Bob Wake­lin Trib­ute

Retro Gamer - - CONTENTS -

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.

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