All information on this site is through my own findings and is believed to be correct. Any corrections, errors or admissions that need to be made, or artists that would like to be involved in BOX=ART, please feel free to contact me.
BOX=ART copyright ©2013 Adam Gidney. All rights reserved. Hosted by Dathorn.
BOX=ART quick menus
BOX=ART is a site dedicated to the history of video game box art/ cover art and the artists responsible for them.
Box arts are profiled from a variety of angles using high quality scans and with the intention of acknowledging the men and women who have played such a major role in shaping our gaming experiences.
Not only for video game enthusiasts, BOX=ART is for all who enjoy quality artwork.
BOX=ART takes a retrospective look at US cartoonist and a father of the beloved Monkey Island series.
>Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (EU/ NA) Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS.
>Pipe Dream (EU/ NA) Amiga, Atari ST, Apple II, BBC Micro, DOS, Macintosh, ZX Spectrum.
>The Secret of Monkey Island (worldwide) Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, FM Towns, Macintosh, Mega CD, Sega CD.
>Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (worldwide) Amiga, DOS, FM Towns, Macintosh.
Sources and further reading.
Related BOX=ART pages.
>Defenders of Dynatron City (NA) NES.
>Sam and Max: Hit the Road (EU/ NA) DOS, Macintosh, Windows.
>Mortimer and the Riddles of the Medallion (NA) Macintosh, Windows.
>Herc’s Adventure (worldwide) PlayStation, Saturn.
>The Tales of Monkey Island (worldwide) Macintosh, Windows.
Steve Purcell box art catalogue.
After studying at the California College of arts and crafts Steve would freelance for a number of years as a jobbing artist and as a penciller for Marvel comics. This period would be the genesis of Steve’s most enduing characters: Sam & Max.
LucasFilm Game’s artist Ken Macklin (Manic Mansion) would introduce his art director, Gary Winnick to the newly released Sam & Max comic strip, and on the strength of it 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).
It would be his work on The Secret of Monkey Island (1990), including the games box art, that would expose his art at an international level. Compared to the familiar territory of Zak’s cartooned style, Monkey’s more painterly realism in opaque watercolours would creatively stretch the artist.
What followed would surprise Steve; LucasArts approached him on using the Sam & Max licence. Sam & Max: Hit the Road was released in 1993 and would be a landmark game in character development, humour and design. Steve would be responsible at every level of the games creation including the duo’s cover art.
Steve has said that he always found painting box art fun because of the opportunity it gave to flesh out the pixelated characters on screen, defining their look and world in paint over computer art.
This traditionalist view point 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 favoured digital art (he has always favoured 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 oppportunity to freelance for other developers and their characters including Sega’s ToeJam and Earl.
Updated 29/12/16 by Adam Gidney
90’s gallery page
Zak McKracken & the Alien Mindbenders. Published by Lucasfilm in 1988. The artist’s first box art.
The Secret of Monkey Island. Published by LucasArts in 1990. The first box art in the series and Steve’s most widely used cover. The somewhat painterly style would be a creative stretch for the artist at the time.
Sam & Max: Hit the Road. Published by LucasArts in 1993.
If you like Steve’s art you’ll love…
The designer of many beloved box arts from the 16-bit period and Ocean Software’s main promotional artist.
The BOX=ART review for Butch Guice’s comic art masterpiece.
The BOX=ART review for Zavier Lesile Cabarga’s animation inspired artwork for Nintendo’s Donkey Kong.
“Steve has said that he always found painting box art fun because of the opportunity it gave to flesh out the pixelated characters on screen.
The following year’s sequel Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991) Steve would credit as a more successful box art from a design perspective. It’s character art was created by taking photos of his girlfriend modelling 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 be responsible for the conceptual art and animation.
Pipe Dreams. Published by LucasFilm Games in 1989.
Defenders of Dynatron City. Published by JVC in 1992. This box art would be a reproduction of an earlier comic cover.
BOX=ART profiles the legendary UK software pulisher Ocean, responsible for such hits as Lemmings.
Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck’s Revenge. Published by LucasArts in 1991. Arguably the artist’s finest effort. It was painted in oils and used across the globe.