HISTORY OF THE PC ASCII SCENE
(As viewed by the eyes of one that lived it.) by Necromancer
(Text taken in most part from a previous article in The Product
2, but I had to update quit a bit of it.)
Ascii Art as an idea coalesced into existence bceause people
wanted more. They wanted more than just your standard Hercules
display Atari or your Monochrome Commodore 64. To meet this
demand, one singular artist, whose name is lost to the annals of
history decided to take the plunge. Instead of text, he (or she)
had the ingenuity to use the characters /, \, |, -, _ and
whatever else came to mind to create words. An amazing idea.
And a perfect one. People latched onto this. Anyone that could
display text could display ascii art. It was fast, compact,
independant of platform type, and one group in particular set
their sights on it the most, the then-thriving Amiga scene. It
was perfect for Bulletin Board Systems, text-based adventures,
for anything they could think of. Perfect then, and to this day
for file descriptions.
While ascii dominated the Amiga scene, the PC scene was giving
birth to an art medium of their own, ANSI. Colored blocks. Oh,
the wonders. But there were people that weren't satisfied with
ANSI, they had seen ascii art, and it had captivated their
imaginations. Some people believe that demand creates supply,
and because of this, ascii was tentatively introduced to the PC
scene as an art form.
Tinyz, a member of the Amiga scene warez group Katharsis,
recognized the demand, and started in on the supply. A one-man
art group was created by Tinyz, and this introduced what had
long been Amiga-only art (and previously Commodore 64, but not
to the extent of the Amiga scene) into the PC art scene.
Katharsis!Ascii was implemented in March of 1994. Tinyz soon
found kindred spirits, and more artists joined Katharsis!Ascii,
now known as plain Katharsis, or KTS. Others tried to duplicate
Tinyz and the way he brought ascii art to the scene, but to no
avail. Tinyz was the first to establish a true ascii-only art
group in the PC art scene. Previous to Tinyz, there were only a
few ascii artists that were as known as Tinyz, one of those
being Piromaniak of TRiBE.But no one had the grip on the
proverbial ascii testicles in the PC scene that KTS!Ascii did.
That is, until Remorse rose out of the dirt and mooned Katharsis
with it's hairy collective buttocks.
I, along with Necronite (then of ex-Union, Shiver) felt that our
art wasn't the quality KTS was looking for, so we decided to
start our own ascii art group, dubbed Remorse, and started in
October of 1994. Originally, it was meant to be in homage to
Tinyz and KTS, but it didn't quite turn out that way. Remorse
quickly gained members that produced quality art, and was KTS's
first actual competition. Oh, RMRS and KTS didn't realize it at
first, but within a few months, Remorse spurred KTS's release of
"THE-NME.TXT," which was one giant "I'm better than you"
directed towards Remorse.
While the Remorse death/rebirth drama was being acted out (I'll
exclude that from this -- you can find the history of Remorse
elsewhere), several groups decided to follow in the footsteps of
Remorse and KTS. But it wasn't until the year-long torpor of
Remorse and the birth of Whodini's love child, Trank, that any
of these groups started to thrive. With Trank, Whodini recruited
most of the quality artists from the then-defunct Remorse and
several new faces. A few of the members of these new groups
started imitating the style of ts, K-Spiff, KXMode, Mr. Kite and
Lord Jazz. With this wide-spread imitation came a division to
the ascii scene: Newschool and oldschool.
Newschool was more than just the use of the standard /, \, |, -,
and _. It didn't limit itself to merely an outline, it went a
step further to add filling and shading. Several artists arose
that awed the scene with their innovation. Artists such as
Asphixia (aka J. Hale), Killa Hertz, Nuremberg, later on several
artists from groups like s0ap (Sons of Ascii Prophets) and
Noname, artists like Mr. Self Destruct, Discyple, Cain,
countless others, all showing creativity and talent in the way
they designed their asciis.
Unfortunately, the times of the great ascii art era appeared to
have waned. Not many groups thrive still, Remorse is still
around, being the longest lived group, along with Odelay and a
few other smaller ones. The Amiga ascii scene also is not
thriving as much as it once was, many of the older, once
highly-active artists are no longer participating as they used
to. The once deemed unstoppable momentum of the ascii community
appears to be slowly winding down to a halt.
But have faith. We will prevail. We were here before you, and we
will be here long after you. Ascii art has existed since before
people used hard drives, back when you had to plug your
Commodore 64 into the TV. It's not just an artform, it's an
expression, a style. The creative process can never be stifled
completely, and we will overcome.
Long live ascii.