The Maggie one-off issues considered in a misguided fit of nostalgia!
I've been looking at the whole birthday and anniversary thing a lot
recently, with the 5th birthday of Alive. This tends to lead to other
thoughts about neglected areas of the past, which may be overdue some decent
In this light, I'm taking on the topic of the one-off special issues of
Maggie that we did, as a sort of light relief from the heavy demands of
producing the regular issues.
I've got a feeling I might have done something like this a long time ago, so
apologies if I'm rambling off on an overfamiliar path.
Hitch-hikers Guide to a Videogame Lifestyle
Date:- Early 1995
Format:- Customised Delta Force Shell
Editor:- Sh3 (Kev Dempsey)
This first special edition was entirely the idea of Kev 'Sh3' Dempsey, an
avid collector of retro gaming hardware, even back then. He put on his best
pleading "pretty please" tone of voice, to ask if he could use the Maggie
shell for this project he was considering. So I agreed, subject to the fact
that the magazine shell would need some substantial reverse engineering to
make it suitable, with some changes to the menu bars particularly. Enter Mr
Pink, to make that promise good, which also had benefits for future issues
of the regular Maggie.
Kev had a groovy idea for the mid-nineties, which was to access the pre-web
internet for as much information he could get for the old Atari VCS,
Intellivision, Colecovision, Vectrex consoles, and others too. Nowadays, if
someone made a diskmag solely of unedited extracts off the internet, they
would get a good critical kicking for being derivative and lazy. But back
then only a very few lucky people had net access, so it was a great idea.
There was some hard work involved in getting this information off some of
the slowest sites around as well, with a modem made of sticky-backed plastic
and a baud rate you could count on your fingers, probably.
Kev topped this off with a superior cover picture, probably the best one for
all these issues, apart from Ed Cleveland's unforgettable 'Eazi-PC' cover
pic later on.
Presentation:- 80% - One of the best of the lot, neat combination of good
cover pic and a decently remade custom menu.
Content:- 75% - Plenty of material, mostly interesting with the faq type
stuff, but also a lot of things like big listings, which are of interest
more to collectors and obsessives than the general reader.
Test of time:- 65% - Fascinating document preceding the retro emulation
boom, and the explosive growth of the retro gaming collectors scene.
Information-wise,it has been overtaken by the web and the huge growth of geek
interest in this area.
Overall:- 75% - One of the rare successes for making a magazine out of
The Best of issues 1 to 11
Date:- Early 1996
Format:- Horribly mangled Delta Force Shell!
Editor:- Felice in early stages, CiH to wrap up
It is this, rather than the Hitchikers Guide, which is technically the first
of the special one-off issues. Almost as soon as Felice had taken over the
source code of Maggie from Sammy Joe, back in 1993, he was keen to produce a
compilation issue with the best of carefully selected past articles in it.
This got so far then got stuck for a while. new issues of Maggie came and
went, and we even got as far as the second 'rebirth' of the 5th anniversary.
At that point, it seemed appropriate to say that the best of issues 1 to 11
was far enough distant to be of renewed interest, so I took over the
The project was substantially complete, but benefited from a careful
reselection in a few places ;-) The presentation was a rather pisspoor "Mag
Noir" dark alien study, for which I bear total and sole responsibility for!
I like to think that this unsteady collection kept some people amused in the
interval between regular Maggie issues 18 and 19, but the idea of a
compilation issue was never attempted again. For me, all the articles are
available in their original context anyway, which makes a compilation
pointless. The idea of compil issues was taken to a ridiculous extreme with
the Diskbusters DBA issue 13, which was merely a compilation of the best of
the two previous issues! So doing that sort of thing has not appealed to me
Presentation:- 30% - Ugh! The dark greyshading works quite well, but the
transition to the text displayer wasn't handled well at all. It is a rather
dour looking issue in general.
Content:- 60% - Useful if you like early Maggie, but not so bothered about
wading through too many old back issues.
Test of Time:- 40% - If you are that keen on the retro scene, then surely it
is better to read the articles in their original context (neatly
contradicting the last paragraph!)
Overall:- 50% - Bit of a stop-gap between better things.
Date:- Mid-Late 1996?
Format:- Delta Force shell made to look like PC Mag front cover!
Editor:- CiH, with assistance from Mr Pink and others
Oh did we have some fun making this one! We really had some laughs doing the
The "inspiration" came from the unstoppable growth of the Wintel platform at
that time, and its first penetration into the mass market. What particularly
stirred our satiric bile, was the release, or escape of a weekly publication
aimed at the computerphobe 'average' public, the soon to be pisstaken "Easy-
PC". Clearly the future was going to be carefully spoken, in patronising
tones aimed at the hard of understanding, unless we did something about it!
