Aug 29, 2015



                                            But wait,  ...who played on an IBM?

Seriously, Take a look anyway, because Vince and Paul really laid it out trying to rescue the son of an important politician, 
( IS there such a thing?)...and following a time warp that …wait, what? ...Really?  …A TIME WARP?!
Click on any image to enlarge.

Anyway, they struggle to survive an onslaught of deadly terrorists, strictly for your entertainment back in 1990, and deserve to be remembered today.


Sadly for me this game art was relegated to the outer reaches of the market, and really very few players are even aware of its existence today. I hope you will find this bit of retrogame trivia entertaining, and educational, because it is one of only a couple of my game covers for which I can document for you with original sketches, the pathways of art direction that played out, the dance executed by the illustrator and the designer/art director when this box was produced 25 years ago.

The sadness of only a Polaroid reminder of lost art.

I found this little old polaroid at the
bottom of a dusty Flat file drawer.
The game was introduced to me by a group of designers in the South Bay ( To us San Franciscans that meant Silicon Valley) named The Graphics Factory. I surmise that from the 408 Prefix on their fax replies relative to my sketches. My log notes for March of '90 talk about the fee, and the contact (3-6-'90), naming a designer named Brent, and my invoice dated 4-4-'90, and the two thermofax sheets which you will see here. End of evidence. Of the original art, only a polaroid remains:

"Let's see a quarter turn and lean back, like he's taking a punch!"

Carl Buell (left), Darryl Chan (right) and a third model (center) pose for action sequences.
The designers had requested a wild and wooly shootout, with hot brass flying, knives whipping around, explosions, tanks, choppers, and the rescue from  abduction of a young boy (In this case my son Richard.) and oh yeah…More explosions. My sketch was sent in based on my photoshoot of various models, including my sidekick Carl Buell  and amazing stuntman Darryl Chan, about whom my readers already know.


The creative process in illustration usually requires a series of directions followed by a series of sketches. Amazingly, I found two faxes in the rabbit warren I call 'my collection'. They were the return replies to the sketches I sent Brent and his boss, evidently named Kent. I know, right? What's up with THAT? Brent 'n Kent?

This model gave me a great pose, but the client said he
looked too 'Determined' and asked me to open his mouth.

And the Hot Brass flies!!

My son Rich EMOTES!

"C'mon Rich! Lemme see that you're scared Buddy!! 
Somebody's trying to grab your arm!  LOOK OUT!!! click.

My kids grew up modeling for me, and they would show their friends the box art to prove it;)

OMG!!! WATCH OUT!! Here My younger son Rich plays the terrified rescued youngster, while my older son Christian provides an arm to hang on to.


As you can see here, Brent had definite input, and that's exactly what an illustrator expects. Changes are part of the game, and the sketches serve that role. In this case there was also plenty of positive reinforcement, and I'm sure he telephoned in to me his approval of the basic layout. The creative approach always requires movement on both sides, and gratitude is always part of the dialog:

"Thanks for giving me this job, I'm really jazzed and will do my best "…"We're so happy you could fit it in, and we know your work. We are looking forward to seeing what you come up with!"

That was the template for conversation in 95% of all the freelance illustration of all sorts that I have been involved with over my entire career. (see I have always been grateful for my experiences, and grateful for the attitudes that prevailed. Of course there were those who would generate bad vibes with power trips, but they were mostly fringe players, and a tiny minority of the bent that you can find anywhere in life.


In the final fax, we see Kent sign off on, and instruct me to do what we called 'go to final'. As you can see we had agreed to lose the belt feed, and went to a regular assault ammunition magazine on the weapon the hero is firing in the foreground, and I made my son look younger. I added the chopper, (which I had completely forgotten), And shot a few more photos for a more powerful punch in the middle background.


Luckily I found a really beautiful sealed game for this SNK's Ikari Warriors III The Rescue game online at Ebay and it has joined my collection of the games for which I had so much fun doing art. I have to say this is indeed one of my faves, because I was able to do it with my sons.

Thanks again for dropping by! 

May 18, 2015


PLASTER YOUR FAVE VINTAGE MARC ERICKSEN GAME ART ON YOUR CHEST FOR ALL TIME,…..Or the next hundred washes.. whichever comes first!!

