring a full orchestra and some interesting percussion that somehow does a good job of imparting a feeling of being in "outer space." You wouldn't listen to this and think that the subject matter is fantasy or Western, for example.  Interestingly, though, I don't think the theme has a good "hook" to it.  I remember an interview once with Danny Elfman wherein he described that a good theme is one that you can hum or whistle in just a few notes.  Think of Elfman's "Batman" score.  Ba-ba-ba-BAAAAAAAAAaaaa-bum.  The "First Flight" score just doesn't have that hook to it. 

We then go back to two themes from the cartoon shorts from the "Superman / Aquaman Hour of Adventure" - the Atom and Hawkman, both by John Gart and featuring the requisite explanatory voice-over.

Another surprise inclusion is the theme and voice-over from the opening credits of the old "Plastic Man Comedy Adventure Show" from 1979.  I had completely forgotten about this show, but the truth is I didn't really like the show that much as a kid.  I was never really much of a Plastic Man fan until much later in life when he was incorporated into the Justice League.  I think he's better when playing off of other heroes rather than being on his own.  The music, by Dean Elliott, is rather incidental underneath the long voice-over and the kooky sound effects, but it's mainly a brass-driven score that does a decent job of combining the elements of comedy and adventure.

The last two tracks on the CD are dedicated to Wonder Woman.  The first is is a 3+ minute score from the 2009 direct to home video release "Wonder Woman the Animated Movie."  The music here is by Christopher Drake, and similar to the score for "Green Lantern First Flight", it does a good job of evoking the subject matter.  There is a sweeping, adventurous part of the score over which a female voice sings in gibberish (I know that's not the technical musical term - she's not seeing actual words) that sounds vaguely ancient and "Greek-like."  If you've heard the score to the movie "Gladiator", you know what I'm talking about. There's a regal, majestic section, followed by a darker piece toward the middle of the track with lots of drums and chanting male voices (somewhat reminiscent of some of the score from "The Lord of the Rings" movies), which gives way to a softer, more lyrical section, leading into a return of the theme from the beginning of the track.  All of this happens in the space of three minutes.  Again, it's a good piece of music, but there is no "hook."  If I were hearing this out of context, I don't know that I'd be able to pinpoint that it was from the Wonder Woman movie.

The disc closes out with the classic theme to the TV series "Wonder Woman" from the 1970s.  You all know the track.  It's a fun, goofy way to end the album. 

I'm really happy that I picked this up.  It's not necessarily the world's best music, and many of the musical tracks are actually covered up by long voice-overs, making it extremely unlikely that one would pop this CD in to just sit and listen to the music.  However, many of the tracks were previously unavailable in any other format, making their inclusion here important from a kind of documentation aspect.  Also, the really short John Gart compositions from the cartoon shorts that appeared during Filmation's "Superman / Aquaman Hour of Adventure" were all brand new to me.  I don't actually remember seeing any of those cartoon shorts before, but I've learned that they are all available now on DVD. The voice-over explanation of each character and his or her powers is actually a pretty good introduction to the world of DC Comics, as evidenced by my young 2 1/2 year old daughter, who loves listening to these in the car on the way to Daycare every day, and has memorized the names of pretty much all of the heroes.  She will even request, "More Hawkman, Daddy!" and other similar demands. 

Fans of DC Comics Characters and of old cartoons from the 60s, 70s, and 80s will definitely enjoy this collection.

Hanging: Home Office

Drinking: Latest beverage was a 2005 Core Greneache, Alta Mesa Vineyard (drank with leftover rosemary basted rack of lamb, roasted fingerling potatoes, and lemon/butter/pine-nut green beans)

Listening: The Music of DC Comics - 75th Anniversary Collection (link to buy on iTunes)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Conan the Adventurer Cartoon Series?!

While on Amazon today, I noticed in my section "Coming Soon for You", a DVD collection called "Conan the Adventurer: Season 2, Part 1."  I clicked over and saw that apparently there was a Conan cartoon produced by Sunbow (the same animation company that produced Transformers and G.I. Joe), starting in 1992.  Apparently there are a total of 51 episodes, and yet I've never even heard of this before!

The description, unsurprisingly, doesn't look like it bears all that much resemblance to Howard's creation, other than the names.  Conan supposedly rides a horse named Thunder and adventures with Jezmine, Snagg, Needle, Greywolf and Zula on a "quest to rescue Conan’s family from an evil spell cast by the Serpent Man wizard Wrath-Amon."  He's also armed with a sword forged from "star-metal."

Since I didn't grow up with this one, like I did with Thundarr, I don't think the nostalgia factor is going to win out and cause me to get this.  But, I am still a little intrigued.  I wouldn't mind checking it out via Netflix streaming or something like that.

Anybody else out there hear of this?  I'm shocked that in all the time I've spent reading OSR blogs and the absolute love for all things Conan that many bloggers rave about, somehow I've never seen anybody talking about this.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Time Working With Wizards of the Coast (Part 4)

This entry will finish my four-part saga about my time working on the advertising for Wizards of the Coast back in the early 2000s.  To get the full effect, you can read the past entries here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

So, continuing...

At this point, after working on the account for about two years, things started to go South very quickly. 

According to my client at WotC at the time, Hasbro was a little annoyed that they had put a lot of money into WotC, ostensibly to obtain the Pokémon license, which by this time was on a severe downslide from its former peak of sales and popularity.  D&D and Magic: The Gathering, while much smaller properties, were also but a shadow of their glory in terms of sales.  Many of WotC's other properties were pretty much a bust right out of the gate: card games based on Major League Baseball, World Class Wrestling, and (get ready) Looney Tunes (?!?!) had not done well at all and were discontinued. 

