I recently spoke
with Bill Kunkel, the Co-founder
of videogame journalism, and Executive Editor for
Electronic Games Magazine during the
and uncovered the revealation that there was actually
a different cover intended for their first issue.
Here is the story from Bill Kunkel himself, followed
by the showcase of the original cover seen for the
first time since 1981, almost two decades ago!
Bill Kunkel, "There are a lot of stories behind
the various Electronic Games Magazine
cover design meetings and occassional photo shoots.
We always devoted a lot of thought and effort to make
those things work. I had the idea for the very first
cover -- the kid being "zapped" by the saucer from
a Space Invaders type game which has departed his
TV screen and entered 3D space. The original drawing,
however, was not universally popular -- the kid had
that "I'm getting zapped" look all right, but it wasn't
a a good kind of zapping. So it was re-drawn, but
I had to go to the summer CES in Chicago in June '81
armed with nothing but the promise of a game magazine
and these original cover slicks with the kid looking
very weird and the ad info etc. printed on the back.
Obviously, our history with Video Magazine
was a help, and there weren't many companies to meet
with, so I could take my time building personal relationships
at each company. Obviously, the game publishers thought
it would be great -- if it sold. But other folks,
like Jim Levy at Activision, had already "gotten"
it and the PR person Diane Drosnes was already treating
me like visiting royalty. Magnovox genuinely liked
us which meant Atari had to play. After that, everybody
wanted in. Or ALMOST everybody. At the time, for example,
coin-op companies produced these gorgeous, lavish
ads for only two magazines -- RePlay
and Play Meter -- both of which were
trade publications. They simply did not advertise
to the general public. So I suggested that we give
Midway, then the top company in the business, our
back cover -- for free. Midway took a week or two
to take us seriously, but they loved the ad placement
and wound up as regular advertisers through most of
the magazine's run."
So, here it is, unseen
for almost two decades....
the original cover artwork for the premiere issue
of Electronic Games Magazine!
is the cover that was released to the public:
is the ORIGINAL COVER that was only seen as a
Demo at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in
"lost" original cover
Close of the boy getting 'Zapped'
is Copyright Reese Communications 1982
Photographs from the collection of Bill Kunkel
Want to read more?
Here is the Introductory text to issue #1 of Electronic
On! by Frank Laney Jr.
Did you know that you're a member of the world's fastest-growing
hobby group? It's true. Although the first Pong machine
made its debut only a decade ago, today more than
five million Americans regularly play electronic games.
The introduction of space-age electronic amusements
amounts to nothing less than an entertainment revolution.
Check out some of these startling statistics:
¤ Nearly four million homes now have programmable
¤ This year alone, Americans will buy two million
videogame systems--and 20 million cartridges to use
¤ Gamers pour 10 million quarters into Asteroids coin-operated
machines every single day.
And now the hobby is reaching another milestone. At
last there's a high-quality newsstand publication
that we arcaders can really call out own. Reese Publishing
Co., prompted by your overwhelming support of the
"Arcade Alley" column in Video, is giving all lovers
of electronic games a rallying point.
What kind of magazine will Electronic Games be? For
openers, this publication is written by actual gamers
for actual gamers. You'll never see so-called "reviews"
written directly by manufacturers' press releases
by know-nothing writers in these pages. That's a promise.
Everyone on our staff, from co-founder and executive
editor Bill Kunkel to staffers like Frank Tetro and
Joyce Worley, are nuts about these games.
In this and upcoming issues, we'll be covering every
facet of the fast-changing world of electronic gaming.
We'll cover the entire spectrum of this fascinating
hobby from the tiniest hand-helds to the most sophisticated
computer simulations, with plenty of emphasis on videogames
and commercial arcades.
Exactly how much space we devote to each aspect of
electronic gaming depends on you, the readers. Please
take a few minutes to fill out and mail the readers
poll located elsewhere in this issue. It'll do a lot
to help us create exactly the type of magazine you
Why not drop us a line? Tell us what you liked--and
what you didn't--about this premiere issue of Electronic
Games. And feel free to comment on any of the ideas
and opinions aired by our writers.
One final promise: This installment of "Switch On!"
will probably be the most sober-sided piece you'll
ever read in this magazine. We try to take electronic
gaming seriously, but not, we hope, solemnly. After
all, fun is what this hobby--and Electronic Games--is
supposed to be about. We want this magazine to be
as colorful and exciting as the games themselves.
Welcome to Electronic Games.. Let's play! A Message
To Readers of E.G. by Bruce Apar (Editorial Director)
When Frank Laney Jr and Bill Kunkel first proposed
an electronic games column for Video magazine, it
sounded like an interesting idea. We weren't sure
our readers had enough interest in this new "sport"
to justify such a column, but we decided we had nothing
to lose by trying it out.
Not only did Video not lose anything by inaugerating
the now-popular "Arcade Alley," but we've gained a
whole new magazine, Electronic Games.
Cast in the same mold as Video--the leading home video
periodical--EG is written by the field's top authorities
and edited to appeal to the growing legion of arcade
Both Bill and Frank are expert gamers who, through
"Arcade Alley" and direct consultation with game designers,
have contributed notably to popularizing and refining
the noble art of electronic gamesmanship.
They originated the Video magazine "Arcade Awards"
(Arkies) to honor excellence in electronic gaming,
and they are recognized by manufacturers and players
alike as the top commentators on America's fastest-growing
home entetainment hobby.
With so many half-baked electronic entetainment magazines
floating around these days, we feel it is important
to assure you that Electronic Games will maintain
the same editorial integrity and excellence readers
have come to expect from Video Magazine.
Our primary goal, as it has always been with Video
Magazine, is to remain responsible and responsive
to our readers.
MYSTERIOUS MR. LANEY *************
Additional comments from Bill Kunkel
was just looking over the great page Michael has posted
which shows off the famous "lost" cover for Electronic
Games' first issue back in the Winter of '81-'82.
What I hadn't noticed previously, however, was the
interesting reprints of the introductory editorials
from that first issue and the fact that any classic
gamer worth their salt knows that it was Arnie Katz
and I (along with Joyce Worley) who created that magazine.
So why is the editorial being written by "Frank Laney
Jr.", you may ask?
Go ahead, ask. The deal is as follows: that first
issue of EG was produced as a freelance venture, with
no guarantee that there would be any subsequent issues.
Now, I was working as a freelance writer for Harvey
Comics at the time as the primary scripter for the
numerous Richie Rich comics, so nobody cared if I
was writing for some goofy videogame magazine.
Arnie, on the other hand, was an established editor
for a major trade publisher, and if anyone at his
company saw his name as editor of a game magazine,
it would have cost him his job.
Soooo, for that first issue (which is now so valued
as a collectible that I can't afford to buy a copy),
Arnie used the name "Frank Laney Jr" as a beard. He
chose that name to honor Frank Laney, a famous science
fiction fanzine editor and writer from the '40s and
'50s and author of the seminal "Ah, Sweet Idiocy!",
a cynical, caustic and very funny look at the LA fan
scene in the post-WWII era.
Mysteries, it appears, invoke more mysteries. So now
Best, Bill Kunkel (PotshotK@aol.com)