Monday, 11 April 2011

I is for Inferno!


For those of you who don't know, Inferno! was a bi-monthly magazine published from 1997 to 2004 by Games Workshop's publishing division, Black Library. It was launched with a teaser Issue Zero appearing as a section in the Games Workshop hobby magazine White Dwarf. Issue #1 of the actual magazine was launched shortly afterwards with Games Workshop staffer Andy Jones in the role of Editor, with Marc Gascoigne acting as Assisstant Editor (although he was later to rise to the heady heights of Publisher).

The magazine soon settled into a standard format of two fantasy and two science fiction stories per issue (although there were the occasional specials which focused on one setting in particular, such as the Gaunt's Ghosts Daniverse), but included other features such as standalone artwork, comics, cutaway diagrams, battle maps, and mocked-up dossiers, etc. With the exception of one early comic series, Inferno! published individual, complete stories, not serials. That was to become the preserve of Warhammer Monthly.

Of course, being a Games Workshop product, Inferno! only presented fiction, artwork, and comics set in the fictional universes of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, including stories specific to the Necromunda, Battlefleet Gothic, Gorkamorka and Mordheim game settings.

Now, you may not know this, but I was involved in some of the early meetings about Inferno!, only at the time it was being referred to as Carnage! I was writing colour text for the Warhammer Armies books and 40K Codexes at the time - this was back when GW HQ was in the shadow of Nottingham Castle and not some Fourth Reich Imperial Complex a mile down the road. Anyway, I remember having a chat with Andy Jones - which was interrupted by a tannoy announcement telling everyone to clean up their desks! (The things you remember!) - and he was up for having me on board, and asked me to pitch him some ideas.

Bill King was on board for the first issue (having written extensively for GW in the past and even worked in their design studio for a while) as was artist David Pugh. The story idea I had which was commissioned was about an Ultramarine and a Tyranid Carnifex (the old-fashioned version with no discernible head, four scything arms and which spat plasma, or something). It was called Salvation, and quite a lot of people liked it.

Having put together the first couple of issues, the Inferno! editorial team set about producing the promotional Issue Zero for White Dwarf and asked me to write them a short story. This time I chose (or was asked, I can't rightly recall) to write a fantasy story. So the first piece of short fiction to appear in Issue Zero - and the first published piece of Inferno! fiction ever - was my Warhammer short story The Hounds of Winter. It unleashed Torben Badenov's band of mercenaries upon the Warhammer world and eventually became part of my first novel
(although it's really a short story collection) The Dead and the Damned.

I eventually wrote a total of thirteen short stories for Inferno!, featuring such characters as Badenov's Band, the Necromundan underhive bounty hunter Nathan Creed, the Black Templars of the Solemnus Crusade, and the pyromancer Gerhart Brenned. The last of these stories, The Hanging Tree, appeared in Issue #42. Inferno! was cancelled four issues later, apparently so that the editorial team could focus on producing novels (although BL was also setting up the Solaris imprint at the time), and I for one mourned its passing. I had plenty more stories to pitch and was sorry that I now wouldn't get the opportunity to write them.

And then at last September's Games Day 2010, Hammer & Bolter was launched by Black Library's nascent digital department. Hammer & Bolter isn't the same beast as Inferno! (there's no comic strip or art, for a start, and it is currently running a new chapter of a serialised novel with every issue) but it does include short fiction - and two weeks ago, I received my first commission for it.

I'm writing the story at the moment. I can tell you that it's a Warhammer tale, currently titled Sir Dagobert's Last Battle, but at this stage I can't tell you when it's going to be released. But I have to say that I'm loving writing a new tale set within the Warhammer world - a story that I first thought of seven years ago, just as the cancellation of Inferno! was announced...

The only time one of my stories featured on the cover of Warhammer Monthly

For those of you who are interested, here's a list of my complete contribution to Inferno! which includes collaborations with the brilliant artist Ralph Horsley and a number of comic strips:

The Hounds of Winter – Warhammer fantasy short story – Inferno! # 0, given away with White Dwarf magazine (1997) – re-printed in the anthology Realm of Chaos (2000), and (in a revised form) in The Dead and the Damned (2002)

Salvation – Warhammer 40,000 science fiction story – Inferno! #1 (1997) – re-printed in the anthologies Into the Maelstrom (1999) and Let the Galaxy Burn (2006)

The Siege of Gisoreux – Warhammer fantasy colour text – Inferno! #1 (1997)

The Doom of Kazad Grund – Warhammer fantasy colour text – Inferno! #2 (1997) – re-printed in the role-playing games supplement Dwarfs: Stone and Steel (2002, Hogshead Publishing)

Bad Spirits – Warhammer 40,000 science fiction short story – Inferno! Magazine #3 (1997) – re-printed in the anthology Status: Deadzone (2000)

Dark Heart – Warhammer fantasy short story – Inferno! Magazine #5 (1998) – re-printed in the anthology Realm of Chaos (2000), and (in a revised form) in The Dead and the Damned (2002)

The Plague Pit – Warhammer fantasy short story – Inferno! #20 (2000) – re-printed in the anthology Lords of Valour (2001), and (in a revised form) in The Dead and the Damned (2002)

Mama’s Boys – Warhammer 40,000 science fiction short story – Inferno! #21 (2000)

Boyz in the Hive – Warhammer 40,000 science fiction short story – Inferno! #23 (2001)

Firestarter! – Warhammer 40,000 science fiction short story – Inferno! #26 (2001) – re-printed in the anthology Crucible of War (2003)

The Nagenhof Bell – Warhammer fantasy short story – Inferno! #27 (2001) – re-printed in the anthology Swords of the Empire (2004)

The Executioner’s Tale – Warhammer fantasy comic strip – Inferno! #28 (2002) – re-printed in the graphic novels Tales from the Ten-Tailed Cat Volume 2 (2003) and The Complete Tales from the Ten-Tailed Cat (2005)

Bad Medicine – Warhammer 40,000 science fiction short story – Inferno! #29 (2002)

The Miner’s Tale – Warhammer fantasy comic strip – Inferno! #32 (2002) – re-printed in the graphic novels Tales from the Ten-Tailed Cat Volume 2 (2003) and The Complete Tales from the Ten-Tailed Cat (2005)

Mark of the Beast – Warhammer fantasy short story – Inferno! #34 (2003) – re-printed in the anthology Way of the Dead (2003)

Sanctuary – Warhammer 40,000 science fiction short story – Inferno! #38 (2003), and in The Armageddon Omnibus (2011)

The Hanging Tree – Warhammer fantasy short story – Inferno! #42 (2004) – re-printed in the anthology Tales from the Old World (2007)

6 comments:

Josh Reynolds said...

I am not ashamed to say that I still own the first twelve or so issues of Inferno and re-read them on occasion.

Oh and "Salvation" was awesome. It was the story that convinced me to continue picking the magazine up.

Jonathan Green said...

Thanks very much.

Would you be the same Josh Reynolds who wrote The First Duty and who's writing Knights of the Blazing Sun, by any chance?

Josh Reynolds said...

Yep, that'd be me.

Jonathan Green said...

Nice one.

Lee said...

Hey Jonathan

I remember years ago there was written an official GW article that explained some things on writing wxciting fiction in the GW settings. IIRC it mentioned someone piloting a vessel of some kind.

Ive looked all over for this without success... Do you have an idea where it can be found or which publication it was in?

Jonathan Green said...

Hi Lee

I'm afraid I don't. I know they have been articles in the past in which writers talk about writing for GW and BL, but I don't remember any such 'How To' guide.