Vic Sage is the author of the blog “In My Youth, Victory Was a Power Pellet”, which mainly deals with vintage video games. He was my first volunteer to be a subject of “The Way of the Geek”! Yes, “Vic Sage” is the name of the original Question's secret identity... some of my fellow bloggers enjoy their anonymity!
NOTE: Since this interview was conducted, there've been a few changes in Vic's blogging activitites... see the end for an update!
Vic is an only child, and was born on March 6th, 1972. He has an interesting story about his birth, and I'll let him take it from here: “I was born in the city of Fayetteville Arkansas, to be honest I was at the Washington County Hospital but my mother waited too long and I was delivered in the back of the taxi cab she had called at the emergency entrance.” How many of us have as interesting a story about our birth as that?
Vic's current occupation is Front Desk Manager for a small luxury hotel in Arkansas. His geek intrests include comics, gaming, vintage toys and cartoons, and the cinema. His geekery began with movies. “I can even remember the first movie I watched. Walt Disney's Blackbeard's Ghost with Peter Ustinov and Dean Jones. My father said I took movies more seriously than any child he had ever known. The whole concept of movies at that time was just a tad shy of sorcery to me,” Vic said. “Of course my father also got me hooked on comics as well, he would pick up an issue or two at the local gas station and while I couldn't read at that time I loved the art. My first two issues were a Captain America and Falcon comic with Kirby art and Batman and the Demon team-up.” Always nice when one has a good chance of positively identifying their first comic, isn't it?
The first comic series Vic deliberately sought out was Scott Shaw and Roy Thomas' “Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew!” To give you an idea of how big his collection is, Vic said, “...I had to get rid of a full 32 comic long boxes just so the foundation of the house wouldn't crumble just recently. Lots of 90's stuff was sold off.” We've probably all been there at one point or another... at least the older stuff was spared!
“I am afraid that my childhood was a little on the lonely side,” Vic lamented. “In my neighborhood there were only three kids, including myself, so quite a bit of my time was spent playing on my Atari 2600. Luckily for me my grandmother took to electronic gaming with a passion, there was many a day I would get off the school bus and upon entering her house find her playing Atari or the Intellivision.” This would definitely explain the video game-centric nature of his blog, wouldn't it?
While his neighborhood was relatively geek-free, one couldn't say the same about his grandparents' neighborhood. The summer “Ghostbusters” was released, Vic operated a franchise with the kids in that neighborhood, and they'd ride their Big Wheels from door to door, asking the neighbors if there were any ghost manifestations. “These poor people would allow us into their back yards and tool sheds to 'deal' with the ghosts they had 'seen'. Of course back then...a quarter allowed you to have a go at Missile Command or any other arcade game...so we worked hard for the money,” Vic remembers.
Unlike most of us, Vic still retains many of his childhood geek possessions! He reported, “The video game systems still work, though the Intellivision is a little grouchy. My most cherished possession is the old Fisher Price Movie Theater, I have the viewer as well but the Theater allowed you to project the cartoon on the wall. I spent hours in the dark just cranking the animation frame by frame, in reverse, etc. It still works!” That's pretty cool, if you ask me! He did have to replace some of his Super Powers action figures as an adult, however, which he was able to do at his first San Diego Comic-Con in 1991 or 1992.
There is still one item that eludes Vic, however... “I want to purchase a Ghost Gun. It was a toy that had plastic strips with monsters on it that you fed through the gun, you could center your cross-hairs on a ghost or goblin and when you pulled the trigger it would punch a hole in the strip of plastic, making a bullet hole.”
Vic's definitely ahead of me when it comes to the amount of space in his home that his geekery has taken over! “I have two rooms filled with comics, toys, movie posters, tons of books, an 8 MM projector and some reels. Then there is the living room with all of the gaming systems. Thankfully my wife loves movies and games as well...so she hasn't given me an ultimatum yet.” I hope that's always the case, Vic!
