cover image Pinball: A Graphic History of the Silver Ball

Pinball: A Graphic History of the Silver Ball

Jon Chad. First Second, $24.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-250-24921-0

“The only certainty about pinball is that every game will be different,” declares Chad (Science Comics: Solar System) in this illuminating and thorough graphic history. Chad chronicles the craze from the earliest iterations of pinball (bagatelle, which European immigrants brought to America in the 19th century), to the game’s golden age in the 1930s, to the technological revolutions that prompted narrative-driven games in the 1980s, to its reemerging popularity (in the 2000s, there was one pinball manufacturer, by the 2010s there were more than 10). The author successfully packages the minutiae of pinball’s existence—tackling its darker periods when politicians saw it as a corrupter of youth, alongside periods of innovation in which electrical elements and digitization were introduced to what was originally a fully mechanical game—with dynamic art and vivid coloring assisted by Luke Healy. Pinballs are drawn exploding out of panels to emulate the wild behavior of a ball in play; opponents of pinball, such as New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, become towering, imposing figures; and individual elements of game machines are highlighted to show how they work together in a surprisingly narrative fashion. Back matter includes basic tips and tricks, the anatomy of pinball machines, a glossary, and player resources. Cracking this one open evokes the delight of snapping back the launcher in the arcade. (Mar.)