Which is where Eazi-PeeCee Maggie comes in.
It was going to be a quiet corner of a regular Maggie issue at first, with
all the collected anti-peecee writings from past issues put together. Then
we seemed to have a little more than we thought. Then we decided to get some
new and original things written for it as well, and other people, such as
the ever versatile Mr Pink came on board. Even some fake demo and game
reviews, written in a cod-ST Format style got in there somehow.
What clinched this issues classic status, was the Dwayne Dibbley cover
picture, supplied by Ed Cleveland, one of the most missed people from the
Atari scene, in my view.
I like to think that this was the most popular of the special issues, and
possibly the most influential? Legend has it that at least one person was
put off getting a peecee on the strength of reading this!
Presentation:- 85% - Cover picture screams "winner!" Also works decently
with the menu displayer. Probably the best of all the issues in this
Content:- 70% - At heart, this was a light and fluffy affair. If I was doing
it now, I would spend a lot more time and effort on it.
Test of Time:- 65% - Amusing to look back at the outdated peecee specs (now)
being quoted as cutting edge back then.
Overall:- 80% - It was the classic five minute job which transcended its
The Psycho-Babble Project
Date:- Easter, erm November 1999
Format:- Delta Force shell modified with UFO technology!
Editor:- CiH and the internet
We went a fair old while before the idea for the next special issue came up.
How can you follow something like 'Easi-PC'?
Eventually I did, when a number of newbie diskmags in the late nineties
generated a rising tide of annoyance, by all seeming to feature the same UFO
conspiracy articles, unedited, or moderated by any alternative viewpoint. To
take a contemporary example, it's like a looking at a website which has been
hacked and taken over by a conspiracy theorist nutjob!
So the Psycho-Babble project was born, as a sceptical riposte to all that
conspiracy jazz. It was also the most 'academic' of the Maggie special
issues, with a conscious use being made of the internet and the Sceptics
webring in particular as a learning tool. Not to mention there was a little
humourous material at least.
The presentation was rather homebrew in comparison to the glories of 'Eazi-
PC', falling somewhere between that, and the scary looking 'Best of issues 1
to 11'. It also had a chequered release history, initially seeing the light
of day at the first Error in Line party at Easter 1999, but in a less than
foolproof 'Falcon only' version with an accidentally bugged soundchip
replay. It went all the way to the Stafford AMS in November for a proper
I felt gratified that the exercise of educational selective net grabbing
worked, but this was a more stolid and less exciting production than normal.
Presentation:- 40% - Something with a cow on it and dithered down.
Content:- 70% - Still some quite interesting and potentially useful material
Test of Time:- 70% - Reasonable survivability of concept, and worth a
follow-up browse on the web.
Overall:- 65% - Possibly a little too serious in places?
Date:- Easter 2001
Format:- Delta Force shell made into superhero comic!
And finally, we have this, what is technically a post-Maggie production,
coming as it did after the 10th anniversary final issue.
It originated as a sort of follow-up to the Psycho-Babble project, in the
sense that it was going to be an Error in Line part 2 release. Some early
experiments with ascii-graphics seemed to suggest that this was worth
developing further. Before we knew it, the entire elaborate framework for a
Star Wars parody, done in an Ascii cartoon style, leapt from my keyboard, in
the early part of 2001.
With some careful consideration, this proved to be able to fit within the
boundaries of the Delta Force shell text displayer, and a jury-rigged cover
picture later (greenscaled from Commodore 64 artwork!), we had something not
quite like any other diskmag!
This was going to be slipped out quietly at the Error in line party, but got
promoted to a wild competition entry, even getting a moment of glory on the
bigscreen and coming in at second place.
Out of all of the special issues, this one ties in first place with 'Eazi-PC
Maggie', and of course you are all aware of how the ascii thing developed in
future years when a degree of live action crept in!
Presentation:- 60% - The cover pic, once it had been in my hands, is a pile
of wee and poo, but the ascii cartoon strip in the diskmag text displayer
holds up well.
Content:- 80% - I guess some people liked it, from the enthusiastic reaction
that the quasi-erotic ascii torture scene got, when it was shown on the big
screen at Error in Line ;-)
Test of Time:- 80% - Hopefully timeless, like the original Star Wars! Even
if I won't get as rich as George Lucas!
Overall:- 75% - A happy ending!
CiH, for Alive! Mag, Aug '05