A Tribute To Andy Dyer 1
Image: Future Publishing / Time Extension

Last week, we reported on the sad news that legendary games journalist Andy Dyer had passed away at the age of 55.

Dyer's career in video games began back in 1990 on Commodore Format, a position he switched to after working in insurance. "I still shudder when I look back and think what would have happened had I not," he told Commodore Format Archive in 2014.

Commodore Format would bring Dyer together with the legendary Steve Jarratt, and the pair would form the iconic Thicky (Dyer) and Grumpy (Jarratt) personas. This team-up resulted in a phenomenally successful magazine in terms of both sales and critical response, so it was little surprise when publisher Future enlisted the duo to launch one of its most important magazines of the early '90s, TOTAL!, which was focused entirely on Nintendo's consoles.

In 1992 Dyer joined the Sega publication MEGA as Deputy Editor, and became editor in 1993. He would return to TOTAL! as editor in 1994, and would later work on magazines such as PlayStation Max, Official PlayStation 2 Tips and, after his departure from Future, Imagine Publishing's N-Revolution.

A Tribute To Andy Dyer 1
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

Steve Jarratt – Games Media Legend (Commodore Format, TOTAL!, EDGE)

I first met Andy Dyer when he applied for a job on Commodore Format, the magazine which I’d been tasked with launching, I immediately liked the guy, and even though he was obviously nervous, I was comfortable in his company and felt that we’d really clicked. I knew I’d filled the staff writer role before he’d even left the office. It was his dream job, and I felt happy that I’d rescued him from a life of drudgery in insurance!

That would have been around the summer of 1990, some 34 years ago, so my memories of my time with Andy are faded and incomplete; in my head, it’s more of an ‘Andy Dyer greatest hits’ clips reel; flashes of shared moments that probably won’t sound that thrilling when written down – after all we worked in an office, mainly, sharing the duties that magazine production entailed. It’s less prestigious than it sounds,

Among the moments I do remember are sharing a train journey back from London when we spent the whole time talking nonsense (like the ticket collector who became ‘Captain Hat’), and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much, before or since. I recall Andy’s response to the C64 version of Dick Tracy, where a poster of Dick on the wall gained a speech bubble saying, “You disappointing bastard!” (Hilarious at the time.)

A Tribute To Andy Dyer 1
Image: Future Publishing / Time Extension

Then there was the period we spent in the attic of a rented property making the launch issue of TOTAL!. We had to work through the night and into the next day to get the damn thing finished. We were exhausted and falling asleep at our desks. But overall, I just have vague memories of endless silly banter, playing pool at lunchtime, and simply enjoying Andy’s company, both at work and after hours in various pubs in Bath.

Andy was a very kind-hearted man, a smart guy and a really funny writer. Giving written text a comedic edge is hard to do, but Andy was brilliant at it. He really forced me to up my game, because my C64 reviews were garbage compared to his. For Commodore Format, he also invented Roger ‘speccy’ Frames (a bespectacled kid who plays budget games and his dog Debit), with an ongoing thread about how Roger was a proper skinflint. Accompanied by Mike Roberts’ cartoon artwork it quickly became a fan favourite and even featured on the cover of the final issue of Commodore Format.

Andy also joined me to launch TOTAL! Magazine, where we became a bit of a double act, complete with more Mike Roberts’ caricatures. Following that tortuous first issue, he worked on the mag for probably less than a year before he was whisked away to the glitz and glamour of the Sega Mega Drive magazine MEGA, where he was deputy editor and later editor. Of course, we remained friends, but he largely circulated with his own team members, and so we gradually drifted apart, more so in later years when he left Bath for the seaside air of Bideford in Devon.

So, in reality, our time working together was actually quite short, albeit full-on. But for a brief couple of years, I was proud and privileged to call Andy Dyer my best mate.

Rest in peace old friend.

A Tribute To Andy Dyer 1
Image: Future Publishing / Time Extension

Andy Roberts – CEO of Thalamus Digital, Former Future Freelancer (Commodore Format, Total!)

In the summer of 1990, I was pipped at the post by Andy Dyer for the position of Staff Writer on Future Publishing’s Commodore Format magazine. And rightly so, of course: though I had credentials, he had charm and personality in buckets, and a cheeky grin that could charm the birds from the trees.

Fortunately, the runner-up prize was a rolling freelance gig, specifically for the “Gamebusters” hints ‘n tips section for which Andy was responsible, and as such, we would spend many an hour on the phone discussing games, commissions, and how to fill countless pages with little to no budget.

