Hey, Computerworld?

Thanks to Ken the Tutor! He says: “What are those things escaping from her TV? Is that a joystick in her hand? Could you even connect a joystick to a regular TV then? Especially wirelessly?”

Ken scanned this from an OMNI magazine that surfaced in his storage (April 1984 issue) — does anyone recognize the signature, or can figure it out from that info? We’re putting Art Cumings as the tag, on the basis of some memory pages saying he did some work for OMNI; but there doesn’t seem to be enough of a similarity of style. http://mikelynchcartoons.blogspot.com/2012/09/art-cumings-june-9-1922-august-28-2012.html


  1. That’s definitely a joystick. Atari-style. The lack of a cord may be just for simplicity, though the lack of a game system console is less easily explained away.

  2. I wonder if the little animated critters scuttling away are based on figures from a particular game played at that time, or more like the cartoonist’s invention from a general familiarity of what was current.

  3. Yes, that was my question as well. I don’t recognize them, so I’m fairly certain they’re not from any game that had a large cultural impact. I’m not an Atari connoisseur, though.

  4. @Mitch4 — I bet you’re right. I see dots, triangles, and crash test dummy logos. I went 5-down a rabbit hole looking at Wikipedia entries for computer games and consoles from 83/84, and I’m thinking those MIGHT be poorly rendered game controller buttons, or perhaps something from one of the games. We need someone who was a teenager about then (and who still remembers this stuff); I’m about 5-10 years too old, alas!

  5. Might have been little bouncy things from a screen saver. Anybody remember the flying toasters? They would have made a better gag.

  6. I’d wager that the artist was on the older side in 1984, i.e., didn’t reeeeally understand the stuff kids are doing these days.

    But the commercials show these kids clearly using a TV to look at little glowey bits controlled by the exact joystick drawn in the cartoon (albeit a little large).

    I guarantee that as a 49 year old dad, any “edgy” jokes I make about newer technology would be laughable, not funny.

  7. It sounds like ComputerLand & looks most like Galaxian. Galaga & Space Invaders were also around then, but the attackers were less triangular. All featured things dropping from the top. And yes, that’s how TVs looked in 1984. And yes, the console is missing.

  8. I read the “5-down a rabbit hole” and thought it might actually make sense. As in you went down 5 different paths off the main tunnel looking for an answer. I like it.

  9. Or it was a reference to a crossword puzzle we were supposed to be aware of, and meant to substitute the 5-down answer right there.

  10. Definitely an Atari joystick, rubber flex-skirt and all. I was an Atari addict, but none of the games I can think of had those critters in them, with or without legs. And yeah, where’s the box? That’s what connected to the TV, and the joystick to the box (in both cases, with wires).

    The signature looks very like the one on the Seuss book, in the link. Don’t know otherwise.

  11. Doesn’t look like anything familiar to me. (1984 is too old for flying toasters, FWIW.)

    Computerworld is also kind of an odd choice to be phoning, but I guess it’s because it had “computer” in the name.

  12. The sprites attempting to escape the TV set do not look anything like any of the games mentioned so far. I think they were intended to be “generic” video game components. In addition to the Atari game console, that set is also missing its antenna and a power cord.

    P.S. This cartoon is definitely signed “Cumings” (there is a copy available for sale on Ebay). The British political cartoonist Michael Arthur Cummings (with a double “m”) signed his work in a completely different style. Most sources seem to conflate the two spellings, but I’m not convinced that they were necessarily the same person.

    P.P.S. Searching for “Hello, Computerworld…” (and notHey…“) produced dozens of copies of “Scotty” speaking into the underside of a mouse (from “Star Trek IV”).

  13. Dave, I think Computerworld (of course a real retail chain) did sell game consoles, and thus might be where this family bought theirs (erm, not shown).

  14. Before noting the Atari controller others have pointed out, I thought of VCR icons for On, Off, Fast Forward, and Working. Did they appear onscreen in Atari games?

  15. Icons onscreen in Atari games? No 🙂

    Mitch: I was thinking of Computerworld magazine, but of course a retailer would be a more rational thing to pick…

  16. @ Shrug – “…a number of hits for Art Cumings, 1922-2012, about half of them in OMNI…

    Some of these details also appear in the biographies for “Cummings”, which makes me think someone has mixed them both up.

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