From the Freelance Files

February 8th, 2010 | Posted in Freelancing

Every once and awhile I will pull out some artwork from an old job that might have been interesting to share what it was about. Yesterday I cleaned out a storage room in our house and ran across a pile of old art that I had done for a series of CD-ROM games back in the late 1990’s.

I’ve said many times you never know where your work might end up being used, and sometimes the most unlikely of projects will come your way when you freelance. If someone had said to me that I’d be “illustrating” a series of CD-ROM games I would have scoffed… after all even in the 90’s games like Myst and The 7th Guest were the standard for graphics… lavish and realistic images were the rage, not goofy cartoon stuff.

However there was a subset of games, mostly aimed at children, that used cartooning as their basis. Some of them were quite clever and funny, like SpyFox and Pajama Sam from Humongous Entertainment.CD-ROM games were very popular, and I found myself doing some art for a few odd ones for a company called Parroty Interactive and one for Hasbro.

Parroty Interactive “Games”

I use the term “games” loosely as these really weren’t games. I’m not sure what they were. The best description might be that they were a parody of both a CD-ROM game and some other subject… like if some company wanted to make an interactive CD-ROM based on some TV show, movie or some such, this might be what they came up with, only with a MAD Magazine flavor. Parroty had a pretty successful hit with “PYST“, their parody of the afore mentioned “MYST” game, so they started producing other “humor” CD-ROMs.

My art responsibilities varied from doing hundreds of images for one project to just a few dozen as some smaller aspect of another. Here are the three Parroty Interactive CDs I worked on:

Star Warped

Cover art by Sam Sisco!

This was the project I did the most work for. A lot of it was just in black and white, as they had some color artists that were doing the colors and formatting the images for the game. The “game” was set in the bedroom of two brothers who were Star Wars nuts in Modesto, California. Their room was the game environment, and each POV had click-able elements that would take you to various mini-games like “Whack the Ewok” or the “Yoda Fortune Teller”, or other interactive things. I designed the bedroom environment:

This was an actual physical painting, not digital.

There were several other points of view of the room, and some side rooms as well. They included close ups of things like fake foreign Star Wars posters, spoof toys, etc.

Some of the “games” included the gene-splicing machine, where you could splice the genes of a Star wars character and some celebrity to end up with…

The X-Fools

This was a parody of the X Files that had two FBI agents chasing down aliens. I did a number of different images for this that were part of sections like dossiers on some of the show’s villains and files on fake television shows that would be aired if aliens controlled TV (example” NYPD Grey, “E.T.E.R.” or “Spacefeld”):

This was from one of the villain dossiers

Mully and Sculder

Winblows 98

This was a rip on Windows. I did a number of images for another selection of parody TV shows that we’d see when Bill Gates took over TV like “Mr. Bill’s Neighborhood”, “Touched by Bill” or “Lifestyles of the Filthy Rich and Famous”. When doing a Google search on the game’s name I was shocked to find someone had uploaded some of the spoof shows from the game on to YouTube (!!):

Hasbro’s “Super Scattergories”

This game was the CD version of the popular board game. I did 40 different images that were used as a visual word finder, where you had to identify all the objects in the image that started with a certain letter:

This was all done very early on in my use of the computer for illustration, and I had obviously not developed my techniques for coloring that I am using today. However the images were also supposed to be as simple as possible so the more rudimentary techniques actually worked. Of course none of these games are available anymore, and I doubt they would work with today’s computers anyway.


  1. sharprm says:

    Brilliant japanese poster!

  2. gustavo says:

    Evidently you have improved your skills with the time.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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