One of Vic's favorite comics character is the original Sandman, Wesley Dodds, so it makes sense that his most cherished geek possession is two pages of original art from issue 70 of “Sandman Mystery Theatre.” I'll let him tell you about that: “My best friend contacted Guy Davis and wanted to buy a piece of art for my wedding present... When Mr. Davis found out what the gift was for he handpicked those two pages and added a very wonderful note to my wife and I at the bottom of the last panel.” Very cool!
Like many of us who've attended conventions, Vic has some special memories from the cons he's attended, especially his first San Diego Comic-Con. He said his most special memory was “meeting Dave Stevens, the creator of the Rocketeer, for the first time. I loved the Rocketeer comic, it's right up my alley...it is a love letter to the past, RKO serials, the Shadow and Doc Savage...and introduced me to Betty Paige! During that same visit I found myself talking to Paul Verhoeven about Rod Serling and the Twilight Zone. Pretty incredible first convention.”
Vic's had his share of convention luck, as well. “At one of the Comic-Cons I was really looking for the Shadow bust done by Bowen in 1994 and the last day of the convention a dealer was pulling it out of one of his boxes, sold it to me for one hundred dollars. I didn't even blink an eye, I'm just that big of a Shadow fan,” he fondly remembered.
Another fond memory Vic has is meeting Mark Schultz of Xenozoic Tales/Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. The two of them discussed Ray Harryhausen as well as the then-upcoming remake of “Mighty Joe Young.” He also managed to meet a few celebrities while working at the hotel that employs him, among them Sam Raimi and Brendan Fraser!
Before he worked in a hotel, Vic worked many years at his local movie theatre, working his way up from concession to projectionist. “Those were some great days...though I totally screwed up the Star Wars Episode One trailer premiere, threaded it in backwards in my haste and had to cut it out of the projector. I could hear the laughter of the audience from the projection booth, my face was a solid red for a week.”
One of Vic's more unusual interests is in old 8mm movies (something I share a love of with Vic). “They are hard to find in this area and I have to rely on overpriced offerings from E*Bay. Locally I do not know anyone that has such love for these films but that is thankfully what the internet can help with,” he said. I know the feeling, Vic!
Vic's fellow geek friends don't get together as often as he'd like, but they do remain in contact via email as well as online gaming. One of his goals is to get all his geek friends together to a place in Springfield, Missouri called 1984, which is an arcade filled with classic videogames. As he said, “It's a quest!” Speaking of video games, he said he could “spend easily two hours a day playing games. Xbox 360, PS3, MMOs, etc. I generally watch a movie a day if not more...time has become the greatest enemy.” I'm sure this is something we can all relate to!
Vic decided to start his blog as “a way of throwing a few memories at my friends, talk about a game we used to play at a local arcade or share memories of games they never had the chance to play. I found my friends later in life, like when I was 19. Though none of them are quite into electronic games or movies as I am we had a pretty strong bond thanks to comics...that and role-playing games is what let us connect.” I'm sure the connection he's found here is one of the reasons most people blog about their interests, geek or otherwise. So far as the evolution of his blog goes, “I'm not quite sure the blog has really evolved that much, I do add more current games to my posts now. For a while last October I tried to add a horror movie review every day up until the 31st...but I just didn't get any feedback on it so I figured for the amount of work I was doing I would just let it drop.” That's something I think all bloggers face at one point or another... although a lack of feedback doesn't necessarily indicate lack of interest – it could just mean nobody has anything to add.
Vic's regular blog featrs are Box Art Wednesday, It must be Thursday, Friday Flyers, and Saturday Supercade. “The reason I started the Box Art is that I felt there was some really, really great Atari 2600 box art that many of my friends hadn't seen as they were growing up so I would post one up every Wednesday. Then it grew to three covers a week...then it spread to Intellivision, Commodore 64, Colecovision, and Sega. Richard wouldn't let me forget the Sega games. Ha, ha! I stick mostly with Retro games though.”
