Saturday, 4 July 2015

Ye olde White Dwarf

Whilst I wait for the varnish to dry on the various Red Box Games models I’ve been painting recently I thought I’d take another wander down memory lane, this time with White Dwarf. It seems rather timely as well considering the changes to Warhammer right now so if all of that malarkey is making your head spin wrap yourself up in more comfortable times of truly fantastic art work and yellowing pages.

The very first issue of White Dwarf that I bought was number 111 in March 1989.

Being relatively new to GW still this really helped to introduce me to the worlds that GW had created. I kept buying the magazine, or rather my mum did and I saw all sorts of new products appear. With the advent of the 90’s I saw things change rather more. Games aimed at a younger audience, sculpting and painting styles change, a change in art style and changes to what White Dwarf offered. By issue 158 (as far as I can recall) in 1993 I was bored with it. 

 The tedious battle reports were just filler and I was more interested in the era of models and games that I’d first come into so I didn’t get another issue. I acquired issues 108, 109 and 110 at some point and they were a welcome diversion but GW and White Dwarf had moved on, passed me by.

Over the following years in the 90’s I dipped in and out of GW, or at least the GW I remembered by painting up some of my old models but by the time I was preparing to go to university I’d packed it all in. I had a bit of a clear out and decided that all those White Dwarfs weren’t needed so they got binned. In fact I ripped each copy in half before dropping them into the black bin bag just to show how much I was done with it!

As the years have gone by I’ve regretted dumping my old magazines as they had some great stuff in them but I’ve resisted the temptation to collect them again as it’s something that could get out of hand. I only had about 50 or so magazines but the obsessive collector in me would be likely to want more than just my little bit of GW history. However, I can be rather weak willed at times and that can lead to some pretty serious obsessions. A moments reminiscence about White Dwarf, an idle Ebay search and before I knew it I’d bought a few old copies! All from prior to my original run of magazines so not a part of my personal history but a great window into an earlier era of GW and White Dwarf. Anyway, that led to my picking up a good sized job lot of magazines and that’s resulted in me having a good chunk of early White Dwarf history.

The earliest issue I’ve got here (top left of the first pic) is number 7 from June/July 1978 resplendent with John Blanche cover art. It’s in pretty good nick for something so old. Surprisingly slim too at a mere 27 pages.

The cover art on these early issues is fantastic in my opinion. It’s real fantasy art and I find it really inspirational in contrast to later cover art that whilst good at times isn’t in the same league. Currently it’s interesting to hear people gushing over the new Age of Sigmar art work but it does little for me, even when it’s by the likes of Blanche. This is White Dwarf when it was a role play mag and when all manner of games were represented. It’s a White Dwarf with a letters page that allowed readers to bitch about the changing content of the magazine and the increased addition of GW products too! A reminder perhaps that ‘we’ have been griping on at GW for decades!

So with all the hoo hah going on with AoS right now I’m happy to dig through the past and go through scenarios for AD&D, Call of Cthulu and Paranoia, read up on the latest releases that are either long gone or several editions down the line now, and read Dave Langford’s reviews for novels that may well be long out of print. Ahhh… the warm glow of nostalgia, even if it’s someone elses. I’m a vampire for it and I’ll suck your history dry!


  1. I was fortunate to be able to buy about twenty or so old issues a few months back, around the 50, 60, 70 range. I completely agree with you about the cover art, those oldschool SciFi/fantasy covers can't be beat. I used to love looking at my old man's SciFi novels too, for the very same reason, Chris Foss and the like.....fantastic!

    These earlier editions had so much variety in them too, much like the good old GM mags. I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments about the sameness of the later editions, they were just cookie cutter adverts, pumped out month after month, yawn.

    Thanks for posting Stone Cold :)

    1. As WD approaches the 100's you can begin to see what the magazine will become later, albeit perhaps only 20 or so issues later. With these earlier issues it's fascinating to see a WD that's a totally different mag. It's made me want to play Traveller, Paranoia, Call of Cthulu and even AD&D. I also didn't realise until now just how much I need to paint a barbarian riding a zebra patterned horse!