I have the pleasure to announce the opening of the Marc Ericksen RETROGAMEART store in combination with Mike Mancuso and Glen O'neill's, an online retailer specializing in
 unique limited edition T-shirts, art, music and more!

Established in 2011, TheYetee uses precision screen printing techniques to produce amazing garments for video game enthusiasts and nerds alike!!

We have decided to release two of my most popular game covers in Mega man 2, and Bad Dudes, as beautiful long wearing high quality TheYetee tees, which will retail for $17 per shirt for a limited run, to test the response. 

Future Editions may include my illustrations for such classics as Tetris, Strider, Afterburner, Choplifter, Pole Position II, P.O.W., Guerrilla War, Thunder Force II, Herzog Zwei, and Galaga.

I will be planning to sign any The Yetee tees brought to my booth during the  Portland Retrogame Expo next October free of charge, so order yours today, and wear them proudly at PRGE! See you there!

Dad Dudes Rule!!
Mega Man 2, one of the greatest selling videogames of all time!!

Thanks so much for dropping by!!

Jan 22, 2015


Pull on that Nomex fire suit and wedge yourself into a cockpit smaller than a coffin, with even less wiggle room, and get real friendly with that big, hot, snarling BMW M12 Turbocharged 640 horse engine sitting right behind your shoulder blades. This is Pole Position II, and there's no room for error at speeds over 160, with your body traveling feet first, inches above that unforgiving pavement!!

                                                        CLICK to enlarge any image;)! 


This 8.5"x11" flyer was one of the first
applications for Marc's art
The Nomex suit, helmets and gloves
required close research

This art was all about Need, and Speed. The need to put the viewer directly into the seat of a 1983 Formula One racer and strap on the tough cross stressed nylon harness, and snap in the 5 point titanium chest quick release lock to deal with the dangers drafting other drivers at speeds in excess of 160 MPH!

The slightest misjudgment at speed can launch cars airborne in Gran
Prix racing. Despite spectacular accidents, there are few fatalities,
but it is no sportfor the faint hearted.

The Enhancement kit

In 1983, Atari assigned me the task to create an illustration for their Pole Position II franchise, in order to promote a new 4 race track Enhancement addition to it's award winning Arcade Game, as well as for multiple uses as Poster, point of purchase, and magazine advertising art. They asked me to give the end user a more exciting image than those already on the game packages for Pole Position and Pole Position II for the Atari 7800 system, which while effective, did not give the viewer in an immersive feel for Grand Prix style racing. I suggested an over the shoulder view of a live race moment, and they were very excited. I wanted veracity in the details.
A 1983 Formula One cockpit

I was struck when researching the cockpits of these race
cars (no Google in '83) how simple the dash boards
needed to be. The paint was often worn down to bare
metal, and the structure was light weight honeycomb
aluminum. The Kill Switch was a common denominator,
within easy reach for quick bailout when necessary!!

Pole Position II 4 racetrack
Enhancement Kit Sales sheet

The Atari Coin Connection piece below right, clearly outlines
the Enhancement Kit addition to both the upright and the cockpit versions of the Arcade upgrade. In enlargement you can read the parameters of the actual upgrades that arcade parlor owners could bring to their games. They included 3 new tracks, as well as an upgrade to the original FUJI Racetrack. There was the TEST Track, The SUZUKA Track and the SEASIDE Track. The advanced graphics included upgraded background scenery, Fiery explosions, and upgrades in details on the cars.

The art as it was presented to Atari.

I went with the detailed cockpit and pushed the idea of speed with the surrounding road surface and edges. After delivery, Atari asked me to paint Mt. Fuji in the distance. I thought it was a nice touch!

 Some Other Applications:                                                   

A large format full color printed poster representing
both Pole Position, and Pole Position II for Atari.

The Poster at the right featured almost all of the image I painted, and, in my opinion, was designed cleanly and beautifully, with a rich title type treatment. It's a look that still holds up nicely, even today.

Now, go grab that old helmet and get behind the wheel of that old Atari 7800!!


…and Keep your eye on that yellow MacClaren
sneaking up on your Right!!

