ZZAP!64 issue 65, 1990 Murder!

Oliver discusses with Roger Kean the difficulties in some cover art, especially ZZAP!64 issue 65, 1990 – Murder!

ZZAP!64 issue 65, 1990 Murder!

‘As kids, my siblings Franco and Lauretta and I played Cluedo a lot,’ Oli Frey reflects. ‘We were always squabbling over who murdered Dr Black (who was rather appropriately known as Mr Boddy in North America): was it Miss Scarlet, the Rev Green, Colonel Mustard, Prof Plum, Mrs Peacock or Mrs White?’

A Sizzler at 93%, US Gold’s take on the murder mystery game offered a bewildering number of possible scenarios – they claimed three million – in as many mansions with as many different victims (Zzap! Editor Stuart Wynne in the review) or sleuths (Phil King and Robin Hogg) and was likened to Cluedo in as much as if you loved the board game you’d certainly enjoy C64 Murder. Naturally, it wasn’t quite the same level of fun for Oli, who had to conceive of a catchy cover while allowing room for the by then ubiquitous cover cassette and a range of cover lines. ‘There had to be a body (or a Boddy) of course, but how to make it arresting (sorry for the pun) was another matter.’

Always a fan of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, Oliver turned to one of his favourites: 1958’s Vertigo. ‘With its emphasis on spinning shapes and plunging perspectives, I took from it the idea of looking down vertically on the sprawled victim. The official cinema poster was also an inspiration and I think the influence is clear. That also allowed me to have the corpse lying mostly on a pale coloured rug so that the cover lines would show up.

George Orwell Vertigo poster

‘By that time, bucket-loads of blood spattered everywhere on magazine covers were not much approved of by newsagents (or Newsfield’s distributors COMAG), but how could you have a decent murder without a bit of gore? I’m sure George Orwell would have agreed with me! † Still, I managed to lower the temperature by making most of it spill over the mahogany-coloured wooden parquet floor, so it didn’t stand out too much!’

The final result was a stylish image cleverly wrapped around the cover cassette, allowing for a bold, blood-red (natch) headline.

† Decline of the English Murder, 1946, essay by George Orwell

This article was published in FUSION magazine

Published by Oliver Frey Art on

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