A pretty messed up prequel to #631: The Locker Door
RECORD STORE TALES #902:
The Print Shop The Adventures of “B” Man
In the mid 1980s through to the 90s, my dad had an old client named Skully. He was a computer guy. Every so often, he would gave my dad a list of games and programs he could copy for us. If we sent him a pack of floppy discs with a checked-off list, in a few weeks he’d come back to us with all the games we wanted. Classic Concentration, Alleycat, King’s Quest, Into the Eagle’s Nest, Digger, and so many more games with names long forgotten. All on 5 1⁄4” floppy discs — double sided, double density.
One of the programs we checked off from Skully’s list was a program called The Print Shop. And strangely enough, it was Print Shop that had a personal impact bigger than any of the games. In fact it was one of the most widely pirated Commodore 64 programs of 1985, although we had the IBM PC version.
We mostly used it to make birthday and Christmas cards. It was great for that, all pre-formatted and everything. You could use pictures from its own library. Stuff like birthday cakes, turkeys, Easter bunnies, and so on. Or, you could painstakingly make your own graphics, block by block. In fact we used Print Shop all through the mid to late 80s. It had a poster feature and a banner printer. We used that to print a “DEMOLITION” banner when we went to see WWF wrestling at the Aud.
My sister, Bob Schipper and myself learned how to use The Print Shop to make blocky pictures. The first experiments involved modifying pre-existing graphics. That was a good way to learn. The Easter bunny fell first to our mischievous ways. Bob changed his smile to a scowl, and we changed his happy wave to a middle finger! Of course we did. I was 12 and he was 14.
The next thing I obviously had to do was figure out the logo.
With some trial and error, I drew a pretty good recreation of the legendary Kiss double lightning bolt. I proudly printed it out in poster mode. But what else should be on the poster? I was fascinated with the Kiss discography and had memorized every album and year. So I painstakingly typed out each line of text to go beneath the logo. KISS (1974) HOTTER THAN HELL (1974) DRESSED TO KILL (1975)… all the way to ASYLUM (1985).
I taped that “poster” to my wall. I was so proud of it!
Wanna know something funny? In 1987, I updated it. CRAZY NIGHTS (1987) had to be added! It took some work trying to make everything fit. I knew if Kiss continued to release new albums, I wouldn’t be able to make space forever! SMASHES, THRASHES & HITS (1988) was the last album I could squeeze onto to my humble Kiss poster before I gave up. I didn’t have a lot of things to put up on my walls, and I didn’t like to cut up my rock magazines. A printout from The Print Shop just had to do!
When the time came to start highschool in the fall of ’86, Bob helped me prepare some locker artwork. I had a Gene Simmons poster — the one of Gene from the Asylum era with his tongue stuck in the bass strings. We also thought the Easter bunny giving the finger would be a cool addition to the locker, as long as the teachers didn’t make me take it down! But what should it say? Bob and I discussed numerous sayings, shooting them down one after the other. Somehow, he came up with “The End Of Rock Is The End Of Life!” and I went with it. “OK!” Up it went in my very first locker. That way the girls will know I’m serious about the music. I’m in it for the music; it says so right on the poster with the Easter bunny giving the finger!
I know what you’re thinking at this point.
“What a loser!” you say. “But what the hell is ‘B Man’ and what are his adventures?”
This is really embarrassing. But what the hell.
That autumn (’86) I remember one of us somehow caught a bee, and pulled off its head. OK, I said it. I don’t know who it was. But we thought it was pretty cool, and Bob had an idea. He drew a little muscle-y body, and we taped the bee’s head to the paper right over it. “I AM ‘B’ MAN!” wrote Bob in a word bubble.
And once again, I thought it was a good idea to tape it in my locker. Now, I cannot remember if Bob was onside with me on this. He didn’t need “‘B’ Man” in his locker. He already had awesome posters. But I thought, hey. It’s all about getting the attention of the girls, and they’ll love that I removed the head from a bee and taped it to a poster with a drawing of a little muscle body on it. They’ll think A) that I’m good at drawing and B) I’ll protect them from bees. I showed the bees who the boss really was. Me! I was the bee boss.
It comes as no shock that none of my posters did anything to attract girls. A pair of them gave my “The End Of Rock Is The End Of Life!” the old side-eye. I think “‘B’ Man” was too small for them to be disgusted by him. My cluelessness was rivalled only by my awkwardness. I had completely misjudged the female gender. My colossally bad assumption, that because I thought something was cool they would too, was profoundly and predictably incorrect.
And so that’s the irony of the title. There were no adventures of “‘B’ Man”. He wasn’t even shot down in flames. He was a total dud and came down with no fanfare.
Now, to anyone who’s sitting there going “what a psycho! Eww!” We were kids. It was 1986. Virtually every neighbourhood had a group of kids participating in a good ol’ bug burning. It happened. It was for science n’ stuff. We all turned out pretty good.
And so, a seemingly innocent story that began with kids nerding out with primitive printing software, ends with insect mutilation. Bees, no less, the guardians of plant life on this Earth. I guess metal really does pervert the hearts of the young.