Then, things started to look up.  WotC picked up the exclusive license to produce a trading card game based on the very popular Harry Potter books.  The first movie had just come out in November of 2001 and the series was really starting to take off.  Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon, both trading card games, had been huge successes for WotC.  A trading card game based on the extremely popular Harry Potter series seemed like a sure win. 

And that's when corporate America got involved, in all its glory. 

You see, at this time, since Warner Brothers had paid for the rights to develop the movies based on the Harry Potter series, they somehow had it written into their contract that they got a say in any Harry Potter merchandising that was developed.  J.K. Rowling, the author of the series, also had very tight control over her property, so she had a sort of final approval capability on anything that was done with her characters, which would include the advertising for any products based on her characters.  WotC signed the deal to obtain the license for the Harry Potter Trading Card Game, but since Hasbro owned WotC, they took a very keen interest in what happened with the game.  They were betting that they had another Pokémon phenomenon on their hands. 

Anyone who knows anything about how things work knows that having four"decision-makers" (WotC, Hasbro, Rowling, Warner Brothers) involved in something is just going to make it a complete mess.  And that's exactly what happened. 

From the get-go, the designers at WotC were severely limited in the types of cards they could create.  My team at the ad agency designed a promotion for young budding authors through the Scholastic program at junior high schools where they would write stories in the Harry Potter universe (a form of fan-fic, I guess) which would be judged by a panel of people from WotC and perhaps J.K. Rowling herself, and the winners would get their likeness on a custom card designed for an expansion to the game.  In essence, they would get to be part of the Harry Potter universe.  This idea was killed because according to the terms of the license, WotC wasn't allowed to create new characters.  That's just one example.

Then the Hasbro Corporate woman from the East Coast called an "all partners" meeting in Los Angeles and I went to the meeting as the most senior agency person working on the WotC business.  Except, as it turns out, I wasn't the most senior person there.  The Hasbro Corporate woman, who knew nothing of the types of games WotC made, nor had ever met or even talked to me, decided that I must not know what I was doing, and corralled a bunch of senior people from our New York Office who worked on other Hasbro brands.  They were all women in their mid-40s or older who had a kind of disdain for the types of "boy games" that WotC made.  It reminded me very much of the stories I'd heard about Lorraine Williams. 

To give you a quick idea of what the Corporate person was like, I was told by one of my counterparts in the New York office that she (the Corporate person) was never in the office, so one time they needed her to approve something very urgently and they had to track her down at her nail salon and present a plan to her while she sat there and got her nails done.  This is how corporate America works.  

So, these people, who have no idea what I've done working on the WotC brand, and who don't play or understand the games or even the Harry Potter property, come to the meeting and start telling the WotC client how she should be marketing the game.  The Corporate person backed them up.  This was all very surprising to the WotC client (Kathryn) and me because, I had already developed an advertising plan for the Harry Potter Trading Card Game that had been approved by the client and her sales team. 

The Corporate person said that my plan was not "edgy enough" (I have no idea what that means).  The WotC client was noticeably upset and tried to defend what we had done.  The Corporate person started to berate her in front of the entire group at the meeting, so I stepped up to defend my client and mentioned several times how she had solicited input from the sales team at WotC (the people responsible for getting the retailers to carry the product).  The Corporate person told me that I didn't know what I was talking about.

Later on, unbeknownst to me, the Corporate person from Hasbro told one of the people at my agency in New York to call my boss in Los Angeles and have me taken off the business.  My boss was super cool and really liked me a lot, and she actually never had the heart to tell me.  She stood up for me and I didn't find out until much later that this had all happened. 

As it turns out, the majority of my advertising plan was eventually executed, and the Harry Potter Trading Card Game actually performed much better than expected during the launch period in terms of sales and retail support.  Unfortunately, the expectations were super low at this point, so that's not saying a lot.  The designers felt too constrained by the terms of the licensing deal to create anything that was going to be fun whatsoever.  They weren't allowed to develop game mechanics that would create possibilities that didn't happen in the books, which means that the game is not going to be all that fun. 

After this whole thing happened, the account was "transferred" from the L.A. Office to be handled by a media planning team out in New York, which of course made no sense at all since the client was in Seattle, only a 2 1/2 hour plane ride from where I was.  Also, the new team who took over the planning was a bunch of young people right out of college, none of whom had ever played TCGs or RPGs before and didn't consume the type of media that the target would be using.

Don't get me wrong - I'm a big believer in the idea that media planning is media planning - I can help someone sell cars just as easily as I can help them sell cold medicine.  But in this case, when you have an extremely niche hobby and you come across someone who is involved in the hobby and does media planning - well, as they say, that's "pure win."  It should be a no-brainer. 

What did I learn from all of this?  

Well, I learned that I'm not good at playing office politics.  I could see the way the wind was blowing.  The Corporate people were coming in to take over and put the team in place that they liked.  But, I didn't suck up to them.  I had this horribly mistaken belief that work was a meritocracy.  Do an outstanding job and you'll move up.  Now that I'm older and more experienced, I know that's not the case. 

