modern culture since 1991

Wings Over Sealand

The Art Of J Nash

Posted on June 17, 2010 by RevStu

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 the shot captures 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.

10 to “The Art Of J Nash”

  1. Derek says:

    I was only just reading this issue the other day and thinking pretty much the same thing. AP looked awesome.

    I also happened to find an old Megadrive mag from around AP time in a massive batch of comics I bought. It too looked a lot better than modern mags which seem so sterile by comparison. It is indeed a shame.

  2. Xeethra says:

    To who did the imperative hand, in the title page, belong?

  3. RevStu says:

    I do not know.

  4. Mark X says:

    Some lovely imagery by the lad Nash, there. Those images really remind me of the animated pop videos (such as The Sensible Hair Song) that took place in episodes of Absolutely, as put together by Triffic Films. Of course, anyone putting any clips of those songs on YouTube has since been set on fire by Channel Four's robot lawyers, so I can't point to any examples of the songs, save for this audio-only clip: . A shame.

  5. Grim... says:

    Were you really as short compared to the other three as the first large image suggests?

  6. RevStu says:

    No. Dave Green and Tim are only about two and three inches taller than me respectively, and JD is deceptively tall but I come up a lot further than the middle of his ribcage. I think it was an attempt to convey some kind of perspective, or cartoonist's caricature license, or something.

  7. J Nash says:

    Hello everyone! If I recall aright, the feature was the idea of “Ideas” Cam The Features Idea King, who had ideas a lot. The fates to be drawn were (obv) chosen before the photoshoot and I’m pretty sure the participants selected their own in a slightly more proppy version of AP65’s murder theme. Logically the dismissing arm belonged to Cam (as contemporary Ed) but I think it was in fact played for insurance purposes by Martin The Ultimate Prod Ed’s stunt doubling limb. (The timing suggests it could have been Tim The Wee Work Experience Lackey, but we’d already killed him by making him hang-glide off a roof for Cam to practise firing at.) In an exciting behind the scenes glimpse, gentleman editor Jonathan Davies’s pizza box was improvised during the session when the photographer decided merely sitting on the pretend bench wasn’t visually effective enough and so provided the atmospherically dispiriting carton from the photo studio bin. I was then brought in because an actual real artist would have broken the budget; as is well known, AP was run at the time more or less on the tips we could cruelly force Paul Mellerick to steal from the sandwich bloke’s basket by crawling through the suspended ceiling with a bit of chewing gum stuck to a stick, and we’d already had to jigger the books for the month after the expense of covering up Tim The Wee Work Experience Lackey’s tragic and low-scoring death.

    As always, my rubbish bits were drawn in black and white; the colouring-in and special human processing were the work of the scanning department when they glued the photos and pictures together because the office computers weren’t yet advanced enough to do that, or Sue Queen Of Art Eds had broken hers by swearing. The mystery height mismatch in the first picture is explained by the basic spatial principle of perspective, you idiots.

    “Fans” will be “pleased” to “learn” that I continue to “draw” rubbish bits”,” for example in The Case-Book Of Mr Sherlock Holmes The PC and Auschwitz Sniper II (itself inspired by an earlier article posted here by S Campbell. Other sites are available). There’s also the climactic PC Gamer B Page, The Funny Pages, which features actual real artists plus me in the embarrassing showbiz manner of someone arranging a jam then insisting on appearing in it, but is not yet up because I’ve been saving it for an emergency. I would also like to take the opportunity to let any gallery owners know who are reading that I am currently available to sweep up in galleries.

  8. Xeethra says:

    Thank-you, J Nash, for answering my question and several other points of intrigue.

  9. Grim... says:

    "The mystery height mismatch in the first picture is explained by the basic spatial principle of perspective, you idiots."
    Perspective that runs in two directions! Innovative!

  10. J Nash says:

    Nobody tells AMIGA POWER what to etc.

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    Hello. I am the Rev. Stuart Campbell,
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