The Def Guide to Zzap!64

The Zzap Rrap

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 Post subject: Lucy Hickman era Zzap!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:12 am 
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I've spent the last few days finally getting around to reading the complete set of Zzap! scans. It's the first time I've properly looked at the magazines since I was a teenager, though I've visited this site on and off for a few years and enjoyed the Retro Gamer special issue too.

It's fascinating to read some of the posts from ex staff members as a companion to re-reading issues. One thing which I was really quite surprised by on looking at the later issues of Zzap! is just how bizarre the short-lived Lucy Hickman era was.

I'm obviously on a forum full of Zzap! experts here, so don't suppose I need to go into details of the crude humour and slightly aggressive tone (particularly on the letters page). My question, if any Zzap! staffers are still lurking, is this:

It's obvious from the letters pages in the two issues that follow Lucy's first Zzap! that readers weren't happy, and before long Miss Whiplash was sidelined etc etc. But what was the feeling in Zzap! when the first Hickman issue was being put together? Presumably Hickman had the publisher to answer to and run the proposed changes through - who on earth thought this direction was a good idea? By this time, Commodore Format was outselling Zzap! month on month and despite the daft little digs at it in Zzap!, was obviously causing them real damage - was it just a case of trying to do something totally different with the feel of the magazine? And was her disappearence to another magazine mere months afterwards coincidence or not?

There were some solid, Zzap legends - Ian, Phil King - on the title at this time. I'd be interested to know what the feeling was in the office at this time.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:50 pm 
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I guess it was about trying to appeal more to their ever younger male audience by the use of juvenile humour etc.

A very low point in the magazines history, but I don't think I'm alone on that point! :)


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:23 pm 
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Iain wrote:
A very low point in the magazines history, but I don't think I'm alone on that point! :)

Certainly not alone!

By this time I had all but given up, but did 'come back' a while later.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:24 am 
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As another reader, I felt during this time the quality of Zzap had dropped sharply nearer to the standards of the 1990+ YC magazine era. I'm glad Miss Whiplash and the bitching was short-lived.

But I had also always missed the old-style facial expression reviews which had helped make Zzap feel more like a more mature iconic gaming mag rather than the later cartoony feel. We had too much of that with CFormat and YC at that time whom did make it feel all a little too comicy with some of the juvenile fictional reviewers, personally speaking. I was kinda losing hope then, but the pettiness soon stopped, Zzap improved again (although without the old style look) and I happily continued to buy Zzap/CForce until the end.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 12:27 pm 
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As a reader, there were aspects I thought were funny but just as much I didn't like - the bizarre editorial/meet the team pages for example. But I can understand them going after the younger audience. It's just that there was always going to be a decline for the C64 and the computer magazine market at that point in time, as consoles started to dominate.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:56 pm 
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Professor Brian Strain wrote:
But I can understand them going after the younger audience. It's just that there was always going to be a decline for the C64 and the computer magazine market at that point in time, as consoles started to dominate.

I completely understand and agree with you, but talk but alienating your existing audience... I felt let down after sticking with ZZAP! through thick and thin.

And isn't it funny how a humble magazine can stir such emotions many years later!

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:39 pm 
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I actually met Lucy Hickman at a computer show in the late 90s quite by accident, so I asked her about Newsfield and the Zzap!64 tenure. She hinted that she was told that's how the magazine was going to be aimed at instead of the previous age level. You only have to see people such as Frank Gasking who got into the C64 at a late stage but who are quite young themselves to see there was a new "wave" of much younger 8 bit owners following a flood of people to buy 16 bit consoles.

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