§ February 18th, 2004 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Blip!

Back in the good old days of 1983, when Atari was still top of the heap of the video game world, Marvel Comics published seven issues of their comic book-sized video game magazine Blip…actually, when I originally wrote that sentence, I said “three issues” — a quick look in ye olde Overstreet tells me differently. I don’t think I’ve ever seen 4 through 7! How embarrassing.

Anyway, you at least have to credit Marvel with trying something different…and by different I mean “waiting until just before the big video game crash to jump on the bandwagon instead of doing it a little sooner.” The two issues I have before me, #1 and #2, are comprised mostly of articles, with very little actual comic-story content in them. The first issue has the article “Video Games of the Stars,” where they speak to a bunch of people you barely remember as well as Bruce Boxleitner, who talks about having to play several video games at the Disney studios to prep for Tron. There are also hints for playing Missile Command and Centipede, the appalling “Video Jokes” section (“Q: How do you keep the Krytolians from charging in Missile Command? A: Take away their credit cards!” — they at least admit these are bad jokes, but, really, there’s no excuse), an in-depth look at Pitfall and Dig Dug, and, best of all, a six page comics story featuring Mario and Donkey Kong by Steven Grant and Bob Hall:

According to this page, this is the very first comic book appearance of Mario. I’m sure that’s important to somebody.

Issue #2 had more of the same, but also included the article that provides the topmost image of this post, “Spider-Man Plays ‘Spider-Man!'” Fourteen kids, two guys in bodysuits, and Stan Lee all crammed around a 13″ screen TV to play an Atari game that might vaguely remind one of Spider-Man, sort of — there’s your article. In all fairness, the Spider-Man video game was kind of fun, and pretty challenging. Hey, that’s all we had back then, so you kids with your Zeldas and your Grand Theft Autos keep your snickering to yourselves.

That article is followed by a six-page comic by David Kraft and John Romita, where the Green Goblin, having escaped jail, happens upon a couple kids playing that very video game from the previous pages. The Goblin has the only rational reaction to the game: “Who has created this outrage? Who has humiliated me for their own petty profit?” Anyway, Spidey fights the Goblin, Gobbie’s hauled off to the hoosegow to do his nickel up the river (or, er, something like that), and, wait for it, the prison has a brand new recreation facility stocked with copies of the new Spider-Man video game! Oh, the painful irony.

As video game magazines go, Blip wasn’t too bad. For a buck, it was less than half the cost of other video game mags at the time, and you got pretty much the same content — just with lower production values. And comics!

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