I also learned that good ideas are pretty much going to be trumped every time by the slow-turning wheel of Corporate America.  We, and the designers at WotC, had a lot of good ideas for the brand that were much easier to get done right after the brand had just been acquired by Hasbro.  They had a huge influx of cash to spend on marketing and advertising and product development, but the suits at Hasbro were too busy getting things in order that they didn't really pay attention to what we were doing for a good year or 18 months.  After that time, when they got more involved, decisions were never made.  There was always another "higher-up" who needed to see what was proposed and approve it, but they were always too busy or out of town or something.  Decisions that used to be made in a matter or hours were now made in weeks. 

I learned that I'm much better working in an unfettered environment of peers who all collaborate and share ideas and aren't afraid to try something new just because it's never been done before.  Working on WotC was also the first time that I really bonded with a client and got to know their business beyond just my part of media planning, but in terms of sales, distribution, product development, budgeting, and so forth.  I became more of a business consultant to my client instead of just a "media planner." 

So, based on all of the above, I eventually ended up opening my own agency nearly three years ago.  It's extremely stressful and very unstable in terms of being able to plan out my financial livelihood.  But, I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

That concludes my tale of working on the advertising for Wizards of the Coast. I hope you found in entertaining and educational.  I'd love to hear your comments and questions.  

Oh, yeah.  Another thing I learned - "what goes around comes around."  That Corporate person from Hasbro?  She was eventually fired. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy St. Martin's Day (and Religion in RPGs)

In addition to all of the other holidays associated with November 11th (most notably, of course, Armistice Day, or Veteran's Day, depending on where you live, but also the last Binary day most of us will have the pleasure to spend in our lifetimes), today is also St. Martin's Day, aka "Martinmas."

Yes, it's a real holiday, and until relatively recently it was pretty widely celebrated in many parts of Europe.  Before I go to much father, I should point out that I'm not Catholic, nor do I belong to any form of religious practice that venerates saints, so if I get some of these details wrong, you can forgive me. 

Martin of Tours is usually recognized as the first "non-martyr" Saint.  He was born in Turkey to a tribune in the Imperial Horse Guard of the Roman Army, and later on in life Martin himself was required to join a heavy cavalry unit and was stationed in France. 

Legends say that at one point during his career he came across a near-naked beggar in the snow.  Martin took his sword and cut his cloak in half and gave half of it to the beggar (as depicted in the accompanying image).  Later that night, he had a vision that the beggar was actually Jesus in disguise, and afterwards Martin left the army and dedicated his life to the Church, eventually becoming the Bishop of Tours.

There are tons of other legends about Martin, like how children in Europe used to think that Martin hailed the coming of Winter since his Feast Day fall on an ancient "cross-quarter" day.  They would put their shoes outside and during the night, Martin would ride by on his horse and fill the shoes with little horse-shoe shaped cookies.  Parents put cups of water outside on the eve of his feast day because Martin fills the cups with wine instead (since he is the Patron Saint of Vintners).  I could go on and on, but you can get more information by looking online at places like the Calendar of Saints Days or good old Wikipedia.

I still like to try to celebrate Martinmas every year with a dinner for friends and family when I can, and I at the very least have a glass of wine to honor on of the Patron Saints of Wine.

So, you're asking, what does all of this have to do with gaming or geek stuff, Martin?  Well, it got me thinking a long time ago when I found out that there was such a thing as a St. Martin's Day just how widely varied and fascinating our own modern-day religions are, and how much of a missed opportunity I think it is in role-playing games.

In my World of Samoth campaign, I have a monotheistic religion called Ætonism.  To take the place of the "missing gods", if you will, I created 16 Hallowed Patrons (one for each month of the year plus one for each quarterly festival) and any cleric of the religion is required to choose a Hallowed Patron as his sect.  Each sect has its own teachings, religious customs, color schemes, etc.  Basically - it's like having sixteen "mini-religions."  The idea was to make my monotheistic religion a little more varied in scope.  I had always intended to have each player in the campaign pick one of the Hallowed Patrons as their "god" and follow the practices, and thought it might be interesting if some of them belonged to different sects of the same church. 

As it turned out... it seems like people in my group just don't care about religion in their role-playing games. 

We had only one cleric player, who was a multi-class sorcerer (this was/is a 3rd Edition/Pathfinder game).  He chose a scholarly-based Hallowed Patron because it fit his character background, which was cool, but that's about where it stopped.  As with typical role-playing games, the characters were going around town slaughtering bad guys as they needed to, and it never occurred to the cleric player that he might want to pray over the bodies of the fallen and perhaps give them the proper burial rights.  I nudged him a bit in that direction and he finally came around, but it usually consists of "My guy says a prayer over the body.  You know, whatever I'm supposed to do." 

It's like playing up the religious aspects is more of a nuisance than part of the character's background.  

For the other players, religion is pretty much a non-issue.  From the start, nearly everyone, with the exception of one player (Malinda, who was a newbie), chose the route of saying, "My character doesn't follow that religion.  He doesn't believe in organized religion."  I tried a bit to discourage this type of modern thinking (can you imagine a peasant in 13th Century England saying, "I don't believe in organized religion"?), but I was trying to be very conscious of not forcing someone to play a character they don't want to play.  

So, to this day, over 10 years later, the cleric player is still with us, but he is the only one following one of the religions I created for my campaign.  

While the spiritual aspect of religion has been downplayed, we have played up its political aspects quite a bit, and that itself has been the source of many of the more interesting and memorable sessions during my campaign.  But, I'll save that for another post.

How do you all use religion in your games?  Does it end up being window-dressing only, like in my campaign? (Actually, I don't even think you can call it window-dressing in my campaign - it's that unimportant to the players).  Or does it take a central role?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Of the Ipad2 and Reading Blogs and Gaming PDFs

Two posts in two days?  Yep - I'm trying to get back on schedule. 


