The Art Of J Nash
Chatting to a chum yesterday, something they said gave me cause to recall a feature from Amiga Power in which former full-time members of the AP team recounted their experiences on leaving the mag for the "real" world.
Sadly the issue in question (AP54, October 1995) is one of those that still hasn't been scanned for the Amiga Magazine Rack, and only a fragment of it is available in the WoS Archive, so I had to go and get the actual magazine off my shelves, like some sort of caveman.
On flicking through it, I was reminded once again of how different videogames magazines used to look. The feature was illustrated with half-a-dozen large cartoons drawn by AP's then Dep Ed, the inestimable J Nash. They were so fine that I felt they deserved online preservation, so here it is.
(Scanning the entire feature, incidentally, was far too much of a pain, as AP used non-standard A4+ pages that are too big to fit in a normal scanner and there are three World Cup matches a day.)
Click the images for larger versions.
The feature covered four ex-AP stalwarts – from left to right on the title page above they're Jonathan Davies (former editor), Tim Norris (former editor), Dave Green (former Production Editor), and this reporter (former Deputy/Acting Editor).
The first section of the piece dealt with my experiences of leaving AP to join legendary developers Sensible Software, about which I reported that software development was less intense than magazine production, but more respectable. Under "PROS" I listed "Programmers are your friends", while under "CONS" I wrote "Your friends are programmers".
The illustration depicted me being carried off by a binman. For about 15 years I thought he was an Andy Capp-esque character with a huge bulbous nose and overhanging brow, and it was only on looking back at the feature that I noticed he in fact has a pointy nose and an enormous chin.
Next up was Tim Norris, who'd left to edit some other Future mags and then to go freelance. He told of the perils of using a Mac to write about gaming, given the near-total absence of games for the platform, though also speaking of its compensatory delights and noting that the games situation was improving.
"But sometimes," he pondered wistfully, "I wish they'd let me back into AP once in a while for a nice cup of tea, a few games of DynaBlaster and a laugh at the word 'dongle'. Those were the days."
The cartoon Tim and his hitching companions still make me chuckle, and capture's Tim's unflappable English cheerfulness perfectly.
Prod Ed Dave Green was a huge character in AP history, with an influence that perhaps isn't recognised by readers as fully as it should be. He left for the exalted heights of Wired magazine (whose UK edition had just launched), and mostly reflected in his inimitable style (described in the piece as "a cross between Brian Blessed and Zeus himself") on developments in the then-fledgling emulation scene, accurately predicting its rapid progress.
In the picture we see the reality of Dave's high-flying life on the gold-paved streets of London, with some scavengers of the night apparently about to show him something that'll make him change his mind.
Treacherous turncoat Jonathan Van Davies abandoned AP for the troubling world of the PC, and told chilling tales of CONFIG.SYS and the then-imminent launch of Windows 95. He also mused on the appearance of the "interactive game", contemplating a future where "your PC sits in the corner of the room installing and playing games with no interference from you at all, perhaps even subjecting you to a mild electric shock if you approach it too closely". Hideo Kojima was clearly listening intently.
JD's portrait is much more sinister and puzzling, depicting what appears to be a giant robin or pigeon with its arm around the skeleton of an elderly woman on which perch several smaller birds of identical design, all glaring menacingly at JD as he sits stoically on the end of the same park bench with a pizza box. None of us asked.
As the "curator" of the feature, I wrapped it up with a concluding page observing the way in which the Amiga was being deserted in all directions, whether for PCs or consoles. (By this point, even Sensible had abandoned the format for some ill-fated dalliances with the PC and Playstation.) Charged to rage against the dying of the light, I boldly predicted the disastrous failure of the 32-bit generation.
(In my defence, I only really predicted they'd fail at their then-current prices, whereby the Saturn was being optimistically touted at £400.)
The cartoon was suitably doom-laden, portraying the author as a dismayingly slim young man (sigh) enjoying the hedonistic rewards of well-paid software development on the idyllic topical paradise of Mururoa.
I don't know about you, viewers, but I think it's a real shame that games magazines don't draw their own pictures any more.