Few video game protagonists are as iconic as the Doom Marine, which is kind of odd as we only see the first-person shooter hero’s body illustrated on the game’s cover. But it’s an amazing cover, one etched in all of our collective minds as the pinnacle of early 90s heavy metal action. What we didn’t know, until now, is that that guy was modelled after Doom’s lead designer, John Romero.
Romero recently revealed the story on his blog. As it turns out, Romero was not intended to be the model for Doomguy. The cover art illustrator Don Punchatz had hired a professional model for the role, but Romero and the model didn’t see eye to eye and the designer struggled to convey his vision of a marine on a hill shooting down into an endless horde of demons.
“I kept telling the model what to do but he couldn’t see the scene in his mind,” Romero recalled of his experience a quarter century ago.
“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!'” Romero exclaimed.
He ended up trying out several poses as the illustrator snapped photographs of Romero getting into the role. The rest is history.
“I am the Doomguy!” Romero boasted of this little known fact. “At least on the cover.”