Influences: John BlancheOctober 6, 2006
Yeah I was a Games Workshop geek as a teen, I only got over the shame of the whole thing a few years ago, and now I’ve embraced my misanthropic youthful past in a way that’s probably slightly unhealthy (I’ll come back to this at a later date).
John Blanche was so my favourite artist of the lot of them. His stuff was just so twisted and weird. It wasn’t striving for the ultra-photorealistic look of Boris Vallejo or the cheapo stuff you found in AD&D Monster Manuals, but some dream-like point between the two, highly stylised but with depth and detail that made it feel eerily real.
As with all artists, John’s style has developed over the course of his career, but when I encountered his work in the mid to late 80s it was going through a bit of a punk inspired phase. As he puts it in Ratspike (currently OOP, try Ebay):
“The first images of primal man would concern themselves with hunting scenes, heroic action, mighty beasts, death masks, war paint, fetishes and trophies. Today we see the same sorts of themes represented in punk haircuts, studded leather and even the imagery employed in films like Bladerunner and Aliens. This is the heritage of Western culture, and that is what I’m trying to tap when I paint”
I’d never seen fantasy art like it, it was by its nature cheesey but it seemed way less innocent than the Vallejos, Frazettas, Achilleos and all the TSR artists, it looked dangerous and therefore more exciting.
Below is what I believe is John’s defining piece, Amazonia Gothique. Okay, she’s still wearing clothing entirely impractical for battle in the traditional fantasy female style (check out the stilettoes) but at least she’s not some vacuous blond bimbo in a chainmail bikini.