Nov 30, 2014


Marc Ericksen's 1989 Title block treatment for Capcom"s Strider

Much has been posited about the incredibly swift strike of the Plasma Sword of  Hiryu, the youngest novitiate ever to reach the A level in the futuristic (2048) organization of assassins known as Striders, a concept created in 1988 by a group of Manga artists named the Moto Kikaku, published by Kadokawa Shoten, and serialized in their magazine Weekly Comic Comp. The image of the Plasma Sword itself was thrown open to interpretation in 1989 when I was contracted by Capcom to create the cover illustration for their video game package of the exciting game that they were developing out of this concept.
NES Hiryu in action

The playing field was wide open when it came to Plasma Sword Configuration in 1989.

Will the REAL Falchion Cypher please rise? Marc chose to stay very
close to the original Manga version created by Tetsumi Wada, similar
to the arcade version above.

Working with Capcom on STRIDER.

Here we see the two handed grip Hiiryu is employing, behind
 the Billy-club projection grip below the blade base.
Here are the blast assist elements with which I
equipped Falchion On Capcom's NES Boxart.
 I had watched the gameplay at Capcom and was very impressed with the speed with which Hiryu was able to wield his sword, and the power of the stroke. The explanation that the plasma trigger allowed the blade to pass through any material effortlessly was a fantastic idea, but didn't necessarily explain the speed of Hiryu's stroke. I drew a preliminary sketch that allowed for a blast assist to the wielder of the Cypher, just fooling around, and the creative team liked what they saw: tiny blast ports pushing the plasma blade through its stroke in the blink of an eye. In studying the sword's shape created by the original Manga artist, the amazing Tatsumi Wada, I saw that he was using a Billystick configuration within the handle: a straight even two-handed base grip with a single grip bar extending 90 degrees out from one side at the top of the haft, like a capital 'T' with one top bar removed.This is a common law enforcement night stick design.

Hiryu, here from Capcom vs. Marvel:
Strider 3 (not Marc's Illustration) grasps his Cypher, Falchion,
using the alternate grip.

Sadly my blast assist contribution to Cypher lore, although approved by Capcom, never went beyond the art I produced for the original Capcom NES version of Strider, and there are many sites now devoted to the parsing and cataloging of the many variants of every piece of equipment available to Strider warriors. One such site I found very useful was Strider Wikia



Marc's AK-2048


Russki Kommunikator
Hiryu's opponent in the struggle depicted on the box art is a guard, strangely reminiscent of the old (it wasn't in 1989…) Soviet military, in an area called Kafazu (nee, Kazahkstan?) The guard is equipped with an AK-47 styled futuristic weapon with a nasty bayonet in place, trying his best to kill Hiryu with a lethal thrust, not realizing he's about to be in two pieces, rather than one. On his belt he is wearing some faux Steam Punk low tech  1989 version of a portable communication device. I wanted it to look clunky i.e.. made in russia, and in '89 it did.

In 2014 it looks like he's wearing an old television on his hip. An iPhone it's not!

                                  NES Treatment for Hiryu

As to the garb with which I created my Hiryu, I stayed very much within the actual pixelated character I witnessed in the beta play that was shown me. The blue basic jumpsuit, with bare arms, and and bare head with very copper colored hair were representative of the Hiryu that inhabited the levels played by NES Strider fans. Perhaps unique to this hero were the indications of white  horizontal stripes on the legs of his jumpsuit, across his thighs, never to be seen again, to the best of my knowledge. The red scarf flowing in the breeze in later versions was not apparent in this version. The red kanji breast patch later seen was also not yet in place in the 1989 making of Strider.

Another great source for Strider knowledge and background is Hardcore gaming 101, and thank you to Kurt for so much useful info!

Thanks so much for looking in, and best wishes to everyone for the Holidays!

Nov 18, 2014

OUR LOSS of INNOCENCE: Into the new Millennia, Color FADES, and Game Box Art Enters a New and Darker World.

