Bob Wakelin

From ExoticA
Bob Wakelin with his children.

Robert "Bob" Wakelin was a freelance professional artist and illustrator who was predominantly recognised for his memorable cover artwork used by Ocean and Imagine games.

Prior to working for Ocean, Bob also had a short career with the British post-punk/new wave band Modern Eon, performing strings, vocals and percussion.

Bob created some of the artwork for Modern Eon's vinyl single sleeve covers and also for artists such as Holly Johnson. But his real passion was the style of artwork used in American comics from DC and Marvel. His main inspiration for his choice of vocation.

Bob began his 11-year freelance career with Ocean Software in 1983 (when the company was originally known as Spectrum Games), and created almost a hundred pieces of artwork for both Ocean and Imagine games. Ironically, Bob had no interest in video games whatsoever and considered them antisocial!

A couple of times the guys at Ocean said to me 'Look Bob, this game really isn't very good so we need an extra special cover.'

I suppose I should feel guilty for it.
- Bob Wakelin

Sometime during the 1990s, Ocean moved from their location on Central Street, Manchester to a more modern office complex in Castlefield, Manchester. During the move, Bob was contacted by Ocean's Art Director who warned him that, due to the move, all his original artwork was about to be trashed! Fortunately, Bob was able to rescue most of it, otherwise this page would be severely lacking in colour!

Bob's last Ocean-commissioned work "Central Intelligence" was in 1994. Since then, Bob has continued to create artwork for books.

Sadly, Bob passed away on January 20, 2018, due to health problems.

Ice Breaker

Around late 2006/early 2007, we contacted Bob to see if he would like to have his own page on the (at the time) new ExoticA wiki. So tricky was it to track him down that our e-mail almost went unread, having gone to an older unused account and branded as spam, but within a month Bob responded with, "Thanks for the appreciation, knowing there are people out there who give a shit means a lot to me."

Bob didn't have his own web site and any other on-line references to his artwork consisted of box scans on retro sites including ExoticA. With regards to having his own web site, Bob mentioned, "A website is one of those things I keep meaning to do but then get too busy to actually follow up.... maybe this year!"

Whilst Bob didn't design the original Ocean logo, he was responsible for painting the full colour version used on nearly all releases since then. He didn't have the original logo artwork anymore, as this would have had pride of place in the gallery.

Bob kindly provided a steady flow of scans and comments to ExoticA for the next 4 years, typically requiring several reminder e-mails! Then Social Media got in the way!

Due to sites like Facebook making it easier to locate people and crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter making it easier to create a product, Bob became bombarded with all sorts of retro-related commercial projects, from books to videos to merchandise. It was about time Bob received due recognition for the part he played during the golden age of home video games.

It's just a shame that updates to this gallery fizzled out. Curse you Facebook!

That said, we are eternally grateful that Bob took the initial plunge and actually conversed with us nerds! As you read through his gallery comments, you'll hopefully appreciate how talented and witty and colourful he was on canvas and in person.

RiP Bob. You will be missed.



Athena - Original Artwork
Fun to do. Caused a little controversy in those Politically Correct times. One sad fellow complained to Ocean that the Minotaur's midriff armour looked like a large phallus. Maybe he had a point.

Athena was based on Lisa Lyon, an eighties pioneering bodybuilder. The Minotaur and tree were sketched out for me to finish by my mate Floyd Hughes.
- Bob Wakelin

Batman The Caped Crusader

Batman The Caped Crusader - Original Artwork
Box scan of the Amiga version of Batman The Caped Crusader
All I really remember about this one was Joe Orlando - DC's Editor in Chief at the time - loving it, (after I shortened Bat's ears.) I think it was the first illo I sold on to a collector.
- Bob Wakelin

Billy The Kid

Billy The Kid - Original Artwork
I think this was one of my best, spoiled by the incongruous 'BILLY' lettering and dripping blood - designed by Ocean's art director (he insisted I use his design) and illustrated by me. The 'KID' lettering works well, though.
- Bob Wakelin


Cabal - Original Artwork
Another good 'un. The main character was modelled by Carl Pugh, Ocean's assistant AD. The guy in the background is Mr. Operation Wolf - I used a photo from the same bunch I took for that game cover (Ocean's version.) Everyone thought it was a great in-joke, but I used it purely for convenience.
- Bob Wakelin

Central Intelligence

Central Intelligence - Original Artwork
My last Ocean job. It was a large piece. The hand-drawn logo took me forever.