As I mentioned about a month ago, for my birthday this year (and also a combo anniversary present), my wife gave me an iPad2, which was a hugely unexpected gift.  To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed at the thought of it at the beginning, because I really didn’t know what I was supposed to “do” with it.

After playing around with it for a month or so, I can safely say that it’s a most awesome piece of technology and I’m glad that I have one.  In addition to being able to use it in a pinch for things like work presentations so that I don’t have to carry my huge 17” screen laptop with me, I’ve found that I’m using it a lot more to read things.  I’m not using it as an e-reader in the sense that I’m reading novels.  Instead, what I’ve been reading on it is primarily:

1)   Blog posts
2)   Old RPG PDFs
3)   Old Dragon Magazines

I’m going to deal with the first two briefly, and then move onto talking about Dragon, which is actually the main reason I started this post. 

I’ve been using the app called “Flipboard” to read people’s blog posts once my friend Loren’s fiancé, Mary, informed me that I could set up Flipboard to recognize my Google Reader account.  I love the freedom of being able to read the blogs that I follow without having to sit at my desk.  Plus, the format is just much more friendly to me.  I keep my iPad2 on my nightstand, so in the morning when I wake up while my wife is in the bathroom getting ready, I can buzz through a few blog entries.  I’m finding hat I’m actually reading a lot more blog entries in this fashion than I ever did on my laptop, which is cool because in addition to all of the cool ideas that are floating about the OSR blogosphere, there are also a bunch of other fun blogs that keep me up-to-date on comics, movies, and other geek stuff.

Regarding the PDFs, one of the things I really hate is reading PDFs on a computer screen, because for some insane reason, PDF publishers have never figured out that computer screens are landscape, and having a two-column format on a PDF means that I have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page to read, then scroll back up and start at the top again and read down.  That’s just a really poor user experience.  It’s like the assumption is that, if you buy the PDF, you’re just going to print it out to read it.  If I were going to do that, I’d just buy the print version.  And, if the publisher is PDF only and doesn’t have a print version, then they have no excuse for formatting their PDF only product as though it were a print product.  Why can’t they take advantage of the medium they’re using, and format their products in landscape, with a type of column formatting that doesn’t entail me having to continually scroll up and down to read the page? 

[Astute readers will note that I am the author of a PDF-only product, the Quintessential Aristocrat, that was, unfortunately, formatted as though it were a print product.  I was only the author of that particular book, not the publisher, so I had no control over the final layout.]

Anyway, what this brings me to is reading PDFs on the iPad2, which is a much better experience.  Since I can turn the iPad any direction I want, I can hold it upright and format the PDF page to fit within the screen so I don’t have to scroll up and down.  And, since it’s lightweight, I can comfortably hold it closer to my face to read the small type, unlike what I can do with a regular computer monitor or even laptop screen. 

So, what this brings me to is that, during the whole d20 era back in the early 2000s, I bought a lot of d20 PDFs – mostly class guides for all of the various classes as well as for new custom classes, but also books of spells (the Book of Eldritch Might was the first PDF product that I’d ever purchased), campaign settings, adventures, maps… you name it.  However, the one thing I didn’t really do was read a lot of these products, mostly because I got annoyed with the prospect of trying to read them when they weren’t really formatted to be read on the computer.  I’d skim them and maybe once in a great while, print out a page or two to read at my desk. 

I had also gone through when all of the old TSR products were available in PDF format (before Wizards unceremoniously took them all down) and bought a bunch of stuff that I’d never had a chance to pick up in print form. 

Now I find that I have a ton of reading material that’s going to keep me busy for a very long time.  I always love reading new game material, and while this stuff isn’t necessarily “new”, it’s kind of new to me since I never really had a chance to read it before. 

I’ll be posting about some of my favorites in the upcoming week. 

And that brings me to Dragon magazine, which is going to have to wait for its own blog post.  But, I’ve been rediscovering the magazine thanks to the Dragon Magazine Archive CD-ROM I have.  I started with the Strategic Review #1 and am reading the entire run.  I’m not reading every article in depth, but mostly just the ones that interest me or that look like they have some kind of historical significance.  I maintain that the best way to really understand the history of our hobby is to just sit down and read through a lot of these old issues of Dragon., especially the editorials.  There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there that I wasn’t aware of. 

As just a “teaser”, I had no idea that at one point, there were two separate magazines after the demise of The Strategic ReviewThe Dragon (which was billed as a magazine of science fiction and fantasy, and included a lot of fiction), and Little Wars (dedicated to strategic board games and military miniatures gaming, and which I don’t remember ever having heard of before).  They were later “combined” into The Dragon once it became clear that The Dragon was growing by leaps and bounds while Little Wars was stagnating. 

More to come…
 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Batman: New and Old

I recently picked up the new DC Universe animated movie, "Batman: Year One", based on the old Frank Miller story that ran in issues 404 - 407 of Batman back in 1987. 

Since I, like most of you reading this blog, am an avowed geek, I started watching some of the "behind-the scenes" stuff, including an interesting interview between three generations of Batman comics writers and/or editors: Denny O'Neill, Dan Didio, and Scott Snyder.  One of the questions that the interviewer, Mike Uslan (the movie producer behind the 1989 Tim Burton "Batman" film as well as behind the more recently Christopher Nolan "Batman Begins") asks them is what(and when) was their first exposure to Batman, and why did he resonate with them so much?

I started thinking about this question as it relates to me personally - both for Batman specifically, but also comics in general.

