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A Tribute to Bob Wakelin

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A Tribute to an icon... I woke this Sunday morning (21/01/2018) to see on Twitter and Facebook the sad news that Bob Wakelin had passed away.

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A Tribute to Bob Wakelin

Written by muguk

January 21, 2018
Bob’s artwork is well known for people in their mid-40s and above. He drew the artwork that adorned a great many Atari ST releases, but also the earlier titles from the likes of Ocean and Imagine Software during the 8-bit heyday.

In some cases, it was his artwork that made people choose that particular game over another one that was vying for their pocket money on the shelves of their local computer shop.

He influenced that purchase, similarly to how Rob Hubbard’s music helped to shift a lot of Commodore 64 games. You knew you were getting quality, even if the rest of the game didn’t live up to the hype.

I, like many teenagers during the 1980s, would be looking at the cover artwork of our newly purchased 8-bit cassette whilst we sat waiting for an Ocean or Imagine game to load on my old ZX Spectrum. Most of the time, it would have been someone’s job at Ocean to attempt to transfer Bob’s artwork into a loading screen. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t.

I found a tribute video on YouTube by That Pixel Thing that covers most, if not all of Bob's artwork, complete with a fan remix/rendition of a classic Martin Galway C64 track to accompany it.

Atari ST related work

Bob’s artwork graced almost 30 different titles for the Atari ST. From the early Ocean releases such as Tai Pan and Wizball, through to some of his last work that adorned titles such as Epic. See the list of Atari ST games here.

Not all of the games were great, or they felt like they were quick ports of 8-bit titles onto the Atari ST – especially back in the days when there wasn’t an Amiga version available. But we, as a buying public, bought the games sometimes because the artwork was so good.

This quote from Bob sums it up:
"A couple of times the guys at Ocean said to me 'Look Bob, this game really isn't very good so we need an extra special cover.'

I suppose I should feel guilty for it."


A full interview (circa 2015) with Bob is available on the following site.

Meeting Bob

In my later years (after hitting 40), I went to quite a few retro events around the UK. One was held at the Lass O’ Gowrie pub in Manchester. Bob was appearing at the event and he was signing copies of his artwork. That was my first glimpse in the flesh of someone I would go on to meet and work with.

A few years later, when the Lass O’ Gowrie was forced to close by the brewing company, there was a “fire sale”. It was held the day after the “closing down” party. Myself and my other half went down to see what we could pick up as there was a regular retro-gaming night held there once a month on a Tuesday and I was curious to see what I could pick-up.

We also helped with the tidying up as there was a lot of chalk-based graffiti / protest words left on the walls aimed at the brewing company that had made the decision to close down the pub!

I was lucky enough to be able to buy the three framed pieces of artwork that the Lass had got from Bob those few years earlier. These will be kept in my possession and will not be going anywhere else.

It was only after attending these numerous gaming events in the UK where I was helping to man the Attic Bug stall that I got to meet Bob. Bob would be selling, and for most visitors to the stall of a certain age, signing his prints of his well-known artwork. The A3 prints were usually the fastest ones to sell out and, if Bob wasn’t on the stall, there’d be a backlog waiting for him to sign when he got back. The prints would be rolled up and put into art tubes to ensure that the customer got the print home in one piece. Visitors from around the world would come to these events knowing that they could get a signed piece (sometimes more) of his artwork.

If you had the time to listen, Bob had many a tale to tell. He was well known as having “been there” during punk music’s early years. He was part of an act that opened up as support for Joy Division back in the day. He drew for Marvel Comics too as well as adorning our shelves of games.

Whilst He was a friend for the short time in my (and his) later years but I’m glad to say that I met him, got to know him and I will miss him. We were christened 'Da Management' by Anna & Dave who run THe Attic Bug and the photo shows us posing at one of the events we attended.

Gweddill mewn heddwch!
(As Bob was born in North Wales, it is Welsh for ‘Rest In Peace’).

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A Tribute to an icon... I woke this Sunday morning (21/01/2018) to see on Twitter and Facebook the sad news that Bob Wakelin had passed away.

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