GORDON’S MORISON’S PINBALL ART CLASS 101 SEMINAR
(PINBALL EXPO 2000)
by Russ Jensen
Rob Berk introduced the speaker for this seminar, Dr. Keith Egging, who he told us was a game designer for the Japanese game company Taito, and had been a good friend of artist Gordon Morison.
Keith began by telling us that he was going to present “a Gordon Morison pinball art class”. He then commented that designers give pinballs their “personalities”, while artists give them their “soul”. He next told us he was first going to tell a little of his personal history in the industry.
After commenting that he first got involved with pinballs about 50 years ago as a shop helper, then a mechanic, and then as an operator when he bought a Williams GUSHER, Keith told of while going to medical school operating jukeboxes and pingames on campus. He then commented that he didn’t graduate in the top of his class because of the demands of the route.
Keith next told us that Gordon started doing coin-op art on electro-mechanical games, and then on solid state. He then commented that Gordon originally used a process known as “spot color” , where certain colors were used in certain places. Later, he continued, Gordon got involved with the “4-color Process” which led to his use of computers.
We were then told that Gordon suffered a heart attack in 1980, but sometime after that he went to work for Stern, and later went to an advertising agency. Keith then told us that at the age of 70 Gordon would work 60 to 80 hours a week doing “everything” – all kinds of advertising art!
Keith next told us that he loved Gordon’s artwork, and that he was a good friend who he misses very much! He then remarked that Gordon gave the industry a “soul”. After next commenting that Gordon didn’t like to sign much of his art, Keith told us that Gordon often “lifted” the work of others, adding that he also had a “wicked sense of humor”.
We were next told that Gordon “never grew up” and that he loved comic books, cartoons, and toys. Keith then said that Gordon eventually died of lung cancer, adding that it was hard for him to go on without him. He then said that some artists today are also great. At that point Keith started showing a “slide show”, showing us some of Gordon’s non-pinball art.
Keith then told us that Gordon loved computers and wished he could have learned more about them. He then started telling a little about Gordon’s house which he said was a “strange house” with various types of art all over it, including such things as gargoyles. Keith then said Gordon also liked dragons, Egyptian things, and space.
At that point we were shown a slide showing an example of what was called the “stripping technique” in creating art. Keith then told us that he first met Gordon in Milwaukee, he then commenting that Gordon had “flexible ethics”, a term he told us that Gordon himself had coined. He next told of Gordon having to leave Adverting Posters Co. due to a flap over him “borrowing” some art involving Tarzan.
Keith next told us that Gordon owned thousands of picture books, and that he loved the cartoon character Scooby Doo, and also liked to play with toys. He then told us that Gordon was born in Indiana but claimed to be Canadian, adding that he liked to run and was married twice, the second time only three weeks before his death.
We were then given the Internet address (URL) of a website devoted to Gordon, but sadly I recently learned that that site is no longer available on the Internet. Keith next told us that Gordon said he did art work for over 200 pinballs, although he claimed a few which he didn’t do. In Gordon’s mind, he went on, he was “the only artist on the planet”, adding that Gordon believed that Art Deco gave pingames “soul”.
After then telling us that all the women depicted in Gordon’s backglasses were his girlfriends, Keith ended his presentation by telling us that Gordon’s initials were “GAM”. He then asked if we had any questions?
The first question asked was what games Keith himself had designed for Taito? He answered his only game was an advanced concept pin game for Taito Brazil and a 3D pingame for Taito Japan neither of which “saw the light of day”. He said he did however create a skill game called ICE COLD BEER for Taito America that sold over 12,000 units. The final question was what Gordon’s middle initial stood for, Keith answering “Alexander”. The seminar then ended with Keith being given a good round of applause!