In those early days, Andy placed a great deal of faith in me. On occasion, I’d get a call late in the evening to ask how we might fill a page or two before deadline. He placed his trust in me countless times and gave me the unconditional support and encouragement that would prove to be vital to a fledgling writer like myself. Andy was learning the trade too, of course (under the tutelage of Editor Steve Jarratt), but he was as much a mentor and inspiration to me as anyone else on the magazine. My confidence in myself was born of his.

A year in, I had the opportunity to visit Bath and hang out with the team in their tiny office sandwiched between Future’s Monmouth Street buildings. The dynamic between Andy and Steve was incredible (and enviable); they spent the day tapping at their keyboards and singing along to the radio, stopping only to trade the most elaborate insults they could concoct about the other. There was a palpable chemistry between them - a true master and apprentice at work – a chemistry that would later be pivotal to TOTAL! magazine’s appeal.

When Steve and Andy moved over to TOTAL! magazine I was naturally heartbroken; I’d learned so much from Andy, and our phone calls were often a weekly highlight. So much so, I called Steve and hassled him to let me write for the fledgling magazine, if only to briefly float in his and Andy’s orbit once again. Years later, Andy was generous enough to throw some freelance work over the fence for PlayStation Max magazine, where he’d reached the lofty heights of Editor.

When I think back to those times, I have nothing but fond memories of Andy; always wearing his cheeky, winsome grin, he was razor sharp, naturally funny, and an incredibly inventive and gifted writer. Making magazines is difficult, making great magazines exponentially so, but Andy had a knack for bringing fresh ideas to the page and making the reader feel like the magazine was a gang of like-minded mates that everyone aspired to join.

My last message to Andy was via Facebook, where I’d reached out to see how he was doing. I told him I’d always be around if he needed to chat or vent.

"Thank you fella. Means a lot. I will take you up on that," he replied.

And just like that, he got the final word. The bastard.

Frank O'Connor - Ex-Future, 343 Studios (Halo)

Almost exactly a year ago, I ended up chatting with Andy on Facebook – in fact I helped him fix (I think) a Commodore 64 – something with a 6502 processor anyway – but we talked about the good old days and the all-to-predictable struggles Andy was enduring at the time. We shared anecdotes, advice, even medication tips and we caught up. I recognized many of the trials he was facing – and he, like me was all too aware of the ripples he was casting on his local pond.

Andy was a wonderful communicator – a brilliant writer, a genuinely, organically funny and engaging conversationalist and an oratory expounder of all things West Country. When I moved to Bath, with my own funny accent and pale blue Scottish skin, he was one of several amazing friends who welcomed me, embraced me as kin and ended up being a beloved roommate and colleague.

If you knew him though, you’d know that he could be funny without saying a word. He could simply gaze back at you with an expression of puckishly mirthful judgment – a faerie’s delight in the foolishness of us mere mortals. He could simultaneously judge the profundity of your stupidity while gurning his features into a grin that loudly pronounced he too was a core collaborator in whatever the idiocy was.

Adventures to motorway cafes in the dead of night, long sunny cider afternoons in the garden by the aqueduct — and endless, happy and infectious joy. I knew him when we were young, when we were our own platonic ideals – and so he’s forever paused there in my memory and always will be. A beacon of bright laughter on the best stretch of road I ever traveled.

I don’t know if he ever fixed the computer, because computers are tricky – subject to bugs, to wear and tear and to the silly things we install on them, but we did diagnose it correctly, and made it a little better and all with help from our friends.

Neil Grayson – Editor of the Commodore Format Archive

I first encountered Andy in the pages of Commodore Format. His writing was unlike anything I'd ever seen before: to 12-year-old Neil, reading what he had to say every month was like having a very cool older brother dropping round to tell me what all the latest, greatest games were.

As an adult reading back some of those reviews, I realise that he'd clocked the big "secret" behind building relationships with your audience. Whatever he wrote, he made sure he was speaking to one person - to you - instead of all this "hi, readers!" rubbish. Get that right every time, and people begin to think of you as a friend. Andy had a lot of friends.

I was really nervous to reach out to old games journalists when I started making the Commodore Format Archive website. Never meet your heroes and all that. But Andy replied to my anxious "if not no worries!!!111" Facebook message the same day and gave me an interview within two. He told me how he'd been miserable working in insurance until the day his flatmate saw an advert for the Commodore Format staff writer's job.

He was convinced the interview - part of which he claimed had taken place on a park bench - had gone badly. But clearly not. Little stories like this lit up my brand-new website with credibility, and it took off. I'll always be grateful: after all, he could've laughed and told me to get lost. But I think he was really happy to know that his work touched so many people.

