Monday, June 20, 2016

Victor Garrison: Game Player, Blogger, Zine Publisher, Wannabee Writer, All Around Miscreant

It's me, the guy who publishes this blog. My credits include: an item in the forthcoming Lamentations of the Flame Princess Referee Guide, a massive bestiary of molds. slimes, and crud for DCC RPG called What's This Crap?, which will be published in one of the forthcoming volumes of The Gongfarmer's Almanac of 2016. I also have a website called Necropants'd which is currently on hiatus, and I publish a comix, humor, horror, punk/metal RPG zine called SkullFuck, which is behind in it's publishing schedule right now.

I love talking about the stuff I love, though sometimes it's tough for me to politely describe myself and my interests to others, because of...reasons. If you know me, you understand.

I started playing D&D with a mish-mosh of Basic and AD&D in either 1980 or '81. I then started collecting RPGs but only really continued to play a form of Basic. I GM'd a bit back then and then dropped it all for exploration of Occulture, Chaos Magick, Punk and Industrial music. Eventually I sold my RPG collection and I'm kicking myself for it to this day.

In 2010, I became interested in gaming again and discovered Black Metal. I gravitated towards Lamentations of the Flame Princess, DCC RPG,  and Kingdom Death: Monster. NowI'm back to collecting games, and worshiping the stuff I grew up loving during my teens.

Also, I'm looking for a like minded game group in South Jersey.

(I apologize for skipping last week's interview. Next week will be my final interview for the Summer. Appendix N Happy Meal will go on summer vacation until September 4th. Thanks for your support!)

Favorite Toys

What were your favorite toys during child hood? Like, the TOP 3 TOYS of all time and pick your favorite of these toys. What is it about any of these toys you most identified with? What made this so special? How did you play/enjoy this toy? (shared or solo play).

Victor: Major Matt Mason, G.I. Joe, and Johnny West. I played a lot with dolls (as they were called when I was little). G.I. Joe was my first. I remember having one with a beard and fuzzy hair. At 4 years old I was collecting tons of outfits and accessories. I remember saving up pennies and going to a toy store to buy the deep sea diving outfit with a big deep sea diving helmet that made Joe look like Diver Dan. The cashier was a little overwhelmed about having to count all the pennies.

Around the same time, 3 - 5 years old, I had Johnny West, Geronimo, their horses, General Custer, and Sam Cobra. These were dolls of the wild west. I had fun with these, but since you couldn't change their outfits they weren't as dynamic or interesting as G I Joe was.

Christmas 1968 was the BEST Christmas of my entire youth! I remember seeing Santa that year and asking for all the toys I saw on TV . Some really unique (and unsafe) toys came out around then, like The Strange Change Time Machine and Creepy Crawlers Thing Maker. Santa looked worried while I rattled off the names of these 'new fangled' toys, and he told me he would see what he could do, IF I was a good boy. 

Well, Santa came through, and fortunately I managed to play with the toys without electrocuting myself or burning down the house. But my all time favorite toy that year was Major Matt Mason, along with an assistant figure, and the alien, Callisto, who had a clear green head with a brain inside and a string shooting laser gun. I also got the moon walker that bumped and rattled it's way across the floor with Major Matt Mason getting tossed side to side riding inside the vehicle. I LOVED these astronaut figures and brought them to school all through second grade, playing with them with my two best friends during recess, Steven and Joey.

Special mention goes to Liddle Kiddles Space Alien dolls. I had one and loved it. Big Jim, another action figure who was a camping and outdoors enthusiast. My stuffed monkey, who I couldn't fall asleep without up 'till 4 years old, the Barnabas Collins Board game, Hot Wheels, Whitman board games for little kids, and Rat Fink charms that you could get for a nickel from bubble gum machines. I LOVED RAT FINK!!!

Favorite Films and TV

What were your favorite films or TV during childhood and what age were you for each favorite?

Victor: TV - The Monkees, The Friendly Giant, The Mighty Heroes, Diver Dan, Batman, All the Kroft shows from H. R. Puffnstuf through Sigmund the Sea Monster.
Film - Disney's Jungle Book, Planet of the Apes, Yellow Submarine, and My Side of the Mountain, Alice in Wonderland (1933).

Alice in Wonderland (1933) with W C Fields, was mind bending Foo me at 3 or 4 years old. It was like a hit of acid to my little brain. It opened my third eye. I can still remember soooo vividly 50+ years later, sitting on the huge black leather rocker in my Nana's living room in Clark. It was late Spring, sun was shining bright, and I was eating a bowl of cream of wheat. WC Fields as Humpty Dumpty blew me away, kinda frightened, kinda confused, kinda amused until the scene turned into a sheep in a shawl selling an egg or something...I remember a lot of it, but it's all disjointed and crazy. I seriously believe this film had a huge impact on my development and influenced my huge love for psychedelic tinged media and my habit of including psychedelic infused situations in most of my creative output. I spent many pre-internet years trying to track down a copy of the movie, finally finding it on youtube several years ago.

