Foreword Reviews

The Gamesmaster

Almost Famous in the Geek '80s

In The Gamesmaster, Flint Dille shares his experiences writing cartoons, novels, and full-length films for some of the best-known children’s entertainment properties of the 1980s.

In the eighties: G.I. Joe and Transformers were mega-successful toy lines, and the Sunbow animation studio, where Dille was a writer on the rise, was asked to produce a series of plot-driven television cartoons to serve as “commercials” for the toys. Instead of disposable entertainment, Dille and Sunbow created stories that made a lasting impression on a generation.

As a friend and collaborator of Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax, Dille also witnessed and participated in efforts to expand that company’s entertainment reach, and his accounts are always entertaining. While the book’s priority is its fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the making of Transformers, G.I. Joe, and other animated shows, Dille’s story reaches further. His family is integrated with pop culture; his grandfather owned the rights to Buck Rogers, while his sister was a key figure in the unfolding drama at the Dungeons & Dragons company.

Dille’s career remains a point of focus. Brief mentions of his childhood and adult family arise, but the text is most about business. Dille is humble, enthusiastic, and as forthcoming about his failures as his triumphs. He recalls working with George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and comic-book luminary Jack Kirby.

The text is conversational, grounded, and quirky, coining words like “civilianified,” “efficientified,” and “gornished.” It is also infused with a healthy sense of humor, as when Dille recounts the strangeness of science fiction historian and collector Forrest J. Ackerman “charging money for telling old stories,” footnoting this by acknowledging his own pay-to-read book (“Yes, I am aware of the irony here.”).

The Gamesmaster is a fond and honest firsthand assessment of a defining time in pop culture.

Reviewed by Peter Dabbene

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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