June 24, 2009
GOTTLIEB HAUNTED DESKTOP
As a kid, I constantly longed to be wherever video games were, be it the lobby of the grocery store, the local arcade, or ideally, gamer havens like Showbiz Pizza. Even after my supply of quarters was diminished I didn't want to leave the comfort of those warm, buzzing monolith-like machines. I often found myself among them with nothing to do but study their demo screens and cabinet art (and finger the little garage-like coin return slots for stray quarters.)
One of the most inviting, most intriguing images I ever encountered among those electronic wonders was the backglass for Gottieb's 1982 masterwork of pinball, Haunted House. Its stunning rendition of the classic Victorian haunted abode was illustrated by Terry Doerzaph (who also did cabinet graphics for Q*bert). The typeface is gorgeous, the color choices are unexpected, and the entire piece has a flawless quality. And how amazing is that cluster of floating skulls in the window? The answer is very.
I was recently overjoyed to find a beautiful, high-res scan of the art on this site. Of course my first move was to use it as desktop wallpaper. I started with the entire thing (as seen above) and later I cropped it for a closer view (see below). I invite you to click on either of the images (for larger versions) and grab it as well. It's such a welcoming sight every time I sit down for some good ol' computing.
More images of the machine are here and here. See also this screenprint by Sam Chivers inspired by the piece.