I loved The Monkees and The Beatles as a kindergarten kid (4 - 5 years old). I collected EVERYTHING I could get my hands on that had to do with the Monkees. They were another psychedelic influence on me, as was The Yellow Submarine, and the 60s TV Batman. Even The Mighty Heroes cartoon in retrospect seems to have been created with Big Daddy Roth, Mad Magazine, and a touch of Underground Comix (Vaughn Bode) in mind. Tornado Man, Strong Man, Rope Man, Diaper Man, and Cuckoo Man...that was probably my favorite TV cartoon of the mid sixties.

My Side of the Mountain was another tremendous influence on me, I saw it in '68(?) at a drive in with my family. Everything about the life I wanted to grow up and live stems from this movie. The idea that a kid, just a little older than I was at the time, could leave home and live in the woods in a shelter built inside a tree, surviving on food he foraged for himself, and everything else that kid did, was an inspiration and it reinforced my love of nature and my passion for camping. The Jungle Book (from the same year) was another film that fed into my seven year old dream of leaving home and surviving by myself out in the wilds as a child of nature. Around this time, my Father gave me a book on outdoor survival and I digested every page and diagram from that book. It is my favorite thing that he ever gave me. My desire to attend Tom Brown Jr's outdoor skills classes stem from these films and that book.

Imaginary Worlds

Think about playtime, did you create games or imaginary worlds as a child? If so, please describe an important original game or play world you enjoyed.

Victor: This might be a bit uncomfortable for you, it definitely is for me. There was some emotional/mental abuse from one of my parents during my childhood and I never realized it's full impact on me until decades later. I didn't even understand it to be abuse until late in life. When I became a father at 36 years old, I realized I was still living in fear of the threat my mother made to me when I was around 8. I was told that if I ever shared her secret, something 'very bad would happen'. What she related to me had to do with the nature of reality, and so it created like an alternate reality, a pocket world, that I lived in all alone bearing a reality shattering secret that I was forbidden to share, and if I did, I was told I would bring something terrible to the world. Even though this developed my childhood sense of the real universe, it was still an Imaginary World; just an imaginary world someone else created  and then left me there to live in.

When I was 8 my mother dropped a few emotional bombs on me. Like while we were driving home one day she explained to me that once she turned 35 she was going to commit suicide, because she didn't want to grow old. Around this time I started to feel like somehow I wasn't supposed to have been born, which was confirmed a few years later when she told me that I ruined her life and all of her chances of having the nicer things that she should have had. This emotional abuse continued (and still does) but the devastating secret occurred at age 8, again while riding in the car with her. She told me about something and she made me promise I would never tell anyone. She said that if I ever did, something really bad would happen. I didn't think of this as being a personal punishment I would suffer, it felt more like it was a cosmic threat, like the end of the world or worse, if I dared to utter a word to anyone. And, I never did, not for nearly 30 years. During that time I  thought a lot about what she told me, but I couldn't bring myself to say anything to anyone until my Wife and I had our first child. By that point I had become aware of how this secret had molded who I had become. Now that I was a Father, I had to break the cycle of doubt this thought virus had been causing inside of me for decades. 

What she told me that afternoon driving home from my family's marina in the heart of the Pine Barrens, is that no one in the world really existed; no one but her. She told me about a race of higher beings that were conducting experiments on her. They were creating a reality that was so complex, so well executed, and so comprehensive, that all of the imaginary people she interacted with (like me, my family, everyone but her) actually believed they were real, but we aren't. We are projections (think holograms, though at one point she called us robots) fed directly into her brain. It was sort of like she was telling me that the reality I believed I was a part of was just her dream, or a dream created for her alone. Nothing and no one, none of you, none of our history, none of our passions, our joys, our losses, none of our cultures...NOTHING EXISTS, except her. It is all an elaborate hoax she alone is subjected to. A lifelong experiment being conducted on her by unseen others researching how a human might react to situations.

And when she dies, everything ends, she whispered to me.

Then came the secret threat: If I ever told another person, something very bad would happen. 

No explanation, but it would be a very bad thing.

I was told the experiment concludes upon her death and the projection ceases. Presumably, only the accumulated research data is left. This coupled with being told how much I was unwanted, and the difference between how my brother and I were raised, wound up manifesting as severe self esteem issues that I still deal with today, as well as severe anxiety, depression, and derealization disorder. It is easy to see how this scenario has manifested as derealization syndrome. People with this disorder feel a disconnect with their environment, and they feel as though the world around them is unreal. After my Father died, I asked my Mother if she really meant what she said to me, or was she just joking when she told me about the experiment. Straight faced she told me, 'No', she was serious. I dropped it and don't want to talk about it with her anymore.

