During the 1980s and 90’s, Robert Wakelin’s artwork was catching the attention of computer nerds.
Last week, I heard the sad news of the death of Robert Wakelin. At first, I wasn’t sure who he was but the news came via a ZX Spectrum Facebook page with a very familiar thumbnail attached.
That picture was the cover art for Oceans home computer conversion of the arcade game Operation Wolf. This was Robert’s artwork. After further reading, I discovered that Robert had worked as a freelance artist for both Ocean and Imagine software during the 1980s and 90s.
His artwork was not only used as the cover art for the packaging but also for magazine advertisements as well. To those of us who grew up with a ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC464, Amiga 500 or Atari ST, his artwork is legendary.
Robert produced over a hundred pieces of artwork for Ocean alone and unfortunately, a majority of this was thought lost when the software house closed its doors for the last time. In an interview with the BBC, he revealed,
“They had a warehouse they were going to empty and the art director at the time phoned me and said, ‘Bob, your artworks going in the skip’. I had a mate with a van so we immediately drove over and I rescued most of it, probably about 90 per cent of the work I’ve done.”
After his tenure with computer game artwork came to an end, Robert moved to illustrating children’s books before his illness forced him to retire.
In recent years, he had turned to social media and made appearances at retro gaming events where fans could meet the man behind some of their favourite gaming artwork.
Robert Wakelin passed on the 20th January 2018 from a rare bone marrow disease.
I never realised so many of my favourite childhood games were fronted by his artwork. Thank you and goodbye Robert.