Bob Wakelin Tribute
Developers and friends celebrate the fantastic work of the legendary Ocean Software artist
Industry veterans pay tribute to Ocean Software’s talented artist
“Whenever a new Bob Wakelin illustration turned up at Ocean it was big news,” he recalls. “We all knew we had the best-looking artwork in the country bar none. Athena, Renegade, Rastan, Gryzor, Vindicator, Operation Wolf – all caused ripples in the programming department at Ocean when their illustrations turned up for the first time.”
Another artist who was impressed by Bob’s talents was Bill Harbison, who worked on numerous Ocean games, including Chase HQ and Robocop.
“Bob was to computer box art what Drew Struzan was to movie posters,” he begins. “Every image he created was a masterclass in technique and the epitome of quality. Not only were they iconic, but they bridged the gap between the archaic nature of the in-game graphics and how the game felt in your imagination. As a teenager, I would sketch some of his game covers and try to improve my own art. This was way before I even thought about trying to get into the industry myself. I finally met Bob about six years ago
His work stood out on the crowded shelves, like a great piece of album artwork Paul Hughes
at a retro gaming convention. He didn’t know that I was nervous about meeting him, but he came across as very approachable and quite happy to chat about his work and his technique. He was also happy to give advice on some of my own work and was honest and encouraging with his comments.”
Some of Bob’s most impressive art was for Jim Bagley’s Midnight Resistance, Cabal and Firefly, who is also keen Bob’s praises. “Bob was an amazing talented artist,” he says. “Although I knew he was battling an illness for over three years it still came as a shock when he died, and it hit me hard, it was like losing a brother. I really enjoyed Bob’s company he was always a laugh and he loved the adoration from the retro community at the events he went to. Although Bob did all the poster and box art for all the Ocean games, I never actually met him until 2009 at Byte Back, where I also met David East and Anna Bäckström, from there, grew a great friendship in the four of us, and he will be deeply missed by all who knew him. Bob is a true Legend!”
Bob Wakelin’s artwork undeniably shaped gaming history and reach of Ocean during the Eighties means even the most unaware will have experienced his talent. We’ll leave the last words to friend David East, who was a regular companion to Bob at the retro events Bob would visit.
“I’m very saddened by Bob’s untimely passing,” he says. “I’ve lost someone whose talent I admire greatly, a business partner (of sorts), but moreover a true friend. Bob had a cast-iron persona, but through the passage of time I came to realise that there was a lot more to him than met the eye. He was humble, often self-deprecating but more than anything, a kind, selfless, caring soul who put others first. His family were his world. Bob had a wicked sense of humour and told tales of his past ‘misdemeanours’ with great joy and no regrets. He wasn’t perfect and never professed to be. We mourn his passing, but must be thankful of the incredible body of work he left to share with us. We both had the same political and social views. Bob made no secret of the fact that he wasn’t really a religious man, but preferred science. I remember a conversation I had with him one day. He asked me: ‘What do you think happens when we die?’ I replied: ‘We probably just slip back out of The Matrix’. His response: ‘Oh, I do like the sound of that.’ Goodbye Bob, see you on the other side.”
Our thoughts go out to Bob’s family and friends.