I was told to try and make this one of the best illo's they'd ever had 'cos this was going to be hugely important for the new direction Ocean was taking. Spent a loooong time painting it, gave 'em the bill, and got knocked back. I negotiated a lower fee, but I can tell you I was severely miffed getting slapped in the face after all the years I'd spent meeting stupid deadlines for 'em.

The game went down the toilet.

Mr. 'Operation Wolf' makes another appearance here. Isn't he cute? Hope you're well, Baz.

I think it was '95. I remember seeing it printed on a box maybe a year later, but really small with a load of extraneous crap all around the design. Then it disappeared, (just like Ocean.)

The world map was a digitised photo that I cut around the lettering and then pasted in. What a nightmare idea that was, just flopping around, stretching out of shape and getting spraymount all over the art. I should have just shot myself in the head. Thank god for Photoshop!
- Bob Wakelin

Chinese Juggler

Chinese Juggler - Original Artwork
An early one. I seemed to be doing around three covers a week for Ocean in '84, and it shows. I think the logo is quite nice but the rest sucks.

This was the second attempt - my first was a Chinese prop-art style pastiche. It was more interesting but not what Ocean needed in their early days.

I gave the first one away without scanning it. Bummer.
- Bob Wakelin

Choplifter III

Choplifter III - Original Artwork
Spent a lot of time on this one. Really enjoyed getting into the detail on the choppers. In fact, I seem to remember having a generally great time on this.... must have been good ganja.

I used to love doing explosions, mist and dust with the old airbrush and bog paper, ya can't quite get the same effect with Photoshop.
- Bob Wakelin

Comic Bakery

Comic Bakery - Original Artwork
My mate Floyd drew the raccoons, I coloured 'em in. I think they were his DM's I drew on the baker's feet.

I would never have drawn raccoons like that - they're pretty f***in' weird.

That's all I remember about this pretty unmemorable illustration.
- Bob Wakelin

Daley Thompson's Decathlon

Daley Thompson's Decathlon - Original Artwork
Famous game. Not a great illo, although a lot of people seem to like it. Ah, nostalgia eh? Makes rubbish appear to be gold.

I probably spent around two days on it. Daley looks okay, the lettering and background are crap.
- Bob Wakelin


Elf - Original Artwork
Box scan of the Amiga version of Elf
I enjoyed doing this one, just to see if I could do all that fairy hippy shit in the background and make it work.

Steve Blower stuck some kind of plastic butterfly on it for the final box art.

Feckin' bizarre! He didn't even do drugs.
- Bob Wakelin


Epic - Original Artwork (cropped)
Box scan of the Amiga version of Epic.
For some reason I cropped the logo off this one and accidentally saved it. Bugger.

I can't remember the name of the guy I met up with from the team that developed this, but we had a long meeting discussing exactly what kind of illo he envisaged in his stoned brain for the box. So, I spent a long time getting this one together, and thought I did a pretty decent job getting what he wanted.

I delivered the art to Ocean, it was shown to the chappie, and he didn't like it. Nothing like what he wanted. A perfect example of why one should not engage in creative discussions when one's mind is addled.

Dave Ward liked it, so his 'opinion' was rendered irrelevant.

The pilot was the mongrel offspring of Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson.
- Bob Wakelin

FA Soccer

FA Soccer - Original Artwork
I've no idea what this game was going to be called, although it was going to be officially sponsored by the FA.

To do the art, I was given a load of photos to choose from. Much to my chagrin, as Ocean was based in Manchester, it was thought that one of the shots involving a Scum player would be appropriate. As a Liverpool Red, this was akin to asking me to perform oral sex on Margaret Thatcher!

However, I like money. I did what I was asked.

Ocean went ahead and printed up a bunch of stuff. Then, apparently, someone at the FA went apeshit that Ocean had gone ahead without their completing the deal. Game Off.