The action figures I used to play with made up the imaginary play worlds that I created by myself and with friends. I also used to play act in the woods usually getting my younger brother involved. We were explorers, or pirates, or I was a king directing the construction of my castle in a pond with a walkway, all made out of abandoned steel milk crates. As a child I imagined magical creatures in the forest, and as a parent I imagined these creatures once again populating the forests with them and sharing signs of their presence as I walked through the woods with my children...acorn tops were elf hats...gnomes lived in hollows among tree roots...I miss those days.

Play Community

As a child how did you feel about how you fit in with the rest of the world or community or friends? Like, were you very social or did you prefer spending time alone? Your environment, was it rural or urban? Were siblings a big part of your playtime? Did adults interact with you in game play, and if so was it structured play (sports, scouting, clubs, etc.) or free form? 

Victor: I was born in North Jersey and lived in a suburban area called Clark, near Rahway, for my first 5 years. I played with older kids on the block, maybe 3 to 4 years older than me. In fact, I spent most of my childhood as the youngest playmate. I started kindergarten at the age of 4, so I've always been the youngest kid in the class. Usually the biggest kid, but always the youngest.

We played Batman a lot and I got stuck being the Penguin all the time. I remember a pond behind a neighbor's house and me and another kid my age dragged a cardboard box back there; in my mind it was a big ship and we were going to sail around the pond. Right now I can recall how real a boat that box was to me. Of course, it immediately sank and we went home, disappointed, in wet clothes. But that's the way everything was back then. Everything I thought became so real, and while I was engaged in an activity, that thing was as real as it could get.

At age 5 my family moved to the Pine Barrens of South Jersey, a rural area that has always reminded me of a perfect setting for a Lovecraft story, with the barren's dank cedar swamps, twisted scrub pine forests, and soft sandy trails that lead you deeper and deeper into the dark woods. I really didn't have many friends to play with, just my younger brother. We would explore the deep woods and pond around our home and bury little treasure boxes and time capsules to be dug up later.I eventually fell in love with the lonely and creepy pine forests and felt more at home alone in the woods than I did with friends and family.

I think it's important to mention that I always hated team sports, but loved being outdoors. Sports made me feel self conscious and played into the anxiety caused by low self esteem. Being the biggest kid probably caused the other kids to expect more from me as an athlete, but being the youngest kid made it all the more difficult to be assertive.

My Mom used to get upset with me because I always wanted to wear costumes everywhere. I dressed as a cowboy, Indian, Superman, Batman, and I would want to go to the store dressed like that. My Nana had no problem with me dressing up to go shopping or to the park. In fact, all of my good memories from childhood are of times I spent with my Grandmother.

Childhood Playtime Impact on Adult Gaming Development

Do you have any thoughts about any aspects of your childhood playtime that might have influenced your passion for RPGs? Have you ever intentionally incorporated memories of childhood playtime into game work you have created as an adult?

Victor: I think that the world my mother immersed me in at such a young age is what is behind the types of games I strive to create. IMy current projects explore worlds of fractured realities where one must adapt quickly to inside out logic or face dire consequences. PCs must conquer their fears and commit uncomfortable and even disgusting acts to escape the 'others' whose presence is always felt, the 'others' are constantly observing. Also, there's always a lot of time and space shifting, inter-dimensional communication, and puzzling alien technology. 

Lost In Space Survival Question 

You are the last survivor of your crew. You are adrift aboard an intergalactic cruiser. You no longer remember your mission or destination. Your ship sent out a distress signal, but you lost contact with your home planet months ago. Your chances of being rescued are nil. The ship is well stocked with everything necessary for your physical survival. You have no fear of starvation and there are no security threats. On board with you are two AI bots programmed for average human intelligence. You were allowed 10 items of any type of entertainment of your choosing (movies, recordings, books, videos, games, comics). The ship is capable of playing everything you brought, regardless of format.

In the cargo bay you find a container that says it has games from the late 20th and early 21st Century. What do most hope to find in it?

Victor: This is tough. I'm the kind of person who is always carrying around a few books at once because I can't decide what I want to read. I'm easily bored and quickly lose interest in activities I'm involved in. I need constant novelty to keep me engaged, so.....hmmm. Sorry, but I'm going to have to cheat a bit.

Kingdom Death: Monster w/ all expansion kits.
Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition w/ High Elves, Wood Elves, Empire, Chaos, and Skaven armies.
A complete collection of Underground Comix.
A complete collection of Heavy Metal magazine.
A complete collection of Weird Tales magazine.
A Complete collection of Warren Magazines.
The complete works of Robert Anton Wilson. (I had a long list of authors including Leary, McKenna, Crowley, Spare, Hine, Carroll and others, but RAW draws much of their subject matter together well enough for me to be entertained for quite awhile).
Dark Shadows TV show collection.
The complete Planet of the Apes (every version including TV drama and animated shows).
A complete collection of Hammer Films dvds.

Necropants'd Blog (on temporary Hiatus):
Appendix N Happy Meal (Something tells me this isn't necessary):
SkullFuck 'zine: Coming soon to Patreon

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your past with us, man. You remind us that inside every human is a happy meal waiting to be opened.