Title

Pushing Buttons: The Video Game Cartoons of John Holmstrom

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-2021

Abstract

John Holmstrom is a celebrated writer and cartoonist best known for cofounding Punk magazine in 1975. He later chronicled the counterculture for High Times, restoring the magazine’s reputation for subversive humor and advocacy journalism. But less remembered is Holmstrom’s career as a video game critic. Between 1981 and 1985, Holmstrom would document the emergence of video games as a cultural force to be reckoned with. An adolescence steeped in trash culture—comics, wrestling, and rock ʼn’ roll—sensitized Holmstrom to the value of games at a time when many commentators viewed them with condescension. In Heavy Metal and the short-lived Video Games, Holmstrom published pieces that challenged skepticism of the medium. His career in games journalism lasted fewer than four years, but his work can be read as an alternative history of the different directions that games culture could have gone had it not been extinguished by the video game crash of 1983.

Publisher

Indiana University

Publication Information

ROMchip: A Journal of Game Histories

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