I still got paid though. Prostitute that I am.
- Bob Wakelin


Flashpoint - Original Artwork
Got a few screenshots. Geometric shapes. What the F**K was I supposed to do with that?

Did some quite nice lettering to compensate for my extreme lack of imagination re the rest of the illo.
- Bob Wakelin

Flyer Fox

Flyer Fox - Original Artwork
Another warplane game. Great. What shall I do?

Hmmm...... A-ha!

Another picture of a warplane.

That's it.
- Bob Wakelin


Galivan - Original Artwork
This was a struggle.

All I got for reference was a couple of screen shots. Never saw a demo. I remember avoiding the problem by going to the pub and playing pool every afternoon for a couple of weeks, and every time I got back to my studio the damn thing was there, taunting me.

Not a great illo.
- Bob Wakelin

Gilligan's Gold

Gilligan's Gold - Original Artwork
An early one.

In those less sophisticated times, the box art usually got done in a day. They were fun to do, because one didn't have to sweat over them - it was get an idea and bang it out. I think this one is fun, and has a spontaneous energy about it.

The wheelbarrow was drawn by Blair, who introduced me to Dave Ward and shared my studio for a time... until his insanity became too much for me to bear and I had to kill him!

(Or was that just a dream?)
- Bob Wakelin


Gryzor - Original Artwork
A Predator/Alien rip-off is what the game appeared to be, so I supplied a Predator/Alien style pic - with ripped Arnie Predator poses. The white areas were left for screen shots to be dropped in.

A thoroughly boring job to do, although a couple of my survivalist, body-building, 'Nam-obsessed mates thought it was cool.
- Bob Wakelin


Gutz - Original Artwork
This was done cheaply - as was 'Striker' - for Paul 'Mr. Nice Guy' Finnegan, (Special FX), on the understanding I would be 'sorted out' with lots of work and extra cash when success rained down on him from above.


I did a crap illo for him (Rage) years later in two days flat on a piece of old mounting board I had lying around. I convinced him it was the emperor's new clothes and got paid ten times what it was worth.
A small victory, but it cheered me up for a few days..... sad, I know, but I'm easily pleased.
- Bob Wakelin

High Noon

High Noon - Original Artwork
This gave me an opportunity to do an homage to the old western comics of the 50's. It was fun to do and turned around in a day.

I think they deleted the splash of blood from the packaging - in true 1950's style!
- Bob Wakelin


Highlander - Original Artwork
I thoroughly enjoyed doing this one. I tried out some new techniques, using Caran D'ache pencils along with the airbrush, and was really pleased with the results.

Apparently the game was cack, but lots of people bought it 'cos they liked the box.

That's my job, suckah!
- Bob Wakelin

Hunch Back II - Quasimodo's Revenge

Hunch Back II - Quasimodo's Revenge - Original Artwork
Can't stand it. I had to imitate a style I friggin' hated.

Dave Ward loved the cartoon breasts.

- Bob Wakelin

Hyper Sports

Hyper Sports - Original Artwork
I found most sports illustration jobs tedious in the extreme. This one was even more boring than usual because I had to use an existing logo and also adapt the archer from a previous illustration.

Staying awake was the most difficult aspect of the job.
- Bob Wakelin

International Open Golf Championship

International Open Golf Championship - Original Artwork
'We've got a new GOLF game coming out, Bob. We'd like you to do the Illustration.'


The guy in the sweater was my photographer and skateboarder mate, Meanie. His mum made him the sweater.

All the other characters were lifted from golf magazines. Surprise!

I hate golf.
- Bob Wakelin

Island Of Death

Island Of Death - Original Artwork
Looking back, I can't believe what you could get away with - and get paid for - in the early years of this industry.
- Bob Wakelin


Ivanhoe - Original Artwork
Box scan of the Amiga version of Ivanhoe
Lots of fun to do. It was nice when I was given a decent deadline, allowing time to get some detail into the job.

Swords/guns/violence of any kind was always more interesting to my childlike mind than any other subject (with the possible exception of bounteous curves.)
- Bob Wakelin

Kid Vicious

Kid Vicious - Original Artwork
Box scan of the Amiga version of Kid Chaos
This was the original illo for what became KID CHAOS.