My first exposure to Batman, as far as I can remember, would have been from the old Adam West TV show version, which was in syndication and aired in the coveted after-school time-slot on a local independent station when I was around 6 or 7 years old.  Of course, at that age, much like Scott Snyder mentioned during the interview, I didn't realize it was campy.  I didn't even know what "campy" meant at that age.  All I knew was I could watch Batman drive the Batmobile and punch villains in the face.  I thought it was great. 

At the same time, I would have been watching the adventures of Batman as part of the Superfriends on Saturday Morning Cartoons.  I had a poster of the Superfriends in my room - the incarnation of the team featuring the ridiculous Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder-Dog.  Once again, although I was old enough to realize that Wendy and Marvin were useless, I remember really getting into the stories with the rest of the Superfriends, particularly Batman. 

I also distinctly remember owning a 45-RPM combo storybook and record of Batman, which I had completely forgotten about until I started writing this.  I did a little research, and it turns out it was a story called "Stacked Cards" (click the link to listen to the story on YouTube).  The artwork for this book resembled some of the Neal Adams' stuff that had come out in the late 60's, and the story was extremely dark - one scene involves a dead security guard who has the signature Joker smile.  

One thing that's interesting is that all three of those versions of Batman are completely different incarnations, but as a kid, I didn't distinguish between them.  They were just "Batman."  I guess I just wasn't old enough to separate them in my mind.  I think it's one of the reasons that, as an adult, I can be okay with the newest animated incarnation of Batman on Cartoon Network's "Brave and the Bold."  It did bug me a little bit at first, since I'm a huge fan of the classic "Batman: The Animated Series" style of Batman, but given Batman's long history and different versions in the comics, TV, and movies, I think there's room for a more lighthearted look at the Caped Crusader. 

So that was my first exposure to Batman.   I can't really guarantee which one of the above three I saw/heard first, but the one that sticks out is the Adam West version, and I suspect that might have been the first.  

Interestingly, you'll notice that one that's missing from that list is the actual comic book version of Batman.  That's because I didn't really get into comics seriously until about 8-9 years later. 

Around the time I first became aware of Batman, I also became exposed to a lot of paragons of "geek culture" - Star Wars came out when I was 6 1/2, and after it became a huge success, the local independent TV station started airing reruns of classic "Star Trek", which was the first time I'd seen it.  About a year or so later, I saw my first Japanese anime in the form of "G-Force" (now referred to as "Battle of the Planets", but it was the same thing). 

And, around this time, right after Star Wars came out, Marvel  Comics did a six-issue adaptation of the movie and my mom bought them for me at the local grocery store (!) because she knew that I was just gaga over Star Wars.  Those were my first comic books.  After the six-issue movie adaptation ended, Marvel continued the series by making up their own stories since they had purchased the license from Lucasfilms.  I collected them up through issue #15, and then for some inexplicable reason, I stopped.  I really have no memory as to why. 

So, from that point (around 1978) until about 1985 or so, I didn't read any other comics.  It just wasn't my thing.  But then things changed with the Marvel Super-Heroes RPG from TSR came out.  They advertised the game like crazy in Dragon magazine, and I was one of those people who pretty much only played TSR role-playing games.  I really wanted that game, and mentioned it to my mom as a gift idea.  To "prepare" myself for playing the game, I thought it might be a good idea to get up-to-speed on the comics.  I dug out my old Star Wars comics and looked through the in-house ads for their other titles, featuring names of teams I'd never heard of, like the Invaders and the Defenders, and people like Namor the Sub-Mariner.  I tried to memorize the team rosters in the ads so I would know who everybody was once I got the MSH game.  And that Summer I went to a B Dalton's bookstore with my mom and she bought me my first comic book in over 8 years.  Sadly, it wasn't Batman - it was X-Men #197, which I bought because I had read somewhere that the first MSH adventure module was about the X-Men, and I didn't know anything about them.

From that point on, I ended up really getting into comics.  I was mainly a Marvel guy, solely based on my interest in the MSH game, but after a few years, I started to shift over to DC as nostalgia for the old Saturday Morning Cartoons and the Superfriends came to mind.  I specifically remember picking up Issue #404 of Batman because it advertised on the front that it was the first part of the four-part "Batman: Year One", and to me that seemed a good point to jump in and learn about the character.  Eventually I ended up collecting all of the Batman titles and trying to acquire back issues to read more about him.  And reading those stories, I started to really love the character again, and it's a fascination that continues to this day.  Batman is by far my favorite comic hero, and I think a lot of it has to do with all of the really cool and interesting ways that he's been portrayed in the media - not just the comics, but also the animated versions and the theatrical movies (okay... some of the theatrical versions).  Few other comic characters have received the same level of treatment as Batman, and I think it's helped solidify him in my mind as my favorite.

So, that's a glimpse into my first exposure to Batman, and also a little about how and why I ended up getting so into comics.  I'll write more about my current involvement (or, un-involvement) with comics in a later post.

What about you all?  When did you first become aware of Batman?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Where Have I Been?

Yes, it's another "why isn't Martin posting more often" posts, just to keep you up-to-date. 

