Bob Wakelin, the artist behind some of the most iconic cover art of the 1980s, passed away in January last year – but now his family are offering prints of some of his work via Etsy, which left an indelible mark on the imaginations of games players in the 1980s.
Bob was best known for his iconic cover art for countless UK computer and video games releases during the 1980s and early 90s, many used by Liverpool-based Ocean and Imagine games, including Athena, Contra, Epic and Choplifter III.
Some downthetubes readers will also recall he also provided some covers for Marvel UK and Starlord, ande also enjoyed a brief stint in a “post-punk/new wave band” called Modern Eon, before he started drawing covers for Ocean Software.
His work as earned him true cult status in Britain, but sadly his games art wasn’t used in international releases, so he never quite received the recognition that he deserved abroad.
“I was told… that without my art, Ocean would not have been as successful,” Bob commented in an occasionally self-deprecating interview for RetroGamesMaster. “… I know that many people bought some pretty poor games because of my artwork, Ocean would occasionally ask me to put extra work into a piece because the game wasn’t great – sorry, but at least the purchasers got some artwork they loved!
“I always did the best job I could within budget and time restraints and it’s great that so many people have such affection for my art.”
In his memory, his wife Gill Wakelin is carrying on his legacy, selling his bespoke designs worldwide. Bob’s prints are inspired by gaming covers, with a high quality silk finish, and his illustrations are also offered on greeting cards, t-shirts and tote bags.
Bob Wakelin created the covers for Starlord Issue 11 (featuring Ardeni Lakam from “Mind Wars”), Starlord 14 (featuring Carl Hunter from “Holocaust”) and Starlord 18 (Ardeni Lakam).
He also created covers for The Super Heroes Monthly (featuring Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman).
His Marvel UK credits include Return of the Jedi (featuring Luke Skywalker), the short-lived Thor weekly and Tales of the Marvels: Inner Demons (featuring a drowning man)
With thank to David Hathaway-Price for alerting me to these prints
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.