The Hobbit / After Midnight Crackers,
Fantastic 4 Cracking Group
Added on October 12th, 2005 (8303 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
My real name is Alain Jansen. I'm 37 and I was born in Brussels on November 7th, 1967. I still live in Brussels and in a city called Anderlecht (football fans will have heard about it). I draw comic books for a living and I work under the nickname Mauricet. I’ve drawn my own series Mort de trouille which been published in French, Dutch, Finnish and Danish. I've also worked for DC Comics on Batman, Superman, for Image Comics on Tales of Tellos and co-created the Crossovers for CrossGen Comics. I'm currently working on new creator-owned material. My work can be seen on http://users.skynet.be/mauricet. I also play badminton, video games, I read a lot of everything and go to the movies as much as I can.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
I started off with Anubis and God knows how that handle came about. I guess I just loved that jackal headed Egyptian god. I then moved on to become Hobbit when I joined Fairlight. The Hobbit handle came from the fact that everyone joining FLT (at least at the beginning) choose a new handle that related somehow to The Lord of Rings, which was kinda cool. I used to play a lot of role playing games at that time too (especially AD&D) and had a real love for the small hairy feet folks living in the Shire, so... :)
What group(s) were you in?
My 'career' began in an unknown C64 Belgian group called AMC (After Midnight Crackers, not Attack of the Mutant Camels LOL). AMC quickly merged with two other Belgian groups (Commando and New Frontier) and we became Commando Frontier. Fairlight was the next step - and what a step it was! I then went on to the Amiga, still in FLT but I also joined Bamiga. I then became a member of Transcom on the C64, the French group that also released the CCCP magazine. I made a small apparition in F4CG but I guess my mind was already somewhere else by that time. The scene had changed, and as I got older, the passion faded. But I will always be a Fairlighter!
What roles have you fulfilled?
I started as a swapper as everyone else, but I quickly started to use my drawing skills to enter the scene as well. I'm mostly known as an artist and that suits me well, thank you. :)
How long were you active for?
I got my first Commodore 64 in the middle of 1983. I kinda stayed active ‘till the mid 90's or so... maybe a bit later. I'm really not that good with years actually so...
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
I met people at computer clubs. We copied tapes and so on. I then started to swap by mail with people from around Europe. Belgium is a small country so it wasn't that difficult to unite the best freaks to start a new group with (CFR). I was part of that. Ahahah! Two of my earliest swap partners were Strider who was still in WCC and Gollum who was in CFO. When they started FLT, they asked me to join. The rest is history and a lot of fun. :)
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
I woke up for school and paid a visit to the mailbox looking for parcels of disks that might have arrived. I then went to school. I dropped a couple of sendings (disks copied the evening before) to friends at the post office on my way. When I got back from school, I did my homework (I was good in school), then on to the computer to see what was in the parcels I had picked up earlier. I made a few copies here and there for friends. I played some games, I drew, drew, drew, was on phone conferences ‘till late... and that was it. Oh, and don't forget to squeeze MTV, comics and girls in the mix too!
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
No. Pen and paper and Koala Painter made it for me.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
I don't know. A lot of fun thing happened, that’s for sure! Ok, let's say that being part of FLT and creating the crackin' comics were my proudest moments.
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
The early crackers like FCG and Dynamic Duo that provided us with games to play. Thanks for that gents.
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
No-border-scrolls and that ESCOS thing rocked my world when it came out. Hats off to the 1001 Crew (hoi heren).
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Yep. Mostly Venlo in Holland and ECES in London.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
Fun, frenzy, friends and fuckin' cool. And I was part of it. Yesss!
What were the particular highlights for you?
The ECES in Earl's Court when I met Strider for the first time. Boy, was that a show! But again, don't ask me about which year it was. The answer is OUT OF DATA ERROR LOL.
Any cool stories to share with us?
Here’s one that scared the shit out of me: I was in a bar on Oxford Street in London with Strider, Gollum, Black Shadow and some other fellows and the place was mostly filled with black people. Strider (who had been drinking too much beer I guess) went to the toilet and wrote "FLT kicks Niggers' ass" on the wall. When he came back he started to shout that damn sentence in the bar, and all the black guys were starring at us. I thought I was never going to leave that place alive. But it all went okay in the end. There are guardian angels for hobbits, I guess.
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
From time to time. I spoke to Goblin/G*P some months ago on IRC, Irata too and the Danish Gold boys (Sphinx and Turtle). I swapped some emails with Strider but that's it. Life and things move on for the good or the bad. Who knows?
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
Mid-1983 with tape (and fastload) at first. I still got some old C64 and C128 machines, 1541's, and all my disks, cartridges and joysticks at my parents' place. :) I only use an emulator nowadays though. Funny thing is that the first original game that I owned was The Hobbit from Melbourne. That's the old version on tape. It took hours to load and sometimes crashed near the end of the loading process. It still gives me the creeps when I think about it. Ahahah!
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
It sure was. The machine was a technological wonder, the games were aplenty, the people were great, and mostly, the time was right. C64 forever, man!
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
Give me a few good coders and a couple of musicians, and I'll provide graphics and ideas. No kiddin'. It's mostly a matter of time and prerogatives though. We, the grown-ups, have responsibilities (sigh).
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
To my old partners in crime: Thank you for the days, the sacred days, and the endless days you gave me! Hob-Hob-Hobbit! L8ER M8ES! Oh, and one last thought: we should think about writing a book about the scene of the old days. It's definitely a part of computer history that mustn't be forgotten. I mean it.
back to the list of available interviews