Here's what's been happening with me lately:

Personal: I had a birthday a few weeks ago, on 9/21.  I got to go out to a nice dinner with my wife the day before, and then had a nice dinner at home with my wife and daughter on the actual day.  Later on that week, I went out to dinner with two of my friends, and then had dinner with my family (including my mom and dad).  So, it was a lot of "having dinner" but most of them were accompanied by nice wines and cocktails, and of course with very excellent company.  I also received, as a gift from my wife, an iPad2, which is something I totally did not expect, as I had not really asked for one.  It's awesome because I can use it for work, to take to meetings where I have to present things, rather than lugging my laptop around, and it's got a most awesome benefit - I uploaded all of my gaming PDFs (including issues #1-#250 of Dragon magazine, from the Dragon Magazine CD-ROM Archive that I have) to Dropbox, and then put the Dropbox app on my iPad.  More on that below.

Work-wise: Well, after many months, my team and me at my ad agency, Always On Communications, landed two "official" clients.  One is a packaged goods food manufacturer that makes refrigerated pastas and pasta sauces as well as organic tofu entrees, salsas, and hummus.  I'm really excited to be working with them.  The other "client" is really a partnership with a creative agency who handles the creative duties for GoldMax and Yoshinoya, among others.  They needed someone to buy TV, radio, and out-of-home for these two clients, so we struck an arrangement with them.  I just completed the first TV buy for GoldMax today (it's awaiting approval), so if you live in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, or (soon) Tampa, and you see/hear an ad for GoldMax on TV, radio, or on an outdoor bulletin, you can thank me!  :)

All of this new work means that I've been extremely busy trying to get up-to-speed with all of these new accounts - learning the ropes, meeting the new clients, getting old files for back-up, and having to create plans and buys really quickly.  That's meant, of course, less time for blogging.

Game-wise: My last post was all about my most recent gaming.  Since then, I haven't actually been able to get together with my game groups, due to conflicting schedules, but we are scheduled for another game of Brian's "Andalusia II" campaign in a few weeks, and I'm trying to pin-down a date for my next "World of Samoth" game as well. 

Reading-wise: As I mentioned above, I've put all of my gaming PDFs on my Dropbox so I can access them from my iPad without having to actually download every single PDF to my iPad (and use up all the memory).  What's been most awesome is that I'm going back and reading really old issues of Dragon magazine, actually starting with the 7 issues of The Strategic Review and then continuing on to Dragon. It's been very enlightening, actually, since before I never really read any of the really old ones, even after I got my Dragon Magazine CD-ROM Archive back in the late 1990s or early 2000s or whenever it came out.  I'm going to be doing a whole post about reading them coming up.

What's Coming Up: I have the next installment of "My Time Working With Wizards of the Coast" planned, as well as some posts regarding the current state of comics, my updated current viewing and reading habits, and a more in-depth look at the most recent Savage Worlds game I played a few months ago.  Also, in the background, I've been working on a "secret RPG project" in my spare time (ha!) that I plan to release as a free PDF once it's finished.  I'll need to figure out art, maps, and all that kind of stuff because I suck at that kind of stuff. 

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Game Day and Recent RPG Adventures


So, fellow blogger and All Around Cool Cat, Dylan from Digital Orc, recently called me to the carpet for not posting for the past month or so.  Despite my lack of posting, I have continued to be able to get together with friends for some gaming. 

Most recently, a group of friends met at my friend Wil’s house this past Saturday for a game day.  We haven’t done one of these in quite a while, and it was a great success.  Sadly, it wasn’t until after we got there that I realized that we had the entire group of our Cal & D game in the same place at the same time since our last session back on February 20th.  However, all of our spouses were there as well, so it wasn’t really the time to bust out a Cal & D game. 

After gathering a little after 12pm, we spent the next 90 minutes or so doing the requisite catching up – talking about family and friends who were missing, chatting about our friends Steve’s and Julie’s new five month-old baby twin boys (whom none of us had met yet, since they live up in San Francisco), and of course talking about work, how my wife made me watch “Ringer” on TV last week, why we still hate 4th Edition, was Pathfinder really outselling 4E, why we really like Savage Worlds, and could we could to agreement that maybe we could try to use Castles & Crusades to DM some old-school 1st Edition D&D adventures, rather than using OSRIC.  We also bemoaned getting older and discussed the many changes lately in our broader group of friends, which we call the Boise Spuds (it’s a long story). 

Then we got down to gaming, and despite Wil, Julie, Anne, and Raellen constantly getting up from the table to do who knows what, we actually made it through five games!  I can’t remember the last time I went to a game day and played this many games.  It helped that many of them were quick, and we only played each game once so that we could fit more new games in.  We started with Get Bit, and then eventually played Resistance, Dixit, Wits & Wagers, and ended with a rousing game of Battlestar Galactica, in which I ended up being the only Cylon (and also playing the Admiral, which made things tough for the humans), and the humans lost in a most disastrous way. 

One of the really cool things was that, with the exception of Wits & Wagers (which I’ve played many times) and Battlestar Galactica (which I’ve only ever played once), I’ve never played any of those games before.  I love playing new games, especially if I can find one that scales easily, so I can play it on a weeknight with my wife after we put our daughter to bed, but can easily add other players when we have friends over. 

Wil also provided a veritable litany of tasty food for us, including some awesome cheeses, some of his homemade beer he’s been blogging and tweeting about for weeks, and then for dinner a very good salad and this really great vegetarian lasagna using a recipe that his son apparently made up, paired with some tasty wines from Wil and Anne’s cellar.  Cal and I supplemented the festivities by each bringing two 4-packs of Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA, which has become one of our favorite beers lately.  Cal and his wife also brought some awesome homemade chocolate cookies and “fancy marshmallows” with which to make a homemade s’more type dessert.  As if that wasn’t enough, my wife surprised everyone by bringing over a really great chocolate cake from Porto’s bakery, on which was written “Happy Birthday, Martin” and “Roll a D6…” since my birthday is coming up tomorrow.  It was a great day spent with great friends, great games, and great food.  I just wish they could happen more often.

