Thursday, 1 February 2018
Sunday, 21 January 2018
OK, now "MobyGames" is easy, it only contains nine letters. You can try your hand at "Pixel Pompeii", with 25% further challenge!
Tuesday, 16 January 2018
Got the song rolling? Good. Here we go: there's no good explanation for it. My specific demographic cohort got involved with the artscene roughly contemporary to the culmination of the enterprise that was the band Queen. There it was, we were in early high school, 1992, Wayne's World was in the theatres (making Bohemian Rhapsody the only song to ever be the UK Christmas #1 song in two different years, '75 and '91), and everyone who was anyone performed at the '92 Freddie Mercury memorial concert at Wembley Stadium (did you see the look on Axl Rose's face after Elton John hugged him?)
It was all a bit of a curiosity to me, but to my classmate and colleague Nitnatsnoc (nickname sourced from an Immersion Francais Sciences Humaines unscramble-the-word exercise about the late Roman Empire) the Queen seed that the context planted took root and grew like a flourishing weed. He had caught the bug, and between dreams and schemes to set up our own BBS, he kept trying to share what he felt were the most fascinating nuggets of dank Queen lore. "Did you know that after Freddie Mercury died, he was castrated?" "... ?!" "Sorry, did I say castrated? I meant cremated!" Even once we got our BBS together, the first Mistigris WHQ (world headquarters) The Screaming Tomato, he would hold forth on all matters Queen (such as they were -- as he noted many a time, there are only so many breaking developments in your favorite band once their lead singer dies) in the message bases and at meets and even allude to it in the headers of his ANSI art illustrations (here's an example from MIST1094, where he mentions Queen in all his scrollers save one. The following month, he reports: "Remember? I was that guy who never stopped talking about Queen in his ANSI headers." You might think he'd have gotten over it by 0195, but think again. March? Nope! He doesn't mention them in the Mistigris April 1995 collection, an artpack which he was in charge of assembling, but look a little closer: the "file separators" are all Queen song lyrics!)
So even though the band formed in 1970 and made its most audacious leaps forward before we were ever born, due to my close association with this freshly minted Queen mega-fan, memories of the early '90s still resonate in a very Queen-ly way. Turns out, some other computer artists and textmode specialists feel the same way! Here's as complete a gallery as I've been able to lazily come up with. I'll try to go in a meandering chronological-by-subject sequence.
Kicking things off like one of Freddie's legendary vocal warm-ups, here's a 2017 Horsenburger teletext screen of the album artwork to 1977's News of the World:
For a bonus, some 20 years closer to the source, the same image appeared in a still from the 1987 C64 demo "Queen Alive" by the Norfolk Cracking Service (and, who knows, there might be further such goodies to be found within should anyone care to actually run the demo in question):
Here we have a contest-winning Fat Bottomed Girls / Bicycle Race (1978) piece by teletext genius Horsenburger from the early 2017 Block Party convention:
This is a monochrome piece by Russian ANSI artist dman_pcb depicting Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in his "yellow leather jacket" period circa 1986-89. No colours, but it still gets the idea across:
That yellow leather jacket is alluded to here again, followed by a distinctly Nitnatsnoc-ian (it was inevitable, really) toony ANSI art interpretation of the Queen crest:
CCCfire of Mistigris also drew the crest in ANSI art, beneath Mick Rock's distinctive group shot used in the album cover of Queen II (1974) as well as closing (and opening, Nitty points out!) the Bohemian Rhapsody music video:
Horsenburger took a crack at reproducing that group shot in teletext also:
The artist is sadly unknown, alas (MZ-700 is the machine), but the same scene again was attempted (quite successfully, in my estimation, given the limits of the format) in the SHARPSCII character art medium:
and, OK, this is no textmode art at all -- pixelart but still very a propos, one final no-one-can-get-more-minimalist-than-this take on the same scene:
While we're on the Bohemian Rhapsody wavelength, we interrupt this gallery of visual art for some further (non-underground) chipmusic adaptations of Queen songs. Here they are, the notorious abysmal fragmentary arrangements of "Bohemian Rhapsody" from the SNES and Sega Genesis versions of the 1993 Wayne's World movie video game tie-in -- fanboys claim that the Genesis version is worse, but it's an academic distinction. (The Genesis version, conversely, implements the headbanging quite a bit better!) The separate Game Boy WW version somehow manages to have a superior arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody, picking up where the others leave off. (Ironically, a member of my band once contacted me late at night, letting me know that she was stuck at a party sitting next to a man whose chiefest claim to fame was apparently having composed the music for the Game Boy version of Wayne's World, and did I have any questions for him? It was put together by local developers, so the claim checks out -- she must have been seated next to one Paul Wilkinson. Little did I realise I'd someday be dedicating a paragraph in a blog post to that very subject or I might have passed along some follow-up questions. Alas!)
(Of course, even the least of these is still realms beyond the execrable recording of Bohemian Rhapsody made an a basement TABmeet and later released in an April Fool's artpack.)
