Another 8bit legend had gone… 😦 this time we are saying last goodbye to Oliver Frey .
With a truly great sadness we in 8bit legends report that Oliver Frey passed away on 21 of August 2022.
Oliver, a true legendary video games Illustrator , which his great Art was covered on Zzap!64 and CRASH magazines (very popular home computer 8 bit magazines back in time ) .
If you grew up in the 1980’s and bought a copy of CRASH or Zzap!64 then you’ll instantly recognise his fantastic covers and illustrations of great 8bit/16bit magazines . Apparently he was influenced by Eagle comics and Dan Dare in particular.
When Roger Kean and Frey’s brother Franco founded the computer magazine CRASH in 1983, Oliver Frey became the magazine’s illustrator.He went on to illustrate for CRASH’s sister magazines Zzap!64, Amtix (Amstrard) , and The Games Machine. He illustrated the comic strip “Terminal Man”, written by Kelvin Gosnell, which was serialised in both CRASH and Zzap!64 in 1984, and published as a complete story in a large format book in 1988. you will always be remembered . RIP Roger Kean reunited with Oliver Frey, two true gents now in heaven . Rest in Peace Mr Frey, thank you so much for the inspiration on all levels especially during those key teenage years!! you are a true legend and a key player in my childhood
The First Period of Zzap!64 : May 1985 to October 1988 (3 years, 5 months)
Issue 1 CoverThe first and most glorious part of its history is covered within issues 1 to 42, from May 1985 to October 1988, when the magazine was really the king in its domain – but then again, the C64 was also the home computer king during that era. ZZAP! was published by Newsfield Ltd., a company owned by Roger Kean, Oliver Frey and Franco Frey, which formed in 1983 as a mail-order software provider. In 1984 its first magazine was published, CRASH! for the ZX Spectrum, and following its great success, ZZAP!64 appeared one year later and was greeted equally warmly by the public. The secret of both magazines’ success was that they gave attention to games and only games. Up to then, all magazines included listings and other techno-stuff that were boring to the average teenager. Zzap issues of this period had an average of 130 pages and reviewed on average 28 games each month.
The first editor and designer of ZZAP! was one Chris Anderson, former editor of another magazine of the era (Personal Computer Games) that had just ceased publication. The first reviewers were Bob Wade (also from PCG), Julian Rignall, and Gary Penn (who would also handle the comprehensive games’ maps & tips section). The writer of the extensive Adventure Games’ section was Steve Cooke, who was writing the adventure section of PCG under the pen name ‘The White Wizard’. Oliver Frey, a talented artist, would handle the striking covers that left their impact during the whole life of the magazine—and also drew Rockford, star of the then hit game Boulderdash, who graced the magazine’s margins with meaningful comments on any review or feature. A fictional character called The Scorelord would host a reviewer-reader challenge on a hit game every month. The 1st issue hit the streets on 11 April 1985 with a cover date of May 1985 and a cover price of 95p.
The magazine’s approach to reviews (game description accompanied by the opinions of usually 3 reviewers next to sketches of their expressions) was revolutionary then, and would still be considered revolutionary today in any computer magazine. No wonder that the circulation numbers immediately started to grow. The games were rated by percentages on various attributes (Presentation, Graphics, Sound, etc.) with a very good game receiving a ‘Sizzler’ accolade and an excellent one a ‘Gold Medal Award’.
Issue 4 CoverThe first re-design of the magazine came as early as issue 4. The magazine’s offices were relocated from Yeovil to Ludlow in order for all the Newsfield magazines to be under the same roof, but both Chris and Bob decided not to follow. The new editor was Roger Kean (then also editor of CRASH!) and the new reviewer would be Paul Sumner (if he existed!). Indeed, at this point was decided to create a phoney reviewer whose bits would be written by Julian and Gary (giving him the appearance of Dominic Handy, then part-time CRASH! reviewer and later CRASH! editor). The whole thing was so well orchestrated that nobody ever found out until it was revealed by an ex-reviewer years after the magazine’s demise! Another imaginary individual, Lloyd Mangram, already used for the letters page in CRASH!, was introduced to ZZAP!, as the letters-answering front-man. The letters were previously answered by editor Chris Anderson, but from now on would be answered by the reviewers