IT HAD TO HAPPEN: The earliest days of video gaming was lean on graphic sophistication, but was one of the earliest users of the new medium of color television technology. Imagine creating your colors using light, actual glowing light, as your palette!! The gameplay was awash with light and color, and a treat to the eye. Gamers forgave programmers for the unrealistic imagery, because after all, it was so cool to be able to reach into the picture and actually dictate (to a degree) the actions of the characters! Prior to that viewers were captives to whatever television executives and actors put before them, the action was ordained by the script. We illustrators were turned loose to create a visual matrix to guide the players with fleshed out versions of what the pixelated worlds and  graphic gameplay was meant to represent, and to create Box Art to bridge the gap:

In SNK's Guerrilla War, I was called upon to lend the player my imagination, as I created a world that
accounted for the gameplay scenarios, situations, dangers, and triumphs. My illustration is on the left, and gameplay on the right.
Pitfall Harry in a cut out
counter top display


From the age of about 30, I was involved in the creation of Video Game Box Art for almost every company producing games for players, and the key was always attempting to visualize in an exciting visual of what I was shown on the screen, for the purpose of enticing gamers to try the new game. I also produced a lot of what was called P.O.P., or Point Of Purchase display art. These were typically posters, but could also be stand up counter top cutouts, and even banners. Activision was a company that issued very design oriented box art, and to counteract the approach would often feature P.O.P. materials and magazine ads that were much more realistic. I did several pieces for them for their top selling 'Pitfall', starring Pitfall Harry. Again, intense color was a key element.
Pitfall Harry a La Francaise in a
magazine advertisment

Yeah, But...ORANGE SKIES??

My U.N. Squadron art was used by Capcom
for posters and magazine ads.
I've always most enjoyed giving the viewers of my illustrations a lot to see:
Details in the cockpit have always been a big favorite.

When Capcom created a game named UN Squadron, they contacted me to produce a large poster for their distribution, and I felt the color intensity for this piece deserved to be striking, so I chose a strong yellow orange sky as the backdrop for their dueling aircraft.


Strong color and value, and entertaining and exciting action, carried video game art for 2 decades, before the cracks began to appear: More realistic gameplay animation was a consequence of technological progression, and I had known from the beginning that it would become the major force in box art, and eventually negate the need for illustrations from outsiders to be done for covers.

 It was actually amazing to me that it took as long as it did, to be honest. I was always cautious not to be exclusively a video game artist, and my clients over those two decades included tech companies like Varian and Intel, for whom I did high tech cut away art, And companies such as Ocean Spray and Hidden Valley, illustrations for food product packaging, cartooning, presentation art for The Chicago Field Museum, and The Ford Aviation Museum in Dearborn Michigan, through Academy Art Studios. I also continued to do storyboarding for most of the major Advertising Agencies and Design firms in San Francisco, , as well as editorial and sports illustrations, doing art for the S.F. Giants, San jose Sharks, the Forty Niners, and the University of California and Stanford Football programs.

I saw myself through the transition to digital media, learning, with the great help of my studio mate of many years, Robert Evans, to use Photoshop, and to a lesser degree Adobe Illustrator.

 Electronic Arts  contacted me to do 'The New World 1503'. Fittingly, Robert posed as the Conquistador soldier behind the Viceroy adventurer, who I made up from sketches. Another close friend, Denis Kelly, a Marin County Realtor, posed as the captain holding the telescope.


It was at this time that the animation of the games began to appear regularly on the boxes, and rightfully so, as the animation has become incredibly complete, and realistic. 

In my estimation, Games began to take on a more sinister dimension. The face that society has yet to find an answer for. Power, control, strength, and destruction. The emergence of first person shooter games of such corrosive reality that the action is breathtaking in the realism of its destruction. I'm alarmed by the addictive nature of their casual brutality.

Just because developers now have the capacity go there, does that mean they SHOULD?   ….My personal view is absolutely not, but I recognize that just as with any culture, we don't come equipped with brakes, and certainly there's no reverse.

So, Batman has been stripped of his bluff altruistic nature as a two fisted crime fighter and friend of the common man, and remade into a twisted confused and dangerous maladroit split personality.

It's ridiculous to deny the role of all of us in the early days, or to pretend that because the graphics were more colorful, or the animation was cuter, that the intent was somehow softened, but shooter games have always been out there. It was just  easier to not take them seriously, perhaps. We also leavened them with games like Lock 'N Chase, and B.O.B., and James Pond, Harley's Humongous Adventure. And Especially MegaMan…which brings me back to my original context:



If you gather all the pure chroma available on a painter's palette and mix them all together, you'll get a kind of sick brownish gray color. At the risk of sounding like an old guy (...I'm 67 ), looking at recent
game color box art, I have to agree once again with this rant by my friend Taylor Gilbreath:

 "I'M NOT BUYIN' IT!!"                   Taylor's Rant