Next month First Second Books will release Pinball: A Graphic History of the Silver Ball, a new graphic novel by cartoonist Jon Chad exploring the highs and lows of the iconic arcade game. Today The Beat is pleased to present an exclusive excerpt of the first eleven pages of the book
Here’s how First Second describes Pinball: A Graphic History of the Silver Ball:
In 1976, champion player Roger Sharpe stepped up to a pinball machine in a Manhattan courtroom. The New York City Council had convened to consider lifting the city’s ban on pinball—a game that had been outlawed since 1942 for its supposed connections to gambling and organized crime. Sharpe was there to prove that, unlike a slot machine, pinball wasn’t a game of chance designed to fleece its players—it was a game of skill that required a measure of patience, coordination, and control. To prove his point, he proclaimed that he would launch his ball into the center lane at the far end of the playfield—much like Babe Ruth famously pointing to the fences. Sharpe pulled back the plunger and released, and the fate of this industry and art form hung in the balance.
Thus opens Jon Chad’s comprehensive graphic novel to the history of the captivating, capricious—and at times infuriating!—game of pinball. Tracing pinball’s roots back to the Court of King Louis XIV, through the immigrant experience of early 20th century America, the post-War boom and bust, right up to the present day, Chad charmingly ushers readers through the myriad facets of this most American of pursuits—capturing not just the history but also the artistry, cultural significance, and even the physics of the game.
Pinball: A Graphic History is just the latest Jon Chad project based around the game. From 2010 to 2015 Chad and fellow cartoonist Alec Longstreth produced and self-published a pinball-themed zine called Drop Target, which according to Chad “included interviews, comics, illustrations, and reviews all about pinball.” An omnibus collection of the series was self-published in 2018.
Check out the exclusive excerpt of Pinball: A Graphic History of the Silver Ball below. The 208-page graphic novel is set to arrive in stores on Tuesday, April 5th.