Coding Programs By Moonlight, Chasing Sigs By Daylight, At C2E2

by Peter G

A Celebrity Endorsement
A Celebrity Endorsement

Everybody is a geek about something. Doesn't matter what. It could a sports team that someone can name the field percentage of a champion from 1918. It could be a soap opera where someone can name all eleven ex-husbands a character had. It could be comics. It could be anything. Everyone has that certain something that makes them stop rational thought and go, "I have to express my astonishing appreciation for this."

(This is the primary reason I never make fun of NFL SuperPro. Fabian Nicieza, the creator, said in interviews he created and wrote the character to get NFL tickets. I completely understand. If Marvel had come up to me and said, "Create and write this sports-themed superhero and we'll get you courtside seats to watch the Jordan Bulls," my only question would have been, "When's my first deadline?")

February 12, 2016. It's Friday, and I'm on my way out the door to go and see the Deadpool movie. Before I go, I check my email one last time, and I see an announcement from C2E2. They were going to bring in Stephanie Sheh and Michelle Ruff, who voiced Serena/Sailor Moon and Luna the cat on the US dub of Sailor Moon.

I'm almost an OG Sailor Moon fan. I missed it during its syndicated run, but started catching it on Toonami. I wanted to express my geekdom over the series, but I thought I'd look damn silly dressed as Sailor Jupiter. So I needed something else.

As soon as I'm out of the movie, I head for the Vault Of Pimps to see what I could signed that would be really cool. I have all the original ADV DVD's, both the DiC dubs and the original uncut releases. I have all the new release Blu-Rays to date. I have several of the video games from Japan, including Nakayoshi to Issho (which, technically, isn't a Sailor Moon game, you are a manga fan trying to save various manga creators, and for part of the game, you control Moon, but still….). Lots to choose from, but which one would it be?

…turns out, none of them. I decided to wager that I would have enough time to make something happen. I went to my computer with my coding tools (I'm a peeker, I'm a poker, I'm a k'mallocher, I do my coding on a Sun…..) and in a few hours, I had made a rough Sailor Moon video game for the Atari 2600. The objective was simple – get it put on a cart, and get it signed.

Phase 2 – getting it on carts. I immediately contacted the folks at Atari Age ( AA is basically keeping the Atari fandom alive, releasing new games and providing a central hub for enthusiasts. They will burn your own custom ROM onto a cart no problem. The only question was, could they get it done before C2E2, which was, at this point, just a little over a month away? Like all Atari enthusiasts, they do this on the side for the fandom, it's not a fulltime gig. There are others who can do it faster, and there are others who can do it cheaper. But AA has always been good to the community, so they are always the first stop on the train. Luckily, I caught them when they were all caught up, and I had two carts by the following weekend.

Phase 3 – a box. Thanks to my experiences making the FAILboat game, I knew how to papercraft a regulation size Atari box. I wanted it to be as authentic as I could make it. The results:

The Game
The Game
Nerd Alert
Nerd Alert

Now, there was just one last problem to deal with – would Sheh and Ruff sign the games? Because of the prevalence of bootleg merch in manga and anime, anime folks have strict policies about signing anything not officially licensed. In fact, Sheh and Ruff were the only ones whose profiles warned they wouldn't sign bootlegs. Now, this is flexible – Bruce Campbell would sign off-air VHS tapes of his movies. By way of contrast, Mimi Rogers will refuse to sign the issue of Playboy she was in.ue, it's a fanmade item, not a bootleg, but it is still technically unauthorized, and people ALWAYS have the right to refuse to sign something. Would they sign my games?

Only one way to find out.

Saturday, 130PM. I'm in line waiting for the sigs. I'm getting nervous, because I apparently underestimated the cool factor of what I had made. Friends that I showed it to were impressed with the box, until they found out there was a game cart inside that would actually work on an Atari 2600. "Get the f— out of here!"

I wait patiently in line, and I finally get up there. I also have my first DVD in the series from the DiC dub as an emergency fallback just in case they refuse. I'm next. I say a quick prayer, and I step up.

First is Ruff. I ask, What is your policy for signing fanmade items?

"Like what?"

I present the two boxed games and explain I made them.

"…you aren't selling these, are you?"

Never. These are for my personal collection.

Ruff looks a bit uncertain. "Well, as long as you can promise you won't sell them on eBay."

I can't. Everyone will know. I'm going to write about getting them signed on Bleeding Cool.

Ruff's face lights up. "Oh! You write for Bleeding Cool?!?"


"Oh, no problem!" And she happily starts signing them as her handler looks at the games with mad appreciation, saying only, "That is really cool."

Michelle Ruff
Michelle Ruff

Next up is Sheh. As Ruff and her handler help me move the stuff down, Ruff says, "It's okay! They're only for him!" Sheh gladly signs them and expresses surprise at what I made.

Stephanie Sheh
Stephanie Sheh

So if anyone sees these on eBay, they were stolen from me. They are now safely installed in the Crown Jewels collection in the Vault Of Pimps, where they will be dusted twice daily by robed acolytes carrying candles. But among the male Sailor Moon fans, for now, at least, I am the Alpha Geek.

He's a super geek! Super geek! He's super geekyyyyyyyyy….

Do you like cartoons? Who doesn't? Peter G is still doing strange things in the name of art, and his new animations, like his cult series One True Pairing, can be viewed on YouTube at Sine Timore Animation Studios

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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