John Romero: 'I am the Doomguy (at least on the cover)'
"Frustrated, I threw my shirt off and told him to give me the gun and get on the floor – grab my arm as one of the demons! Defeated, he deferred. I aimed the gun in a slightly different direction and told Don, 'This is what I'm talking about!' Don took several pictures."
- John Romero, telling a story of how the cover art for id Software's Doom was composed.
In a post on his personal blog today, veteran game dev John Romero shared a bit of trivia about the person used as a model for the iconic "Doomguy" on the cover of Doom: it was him. John Romero.
Though trivial, his tale of how he wound up ripping his shirt off actually sheds a bit of fun light on what it was like to be working on Doom in the early '90s.
"Don Punchatz, the illustrator who created the Doom logo and the famous front box cover art came over to id in mid-1993 with a male body model. Don brought a nice camera to take pictures," recounts Romero. "The body model took his shirt off and started posing with our plasma gun toy. Don asked us for suggestions so I started telling him that the Marine was going to be attacked by an infinite amount of demons. It would be cool if he was on a hill and firing down into them. The model was holding the gun in various positions and none of them were interesting to me."
As Romero tells it, this all took place in the "art room" in which the Doom team was building and scanning in assets like the clay models that constituted Doom monsters (you can read more about that process in our Doom postmortem). It was also evidently next door to a dentist's office, as Romero recounts hearing noises from the office (specifically, "screams") while the model was unsuccessfully attempting to bring to life the team's vision of the Doom protagonist.
"Frustrated, I threw my shirt off and told him to give me the gun and get on the floor – grab my arm as one of the demons! Defeated, he deferred," continues Romero. "And that's the story of how the cover composition was created. I AM THE DOOMGUY. (At least on the cover.)"
To hear more from Romero about the making of Doom, check out his and co-creator Tom Hall's postmortem of the game, delivered during GDC 2013.