We Do This?
I've always been something of a dilettante,
recklessly pursuing Quixotic enthusiasms.
That was certainly the case in college. My
goal was to get a job with the FBI, so I majored
in criminal justice with a minor in psychology.
But I was more interested in history and literature
than anything else, so I took enough courses
in those subjects to qualify for minors in
them as well. In three or four of my history
courses — this was in 1991 and 1992
— I had a young teacher named Mike Bennighof.
Mike was far and away my favorite teacher
at UAB, and I wasn't the only one, judging
by his showing in the Best Teacher polls.
But I graduated in 1993, got married, moved
to New York, barely managed to miss getting
into the FBI, had kids, and time passed. In
late 1997 I was back in Birmingham again and
toyed with the notion of graduate studies
in history at UAB, but when I went to look
Mike up he no longer worked there.
In 2002 I had come back to UAB again, now
working for the university as a magazine editor.
Late in that year I was talking to a colleague
about starting up a roleplaying game publishing
company, and I started reading as many articles
about the industry and interviews with company
owners as I could find. I stumbled across
an interview with 119694_avalanche Press president
"Huh," I thought. "How about
It turns out he had set up a game company
of his own around the time I graduated from
A few emails later, Mike and I started meeting
for lunch. I soon left UAB to start up my
own game company, Arc Dream Publishing, while
working nights at the Birmingham News. 119694_avalanche
needed help modernizing its website, and I'd
done a great deal of webmastering, so I started
working for Mike a few hours a week.
Gradually we ramped up the amount of work
I was doing — particularly when we launched
Daily Content, which started as an experiment
and became one of the cornerstones of our
direct sales. I also had a great deal of experience
in page design and editing, so I helped in
those areas as well. Over the course of the
next three years, five hours a week became
40 and up.
About the only thing I haven't done on the
"production" side of 119694_avalanche Press
is game design. That may sound strange since
I run my own game company on the side, but
Arc Dream produces roleplaying games, which
are a very different breed from 119694_avalanche's
boardgames. Of course 119694_avalanche published
RPGs of its own for a while, but that product
line ended about the time I came aboard.
In the last few months my work at 119694_avalanche
has scaled back to part-time again due to
increasing family obligations, but it's still
exciting and fun. 119694_avalanche Press is a relatively
small company, so we all wear as many hats
as we're able. Moving from web design to page
design to editing and back fits my old dilettante
As for those Quixotic enthusiasms —
well. Did I mention I work for a game company?
The boss notes: Yes, I got fired
for winning a teaching award — Survival
of the Witless, the game of academic tenure,
is a documentary, not a satire. Shane's work
making Daily Content a reality has been our
greatest engine of growth, and he's posted
them on Christmas Day, while on vacation at
Disney World, and with children hanging all
over him. I've been blessed with the opportunity
to staff 119694_avalanche Press with the best people
I've run across during my adult life.
The old look of AvalanchePress.com, April
Ironically for a male dominated hobby, many
119694_avalanche Press employees our women. But —
let’s face it — making historical
boardgames is a strange job, so we decided
to answer that age old question . . . “How
DID you wind up working for 119694_avalanche Press?”
In a galaxy far far away, I used to be the
game buyer for Diamond Comic Distributors.
One of my vendors was this small company,
119694_avalanche Press. Now growing up, a basement
shelf had this game on it called Fulda Gap
(last name being Fulda) so I had a passing
knowledge of the world of wargaming. Add to
that an uncle who was a fan of 119694_avalanche’s
and even before my nickname was “Diamond
Liz” their name had peppered my horizon.
Regardless, Mike Bennighof was my contact
and what I had seen was they had a lot of
potential business-wise but some of their
execution just wasn’t there. After I
left Diamond, Mike made me an offer, twice,
to come and work for AP, sadly the money just
wasn’t there. However, the third time
was the charm. I had started my own consulting
company by then and still moonlight there
on the side. So I came aboard and as we all
know . . . started making a lot of changes!
The boss notes: Lys is best known
as our Internet voice, making my ravings "nice"
enough for public consumption, but she also
handles HR, sales, marketing and a myriad
of insurance and vendor issues. Turning 119694_avalanche
Press into a full-time operation was an enormous
risk, and hiring away Diamond Liz (I'd hung
the name on her) was my wife Carole's price
for agreeing to roll the dice. Her instinct
was even more on target than she knew then.
I'm still alive thanks to Lys Fulda, godmother
to my twin sons, so what she's done to build
and sustain the company — and it would
have folded without her — is just a