# The Art of Nintendo Power: A Journey Through Retro Gaming History
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see original Contra and Mario Kart artwork up close? Thanks to the efforts of Stephan Reese, the organizer and showrunner for the non-profit Interactive Art Collection, and his team, fans of retro gaming can now experience the joy of seeing pop-culture history outside of their TV screens and old magazines.
Reese’s latest exhibit, “The Art of Nintendo Power,” recently showcased at PAX West 2023 in Seattle, is a traveling art show that features original Nintendo Power prints, line art, posters, 3D models, and more. The exhibit takes visitors on a journey through the early days of the iconic 1980s print magazine, which was originally crafted and written for kids, but has since become a beloved piece of nostalgia for adults as well.
Nintendo Life had the opportunity to catch up with Reese at PAX West and discuss some of the highlights of the exhibit. One of the standout pieces highlighted by Reese is a series of panels by artist Kev Brockschmidt, known for his work on Magic: The Gathering cards. Reese particularly admires an image of Kirby by Brockschmidt, which he used as his profile picture for a long time. He describes Brockschmidt as an amazing artist who contributed to many internal pages for first-party Nintendo projects.
Another notable artist featured in the exhibit is Lee MacLeod, who created pieces for games like The Lost Vikings and Demon’s Crest. One of MacLeod’s standout works is a paint-over of a photograph for the Super C game cover. Reese shares that the painting is so exact that he was able to find one of the actors in the photograph through a Google image search.
The exhibit also showcases the process behind creating the iconic Nintendo Power covers. Reese explains that the art starts as a pencil sketch, which is then used to create a stencil for the final painting. Some of the pencils used for the stencils are identical line for line to the finished painting, while others show slight variations.
Reese also sheds light on the collaboration between the Japanese creators and Nintendo Power. In the early days, Gail Tilden and Howard Phillips, members of a publishing company called Tokuma Shoten and Work House Japan, would fly to Japan once a month to work on the magazine with the Japanese team. Over the years, the collaboration became more of a hybrid situation, with Japanese artists also contributing to the magazine.
One fascinating aspect of the exhibit is the collection of Nintendo Power envelopes and letters. These envelopes were drawn on and mailed in by children, and they were obtained from an ex-Nintendo employee who had taken them off the wall in the call center before the building was demolished. Reese explains that they have about 125 pieces of envelope art, which were saved by the non-profit.
The exhibit also features artwork from Orange Nakamura, an artist who painted under a pseudonym. Nakamura’s work adds a unique touch to the magazine and helps create a cohesive product. Reese mentions that sourcing Japanese art has been quite challenging, but they are fortunate to have obtained some incredible pieces.
The Howard and Nester comic strip, a popular feature in Nintendo Power, was created by artist Shuji Imai. Imai, who did not speak or read English at the time, directly lettered the English onto the pages, giving the comic a distinct artistic interpretation.
Among the standout pieces in the exhibit is the original 1989 Mario mascot costume. Built in 1989 and first used in 1990, the costume has gone through some restoration work to bring it back to its original glory. While some irreversible changes were made during a previous restoration attempt, the costume is now about 85% restored.
Reese emphasizes the challenges of sourcing and preserving these pieces, as many of the artists were not credited and the artwork was often returned to the artists. The non-profit organization behind the exhibit, The Art of Nintendo Power, actively searches for these pieces and makes themselves easily findable to collectors and artists.
The Art of Nintendo Power exhibit offers a unique opportunity for gaming enthusiasts to experience the history and artistry behind one of the most influential gaming magazines of all time. With original prints, line art, and 3D models, visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant world of Nintendo Power and appreciate the talent and creativity of the artists involved.