Settled your stomach yet? This striking teletext screen depicts the album art to 1989's The Miracle, originally computer art itself -- composited using Quantel Paintbox -- as drawn by Horsenburger:
And closing down our hit parade chronologically, teletext organizer Illarterate drew this screen in honour of what would have been Freddie Mercury's 70th birthday in September of 2017:
BUT WAIT! The Queenmeister himself, Nitnatsnoc, has emerged from retirement to make a couple of further notes:
Speaking of music videos, not sure if you know, but the video for The Invisible Man (by Queen) has a video game theme [ed. looks a lot like Activision's 1985 Little Computer People], and starts with a shot of a shelf full of real C64 titles. Also, there was a Queen video game in the 90s called The eYe which had several instrumental and remixed versions of Queen songs, although by then you couldn't call it "computer game music."(Jan, 2018: "Mister Girls", trying somehow to poke fun at my computer art collective, release a very strange artpack including the following piece, an ANSI art adaptation of Queen's 1982 album Hot Space:)
Friday, 22 December 2017
I speak, of course, of the time of year Disney has chosen to release a new Star Wars movie three years running. (December meant box-office lucre for Peter Jackson in the LOTR trilogy, so I guess the House of Mouse has found no reason to interfere with a sure thing.)
This post has been so long in the waiting I can no longer recall from which website I scraped that HTML version of the arcade game's difficulty setting screen from... but fortunately I retained the provenance of the following teletext screen, drawn by Jason Robertson!
OK, now was someone saying something about Stormtroopers? Here's an ASCII bust of one:
OK, here's another Outworld Arts ANSI rendition of a trooper -- this time a Snowtroper from the Battle of Hoth:
Strange, how Vader got more and more diminished the more of him we saw... kind of like our conception of Anakin in the SW prequel movies around the turn of the century. But surely one Star Wars villain could remain unscathed in our memory, Boba Fett! Outworld Arts really liked this bounty hunter -- here they present a RIPscrip vector art rendition of him. (Mea culpa, not textmode but in wide use in the BBS artscene contemporary to the golden age of ANSI art.)
OK, uh, sorry, Public Domain ASCII artist, but that's a bit rough. Can we try a little harder here? Here's a UTF-8 attempt, with quite a bit more true-to-form detail:
And teletext god Horsenburger was much applauded for his own take on illustrating a Star Destroyer using his big sixels:
From a Star Destroyer there's really only one way to escalate, a depiction of the Death Star. Too bad this one's pants!
Thus concludes our digression into vehicles and vessels. We'll wind down this post with a series of one-off character portraits. Here you can enjoy Mr. Biffo's very Empire take on Luke Skywalker:
Got Porg? Enzo and Avg draw for the ANSI art supergroup Blocktronics, whose May 2017 artpack will be the focus of the next post in this series. This piece pertains to some new critters from The Last Jedi, in theatres now, but they drew it back in September, when most normal people weren't yet up to speed regarding the deep lore of the approaching Star Wars blockbuster. I can't really explain it, but ... here it is:
ANSI art isn't the whole show -- here's an epic teletext screen by Uglifruit:
As referenced above multiple times, the May 2017 Blocktronics artpack, "Detention Block AA-23", was a 100% Star Wars-themed joint. Not only did their stable of godly ANSI artists channel their earliest and most profound fandoms into ANSI art, I also sent my colleague teletext cottage industry Horsenburger their way to show the ANSI kids just what one dedicated man and a teletext editor could make happen. Again, you'll be seeing all this in the next post in this series, probably around the time "Young Han Solo" hits the theatres. Something particular to this 67 artpack is that it had a call for submissions posted quite a bit in advance. The below piece, bearing all the hallmarks of an Enzo small-scale production, graced a call for submissions with a deadline of Jan 31st. The artpack release itself was scheduled for release in May -- we figured they were targeting the prefab consumerist neo-holiday May 4 (for "May the 4th Be With You", blarrgh) but that date came and went (in its honour I vented all the Star Wars-themed pieces from the Mistigris back catalogues on our Mistigram Instagram feed) and they stayed quiet until May 25th, marking the 40th anniversary since the original theatrical release of Star Wars.A piece of #teletext #pixelart I've made to celebrate the Oct 1982 debut on ITV. @edit_tf https://t.co/y9DwSl9Eri pic.twitter.com/rgUpxvyJ40— Andy Jenkinson (@andyuglifruit) March 6, 2017
Enzo, a central Blocktronics organizer, was pushing the Star Wars pack hard, and made sure he had a good body of work saved up well before the artpack's release deadline. Then he made many of them available on his personal ANSI art commerce website, from which I scraped the following pieces some time prior to the artpack's release. I was in a position to spill the beans and share them early, which would have been a kind of jerky thing for me to do, but fortunately for him my recent duties attending to my own monthly Mistigris artpack releases kept me too busy to scoop him -- one of those prickly ethical problems that solves itself if you just sit back and think about it for a while! So anyhow, rather than giving you an unauthorized sneak preview of the Blocktronics Star Wars artpack, I'll give you a sneak preview of my next Star Wars ANSI art Pixel Pompeii post. Here was the call for submissions, depicting Han and Chewie springing Leia from the Death Star in ol' Episode IV:
You can tell Enzo is a serious fan because he's also been exploring the recent movies, not just the original trilogy. Here's BB-8 from The Force Awakens:
It's been a long time, he has a lot to think about!