I’m continuing to play RPGs as well, of course.  Since I last updated it here on my blog, I’ve had at least two more sessions of my World of Samoth game.  I’ll post some more detailed recaps later, but the group met the last surviving member of the Order of the Ishari Lier (at least, in this part of the world), who had done the unthinkable and turned himself into a lich in order to be able to continue keeping the secrets of his Order rather than having them lost to all time.  He agreed to share his knowledge with the players if they promised never to come back and try to destroy him, and also if they would try to cleanse the town of a recent undead scourge.  They agreed and are in the middle of what appears to be a pretty epic battle given that they did not prepare well, and two of the party members were knocked unconscious for several rounds, and a miscommunication between Sameer and Xiao (Shao?  I can never remember) caused Shao to use his abundant step ability to flee the combat, thinking that Sameer had also planned to retreat and regroup.  We unfortunately had to end the session at that point, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

I’ve also played in a Savage Worlds game, refereed by my friend Cal and including most of the “Friday Night” game players, with the exception of Brian.  It’s a World War II era game, which is awesome because I’ve never played in a genre anywhere close to that.  We are all members of a special paratrooper squadron.  Everybody is American (“because they had the best paratroopers”) with the exception of me – I play Lieutenant Colonel Lord Nigel Hawthorne.  The other characters don’t like me very much, but Lord Hawthorne is in charge of the entire mission.  In Savage Worlds, characters have things called “Personality Quirks” or “Hindrances.”  One of mine was listed as simply, “English.”  The game was so much fun, and I’ll have to write more about it later.

Lastly, my friend Brian has started up Andalusia II campaign back up, after a many year break.  He ran us through two “pre-campaign” adventures that took place in the past, where we made different characters for each.  In one adventure, we all played evil characters, and in another we all played elves.  The first “true” session, wherein we are all playing the same characters we played during Brian’s Andalusia I campaign a few years ago, was a couple of weeks ago.  I’ll also write more about these games later. 

So, while I continue to be extremely busy during the week running my agency business and trying to get some new business, I have been keeping up with hanging out with my friends and playing some games.  It might not be as often as I would like, but I do count myself fortunate that I’m able to play at all, and have a great group of friends to game with. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Finally: A New Post (Updated Currently Watching)

Sorry for the long delays in posting, again.  In addition to being super busy at work, I am having serious issues with Firefox, which keeps doing something weird by "not responding" on me, every time I try to do something.  So, after having spend the past two hours just trying to make this one simple blog post, I gave up and am now using Internet Exploder.  Ugh.

Anyway, I just updated my Currently Watching page with a bunch of stuff:

  • The Dark Ages (a History Channel International program)
  • 2001 A Space Odyssey
  • The African Queen
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Black Death
  • Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  • Thundarr the Barbarian
  • Captain America
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Head on over and have a read, and let me know what you think about these shows and movies. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Missing In Action

Work has been crazy busy these past few weeks.  I'm working on a few new business pitches to try to get some new clients.  For those of you who follow my blog regularly, you know what a big deal that is to me right now.  Anyway, not only has my posting fallen by the wayside, but so has reading other blogs. 

Catch me up.  What did I miss over the past two weeks?

I'm driving up the coast tonight for a meeting with a potential client.  Hopefully at my hotel room tonight I'll be able to catch up and make a post or two.  I need to update my "Currently Reading" and "Currently Watching" pages.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Time Working with Wizards of the Coast (Part 3)


Here’s part three of my series of memories and recollections of my time working on the advertising for Wizards of the Coast.  Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.  As I mentioned in my first post on the topic, I am pretty much just doing this right off the top of my head, so I apologize in advance if it meanders a bit.  My only real “point” in all of this is just to describe what I remember about working with them, and also to impart some general knowledge about how sometimes, despite the best efforts of the people involved, things in corporate America get screwed up.  But I’m sure you knew that already. 

So, continuing…

Kathryn (my main WotC marketing client) basically relied on my knowledge of their products and trusted me when it came to figuring out the target markets (who the ad campaigns would be directed towards, in terms of who was most likely to buy the products).  The thing I always found funny was all these interesting things that got in the way of how we (my team and I) should be doing our job. 

Here’s just a short list.

