Every mag that has a spine (the printing term is "perfect-bound": the single time the adjective is used in the industry) writes the name of the mag and the number of the issue upon it, so when they're standing on a shelf you can see the copy you want simply by twisting your head unnaturally.
No mag, however, can resist adding something else. Famous examples include Empire (an obscure quote from a film), the original Game Zone (a slice of a picture) and, of course, AMIGA POWER.
If you put all the perfect-bound APs side by side, the spines spell AMIGA POWER AMIGA POWER AMIGA POWER (and so on). (Except for the tragic, unforgivable error on AP45.) You could therefore increase your enjoyment of AP by shuffling the issues Scrabble-style to spell other words, or perhaps construct a brief story.
But this did not suffice for the mighty beings. Each spine also had a circle with a right-pointing arrow in it (symbolising the path of time, or something) and a mysterious message, or Spine Line. Occasionally readers would guess at a particular spine line's meaning, but on the whole, quite sensibly, no one bothered because they'd be written at the last possible moment as the Art Ed waited fuming to send the cover, with everyone standing around saying things like "I KNOW IT'S HARD TO THINK, for the cross fireman" and "SANDWICHES - OOF!, for the unspeakable sandwich bloke's brother beating him up" and thus be impossible to work out.
So here they all are.
AP01-14 - POINTLESS DRIVEL
In the Golden Age, spine lines merely referred to something happening on the actual cover (ie AP11: cover story about some new Ocean games, cover line OCEAN'S NEW WAVE, spine line OCEAN'S NEW WAVE). A complete waste of space
AP15-26 - POOR-QUALITY PUNNING
And the like, with the nadir reached at AP21's THE FIN-EEL FRONTIER, a diabolical fish-based pun relating to a preview of James Pond 3. For some reason involving Gary Penn, AP's strict anti-pun regulations have always been overlooked whenever fish have been involved.
AP27 - BARBARA CARTLAND!
Lost in the mists of time, but possibly something to do with the punchline to a joke whose feedline was used on several occasions around this time without ever being completed. ("Q: What's pink, fluffy and unemployed?")* The gag seems to have first appeared way back in AP14's PD section in a caption to a review of Lemmingoids, so this spine line was perhaps that exceptionally rare and discreetly understated phenomenon, an AP in-joke.
AP28 - WHAT?
Reference to Colin The Publisher's non-comprehension of the previous month's spine line. A clear in-joke, then.
AP29 - LOBSTER LOBSTER LOBSTER
AP30 - HOOKAH HOOKAH HOOKAH CHAKKA!
From the intro of Hooked On A Feeling (from the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack), the Official AP Marching Song.
AP31 - BLAH BLAH BLAH YAKETY SCHMAKETY
Obvious Taz-Mania reference (it's the catchphrase of Taz's dad, Hugh), for no particular reason other than continuation of the three-word repetition motif set up in previous months.
AP32 - WAR HAS NEVER BEEN SO MUCH FUN
AP34 - COOL AS HELL
Both of these were perpetrated by Colin The Publisher as last-minute replacements, after he didn't understand the joke contained in the line which was originally supposed to go on both of these spines, namely, "OOH, FAYE DUNAWAY!"* And we're not going to spoil things by explaining it to him now.
AP33 - RATATATATATA - CHRISTMAS - HEY!
A particularly obscure reference, actually a quote from a special recording made by New Order around 1982 for a Smash Hits telephone line, in which they made their pop hit of the time Confusion sound a bit more festive (original lyric - "Ratatatatata - tatata - hey!") as their Christmas greeting to the readers of said magazine.
AP35 - POLICE ON MY BACK
Title of a Clash song, referring to both that month's cover game Innocent Until Caught, and some of the legal shenanigans besetting the magazine at that time.*
AP36 - OOH! AAH!
Relates most obviously to cover game, Manchester United Premier League Champions, but was also a secret sarcastic jibe at Amiga Format and their extremely favourable review of Psygnosis' dire CD32 opus Microcosm penned by editor (now Team 17's) Marcus Dyson that month, the point lying in the desperately pitiful way they'd been dazzled by some moderately pretty graphics into entirely ignoring the contemptible lack of gameplay therein, in an attempt to convince (the world? the readers? themselves?) of the CD32's wondrousness. That in itself wasn't a particularly rare occurrence, but the game's lack of quality was actually pointed out in the review, only to be ignored on the grounds that, essentially, "we have to give it a good mark to because it is on the CD32, and the CD32 is a good thing which we wish to encourage." The useless, cretinous morons.
AP37 - BARRY BETHALL!
The Slimfast stalwart was paid tribute in this embarrassed acknowledgement of the issue's decreased size (the first of many).
AP38 - 'NIGHT, 'LIZABETH
The month when the team dressed up as The Altons, to highlight the issue's focus on the issue of censorship.
AP39 - ULRICH BROCKDORFF-RANTZAU!
