You remember those games back in the day where you felt mesmorised by the vibrancy of colour on classic Amiga titles like Putty or Lemmings or by the moving sprites on your Sinclair ZX Spectrum? I do! Fortunately, those moments and memories have become immortalised by Sam Dyer's Bitmap Books collections; notably with the Commodore 64: A Visual Compendium, Commodore Amiga: A Visual Compendium and Sinclair ZX Spectrum: A Visual Compendium. Each book packs a ton of stunning artwork from our favourite Retro Games as far back as the early 1980s. Of late, Bitmap Books have published Artcade: The book of classic Arcade Gamer Artwork by Tim Nicholls, Generation 64 and are about to release The Super Famicom Collection. It's looking very rosy over at Bitmap HQ but I wanted to know a little bit more about Sam and what we can expect to see from Bitmap Book's in the future.
#1 Tell us a little bit about yourself and your gaming background
My name is Sam Dyer andI live in the beautiful English city of Bath. My life consists of looking after my two children and constantly trying to find the time to design books about old computer games. It's a challenge juggling everything but I love being busy and get a real kick out of fusing together my two biggest passions - design and retro gaming. My first computer was a C64 that I adored for years and I have so many happy memories associated with that machine. I eventually 'upgraded' to an Atari ST after playing Lemmings around a friends house on his Amiga 500. I wanted the Amiga but for whatever reason ended up with the ST which I also loved. I remember being blown away by games such as Treasure Island Dizzy that looked so much better than their 8-bit counterparts - Dizzy had red gloves! I still wanted the Amiga though as all my mates had one. Copying was rife at the time and it wasn't unusual to run home at lunchtime at high school to fire up x-copy and get yourself the latest release. To get this software I needed an Amiga so I did months and months of a Sunday paper round until I'd saved enough to get a second hand Amiga 600. What followed that was years of playing some of my favourite games such as Lemmings, Monkey Island, Cannon Fodder and Settlers. After the Amiga, I amazingly started collecting for the C64 again. My first love! By this time it was dead and buried so I was going to second hand shops which were full of the old games that were sold for pennies. After that brief nostalgia burst I then got myself a Sony PlayStation. My love for point and click adventures was satisfied as Broken Sword was my game of choice. No more disk swapping - thank god!! I loved my PS1 and spent many a teenage year puffing on Embassy No. 1 cigarettes playing games such as GTA, Tomb Raider and PES with mates. Happy days! I then had a break from gaming whilst at art college and eventually got the PS2 years later. That was the last current system I brought!!! Then about 5 years ago it was was back into retro gaming. Those memories and feeling of nostalgia are so addictive and a quick play of Batman The Movie on the C64 does the trick. Nowadays I much prefer talking and doing books about games than actually playing then. Modern games do nothing for me sadly and I'm hugely excited about the coming years and the rise of indie gaming. We even have a new ZX Spectrum coming soon! It feels like we're coming full circle.
#2 What inspired you to start Bitmap Books?
It was really my love for gaming and design. I saw a gap in the market and an opportunity to create a well designed 'art book' on the C64 It's all kind of snowballed from there really, and the visual compendium series are something that people are really enjoying.
#3 Out of the Visual Compendium series (Commodore 64, Amiga and the ZX Spectrum) which book had the most challenges to complete?
I'd probably say the first book, purely because I was learning as I went along. Issues around colour consistency and image quality were challenges that I ultimately overcame and then took those learnings into other books.
#4 How do get around Copyright Laws in using screenshots and images of games in your publications?
By spending a lot of money getting legal advice !
#5 What is your favourite game of all time?
Hard one this. For overall experience Id say The Secret of Monkey Island. That game was groundbreaking and to get its creator Rob Gilbert involved the my books was a dream come true.
#6 Are you working on any projects that the public don't know about yet? *teaser*
There's a fun little book in the pipeline on NES glitch art. A guy called Don Miller has created are really cool app that glitches the NES graphics display and the results are wonderfully abstract!
#7 When do you plan on releasing the SNES Visual Compendium?
I'm hoping the SNES visual compendium will follow after the NES one. if not, vey soon after. Choosing which machines to do is the hardest part and there are only so many!
#8 What does a typical work day look like in Sam's world?
I like to get up early (before the kids) and have a chance to check emails and have a coffee in peace. Once the kids are up and ready it’s then off to work where I work full-time as the head of design at a brand agency in Bath. As soon as I get home and put the kids to bed, I can then spend a few hours on Bitmap Books. It’s a long hard day but I absolutely love it. I get such a buzz from creating books that people look forward to.
#9 Tell us where we can find you (Twitter, website etc)
My website is www.bitmapbooks.co.uk and on social media you can find Bitmap Books on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/bitmapbooks/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/bitmap_books).
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