The Richard Powell Interview about Space Quest 7
Somewhere in August 2003, I tried to contact Richard Powell, who worked on the cancelled Space Quest 7 project as concept artist. I asked him if he had some Space Quest 7 stuff laying around at home. To my surprise, Rich replied and the next two months he and I frequently exchanged mails which ultimately lead to this terrific interview. It was conducted on September 22, 2003.
Before you read this interview, please look at the space quest 7 design sketches first.
Can you tell us anything about yourself Mr Powell?
I live in North Fork, the exact center of California. I freelanced from my home for the past few years but recently took a job as Art Director for a startup game company located in ...drum roll please... the old Sierra On-Line building! Can't seem to get away.
Do you have any hobbies?
Well... Drawing for one. I also have been spending quite a bit of time painting. I recently had a show of my work at William's Gallery West that consisted of paintings of Tin Toys. I also showed a bunch of drawings and cartoons there.
Wife: Frankie (an artist also)
Dogs: Otis and Jack
Cats: Willy and Ringo
Water Buffalo: Arthur
Can you tell us how you got stranded at Sierra?
I started as an Amiga Conversion Artist at Sierra in 1990. I had recently graduated from California State University at Hayward with a degree in fine art. My portfolio consisted of angst ridden collages and rude cartoons. The only reason I got the job was because the Art Director (Bill Davis) was a Dylan fan and I happened to have a Bob Dylan portrait in my portfolio. My lovely wife got stuck there too. We'd met in college and were engaged to be married when we started at Sierra.
Frankie left Sierra when Bailey was born (1995) and I stuck around for a few more years, working my way into the marketing department. When they closed their doors in Oakhurst, I stole a bunch of art supplies and holed up in my cabin with large caliber weaponry.
Mr Powell, you worked on the cancelled Space Quest 7 project as character designer. You've generously supplied SpaceQuest.Net with awesome looking sketches you made for the long-cancelled project. Some of them are rather... Odd. Can you tell us, in your expert opinion, do you have an obsession for boobs and *cough* hookers *cough*?
What's odd about boobs? Look around, there are boobs everywhere. They usually come in pairs. Hookers, on the other hand are loners I think. You'd have to ask Scott or Leslie what they had planned for Roger in the Land of Space Hookers. I just draw 'em as I see 'em.
How long did you work on the project?
About 6 months, at night. Late. Way past my bedtime. Under the influence.
How much work were you able to produce for the project?
I basically did all the concept art for the project. There were a few 3D renders done by Tim Loucks I believe (Sheriff Robo, The Robo-Dog, a trailer). He works with me now, by the way.
Your "Scrubbing Bubble" sketch was previously known around the Space Quest Universe as a character named "Dougie". Can you tell us anything about this creature?
Not really, he was just an alien I came up with. I think Leslie just named him Dougie in the interview and things grew from there. Sometimes a game design develops with the help of visuals provided by the artist and often things that begin as jokes end up in the design too.
How come this image is out in the open for all this time, and the others design sketches are not? Did the project release this image as eye candy for the fans?
I think we wanted to send you guys something for your websites and soon after the whole thing got axed! I gathered up my sketches and moved on to another projects. The sketchbooks have been residing in my files ever since.
One sketch is labeled "The Gelder 5000 Robo-Pup". It reminds me of that "Tom and Jerry set in outer space" cartoon in which a metal robot dog hunts Tom. It looks just like your sketch, wheels included.
I watched a LOT of cartoons as a kid. They're in my psyche and occasionally find their way out.
Do you think Sierra made the right decision to scrap Space Quest 7? Or was it a necessity evil?
No, it was based on a stupid marketing decision. The marketing experts convinced them it wouldn't sell based on the sales of 6. I think the awful box cover art for 6 scared away sales! I was certainly disappointed when it was cancelled, I love working on Sci Fi.
It's a known fact that King Graham cross dresses. What about you, Rich?
I'm an ex-Marine. I've killed people for suggesting less.
What do you think about the SQ7 fanproject that is currently in production with Josh Mandel as Head Writer?
I like everything that Josh does, especially his desserts. Josh and I seem to gravitate towards one another. One of these days one of our projects is going to make us rich!
Any last words for the fans out there, Mr Powell?
Thanks for keeping the faith in a great Series. I miss talking to Scott but was never close to Al.