“It must be Thursday” came about “because there is just some funny, funny things related to video games that I wanted to share. Pictures of 250 people dressed as Yoshi from Super Mario World just makes me smile or the college that created the entire first level of Donkey Kong with post-it notes in their student union window. Three stories tall! That kind of devotion to games deserves to be praised!” I've seen the Donkey Kong photo, and it is definitely worthy of praise!
“The Flyers posts is a little bit like the Box Art Wednesday in that back in the day when a new arcade game was coming out the companies would put in some serious cash to send arcade owners flyers to tempt them into buying the newest titles,” Vic explained. “Some of the flyers I've posted look like they were made with a xerox machine though many of them are professionally done photo shoots. I find these things to be interesting.”
Vic also elaborated on his Saturday featre. “Saturday Supercade is when I just troll the internet looking for pictures of merchandise or artwork that was created for video games. Like a Pac-Man birthday party or perhaps someone knitted some Atari 2600 cartridge pillows for their couch, this like the Thursday posts deserve to be seen and celebrated.”
Vic recognizes some rewards he's gained from blogging. He said, “Making new friends is by far the greatest reward I have received. I don't know how many people read my blog on a daily basis but to be honest it can't be very many. Ha, ha. It might help if I was a little more professional in my posting perhaps or dealt with more things other than sometimes obscure gaming.”
Aside from Random Acts of Geekery, Vic also makes regular blog stops at the Retroist site as well as Tupa's Treasures, Saturday Morning Central, Pulp Sunday and Atomic Brain.
Vic is fortunate that his wife also enjoys gaming and movies as well. He explained, “When we first started dating I bought her a GBA and Pokemon...she curses me to this day that I got her hooked on those little critters.”
When asked about his geek inspirations, he said, “It may sound silly. Well, it does sound silly but my inspiration has been a fictional character and that is Buckaroo Banzai. The character was just such a great guy that it inspired me in general, not just my likes in all things geek. I felt the message of Buckaroo was to be yourself and you'll find others like minded that will join you on your journey. So far so good.”
What do Vic's geek interests mean to him? “Games mean a lot to me, especially my memories of the arcades or trying desperately to obtain the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for the NES,etc. But Movies are my real passion. It was what I wanted to do in life, to be a director, perhaps give a small boy the same wonder I felt so many years ago when I watched Blackbeard's Ghost. However I was not able to attend the right schools but I'm happy with my life as is.”
To wrap up, Vic has the following advice for his fellow geeks: “Keep loving what you love, it doesn't matter if the rest of the world doesn't get it. Eventually you will find your own inner circle and whether that is online or in the flesh be grateful when you do.”
Update: Since this interview was originally conducted, Vic's changed where he blogs! I asked him a few questions about his new gig:
Jon: understand that you're writing for the Retroist now.
Vic: That is true, the Retroist noticed my game reviews and forum posts on the site and asked if I wouldn't enjoy writing for his site full time. So after giving it a couple of days thought, I happily joined Team Retroist!
Jon: Does this mean you've stopped doing your own blog?
Vic: Jon, this is also true. I was near the 1,000th post when I got the invite and it made more sense to me to just go ahead and post once or twice a day on the Retroist than to try to juggle both sites.
Jon: How did this come about, and what sort of things are you writing for the Retroist?
Vic: I think the Retroist enjoyed the retro news I put out on a weekly basis on the Victory Pellet blog. He also mentioned if there came a time that my work became to hectic, at my day job I mean, then I could let posts slide and I could rest easy knowing that all the other writers would be able to cover for me. That made me feel pretty secure, because the few times I missed a post on Victory Pellet I had felt pretty bad.
As to things I write about, they are just the same as from the Victory Pellet blog. I've brought Friday Flyer and Saturday Supercade with me to the Retroist site, though I'm letting Box Art Wednesday and It Must Be Thursday have a brief rest for the time being. Thanks to jumping sites in October I was able to accomplish something I had tried to pull off on the Victory Pellet site, I reviewed a horror movie a day for the month, and I tell you I was ready for Movie Madness to be over with by the 31st of October. Ha, ha. I cannot wait until next year to give it another shot!