By Lloyd Mangram
nature of CRASH Christmas issue covers was established,
but this year Oliver had a problem; CDS had been promised
a cover based around their Brian Clough's Football
Fortunes. He resolved it by setting loads of Olibugs
round a table playing the board/computer game, while
Clough, dressed as Santa Claus, peered on. It was unusual
because it was entirely monochrome - but this suited
Oliver, who had three other covers to do at the same
time. Yet the vigorous line drawing makes its own impact,
and it remains one of the best-taken risks in his CRASH
CRASH readers got their first chance to see Newsfield's biggest
gamble to date with a free 80-page issue of LM. There was
also an article inside CRASH showing a picture of the LM editorial
team taken at the London office (LM had two offices!). I wasn't
present, which was just as well, because the picture was very
dark. A staggering 296,000 copies of LM Issue Zero were printed,
and the investment then, and in later months, would very nearly
cripple the company.
Where to hold the Christmas 'do' was settled by booking Ludlow's
biggest disco (out of two), the Starline Club. In the event,
some 150 people turned up, some software houses travelling
right across the country to be there. It pleased us a lot
that they made the effort.
Yet another new face turned up in the art department, that
of Markie Kendrick, who applied for the job because he knew
the magazines and had once even drawn a Sabreman cartoon strip.
Markie was a good find, quick at layout and fast on the draw
- it was his comic inventiveness that led to King Grub in
LM (and later in CRASH).
games were less exciting, though Realtime gave us their very
best Smash yet in Starglider - good on the 48K version,
extraordinary on the 128K - for Rainbird, and Rainbird also
received Derek's accolade for their Jewels Of Darkness
compilation of Level 9's older adventures. But Derek was less
than pleased with the 'Class Of '86' overall, thinking it
a generally lacklustre year for adventures games.
Design Design had been busy; two for Piranha included the
Smashed 3-D Dracula story Nosferatu and the less than
Smashed 2000AD licence Rogue Trooper; and then there
was Domark's Kat Trap. At last the Genesis comp had
given birth. It was a bit hard for the CRASH reviewers because
they were all aware of the danger of bias, or at least being
accused of it, so extra care was taken: however, Kat Trap
still did well at 84%.
The remaining Smashes went to CRL for Pete Cooke's stunning
follow-up to Tau Ceti, Academy, and to veterans
Microsphere for their brilliant detective arcade adventure
Contact Sam Cruise.
The big fun event for all the magazines was the Reviewers'
Challenge, which starred Gary Penn and Julian Rignall representing
ZZAP!, Richard Eddy and Massimo Valducci representing AMTIX!
and Ben Stone and Mike 'Skippy' Dunn representing CRASH. Massimo
was a young man from Shrewsbury who had been given a job earlier
as a trainee subeditor, but had drifted into the role of AMTIX!
reviewer. His Italian good looks made him popular with the
female members of Newsfield staff, and their bets were on
him to win. Everyone else's were on Julian Rignall as supposedly
the company's ace arcadester, but in the event it was Ben
Stone who won for CRASH . . . much to his surprise.
Just before the Christmas rush really began, the magazines
got themselves a real live subeditor in mad Irishman Ciarán
Brennan (a sub's job is to go through articles checking the
spelling, grammar and sense of the piece, rewriting if necessary).
During the early days much fun was made of typographical errors
in CRASH (though they were as apparent in other magazines).
Now there was no excuse . . .