Biography history, picture postings and web site design by Ben Dobson
Joseph Arena began his writing and artistic creations at an early age as did many children who eventually developed and produced works within the artisan industries. What was different about Joseph was his attention to detail, his incredible imagination and that he loved to push himself to learn how to read and to write. This was already evident by the time he was preschool age. He struggled through books that were far beyond him or his age group at various points along the way in those early years. Joseph learned to memorize certain words within tales told to him in the average book or story by utilizing his unique memory.
In short order he was able to venture beyond reading and writing levels that others among his peers were not yet able to accomplish. He spent a number of years writing short story works, with a poem here a story there, numerous novel or series drafts and even a number of original lyrics and tunes.
Eventually while still in early grade school he wrote several books including a two hundred page novel, hand written on legal length paper, which grew out of a literature assignment. An assignment creating a novel which so impressed and delighted his teacher that the work was not only presented to his class, but to the entire school.
Joseph was noted as the one forever whom had a paper and pencil in hand, as he busily was writing, drawing, or illustrating. He also enjoyed singing, and would sing to those followers whom would ask him to perform. Years later he would win an Elvis singing contest put on by a local radio station and one at a convention in Toronto.
Arena was the first of the children to be born in Canada just two years after his parents and older siblings immigrated to Canada from Italy. Arena’s early years were challenging and exciting as he and his siblings, his parents, grand parents and various uncles, aunts and cousins all lived under one roof for a number of years until each family had saved enough to purchase their own homes.
Arena went on working on his creative or inventive works from the early 1960’s to the early 1980’s. He produced allot of unique and different publications. Some of their names were Andromeda Tales, Diversity, Abyss, Zygo and Zygo Nova, which were some of the very first science fiction fantasy comic book magazines done in Canada. Between 1980 and 1981 Arena self published the last of his comic books, in which he published up to 26 budding authors and skilled illustrators. These publications were short print local runs of 2000 to 5000 copies.
Joseph was the author of “The Legendary And The Brave” issued in the late 1970’s as a paperback and as a Hardcover Limited Edition Collectible Novel in early 1980’s. The entire run was sold in advance sales other than those used for promotional events. Only three known copies are publicly left for viewing. One is in a London library and the other two copies were purchased by the National Library Archives in Ottawa. The rest went to promotional or charity events and to the public who purchased the collectible novels.
He then turned his attentions to creating card games and board games he had designed and started producing them after loosing scores of his ideas to game companies. Despite this Arena keeps a good positive attitude. Some of the games he created and or issued for market may still be remembered, like Score 44, Shield Knight Raiders, 3-D Dominoes, Empire Quest, 3-D Lexicon, 3-D Pyramid. A host of 48 other 3-D game designs remain in draft form and in full marketable prototypes. Arena created these 3-D games first in 1962, while obsessed with three dimensional shapes after he rolled a set of dice as a child and they landed one on top of the other.
Even in his young mind Joe immediately noted the resemblance to dominoes and Joseph coined the phrase multi-sided 3-D Dominoes. Only then did the words 3-D Dominoes enter into the global lexicon. Arena included the designs, drawings, rules within the story boards, novels, short story renditions, comic styled layouts and pages as he set them in detail on old pads of paper from 1953 to 1963. He was focused and determined to place onto those sheets of rules and information drawings and rules on which he often including actual cardboard cut out patterns as example prototypes; like the 3-D rectangle, cube, pyramid and countless other 3-D shapes.
Joseph has some acting experience having performed in the title role of a theater staged musical put on in the mid 1970’s at College Avenue Secondary School called “Bye Bye Bridie”, as well as a role on a television pilot for a series called “New Comers” by the CBC. He was also in a motion picture role in a movie staring Tony Curtis called “Title Shot”.
He appeared on the Kitchener, Betty Thompson T.V. program “Be My Guest”; the Woodstock Greg Morton T.V. talk show”Sci-Fi Beat”; the London Bruce Williams T.V. talk show called 1:00 Live, and was regularly written about in newspapers, heard on radio shows and seen on television stations across the province. He made these appearances between the mid 1970’s to the present to promote his productions, including the running of Risk Game Tournaments and his science fiction collectible interests with his first web site, hobbyhutgames.com, while tying in promotions for various charities.
He would donate boxes of toys and collectibles, gathered, saved and gleaned all year long, from auctions, garage sales, toy shows and then used some of them as donations at the science fiction fantasy conventions. The items would go to a chosen charity auction. These charity auctions were set up as a part of the science fiction conventions by the organizers of those conventions. The charities helped were usually Sick Kids or for a specific cancer charity. Arena also spent those same decades doing food and toy drives for local charities.
Arena has been a typical struggling artisan as far as incomes go, and yet he continues on hoping that one day his works, starting with this new book, ‘Icons And Mists’, may become well enough known and successful enough to earn reasonable royalties.