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  • Steve Purcell (b. 1961)


    Adapted from BOX=ART

    Steve Purcell is an American cartoonist, animator, game designer and voice actor most widely known as the creator of the Sam & Max media franchise, for which he received an Eisner Award in 2007. For many gamers, Steve’s name is likely synonymous with LucasArts, having worked on, and illustrated the box art for, many of the company’s 1990s hits, including the Monkey Island series.

    After graduating from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1982, Steve would spend several years as a freelancer and as a penciller for Marvel comics. In this period, Steve would continue to develop his most enduring characters: Sam & Max—characters that originated in the 1970s with Steve's younger brother Dave and that Steve produced in weekly comic strips for his college's weekly newsletter beginning in 1980, after receiving the rights to the characters from his brother. It was also in this early period that Steve illustrated his first two game boxes, scarcely known 1983 titles from London Software for the Atari 8-bit: Parallax and Trion: in 3 Dimensions

    Lucasfilm Games’ artist Ken Macklin would introduce his art director, Gary Winnick, to the newly released Sam & Max comic strip (1987), and on the strength of the strip, Steve was hired in 1988 as an adventure game artist and animator. His first task would be the box art for Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (1988) before working on in-game pixel art for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). In 1989, Steve would also undertake the box art for Pipe Dream. While playful and still perhaps purposefully cartoony, Pipe Dream would introduce changes to Steve's rendering and would begin to show a departure from his comic roots and his art for Zak McKracken.

    Steve’s work on The Secret of Monkey Island (1990), including the game’s box art, would bring his art greater international exposure. By this third box art for LucasArts, Steve had developed rapidly as a painter. Steve would remain true to his style and consistent in his use of lighting while nonetheless capturing a more serious tone in The Secret of Monkey Island. Using dyes and gouache (an opaque watercolor), he would go all out in rendering the painting, his most developed yet for LucasArts.

    Steve would credit the following year’s sequel Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991) as a more successful box art, from a design perspective. Steve created the box’s character art by taking photos of his girlfriend modeling in pirate attire whilst being dramatically lit. LeChuck’s Revenge would be painted in oils over the course of a month, and as with the first game, Steve would additionally be responsible for conceptual art and animation.

    What followed would surprise Steve. LucasArts approached him on using the Sam & Max license. Sam & Max: Hit the Road was released in 1993 and would be a landmark game in character development, humor, and design. Steve would be involved at every level of the game’s creation including the duo’s box art.

    Steve has said that he always found painting box art fun because it gave him the opportunity to flesh out the pixelated characters on the screen, defining their look and world in paint rather than computer art. This traditionalist viewpoint could also go some way in explaining why he created the box art for Telltale’s Tales of Monkey Island (2009) using acrylics at a time when most artists favored digital art; Steve has always favored traditional media even when creating comic strips.

    Leaving LucasArts in 1996 would free Steve to pursue a Sam & Max animated series and also gave him the opportunity to freelance for other developers and their characters.

    OVGA has included below Steve Purcell’s full known box art catalog:

    1. Parallax (London Software | Atari 8-bit | 1983)
    2. Trion: in 3 Dimensions (London Software | Atari 8-bit | 1983)
    3. Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (Lucasfilm Games LLC | Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS | 1988)
    4. Pipe Dream (Lucasfilm Games LLC | Amiga, Atari ST, Apple II, BBC Micro, DOS, Macintosh, ZX Spectrum | 1989)
    5. The Secret of Monkey Island (Lucasfilm Games LLC | Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, FM Towns, Macintosh, Sega CD | 1990)
    6. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (Lucasfilm Games LLC | Amiga, DOS, FM Towns, Macintosh | 1991)
    7. Defenders of Dynatron City (JVC Musical Industries, Inc. | NES | 1992) art first used as a comic cover for Marvel's  Defenders of Dynatron City #1 (Feb 1992)
    8. Sam & Max: Hit the Road (LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC | DOS, Macintosh, Windows | 1993)
    9. Mortimer and the Riddles of the Medallion (LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC | Macintosh, Windows | 1996)
    10. Herc’s Adventure (LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC | PlayStation, Saturn | 1997)
    11. Tales of Monkey Island (Telltale, Inc. | Macintosh, Windows | 2009)

    Steven Ross Purcell

    Steve Purcell (b. 1961)
    Born: October 1, 1961
    Nationality: American
    Education: California College of the Arts (1982)
    Known For : Sam & Max franchise
    Years Active: 1983–2009

    Additional Images

    Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge Box Art

    Most Popular Steve Purcell (b. 1961) Artwork

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