Artist Michael Winterbauer has self-published a free book with stories about his life in the game cover art business. While the standard Wing Commander box in the early '90s was made from preliminary game assets, the Super Nintendo edition of WC1 has a different setup. Many fans may not even realize that the Dralthi are flipped between the DOS and hand-painted SNES versions, and there are unique visual flairs added to the console edition created by Mr. Winterbauer. He even redid the WC logo! His take is a fun animated variant of the original that also showed up in magazines to promote and advertise the game. You can download the complete "Confessions of an Art Junkie" here (90 megabyte PDF). Pages 26-28 on Wing Commander are below. Retro also published an interview with Michael recently. Both the Q&A and the self-published volume are fascinating reads for anyone interested in breaking into the industry or learning about its old school roots.
RETRO: Which game genres do you most like to work with?
MW: My art is heroic, adventurous, and fun. Fantasy role-playing and science fiction games lend themselves nicely to my style of art. Games that had heroes, warriors, creatures, dragons, castles, and mythical lands worked well with my cover art. My art relies heavily on exciting and eye-catching subject matter. If the viewer isn’t intrigued, they will find the painting boring, no matter how beautifully it is painted. Before starting any piece, I conceptually think of how to portray the subject matter in a clever and exciting design that engages the viewer.
RETRO: How would you describe the recent resurgence in popularity for your work?
MW: With so much art being created by computers, I have seen an increased interest in hand-painted classic game art. It has a unique place in art history because it was heavily used in the 80′s and early 90′s to portray and advertise computer games.
Upper Memory Block Walks Down Memory Lane
The Upper Memory Block podcast has kicked off a fun play-through of Wing Commander 2. Game streaming is a common pastime this days and there are lots of folks out there recording their Wing Commander sessions, so we don't highlight them all. But UMB is a big fan of the Wing Commander series, and they have a lot of similar contemporary interests to Wingnuts. (2018-03-22)
Homeworld Mod Deploys Black Lance
It's a big week for the Homeworld Remastered Mod! Their long-awaited Black Lance upgrade has now been released. Fans can grab it at either the Steam Workshop or ModDB, but users with a current copy will get the update automatically. (2018-03-21)
New WC Toolbox Expands WC2 Campaign Support
The WC Toolbox has gotten smarter with another new update. Version 4.2. (2018-03-20)
Kilrathi Fleet Gets Large Scale LLOD Upgrades
A couple of monster models have made their way into the Last Line of Defense project. Using some newly discovered information, Deathsnake has scaled up his fearsome Rigakh cruiser. Fairly credible stats imply it's even larger than the Confederation class dreadnought! (2018-03-19)
Black Lance Transport Certified For Covert Cargo
After leading the charge with a pair of exotic Black Lance designs earlier this year, DefianceIndustries has circled back around and completed the Evansville class transport that we see in Wing Commander 4. It has a fairly sleek profile for a transport as well as oversized engines, which form a pretty effective combo. There's no better way to sneak clandestine cargo to out-of-the-way places! (2018-03-18)