C64 Covers

If you know about C64-Disc-Covers or wish to skip the introduction, click here to go to the gallery.
I recommend reading the text below first if you have no idea what this is about.

The History and Reason
For a small introduction to the demoscene in general I suggest to read here.

Shortly said, the demoscene is a large group of people that use computers to create technology-based art. The main products are "demos", real-time-generated non-interactive movies. Since "the scene" is made of programmers, graphic-artists, musicians and quite some sceners are also designers, painters, artists and similar its not only restricted to "demos", but those "demos" are the thing that seperates this "scene" from other designers or artists.

The origins of the demoscene go back to the early eightys, the time that computers became affordable for a wider audience. While the whole thing started locally in several places independent of each other, people soon began connecting over cities and borders.

Back in the 80s and 90s all releases like new Demos, Discmags and Musicdiscs where mostly spread per Mail. There were a few BBSes around, but for most of the C64 sceners that whole thing was way too hot since you had to get into Blueboxing, Phreaking and CallingCardHacking and the possible sentence if caught and sent to a court was not very amusing for most people and so BBS-Systems where mostly run and called by people who were more on the illegal side anyway (Crackers).
Every legal scener had some contacts that he swapped discs per mail with, in my best times I had about 40 people from all over europe that sent me packages with discs and I send them my packages with discs. Also those dics where 5 1/4" floppy discs, in case you don't remember (or never knew).
Now I have no idea who came up with the idea of disccovers, but it was like this : Some artist drew the outlines of a floppydisc paperbag on a A4-sheet of paper, made some art (mostly about a specific group, demo or discmag) and then just ran that paper over a xerox machine and send it to all his contacts, together with the disc that cover was made for. His contacts now got one copy, ran this copy over a xerox themselves and sent that copy to their other contacts and so forth.
Because everything mainly reduces to black and white if being copied a few times a unique style was born.

If you got a cover you just had to cut it out, glue it together and you had a perfect paperbag for a disc containing a certain release.
The Style and Art

Yet again I have no idea who started that specific style but my guess is Electric of Extend, since he perfected that style over quite a long time.
The main idea of that style was to use small black dots to create shadings instead of using different greys.

Here are a two examples :

Duce - Skyhigh

Junkie - Rebels

The technique to achieve that whole look became very sophisticated over the time, first of all black pencils of different thickness were used (the holy grail were "Rotring Rapidograph" pens, the thinnest having a diameter of 0.13 mm, those did cost alot of money back then), later people even did their artwork on A3-paper and downscaled it on a xerox machine, achieving more detail.

I have never since seen that style of painting again except one time in a schoolbook, but I have no idea if the artist had some kind of history in the C64 scene.
People and Artists
Well, the two megastars were ofcourse Electric and Duce of Extend. Extend was (if I remember correctly) started as a demogroup but after some time those two where the only active members and they did mainly covers. Electric did some pixel-graphics too, but not that much. Junkie and the Men at Work crew also did some mad stuff.

In 1995 when I moved on to the PC a few very talented polish artists made their appearance in the scene, but that was at about the same time that I lost interest in the whole C64 thing. However, Nephelim, the coverartist of my group at that time (Fatum) did some stunning works too.
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Technical Notes
I scanned the covers in grayscale and converted them to 4-colour gifs. The quality isn't too great for some covers, I will spend some time on those when I have it. The pages are meant as a preview, if you are really interested in this download the big packages.

The thing is organized with the artists in mind. Because most covers have a back- and frontside one of those sides is upside down if you watch it. Click on the picture to rotate the cover. (Yeah I know the solution is very simple, but it works.)

Also, although this is old stuff, please respect the copyrights of the artists.
Disclaimer and Warning
Some of the graphics might be offensive for people and I want to state that I don't like all the depicted content.

Some are based on a sexistic/pornographic theme and some are themes showing satanistic/anti-christian symbols.
Especially the latter has to be seen in context, most of them were done by polish artists. Poland is a very christian country based on the catholic church and young people often use these symbols to rebel against society.
Other countries that are based on an economic idea have punks and slackers, in Poland one way to show your opposition is acting like a satanist or or using their symbols.

The covers I chose for this gallery are tolerable for my taste or have such a unique style or technique that I want to show them here.
You can download all covers in high quality here. The quality is way better than the previews below.
The Gallery

Dave - Idigents

Death - Topaz
Duce - Extend 1 | Extend 2 | Extend 3 | Extend 4 | Extend 5 | Skyhigh
Electric - Extend | Padua | Rebels
Felidae - Reflex 1 | Reflex 2
HTD - Topaz 1 | Topaz 2
Junkie - Men at Work | Rebels
Lemming - Lemming
Mip - Plush
Mr. Friese - Weissblech Comics
Nephelim - Mayhem | Fatum
Quevis - Accept | Ned
Unknown - Elysium Logo
Extend Cover Compo 94/95
In mid-1994 Electric and Duce started a Cover-Competition. I took part too, having no chance at all, but I wanted to have the book they promised for all contestants. This whole thing took nearly a year to finish, but in summer 1995 I finally got the book (more like a xeroxed fanzine) per mail. I dont really know how much people have got that book back in those days (my guess is about 20) and I certainly have no idea how much people still have it now.
But I scanned the whole thing for you, because some of the artwork is really amazing.

