Time for another helping of scans from the now sadly departed PC Zone. While we COULD focus on some of their games cover over the seventeen years of the magazine’s life, considering we spent the last update ripping the piss out of advertisements from the magazine, we’re not going to. Instead, how about a mini-compilation of cartoons by Charlie Brooker? Yeah, why not.
Yes, Charlie Brooker wasn’t just a misanthropic wordsmith, once upon a time he was primarily known for drawing cartoons for the likes of Oink!, and an early 90s magazine we think was called Brain Damage (anyone?). Then he started working on PC Zone, and alongside writing increasingly amusing reviews for them he did a monthly cartoon. Such as these. Click to open the full-sized images in a new window.
Nov 1995: The earliest issue of PC Zone we have, because we’d just obtained a PC that was actually powerful enough to play some games. Yay! Only we’d soon realised that the second-hand 386 with 4MB RAM we’d swapped our Amiga for wasn’t QUITE ready to play anything more complicated than solitaire. Boo. Everyone in PC magazines at this point was droning on about CD-ROM based multimedia being “the future”. We were still getting our heads around MS DOS. The crushing disappointment of this realisation caused us to avoid buying any PC magazines for a few months. Meanwhile, Charlie Brooker was doing a cartoon about the kind of “interactive mutlimedia” that perhaps might have stopped the format since having gone the way of 5.25” floppy disks.
Feb 1996: We’ve since gone and bought a new PC that can run Windows 95! It has a massive 16MB of memory! A whole ONE GIGABYTE hard drive! And it’s STILL too underpowered to play the latest games properly. When we optimistically rush out and buy the CD-ROM version of PC Zone, we see that Mr B’s cartoons have moved onto the long-running CyberTwats characters.
June 1996: A break from the CyberTwats, and some cartoons that we think Brooker had first used in SuperKaylo, his paper- and web-zine. (Reader’s voice: “What?”) See Jan 1997.
August 1996: The CyberTwats become a serial. Remember when wireframe graphics seemed futuristic? What? “No, we’re all much younger than you”? Oh.
January 1997: More cartoons that were possibly taken from SuperKaylo. What’s SuperKaylo?
This article in that issue’s “On-Line” section explains all that. SuperKaylo was superb, by the way, playing home to running strips Horny Estelle (which we’re saying is heavily influenced by Peter Bagge’s ‘Hate’ comic), MuttWorld (a few bits of which were re-used in the TV Go Home book) and Poonky Oynster (as above), along with the first ever TV Go Home listings, and RealAudio clips of prank phone calls made to Edge magazine. It was one of the most entertaining parts of the then-fledgling web, and one of the few examples of high-quality, web-only original content coming from the UK at the time.
Infuriatingly, the site can’t be viewed using archive.org, thanks to those pesky robots.txt*, but maybe more gubbins from SuperKaylo might one day appear on this Brooker fansite: http://community.livejournal.com/charlie_brooker/tag/superkaylo
(*There is just one Wayback result that does work for SuperKaylo, for when it was part of the CEX homepage, but that only contains one broken image and a notice saying the website has since moved to its own domain. If you really want to see that, here it is.)
February 1997: MISSING from our archive, which annoying as we DID have a copy of it. The missing episode contains a monster from Quake performing with the Spice Girls, because it was 1997. It wasn’t especially good, though, being mostly a transcription of the song ‘Wannabe’, but with the lyrics changed to be about Quake instead. Phew, eh?
May 1997: And the first outings from what would later become a website, book and TV series called Unnovations.
June 1997: and the CyberTwats are replaced with “Late Developers”, a new strip not a billion miles away from Horny Estelle. Except, it’s not that good, and only lasts few a few months before disappearing.
Xmas 1997: The ‘Twats are back for a Christmas special. There’s also one last cameo role for the Late Developers.
Xmas 1998: One year later, and a finale for the CyberTwats. And indeed, Brooker’s monthly cartoon pages.