Gordon Houghton
What was it like to work in Zzap! Towers? How should I know? I don't remember what it was like getting up this morning. That's what happens when you're old. Hairs in your ears, burst blood vessels all over your nose, and big black floating things in front of your eyes... But if I rub my chin hard enough, maybe I do remember a little bit of what it was like at Newsfield. Getting up at 7.30, working from 8.30am until 10pm, going home... And, er, that was about it. The wastelands around the Towers weren't the most entertaining place for fun-loving twenty-year olds, or for me either; so it was handy that the work was so enjoyable. The Challenges were great, and the Rrap was a laugh; but I loved the reviews most of all, because there was always the possibility that you'd be one of the first people to see something new and exciting. When I was editor the focus changed, and I really enjoyed watching the vague bunch of ideas you had at the beginning of the month turn into something you could be proud of by the end of it. But the best part of that whole period was the people... The banter, the laughter, the sarcasm... I got along with everyone in Zzap! during my time there, and met people who are still friends today. In fact, I haven't had as much fun with anyone since, and that includes animals. So what am I doing here wasting my time on this website when I could be building a time machine to take me back to those fantastic, far-off days...? Aaargh! It's time for my scalding bath, Marvin. No leather strap today, though. Please.
» The editor's hi-tech chair and desk. Despite the X on the window-pane, Deep Throat never showed
Kati Hamza
I hadn't thought about Zzap! for ages until Gordon asked me about ten minutes ago... It was hectic, it was fun, it was intense, sometimes it was incredibly irritating, and it was the only time in my life I ever got paid just to play. Of course you had to write about it afterwards, but that was a kind of playing too. I got to meet Chuck Vomit, I got to ogle Lloyd, I learnt to talk with fish and to neck with pterodactyls. I saw a hedgehog walking home one night at 3am after finishing the Christmas issue and moaned a lot about living next to a sheep dip with mould under the bed. I worked with lots of people I will never forget, and was surprised to find there were many readers who hadn't forgotten too. My life has changed a lot since then, as has the games industry, but those times still feel innocent and raw, if distant. Hello to everyone who still remembers them!
« The real power behind the throne
Steve Jarratt

This is going to sound really sad, but I can honestly say that working on Zzap! 64 - alongside Rignall, Penn and, later, Brennan - were the happiest of my working life. When I joined the mag we were kings of the C64 market. PR people used to fall over themselves to get product in the pages, and I really enjoyed the attention we used to get at events and shows.

The first time you see your own written copy (not to mention a stupid drawing of you) in a mag is just amazing. Like being on TV, but in some ways even better (you don't have to look good in the morning to work on a mag).

I was also really happy doing what I was doing: playing games and reviewing them. And, more importantly, playing the latest games before anyone else! When I became deputy editor it was even better - I got to do all the good stuff (features, reviews, trips) without any of the proper 'editor' nonsense that's bogged me down ever since (commissioning, payments, deadlines, production, staff problems).

In the 14-odd months I worked at Newsfield, I had a great time and shall never forget it (my thanks must go therefore to Gary Penn and Roger Kean who took me on). I doubt whether I'll ever be able to recapture the very particular experience of working in that office, with that eclectic group of people and at that time in the C64's life. It was organised chaos, the office politics were often maddening, and we worked far longer hours than we ever got paid for, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ahh, the good old days...

» Steve Jarratt, in his Zzap! days, wondering why someone is pointing a camera at him


Wayne Allen

NEWSFIELD: My first full-time job and also the first time I'd lived away from home (admittedly at a B&B that also included dinner - which was very, very typically: faggots, mash, peas and gravy followed by something with custard). My arrival meant that there were now four people in the Art Department producing Crash and Zzap! A few months later the art department consisted of only Mark(ie) Kendrick and myself. The sudden exodus, I believe, was due to some fall-out from Graeme Kidd and Gary Penn's departure and not to any poor hygiene standards on my part. Mark(ie) and I would start work at 8am and sometimes wouldn't finish until 2am the next day. We did this for a couple of months before finally recruiting Mel and Yvonne. We would lay out pages using a metal ruler, a surgeon's scalpel, a setsquare and lots of hot wax. No we did, honest. This was before Macs, you see. A double page spread, from start to finish at full ("quick, the van's coming to pick these pages up!") speed would take us less than 20 minutes. Full speed usually meant the loss of a section of fingernail to a hastily drawn scalpel - we quickly learned to keep fingers behind the ruler's edge - well, everyone did except for Stumpy Fisher (who eventually, bit by bit, trimmed his digits back a safe distance). The art department was duller after that. No more sudden and unexpected bursts of wild-eyed, flappy-armed activity-"Yeeaarrghh!" "Quick, get the plasters!" "Don't bleed on the artwork!" "Ooooh, it's a gusher". Not having enough text and pics to fill a page would mean drawing a picture directly onto the artwork board (Oli was brilliant at this, but he often wasn't around or was too busy - if you messed up it still got printed: 100,000-odd times!). The people were what made that time special - Steve, Mark(ie), Julian, Mel Fisher (how are you?), Yvonne Priest (and you?), Paul G, Gordon, Kati, Maff, Paul R, Sam, Nikki, Katy etc.

FONDEST MEMORIES: Being paid for all that overtime (bye, bye old student loan). The final Leaving Newsfield Drinksfest at the Bull. DeGrays bacon (or sausage) and egg sarnies. Almost getting punched twice-both times Mel Fisher appeared at exactly the right/wrong time and got punched instead (thanks Mel). The surprise kiss on the lips from the very cute 18yo Katy Mountford at a Newsfield party.

WORST MEMORIES: Katy telling me directly after that kiss that she'd spent the previous hour being terribly, terribly ill in the ladies. Mark(ie)'s taste in music. The time someone in the art department discovered that if you secretly removed the blade and then threw the scalpel handle at someone you could find out if they had any serious heart problems. Putting a bag over my head and allowing myself to be photographed (Thanks, Gordon. See early issues of Total! for how long this haunted me) The faggots, the mash, the peas, the gravy and the bloody awful followed by something with custard!!!

FINAL THOUGHT: Zzap! and Crash were produced by a bunch of people who hadn't long left school-imagine a magazine produced now by the same people! With all we've since learned about the craft of magazines! Admittedly it would be a magazine about haemorrhoids and hair-loss, but I bet it would be a jolly good one. Well, probably it would.

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» No prizes for guessing who created Chuck...