Apparently, both the name of the game and the image I painted were too violent for someone's delicate nature. Probably the Germans.


I really liked this piece of work - shame it was never published.
- Bob Wakelin

Mag Max

Mag Max - Original Artwork
I know I did this, but I can't remember anything about it.

I was either bored sh*tless or under the influence of something much more fun than illustrating a box for another stupid game.
- Bob Wakelin


Martians - Original Artwork
God knows what this game was going to be called, or even if it ever got published in some form or other.

This was one of a couple of pieces I did for Ocean Software close to the end. I can remember having a general bad feeling about what was happening at Ocean around this time, even though I was kept in the dark about the situation. There were fewer games, I was being squeezed on budgets and it was becoming increasingly difficult to get to see bossman Dave Ward. The red glow of the apocalypse had appeared on the horizon.


So I found other clients and got on with my life.

A few months later, I got a call from a good guy at Ocean - 'THEY'RE CLEARING OUT THE WAREHOUSE AND ALL YOUR ARTWORK IS GOING IN THE SKIP!'

I got a van, got over there, and got my artwork. Some was missing but I probably got around 80% of it.

I was seriously pissed off that my artwork had been treated that way, and if I'd have got my hands on ANY of the motherf*ckers still in charge on that day, I'd have probably only recently been paroled for my crime.
- Bob Wakelin


Matchday - Original Artwork
A pretty crap scribbling, I would say.

These early-ish Ocean jobs are not the finest examples of my art.

Copied a load of photos out of a football book and changed the kit (badly) and faces (badly) and hair (badly) then went to the pub.
- Bob Wakelin

Miami Vice

Miami Vice - Original Artwork
Another example of putting the cart before the horse.

A lot of time, effort and money went into printing this as posters, ads and inlays before Don Johnson's agent (apparently) informed Ocean that Mr. Johnson did not take kindly to artistic interpretations of his beautiful mug, and Ocean must immediately dump this appalling scribbling and replace it with a photograph that fairly represented his luminous handsomeness!

You'd have thought that Ocean would have always checked the acceptability of the images they were about to use on licensed properties.

Not that I cared - 'cos I still got paid - and was by this time getting accustomed to the frequent cock-ups.
- Bob Wakelin


Mikie - Original Artwork
A generic cartoon banged out as quickly as possible.

My mate Floyd was visiting again, so I got him to draw the background characters for me to paint, thus enabling us to spend more time in the pub.
- Bob Wakelin


Movie - Original Artwork
All I can really remember about this one is it being a rush job, and my life going through some seriously bad shit at the time. I wonder sometimes how I got anything done, being surrounded as I was by miscreants, psychopaths, the 'misunderstood', and just plain NAUGHTY people!

It was my choice, though, and often jolly good fun!

I'm OK now, for those of you who may be concerned.
- Bob Wakelin

Mr. Nutz

Mr. Nutz - Original Artwork
This was the original preliminary character illustration, I don't have a copy of the game box art, it went on a trip somewhere.

Ocean were obviously trying to do a 'Sonic' with this game, and there was definately a feeling of nervousness and uncertainty in the air when discussing the right approach to take with the artwork.

Dave Ward wanted Nutzy's footwear changed from 'converse' style to a 'streetwise' style with the laces undone and the tongue hanging out. I opined that that fashion was already fading away at the time, and that the more classic 'baseball' style was a timeless look, and would be a better choice.

What happened next was that he got a guy in their studio to do alternative footwear versions of the character and suddenly we had different footwear on different packages.

There was also a lot of screwing with the box art background, but I almost lose the will to live when I try to remember the convolutions that went on at the time.

Frankly, the whole saga got on my tits and was only redeemed when I got paid. And that wasn't enough!
- Bob Wakelin

Mr. Wimpy

Mr. Wimpy - Original Artwork
Dave Ward loved it but it was never used. Wimpy were worried that it was too realistic and scary, so they went for a much simpler cartoon style.

Obviously, being chased by a cannibal egg and a psychotic sausage is a very realistic and scary scenario if you're a corporate moron or a young-ish person.

The colour has faded somewhat due to it being left on the floor of a warehouse for several years.
- Bob Wakelin

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