Zzap!64 issue 35,1988 Apollo 18

With Oliver Frey, Roger Kean looks at the cover art of Zzap!64 issue 35,1988 – Apollo 18

Zzap!64 issue 35,1988 Apollo 18

‘I think you’d have to ask then editor Julian ‘Jaz’ Rignall why he opted for this game as the cover, since it only scored 81%,’ says Oli when pushed for an answer.

Jaz had a difficult task, though. The March 1988 issue (sent to press in January) was notably lacking in the way of top games – though there was Elite’s Ikari Warriors with a higher score and Activision’s Predator as a Sizzler. Historically then, I think we have to put it down to the options for a catchy image, and the unusual moon-landing sim offered the best.

‘A lunar landing and a walk on the moon,’ Oli sighs in recollection. ‘And only a day to rush it through before leaving for a well-earned rest.’

After four years of hard work, brother Franco, Oliver and I were leaving in early January for a month’s vacation in the Far East: Manila and Cebu in the Philippines and a week in Bangkok on the return leg.

‘I sketched out the head and shoulders of an astronaut,’ Oli says, ‘anonymous in his suit and helmet, with the lander and fellow crew behind. But it just didn’t stand out or seem visually exciting. A hurried conversation and Roger suggested I have the astronaut gazing up at the 2001 A Space Odyssey monolith. But the real shock had to be seeing the ZZAP!64 logo etched on its surface. Perfect!’

Oliver delivered the artwork minutes before dashing home to pack and leave for Heathrow. It was hours later while passing serenely over Da Nang (fascinating for its role in the not-so-long-ago Viet Nam War) that he sat up with a gasp. ‘What’s wrong?’ I asked.

‘The Zzap logo!’ Oli shouted. ‘I just realised. It’s the wrong way round! It should be reversed as a reflection in his faceplate.’

Alas, too late – with no mobile phones or internet in1988, there was no way we could ‘phone home’ from the Philippines Airlines 747, and by the time the plane touched down in Manila, over 17 hours after leaving London, the issue had gone to bed.

This article was published in FUSION magazine

Published by Oliver Frey Art on

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