Thursday, 29 July 2010

Dave Gallagher collection on Blood of Kittens

Blood of Kittens has posted a nice overview of GW regular Dave Gallagher's artwork. The post is here. Alas, a quick Google search does not turn up any portfolio sites for Gallagher.

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Wednesday, 28 July 2010

War & Peace 2010: Swag

Amongst the amazing things I picked up at the War & Peace show on Sunday were:

A prop Greek shield from the movie Clash of the Titans. This is made from something which appears to be rubberised fiberglass and is very light. I love the way that the design has worn off. I am not sure if this is intentional or if it was painted to look that way.

A bicorn hat. I have wanted one of these for ages but they are usually extremely expensive. This one is very worn but I think that adds to its charm.

A US Cavalry stetson. Actually this isn't quite the hat bought (long boring story) but I swapped the accessories onto the one you see here. Hence the badge is yet to be attached. This has prompted me to put together a Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (of Apocalypse Now fame) outfit.

A bust of Ajax. This is made from poured resin and marble powder and will be very handy for stunning buglers. I have no idea when it was made. I googled "Ajax bust" but didn't find any originals which this might be a copy of.

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Monday, 26 July 2010

War & Peace 2010

War & Peace is the Europe's biggest military vehicle show. My pal Agony and I headed down there on Sunday and had a wonderful time. I will blog about my swag soon and will post some as-yet-half-baked thoughts about reenactment. I leave you with some of my best snaps.

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Sunday, 25 July 2010

Bolt Thrower album covers

I am a massive fan of the output from Games Workshop in the late 80s and early 90s. This is partly due to nostalgia of my formative years, but also because the company was in one of its most fertile periods creatively, unfettered by the need to please shareholders and maintain its monopoly in a crowded market. It was the new kid on the block (or the new dwarf in the mêlée) and consistently produced fresh and innovative titles. I think there have been similarly innovative periods since (indeed, I think we are in one now), but my heart is rooted in this time, justifiably dubbed The Golden Age by fans.

Having scoured ebay over the years there are few corners I have not explored in Workshop’s product line from this era . I was overjoyed, therefore, to be reminded of Bolt Thrower. The British thrash metal band enjoyed some success at the end of the 80s and was intimately involved with Workshop. The musicians were keen gamers who lived in Nottingham, so cross pollination was inevitable. They used the John Sibbick cover art for Rogue Trader for their Realm of Chaos album sleeve, Workshop regular Pete Knifton did the cover of their Warmaster album, they borrowed the Workshop iconography (particularly the eight-pointed star of chaos) and had features in White Dwarf (which at the time was more of a cultural barometer than it is now, regularly reviewing novels, bands and computer games). They continued their relationship with Sibbick, who contributed subsequent cover artwork.

Below are a collection of Bolt Thrower's most Workshop-related album covers.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Doctor Who opening titles, 1963-2010

Below is an compilation of Doctor Who opening titles. Not only is it delightful to see the old title sequences, but watching them back-to-back provides an excellent insight into how science fiction graphic design, effects and music have changed over the decades.

I am most surprised by the older sequences, which still seem fresh by today’s standards. I also can’t help but feel that the more retrained typography of the early logo is better than the brash (and now rather dated) schemes used in the 80s and 90s. I suspect the “mandala” logo of the Eccleston/Tennant years may date similarly. Another thing that pops out is the speed of the sequences. The leisurely pace of the first ones gradually give way to the almost comic break-neck worm-hole plunge of the Tennant intro, which leaves one thankful that the present sequence is somewhat slower.

via BoingBoing

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Holiday swag I: vintage post cards

I spent a lovely week on the South coast last month and fell in love with the town of Honiton, which is, it would seem, almost entirely composed of antique shops. I found these wonderful post cards there. I was intrigued to see what anyone would have written on the back of the one featuring Miss Marie Studholme. Alas, it is blank.

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Saturday, 17 July 2010

Solomon Kane

Before seeing the movie Solomon Kane, I picked up a cheap copy of the original short stories by Robert E. Howard. I did not know much about Howard or his work until this point, and was surprised to learn he was friends with Lovecraft, was amazingly prolific and killed himself when he was only 31. The short stories are quite wonderful, and I can see that they were a great influence on Tolkien, Moorcock and Mike Mignola in particular.

The film is a passable post-Lord of the Rings romp which will entertain but won't suffer immediate re-watching. However, its production design is quite remarkable in places.

Set against the backdrop of Black Death England, James "Rome" Purefoy marches about the frosty, dank countryside on some extremely well-chosen locations. The collection of thumbnails below contains some of my favourite shots. The Puritan, as he's known, spends a lot of the film's second act silhouetted against winter trees which shelter peasants in the act of burying their dead. He comes across ruined churches whose crypts are filled with ghouls and the charred remains of villages where witch burnings went awry. All this is very evocative and it is a shame the story does not devote more time to the Arthurian concept that the land is barren because the King is sleeping.

