A new pinball and coin-op game publication has been announced, but this one is strikingly different from anything seen before.
Coin-Op Carnival is a collaboration between noted cartoonist and pinball fan, Ryan Claytor, and equally-noted podcaster and electromechanical pinball & arcade game nut, Nick Baldridge.
The two have been close friends for many years, and on one of their joint family vacations two years ago they came up with the concept of a coin-op publication promoting electromechanical pinball and arcade games of all types.
The result is Coin-Op Carnival issue #1, a 64-page offset-printed publication produced on paper stock chosen to reflect the era of the vintage games they cover.
Ryan told Pinball News why they decided to produce a printed publication, rather than publish on-line or in e-book form. He said, “We both have an affinity for print media. Nick has a heavy connection to zine culture from his youth and I am a long-time comic book reader, creator, and professor. When conceiving of this project, we both envisioned it to be an analog offering. Much like the machines and the era that Coin-Op Carnival documents and pays homage to, we wanted this project to also be untethered to modern advances, like screens.“
This is the first of four issues they plan to produce together, each one looking at a different game designer from the electromechanical years 1934-1978, explaining how the games were designed and built, and how they function both mechanically and electrically.
The first designer they feature is Wayne Neyens who they interviewed extensively and who provided a mass of new information about his many years working at Western Equipment & Supply and then, more notably, at D. Gottlieb. The subsequent game designers featured won’t be announced until closer to the publication date of their respective issues.
Nick then explains the workings on one of the most basic components of any EM game, the relay – what it does, how it works, how it is constructed and, perhaps most importantly after so many years’ service, how it should be adjusted.
Each issue will also feature two game reviews – one pinball and one non-pinball – and a third review of a related product. In this first issue they examine the DVD by Edward Zelinsky of his collection of mechanical marvels at the famed Musée Mécanique in San Francisco.
Perhaps the biggest differentiator from other pinball publications is the way Ryan’s hand-drawn comic illustrations are featured throughout. Rather than reproducing historical photographs of people and places, the illustrations convey a greater sense of relevance and detail to the audience and also provide the opportunity to reconstruct scenarios where no actual pictures exist.
The pair said they chose to cover electromechanical games because the people who created them are dying off and, although there is a lot of technical information about the games available online, there’s very little about the people who designed them.
They also wanted to present this information in a way which is accessible to non-pinball people and newcomers alike.
One common mistake new publishers make is to over-promise when it comes to a publishing schedule, but Ryan and Nick have been at pains to make sure they have a timescale which will fit comfortably with their other life and work commitments.
The first issue will be released on 22nd March this year, with subsequent issues published approximately every two years.
They also have the opportunity to scale their product according to the amount of content, although they also seem happy to continue with the 64-page size of the first issue. They told us, “During the creation of Coin-Op Carnival #1, we remained open to allowing the issue to grow and evolve into what it needs to be. We’ll be taking this same approach with subsequent issues, but, we suspect future instalments will be somewhere near that 64 page ballpark.”
They have printed 1,100 copies of issue #1 which will be launched at the Texas Pinball Festival, where the pair are holding a seminar with famed historian Gordon Hasse.
Copies will be available to buy at the show and also on the pair’s website of coinopcarnival.com. The cover price is $15 (plus shipping, if applicable). Coin-Op Carnival badges and T-shirts will also be available on the site.
To help promote the publication, Ryan and Nick will embark on a 16-stop show tour across the US, while in Canada Cayt Pea will be selling it at the Hawkesbury Pinball Flea Fair in June and the Ottowa Pinball Gameroom Show in September. There are currently no resellers outside North America.
Pinball News will be at the duo’s seminar with Gordon Hasse at 8pm on Friday 22nd March at the Texas Pinball Festival in Frisco, and will bring you all the details of their talk in our extensive TPF coverage.