Wednesday, 22 September 2010

PCZ RIP: Part The Rest Of It (Mr Cursor and Culky)

“Hey, Brokey! When are you going to do the rest of that tribute to PC Zone?”, people in the street would shout at us, if we ever went outside. And complete it we shall, with a look at our two favourite contributors to PCZ’s golden age.

Being avid readers of Your Sinclair since we first owned a ZX Spectrum home computer (in 1989, only 7 years after it was fashionable), one of our favourite magazine writers has always been Duncan MacDonald. Perhaps best known for being the author of cult videogame Advanced Lawnmower Simulator (of which here’s a nine-minute long review on YouTube), and not as well-known as he should be for the excellent book South Coast Diaries (out of print, but the website it was based on is now back online here), Dunc penned a monthly column in the early days of Ver Zone. Writing under the moniker of Mr Cursor (subtitle: “He’s Afraid Of His PC”), the column took in, well, pretty much anything on earth apart from videogames. Daytime television, Ceefax subtitles, compilation albums of tunes from ice cream vans and Earex: yes. Videogames: no. In an age when even talking about PC games involved having to spend about £120 on a new graphics card before you could be taken seriously, Mr Cursor’s columns made for a welcome diversion from coverage of impressive looking games that probably wouldn’t run properly on your unenhanced Amstrad 386.


Here are a few of them.

(As ever, click for a bigger version in a new window)


November 1995: David Copperfield

February 1996: The lady from Food & Drink


April 1996: Sci-fi cash-ins

May 1996: Richard et Judy


June 1996: Subtitles

Cursor 1996-07 July 1996: Panpipes


Cursor 1996-08 August 1996: John Kettley, who Is A Weatherman (A Tribe Of Toffs? Top 40 hit in the late 80s? At, er, no 40? Anyone)


Cursor 1996-09Sept 1996: Dani Behr



October 1996: Flowcharts


PCZ-1997-01-020 January 1997: Not graphs


MrCursor-1997-03 March 1997: Peelers (of the potato, rather than the Victorian policeman variety)


Cursor 1997-04

April 1997: Cash registers


May 1997: Snooker


PCZ-1997-06-021 June 1997: Windows 95


PCZ-1997-07-001 (20) July 1997: Vacuums


img584 August 1997: Chives


img368 September 1997: The END. (Well, we think. He wasn’t in the November ‘97 issue, but we never bought the Oct ‘97 issue.)

Dunc did reappear around the time of PCZ’s 100th issue for a few more splendidly entertaining columns, but apart from that, his words seem to have been sadly lacking from print publications, at least as far as we can find. From trying to find someone still selling his book, we did notice that he’d started a couple of Twitter accounts that didn’t last long, so we’re hoping everything is still okay for the wittiest man ever to write for a videogame magazine, and that someone will ask him to write funny things for them in the very near future.


Dunc wasn’t the only Zone columnist able to go off on entertainingly diverse tangents. There was also Colin “Culky” Culk. Himself not too dissimilar from a character who could easily have appeared in Dunc MacDonald’s South Coast Diaries, a London-based eccentric ready to sound off on pretty much anything that takes his fancy, adhering to two main rules. RULE ONE: Culky is right about everything. RULE TWO: If you disagree with Culky, he reserves the right to unleash his chin-pistons on you. There is even a Facebook group dedicated to old Culkus – the text on which suggests Cukly’s columns were also written by Duncan MacDonald. That would certainly make sense.

Here’s a smattering of columns from PC Zone’s golden age (i.e. issues we actually own).

PCZ-1996-04-013 April 1996


Culky-1996-05 May 1996


PCZ-1996-06-014 June 1996


Culky 1996-07 July 1996


Culky 1996-08 August 1996


Culky 1996-09 September 1996


PCZ-1996-10-028 October 1996


PCZ-1997-01-019January 1997


Culky-1997-03 March 1997


Culky 1997-04 April 1997


PCZ-1997-05-023 May 1997


PCZ-1997-06-020 June 1997


It doesn’t end there. What with PC Zone embracing the then-relatively-new-fangled CD-ROM technology, each issue came with a covermounted disc of game demos, various internet objects and public domain fare. With many game demos only really needing a few floppy disks worth of data, many coverdiscs were generally left with hundreds of megabytes in unused storage. Splendidly this meant there was room to include specially recorded videos of Culky’s antics. Better still, someone has uploaded them to YouTube. And here they are. Winningly amusing even now:






Splendid stuff. Will we ever see a videogames magazine quite like PC Zone again? All signs point to no. A bygone age.


1 .:

A Pebbleonhastingsbeach said...

There's also a handy offline pocket version of South Coast Diaries, laboriously converted in a speeding panic after I was convinced the publicity site for Attachments would immediately vanish (ie, I watched the first five minutes of episode one of Attachments). It starts from the beginning, so doesn't immediately ruin the conclusion like the way the site's set up.

Blah. Sharebee's gone insane or something, so it's Rapidshare only: (3.3mb).

I didn't know there was a book and now there isn't several years ago. At least the cover photograph DEFINITIVELY clears up how to spell Dunc's name unless the publisher got it wrong which probably happened.

Given the recently announced Tory policy of herding all the poors to -- no! But yes! -- Hastings, they should reprint the book and pretend it's an all-new WRY SATIRES.

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