It's been about a quarter of a century since the original DOOM launched for PC and, in all that time, the identity of the cover model has never been revealed. Until now. Due to an interesting turn of events, it turns out that developer John Romero is the man behind the iconic pose.
That quote comes from Romero on a recent blog for Doomguy called "Doomguy's Identity." The story leading to that revelation isn't actually too uncommon in creative works.
As the story goes, id brought in a body model to strike various poses in the hopes of catching just the right shot to inspire a wicked game cover. Romero explained in the blog post that he had a vision for what he wanted for the Doom art, but the model just wasn't seeing it in his own head. Maybe back in 1993 it was more difficult to imagine what it would be like to get swarmed by a never-ending legion of demons, one of which is grabbing your arm and trying to pull you into the bowels of hell.
So as Romero puts it, he got frustrated and stepped in to show the team what he was trying to get the model to do. In the end, they just shot a bunch of pictures of Romero with the body model serving as the grabby demon. With a clear image of what they wanted on the DOOM cover, the design team then put together the now-famous image of a soldier being overrun by minions of hell.
I love stories like this, when someone just steps in and says, "No, I meant it needs to look like THIS," and then they realize that it would have been easier to do it themselves in the first place.
This DOOM tale reminds me of one of my favorite X-Files anecdotes involving a special weapon used to kill shapeshifting aliens. The sound effects guy tried a bunch of different noises that the weapon would make and the showrunners weren't happy with any of them. One of the guys said "it should sound like this," and made a noise with his mouth. Apparently they all blinked a few times, recorded the guy making the noise, and that's what made it into the show.
Anyway, at long last, we now know who is on the original Doom box. We're not sure who all was still asking, but we've got our answer all the same.