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Alive 11
Maggie Specials
  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.

Eazi-PC Maggie
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
Eazi-PC Maggie.

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
mediocre origins.

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
in there.

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!
Editor:-  CiH

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
Alive 11