After that he became a proper mate, really. He was never far away from the inbox or chat. He was the funniest person I've ever known, and I reckon everyone he's ever met will tell you that. He had a very focused and serious side, too, though.

One day, we were going back and forth on how software publishers in the '90s used to try and lean into journalists for good review scores, but he always felt a responsibility to the person who'd shelled out for the magazine. What he told me is something I've carried with me in my own life as a journalist ever since: "I always believed that the reader should be the beneficiary of the writing. No one else."

Stuart Campbell (Ex-Future)

Andy was a central figure in the cast list of what many of us think of as "Golden Age" Future, and his character shone through bright and clear in all the mags he worked for, especially TOTAL! and MEGA.

I spoke to him not long ago, and while he was dealing with a lot of tough challenges he was his usual positive and upbeat self and full of kind words for others.

It's a tragedy to lose him so young, but he'll be remembered.

A Tribute To Andy Dyer 1
Image: Future Publishing / Time Extension

Amanda Dyson - Former Future Art Editor

I joined Future as part of a recruitment drive at the start of 1990. I got to know Andy when he joined that summer.

He and I became two of the six on the launch editorial team for MEGA. Neil West was editor and he shared a flat with Andy. They were more like an old married couple than colleagues with their hilarious bickering and banter – Andy referring to Neil as Lover.

We all worked hard on MEGA but it was very much blood, sweat and laughter working alongside Andy. His quick fire insults were comical and endearing. And so many at his own expense too.

Years after leaving Future I’d occasionally have an exchange online with Andy. Behind the Bristolian bravado he was a sensitive soul. I’ll always carry fond memories of him. Rest in peace, Azzer Dazzer.

Paul Monaghan - Maximum Power Up, Pixel Addict, Amiga Addict

Anyone who is aware of my work on Pixel Addict magazine or Maximum Power Up podcast will know I love gaming magazines. In the 1990s we were spoiled for great content and that was thanks to the amazing writers who worked on them.

Andy Dyer was one of those writers. Back in 1992, I discovered TOTAL! magazine. As a Game Boy owner, I wanted to read all I could, and this new mag was perfect!

TOTAL! appeared to have a small team, mainly consisting of Editor Steve “Misery Guts” Jarratt and staff writer Andy “Thicky” Dyer. As a nickname, it seemed cruel to me, but throughout the mag, their own personalities would shine through, and these nicknames played upon in various features and reviews.

A Tribute To Andy Dyer 1
Image: Future Publishing / Time Extension

Two memories jump out from the early days of the mag. TOTAL! Tea-Time - where readers had a chance for Steve and Andy to come to your house for tea. And secondly a feature on The Miracle Piano Teaching System for NES. Having Andy as a wannabe rockstar in a photo story made me chuckle, and it highlighted how funny he could be.

Andy soon left TOTAL! to join MEGA as well as crop up in various issues of GamesMaster. By this point, as a reader, I would always trust his judgment when it came to reviews.

I never got to meet Andy in person but was lucky enough to chat to him on the phone and over Messenger several times to discuss various topics. Hopefully he knew that those days working on magazines brought many of us a lot of enjoyment thanks to his talent.

My thoughts are with his family, friends and ex colleagues at this time. R.I.P. Andy.

Liza Jane Duffin (Ex-Future)

I knew Andy for 35 years, met him at Future Publishing and lived with him as he lived with my boyfriend at the time. He was one of a kind, so funny, very dry, intelligent and kind-hearted; he was a sensitive soul also and had many demons and always thought so little of himself when actually he was pretty fucking awesome!

He will always be in my heart, and I hope he’s now at peace; he was a kindred spirit, and he loved laughing and life. His smile and laughter will be truly missed.

RIP Andy. I love you.

Chris Schilling (N-Revolution Contributor, EDGE)

I hadn't read many of the magazines that established Andy’s reputation as a brilliant, witty writer, but pretty much anyone working in print knew of him – and so I was thrilled to find out he was taking over the reins at N-Revolution, Imagine’s sadly short-lived Nintendo mag.

Working with him was a joy: we never actually met in person, but he was so immediately welcoming and supportive that it felt like we had. As a freelancer, getting an email from Andy wasn’t just a good thing because it meant more work, it was the chance to have a chat with a consistently funny and big-hearted friend.

When he wrote the contributor bios for each issue, he would sometimes poke fun at his writers, but always in a way where the affection shone through. In one issue, he wrote something incredibly kind and sincere that gave me such a boost – my parents were so moved they bought the issue and had the page framed.

I’m sure many other writers who’ve worked with him will have similar stories of this lovely, funny and compassionate man. He’ll be sadly missed.