The only exception to the otherwise flawless design is a rather silly scene where Kane is crucified. I felt it had the potential to be graphically stunning, but this was not realised. Added to this is the unintentional hilarity derived from the fact Kane just gets down once he's had enough. I think the moral of this scene is: use bigger nails and bang them through the bones of the wrists AND ankles.

The costumes are average LotR / Texas Chainsaw Massacre affairs with a couple of exceptions. Woefully little is made of the amazing Plague Doctors which are glimpsed in one scene, but the film's baddie and quite novel. He's a necromancer straight out of Warhammer, with litanies tattooed on his face and his robes cluttered with charms. Some high-rez shots are floating about the web showing the awesome centipede/vertebrae designs on his bracers and jewellery.

I particularly like the font used for the film's main title, which has enough flare to keep it interesting while not being overly ornate.

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Thursday, 15 July 2010

Link roundup

It's another one of those awesome days when I am constantly bombarded with interweb-based fantasticness.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Interview with GW's Gav Thorpe

I am a bit late on this, but Bad Dice have a 2 hour podcast with ex-Games Workshop employee Gav Thorpe. Gav is best known for being the Warhammer Loremaster (?). He was with the company for 15 years and in that time wrote many of the Warhammer and 40K rulebooks and army books.

I listened to it over the weekend (mainly while doing a lot of cleaning around my flat) and it's pretty fascinating. Gav talks about how he got into wargaming and how he was given the job at Workshop (he literally handed in some home-brew rules at a Games Day, was invited for an interview and asked if he could start "next week"!) However, it's his description of how the Studio works that's most interesting. He recounts how it's structured, how decisions are made and how the R&D systems changed over the years.

He's now working as a freelance writer and explains about the trials of writing fantasy fiction and the differences in penning books for print and audio release.

The interview is here and Gav's blog is here.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Awesome viral marketing (maybe)

The amazing Propnomicon has drawn my attention to something which may (or may not be) a viral marketing ploy for the new Chrirstopher Nolan film Inception. Apparently someone at Wired received this weather-beaten pack through the post and scanned it in. Check out the original Wired post here. There are shades of MK-ULTRA, Jim Channon's First Earth Battalion document (which if you have not seen it is freaking mental) and the high-profile viral marketing campaign which preceded Spielberg's A.I.

There's no prizes for guessing Propnomicon's a mythos freak and he interprets the mysterious dossier as a Cthulhu artifact. What a glorious idea! Such a prop would be amazing in a Delta Green campaign.

Be sure to click on this link to the PASIV Device page too.

EDIT: The PASIV Device page also links to the Mind Crime site.

PS - Wired tag this story with "Rabbit Hole". Alas there are no other posts under this heading but here's hoping more emerge!
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Sunday, 11 July 2010

Incursion interview

GameShark's Michael Barnes has just posted an interview with my pal Jim at Grindhouse Games on the development of our first title, Incursion. It's a fascinating read which covers not only the game itself, but the trials and tribulations indy publishers face in producing their first title.

The interview is a must-read for anyone thinking of going into game publishing, so check it out.

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Friday, 9 July 2010

'Angel' heels by Alexander McQueen

Check out the awesome video here too.

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Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The static world of BattleTech

I recently picked up a copy of 25 Years of BattleTech Art and Fiction (Scribd link here). It's an impressive and weighty tome full of giant robots smashing each other to pieces - a subject that generally wins in the awesomeness stakes. Being a pure and unadulterated dose of mech combat, the universe of BattleTech should be a recipe for success. However, I have mixed feelings about the art direction of this "oeuvre".

I think this is because BattleTech is rare (and perhaps stands alone) in being a universe where the design of its protagonists (in this case big-ass robots) has remained substantially un-revised. Most comparable worlds which have been around as long as BattleTech have undergone visual overhauls, perhaps on several occasions. BattleTech, by contrast, persists in using the same designs for its mechs. Many of these were drawn up in the early 80s, some of which are good, and others are, frankly, less so (I am looking at you here, Mr "Highlander HGN-732").

On the one hand I admire the retro nature this brings, on the other hand I wonder if its a sign that BattleTech's publishers are wallowing in nostalgia. By the time I learned about the BattleTech products at the start of the 90s, anime was becoming more popular in the UK and Japanese designers offered a more contemporary and stylised vision of mech combat I found infinitely more attractive. Gundam, in contrast to BattleTech, is a constantly evolving universe in terms of mecha design and new products never look dated. If you don't believe me, check out the difference between the official BattleTech website, and the website for the new Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn anime.

I admit that there's probably a lot more money behind the latter, but visual overhauls are now part and parcel of the gaming community and BattleTech should perhaps take note of this.

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