Unique Perspective on Cover Art Recounted by WC1 SNES Artist

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.

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Wing Commander CIC - Visit the front page

Official news, fan projects and topics of particular interest to Wing Commander fans.

The Proof is in the Printing
2017-04-29 -- The Wing Commander Combat Information Center would like to officially congratulate Michael Winterbauer on the success of his Classic Game Covers Kickstarter! As reported, the printed book will include his Wing Commander SNES cover painting and some background on the process through which it was created. Roughly 20% of the pledges went to levels that offered Wing Commander-specific extras, so we can be proud of helping as a community!

Those Were the Days
2017-04-28 -- FredDude32 happened across an interview with Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts in the July 1995 issue of Computer Gaming World! In an overall review of space games, they sat down with Chris to talk about the future of Wing Commander... back when things seemed so bright for the series!

New Screenshot Found
2017-04-27 -- A new screenshot from the long-lost SNES port of Wing Commander 2 has been discovered! Like previous discoveries, this screenshot appeared in 1995 gaming magazine... but it is not attached to a review of the game.

Hunting for The Awakening
2017-04-26 -- Earlier this year, we reported that the band Die Krupps has re-released the song they composed for the Wing Commander Prophecy OST, updated for a more recent album. This song, The Vampire Strikes Back, is one of three on the album that were 'inspired by' Wing Commander. What about the other two?

Visual Reference: Wing Commander I Rooms
2017-04-25 -- Following our gallery of Wing Commander II backgrounds, here is a smaller selection of backgrounds from the original game. There weren't as many places to go on the Tiger's Claw, but it's interesting to note they didn't 'double up' on similar places--the Hangar Deck and the debriefing area have separate backgrounds.

Goofballs Battle for the Enigma Sector
2017-04-24 -- Last year, I was lucky enough to take part in a 25th Anniversary livestream of Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi. Unfortunately, if you missed the live showing it has not been available... until now!

Wing Commander Makes History
2017-04-23 -- It's time for some serious history! The Digital Antiquarian has put together an excellent article titled From Squadron to Wingleader which follows the first half of the development of the original Wing Commander! It's a story hardcore fans are likely familiar with (much is sourced from Mike Harrison's Wing Commander I & II Ultimate Strategy Guide), but it has never been presented in so-compelling a form.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It!
2017-04-22 -- Happy Earth Day, everyone! There are certainly important issues facing the world today… but let’s take a moment to jump forward and see what disastrous await our home planet in the Wing Commander timeline! Soon Earth itself will be in our grasp...

Visual Reference: Special Operations 1 & 2 Rooms
2017-04-21 -- Earlier in the week, we collected all of the 'uncut' Wing Commander II 'sets.' Today we're following up that selection with the new rooms created for the Special Operations addon disks. A key consideration in that era of development was disk space; the mission disks could budget only a small amount of space to add new art content.

Got Any Brilliance?
2017-04-20 -- In honor of April 20th, here's a quick rundown on some of the recreational drugs of the Wing Commander universe! Blaze up some Arakh Leaves or swallow an Elysium capsule and let's get started...BrillianceBrilliance is probably the Wing Commander universe's signature drugs.

Visual Reference: Wing Commander II Rooms
2017-04-19 -- Wing Commander has, from the start, been called an interactive movie... and the team building the games embraced that in many aspects of the production process. For example, all of the 'talking head' scenes in Wing Commander, Wing Commander II and Privateer were constructed just like film shots, with different camera angles and purpose-built 3D environments (or sets!

Wing One Goes Mainstream
2017-04-18 -- Did you miss out on The Fatman's Wing Commander soundtrack, Wing One? Good news: it's now available via mainstream digital music storefronts including Amazon and iTunes. The 27-track album includes all of the music from the original Wing Commander recorded using a Roland MT-32 (plus a few surprises, including a lullaby version of one track and a live recording of the theme from CES!

Model Upgrade Pack Upgraded
2017-04-17 -- Good news for pilots who want to make their games especially pretty: DefianceIndustries has launched version 0.21 of his Wing Commander Prophecy Model Upgrade Pack. This is an unofficial update to the game that replaces the original 3D models with much higher quality, modern versions...

Wingmen Back from the Dead!
2017-04-16 -- Happy Easter, WingNuts! In honor of the holiday, we present a list of Wing Commander characters who (intentionally or--often--otherwise) came back from the dead! (Presented in the spirit of good humor rather than sacrilege.

Happy CIC Easter!
2017-04-16 -- Hope you all had an eggscellent Easter out there!

Japanese Translators Needed: Mega CD Manual
2017-04-15 -- Remember Lyle Starbuck? That's the name used for the player character in the Mega CD port of Wing Commander I's manual! It's one of at least three original Japanese-language Wing Commander publications that we'd love to explore further.

Pillow Talk
2017-04-14 -- One of my core philosophies is that you can always find a little bit of Wing Commander in the least expected places... and so I was not at all surprised when I happened across Raumstation Vokhila, a German-language blog that puts the author's DIY projects on display. It features what can only be described as a pretty cool pillow!

Classic Game Cover Arts Funding Imminent
2017-04-13 -- Mike Winterbauer's Classic Game Covers book Kickstarter has reached its funding goal and is rocketing (auto-piloting?) towards the finish line! The campaign ends in just four days...

Homeworld Mod Has Claws
2017-04-12 -- The Homeworld Remastered mod marches forward! L.I.

Dralthi Fun!
2017-04-11 -- Remember the TrainSim (aka Squadron)? The 'arcade game' in the Tiger's Claw was both your first step into the original Wing Commander and a fun way to learn to fight the Kilrathi. Under the hood, the game treats the TrainSim as its own series of four missions (in fact, this is likely why there are four 'slots' in each series for potential missions in the first two games.

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