1)      We were forced for each new D&D product to do a full-page ad in both Dragon and Dungeon magazines.  Now, back in the 1970s and 1980s when Dragon was an actual publication of games (and not just D&D), I can see that it would have made sense.  But by the time we were working on the advertising for them, Dragon was little more than a house organ for D&D.  I honestly can’t believe that anybody reading Dragon had not already heard about every single product we advertised in it way before the ad appeared in the magazine.  And it’s not like the ads offered more information or anything – they were just cool graphics (usually just the cover art) with some tagline like “Take Your Game to the Next Level!” or something like that.  All of the taglines were pretty much interchangeable and didn’t tell you about anything that was actually in the product.  I would have thought it would have made more sense to put their effort into having the Dragon writers write a piece about what new cool stuff was in the book, and maybe give a preview.  They did end up going that route eventually, but the full-page ads still appeared.  You maybe be wondering why I’m so stuck on this point.  It’s because we had to pay for the ads out of our measly budgets.  It was around this time that both publications were spun-off to Paizo, who became the publishers, and I don’t begrudge those fine folks from trying to make a profit, but it’s just one of those weird concepts in corporate America that drive me crazy.  You have a game called Dungeons & Dragons.  A couple years later, the guys who created the guy decide to create a magazine, ostensibly devoted to showcasing new ideas, adventures, classes, spells, and other stuff for their game.  You also decide to cover the burgeoning RPG category.  But, you can’t tell me that back in 1977 that TSR transferred money from their RPG division to their magazine division to run an ad for the new Monster Manual in the latest issue of Dragon.  It’s called a “House Ad” and it should be FREE. 
2)      The game designers and artists at WotC got way too much say into what publications and websites we advertised with, in my opinion.  Again, I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers here, because they all seem like really nice people.  But, when you hire somebody to do a job – let them do it.  Why pay me for my expertise on where you should advertise and how much you should spend, and then insist that I spend X number of dollars on Y magazine or website?  That kind of defeats the purpose.  Poor Kathryn was in a bit of a bind with this, because she really didn’t know.  Since she had set herself up as a non-geek, I think the WotC folks took advantage of her by telling her where they should be spending their ad dollars.  And, what happened very quickly was that all of our dollars started going into the same websites and publications, for every plan, and we started talking to ourselves.  I think you know what I mean, but, for example, for every new Magic: The Gathering expansion that came out, we advertised on a smaller and smaller group of MTG fan sites, all of which had already covered (editorially) the new expansions months prior to release, and on which the fans were already saying they were going to buy them.  It was the same with D&D.  We had a little more luck with Star Wars, because I guess WotC felt since they had paid so much for the license, they could draw from the much wider pool of Star Wars fans instead of just talking to RPG fans. 
3)      As kind of a follow-up to number two, above, some of the sites on which we were mandated to advertise were really janky.  Here’s a true story – at one point for a Magic: The Gathering expansion, we had placed some new digital banner ads up on a MTG fan site that the designers told Kathryn we had to be on.  My teammate Malinda and I had emailed the site owner a few times and noted the lack of professionalism and poor grammar, but we just moved on and figured it was fine.  We uploaded our new ads, and within about 15 minutes we noticed that the wrong ads were running.  It was about 7:30pm and we wanted to make sure we fixed the problem before Kathryn found out the next morning.  In a panic, we called the site owner, and somebody answered the phone and said “Why are you calling during dinner?  He’s eating dinner right now, and then he has to go to bed because he has school tomorrow!  He’ll call you tomorrow morning!”  No joke – we found out later that the kid was 16 and running the site out of his parents’ garage. 

So, you can get the sense of how things started going downhill pretty quickly.  When WotC first hired us, they were flying high on the release of the 3rd Edition D&D, which had brought tons of people back into gaming and 3.0 Player’s Handbooks were flying off the shelves. They actually had people taking the ads for the game that ran in Maxim magazine walk into bookstores with the ad in hand and say, “I want this.”  Magic: The Gathering was going very strong, and Pokémon was just unstoppable.  In fact, Pokémon was the reason that Hasbro bought WotC (at least, according to my sources at WotC).  The profits from Pokémon allowed us to do some really awesome advertising things like run TV commercials and sponsor cool, edgy programs for M:TG in order to expose new people to the brand.  We had money to advertise D&D outside of just the same old circles, with the intent of bringing in new players.

A mere 18 months later, the wind had left the Pokémon sail, so to speak.  The fad was on a sharp downswing, and the bean-counters at Hasbro started to get really stingy with their marketing budgets for WotC, resulting in our media plans just being focused on the same old audiences who were already playing the game versus trying to bring in new players. 

Just to give you an example of how drastic the changes were, in 2000, WotC spent (this is all public record information that’s available, so I’m not revealing any secrets) over $5 million to advertise Magic: The Gathering, including TV spots on Fox and UPN (That 70’s Show, Star Trek: Voyager, King of the Hill, etc.), Syndication (WCW, Xena, Battledome, Earth Final Conflict, Beastmaster, etc.), Cable (MTV, USA, WWF, Comedy Central, ESPN2, Major League Soccer), ads in movie theaters in the Top 25 markets, and magazine ads in a bunch of magazines including WWF. 

Just one year later, in 2001, they spent only $1 million dollars on M:TG, and that was spread across a total of 10 different plans, including Organized Play, Junior Super Series, “7th Edition Retention”,  an “Acquisition” plan (to get new players), Deckmasters, Players Rewards, and three different expansions (Torment, Odyssey, and Apocalypse).   Almost all of this money was spent on the same four M:TG fan sites (which appeared on every plan), and for ads in Inquest Gamer, Scrye, Games Quarterly, and Comics Retailer.   A couple of ads did run in both Dark Horse and DC Comics, which was good, but for the most part, every plan consisted of just digital banner ads on the four fan sites. 

The story for D&D was pretty much the same, where advertising budgets fell from over $600,000 in 2000 with ads in Maxim, computer gaming magazines, and postcard racks at Tower Records and college campuses, to only $140,000 in 2001 with ads only in “endemic” category magazines like Inquest Gamer, Games Quarterly, Dork Tower, Nodwick, Knights of the Dinner Table, Games Unplugged, PVP, the D&D Comic, Dragon, Dungeon, Living Greyhawk, Polyhedron, Star Wars Gamer, and Star Wars Insider. 

In Part 4, I’ll talk about how I ended up on the wrong side of the Hasbro marketing person (by basically trying to defend my WotC marketing client), how the Harry Potter Trading Card Game advertising plan became a disaster, and how I was eventually asked off of the account.  Stay tuned.
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