A straightforward reference to the Count responsible for collecting the twenty billion gold marks demanded by the Allies as reparation in the Treaty of Versailles, as seen in this issue's Games That Mimic Reality feature. As the star of a platform game, natch.
AP40 - YEAR ZERO
A reference to Stuart's leaving to become Development Manager at Sensible Software and his being removed from all photographs and histories of AP by Uncle Joe Stalin, thus trivialising the deaths between Joe and Pol Pot of about 45 million people. We got bored of writing Stuart out in readers' letters and the like after three or four months, and he eventually returned to review Brutal in AP53. But it didn't bring any of those 45 million people back, DID IT?
AP41 - THE MAN'S AN OAF
One of the few spine lines to prompt a flood of guesses (Steve McGill was favourite, having left to join Amiga Format that month), all of them wrong. It was in fact describing Steve The Publisher, marking the point we realised why he did what he'd do.
AP42 - I WISH THE GROUND WERE SOFT AND MUSHY
What Mr Clown says after falling off the watertower in Animaniacs. Except it's actually "I wish the ground were mushy and soft" as at least ten people wrote in to tell us. We had them all killed.
AP43 - YOU KNOW... FOR KIDS
Simultaneously a celebration of AP and a reference to Norville Barnes' explanation of his invention in The Hudsucker Proxy. Realising what it is is one of the great surprises of the film, so it was mentioned prominently in every single review and highlighted on the poster.
AP44 - BOB IS A HAMSTER
The original appearance of Bob the Hamster, going some way to explain the issue's guest line in Points of View.
AP45 - SCURVY? NO THANKS
A tribute to satsumas - the Fruit of Champions.
AP46 - HMMM... SMELLS LIKE A HOLLOW VICTORY
A firing on the grounds of total uselessness was overturned through our impassioned intervention. As is our wont.
AP47 - AS TALL AS MANY OF OUR HOUSES TODAY
Another chance to see a joke from one of our finest ever features, Whatever Happened To... Dinosaur Games?
AP48 - 16K IN 100 SECONDS*
Jonathan Davies had brought in a huge pile of old computer mags for some reason. This was proudly quoted in an ad for the Oric-1.
AP49 - WE'RE REALLY SORRY
AP49 - FOR THE GOOD OF YOUR HEALTH
The CD issue. Valiantly compiled by Cam, but fatally weak due to an incredibly short development time and the fact that 90% of the games we painstakingly stockpiled used the keyboard at some point, the CD edition of AMIGA POWER was a pound more expensive than the floppy one (whose spine line, incidentally, means... crumbs. No idea).
AP50 - ARE YOU GATHERING? WELL, I'M JOINING
A tribute to the network structure of Marathon, the game that kept AP going when horribly on deadline while probably being responsible for AP being horribly on deadline.
AP51 - BUNG ALLEGATIONS FLY
A reference to Ultimate Soccer Manager, a football management game with the intriguing option of bribing players, but also relates to Amiga Concept's story accusing us directly of taking bribes when marking games which features a letter confirming exactly that from Marcus Dyson of Team 17 ("Super Stardust 89% - but we gave them the exclusive review and demo"), secure in the knowledge we couldn't sue this French mag for libel. The wag.
AP52 - KENNY, KENNY, PICK UP THE PHONE
The triumphant return of Kenny Grant, AP's coverdisk compiler, also saw the triumphant return of Dave Green's magic chant employed to make him answer his bleeding telephone within fifty rings.
AP53 - THE ORANGE GETS HIM AGAIN
As part of the Caramba! driving games feature, we played Micro Machines. We then remembered how tremendously excellent Micro Machines was and continued playing it for weeks. The hazards of the breakfast table are exemplified in this taunting cry.
AP54 - PLEASE DON'T HURT FLEAKINS
From kooky Delicatessen follow-up The City Of Lost Children. The bit with the brainwashed fat bloke pulling out his erstwhile colleague's eye-camera cable and connecting it to his own so the victim can see himself being strangled was the most distressing film scene of the year. Bravo!
AP55 - BYE-BYE BOB, YOU WERE A GIRL HAMSTER
Commemorating the death of Bob in a unique spine line double. Lucky Colin The Publisher had left the country, eh?
AP56 - IF YOU DON'T POINT, YOU CAN'T SMASH
Seemingly referring to cover game Super Tennis Champs, in fact recording sound badminton-playing advice. The sport enjoyed a brief vogue in AP around this time.
AP57 - YOU'VE CRIPPLED MY CAMEL
A lament for a blown-up tank in Zeewolf 2.
AP57 was the final perfect-bound issue: a decision we unsurprisingly learned of at the last minute. Knowing that AP would at some point become limply stapled, we'd thought about the final few spines reading "AAARGHH!" or "AAAAAA" with the As decreasing in size. But nothing came of it.
Sadly, the tradition of baffling spine lines seems to be dying out, with mags preferring to list their main contents, or have a split picture which turns out to be the logo like it's an Orbis Partwork or something.
We grieve a vanishing art.