You can either download it as PDF in great quality (36 MB) or preview the pages here.

Page 1 - Cover Page 2 - Notes/Results Page 3 - Junkie Page 4 - Suicidal
Page 5 - Nazgul Page 6 - Earthquake Page 7 - Cruise Page 8 - A. Kruczek
Page 9 - Bren Page 10 - Rob Page 11 - Astaroth Page 12 - FX
Page 13 - Chaotic Page 14 - Grizzly Page 15 - Informer Page 16 - Duce
Page 17 - Electric Page 18 - Duce Page 19 - Ad Page 20 - Electric
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Links and Trivia
The Present
Lately while I was taking a piss in a local club I discovered this advertisement for a party ... Will try to get hold of the person who did this.
Cover Gallery at c64.nostalgia.pl
Cover Gallery at www.poema.art.pl

Electric at the C64 Scene Database
Duce at the C64 Scene Database and Ojuice

Overview of People tagged as "Cover Designer" at the C64 Scene Database

An FTP with a few Coverscans

Weißblechcomics, the Comiclabel of Quevis and Mr. Friese of Accept. Some of the old Comics from the early nineties have stories refering to the scene.
Call for Help
If you have other covers or more information about Cover-Artists, links to other cover-galleries or anything else that could be of interest please drop me a mail.
Some Trivia and Memories

Okay, a few of the stories about swapping Floppydiscs per mail in general.

I had about forty contacts simultaniously in my best times, swapped discs with over 150 people in all those years and really considered about thirty of them to be friends because our conversations was not limited to scene-stuff. Its basically the same as with friendships on IRC, IM or Webboards nowadays.
I met a few of them personally on demoparties or elsewhere, one of the best things to happen to me was a trip to turkey where I met a contact of mine (damn, forgot his handle ... I am ashamed) and spent a few great days with him.

However, the whole thing was expensive. Sending out twenty A5-Letters per week all over germany and europe is not cheap, especially not for a youngster still going to school. In the first years there was a so called "Bookdelivery"-Fee which was way cheaper than a normal letter, the only rule was that the envelope could not contain anything handwritten, only books, discs or similar. After a few years the german postal service explicitely excluded floppydiscs from that offer.

So we invented a few techniques to save money on postage-stamps.
First trick was to use paperglue on postage-stamps. You put a stamp on the envelope, put a small layer of paperglue on it and then send it to your contact. If everything went well the mark of the postal service only affected the layer of glue, if you did cut the postal-stamp out and put it into water you got a postal-stamp without the black marks and could use it again. However, this was a serious fraud and a few people overdoing this went to court and had to do some hours of civil-service (if they were lucky and under 18).

In the early nineties the german postal-service was experimenting with automated processing of letters and for some time this system was not really working, to our advantage. It basically checked the envelope for something coloured in the upper right corner and then assumed that it was a correct stamp and marked it. For a few months it was enough to draw some loops with coloured pencils, I had quite a few envelopes that had a correctly marked naive-art-painting instead of a proper postal-stamp. The business terms of the german postal-service clearly stated at that time that an envelope with a proper postmark had to be delivered and so they couldn't argue when they found out later that the letter was not paid for correctly.

In the mid-nineties when the scene in poland began to grow there was another way to save money.
The whole thing went like this : I prepared my mail, put a 10 Pfennig stamp on it (about 5 cents, it normally should have been something like 3,20 DM (1,60 €)), did not write a return-adress on the envelope and just put it in the mailbox. Now someone from the postal-service picked it up and instantly realized that the whole thing was completely underpaid, but since there was no return-adress they couldnt just deliver it back to me telling me that it was not paid for correctly.
The normal way would have been to deliver the envelope and make the receiver pay the difference, but there was no agreement with the polish postal-service at that time on how to handle this in terms of sharing the money that the receiver paid.
So basically the letter went to the postal-service-office in Berlin where they just collected those mailings and gave them to the polish-postal service because according to their business conditions they had to deliver the mails, underpaid or not. The postal service of poland in turn just delivered it to the receiver without asking for the missing fee because they had no agreement with the german postal-service on how to share this fee and just left it this way. The whole thing went the same way in the other direction and although a letter took over a week this way it was very cheap.

The scene at that time was still partly illegal because of the few games coming out being cracked and the postal-fee-fraud, and so the postal-service and the law started to observe people from time to time. After I got no mail in one week I knew that they were observing me, after about eight weeks some policemen did ring my doorbell and delivered a bag with all the mails from the those weeks for me, luckily no one had sent cracked games in that time (wasn't interested in anyway) and those few letters that had glued stamps were not my fault.

I have to say that I really have good memories from that time, the feeling of coming home after school and looking for mails in the box, the frustration if nothing arrived or the joy about five or more mails, each containing up to six dics and spending hours watching new demos, reading discmags and so on.
I had quite some friends this way back in that time, a few names come to my mind, as for example Ned/Accept, the whole Tigercrew Posse (especially Mephisto, Greenhorn), the whole Plush Posse (especially Tecmo), the guys from Dresden (PVCF, Fanta and the others) aswell as Nephelim and others from Poland. Still, alot of names have dropped from my mind, sorry.