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Thursday, 4 January 2018

The dice men cometh


I promised we’d get the skinny on what Jamie has been getting up to. He was reluctant to emerge from his lair and tell me, so I sent Dirk Lloyd round to prod him. Hard.


DIRK: So, you vile tentacled freak, what's this new book project you're working on with Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson?

JAMIE: I've been tapped by my old bosses, Ian Livingstone (or my 'Dark Master' as I call him) and Steve Jackson, to write up the history of one of our country's most iconic games companies, Games Workshop. Well, at any rate, its history up to 1985 or so, when Ian and Steve sold it for a lot of gold pieces. We've launched the book on Unbound.

DIRK: As usual, I'm not really getting what you're talking about. What's Unbound? Is it like Kickstarter?

JAMIE: It's pretty much a Kickstarter for books, but only books and nothing else. Unbound are more involved in the whole end-to-end process than Kickstarter, though. They're more like a crowdfunded publisher than just a commercial process for crowdfunding, if you see what I mean. So, if a given book project gets funded they will also do the printing and distributing of the book, and then sell it afterwards, usually in conjunction with a mainstream publisher. A bit like what we do with our Fabled Lands stuff, though we haven't got the reach or the contacts that Unbound has. Maybe one day!

DIRK: You're so old and decrepit now, like some kind of shambling, Alzheimery troll thing, I'd forgotten you ever actually held down a job. How did you first get involved with Games Workshop?

JAMIE: Hah, now that's a story. Way back when I left university, around 1980, I was flailing about pretty cluelessly trying to work out what to do with my life. I spent most of my time playing a game I'd got recently, in a little white box with three little ochre-coloured booklets inside...

Which I'd bought from GW, as it happens. Along with my White Dwarf mags. Instead of job hunting, I was painting figurines. My mum pointed out an ad for a job as a features editor on that selfsame magazine. I thought to myself I'd have no hope whatsoever of ever getting that job. It would be like a miracle, a dream job, working with people I admired from afar. So I gave up on the idea pretty quick. But my mum had other ideas. She had to get her nerdy, 21-year-old, paint-stained son out of the damn house, as soon as. So she rang Ian Livingstone.

And they chatted, and Ian said sure, send him up for an interview. And I went up there, had the interview, got the job! And that's how I ended up as assistant editor on White Dwarf in the early ‘80s. All thanks to my mum.

DIRK: Watching you dribble your food down the front of your shirt for the umpteenth time, I'm surprised you can remember any of that, let alone the rest of it. But anyway. What sort of stories will be in the book? Can you give us a teaser? And photos, presumably? Fresh young faces with flares and big afro 'dos?

JAMIE: Well, it won't just be how the company developed and grew and so on – the business narrative. There will be a lot of that obviously, but also there'll be stuff like the anecdote about how I got the job, for instance, but not just me. There'll be the experiences of the people that worked there. Sure, mostly Ian and Steve, but there were a whole bunch of other folk back in the day, people I'm still in contact with. Like Gary Chalk, Russ Nicholson, and Joe Dever too, though he's sadly left us now, but I've still got a story or two to put in about him. And a bunch of other folk working for or associated with GW. Including Dave Morris, White Dwarf contributor extra-ordinaire!

Here's a pic from the heyday, 1983. Gary Chalk, me, Steve and Ian front row, middle, with dear old Joe Dever standing behind Gary.


Mind you, most of the book will be the early days, about the start of it all. Like this photo of the first ever customer in the first ever Games Workshop. Apparently that bearded fellow had been queuing all night...

Not to mention all the ins and outs of the directors and the day to day running of the company...

Games Workshop Board Meeting

And we won't be shying away from those controversial moments too…


That's the Mail for you, mind. Hasn't really changed much, has it?

DIRK: Assuming you're actually still capable of writing a book, when will this be out?

JAMIE: That kind of depends on when the funding goals are reached, but probably summer/autumn of next year. To be part of this exciting new venture, and to help me pay my grocery bills for another few months, shoot over to the official Unbound site where you can pledge for a copy of The Dice Men.

DIRK: Never mind your pointless little hobbies. People should spend their money on my darkly glorious works. Or else.

20 comments:

  1. >> You're so old and decrepit now, like some kind of shambling, Alzheimery troll thing, I'd forgotten you ever actually held down a job. <<

    This makes me laugh out loud every time I read it. Fantastic! :)

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    1. If that kind of thing tickles your funny bone, Michael, then you'd love the Dark Lord books.

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  2. Brilliant. Erm...has Dirk cast the cantrip of eternal ponytail on Jamie, or does Jamie secrete giant flakes out of the back of his head? John Virgo was Games Workshop's first customer, I didn't know that.

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    1. It could be Jamie's hairy, tentacular, alien brain, forcing its way out of the back of his skull in horror at the prospect of a grilling from Dirk.

      I'm going to have to google John Virgo, I'm afraid!

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    2. Could be that, although I've just remembered Jamie is but a puppet of The Dark Lord. Perhaps Dirk snapped his stick after growing weary of him persistently taking credit for winning that Roald Dahl award. All that said, if Jamie ever offers me a 99 Ice Cream cone, I'll still be politely refusing it.

      If you haven't looked it up by now, bearded/mop haired snooker player from the 70s/80s, more recently turned commentator and TV Gameshow co-host. Hmmm, maybe he had more of a perm back then. I'm giving myself 6/10 anyway!

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    3. Oh, ref, unfair! With the double whammy of snooker + modern TV gameshows I didn't stand a chance...

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    4. We'd make a great TV quiz combo. Me on Snooker and Gamebooks, you on everything else. Best we don't enter Only Connect though. They've already had a gamebook question, so if Snooker doesn't come up I'm stuffed.

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    5. Only Connect...? Ya got me again, Andy. An EM Forster themed quiz show?

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  3. You're closer than you know, Dave! The title of the show was derived from his book. Only Connect has also been an answer to one of the questions, words from the quote forming the clues. The less clues you require, the more points you get. The gamebook question first clue was 4. Starship Traveller. In this particular round (sequences), the aim is to get what the fourth in the sequence would be, which was 1.The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. As you got the Forster connection, chances are you'd be pretty good at it! It can be quite funny too, well worth checking out.

    Before I send in our application, I've reviewed tactics and concluded the current weight of responsibility is a little uneven. So you'd better take Gamebooks as well.

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    1. And it's compered by David Mitchell's wife, I see. (Not that I mean to be all sexist and dismissive of her own accomplishments, only I've read Mitchell's columns in The Observer but I don't know Victoria Coren's work.)

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    2. Yes, she's excellent as the compere. I don't know much else about her in truth, other than she's a professional poker player (I used to love playing Texas Hold 'em, I just can't invest the time these days). As for David Mitchell, I haven't read anything he's done either, but Peep Show was good. Well, the early series anyway. Like a lot of comedies, they didn't give up when at their peak. Let's hope Detectorists hang up their detectors now, as good as the recent series was.

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    3. Agreed. It was nice to revisit Andy and Lance, but that should be the last time. It shouldn't become one of those shows that go on so long that you end up forgetting why you ever liked them.

      Now why didn't I think to marry a professional poker player? Smart guy, that Mitchell.

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    4. Thankfully the ending doesn't really give it anywhere else to go. Unless the BBC decide they need another Christmas Special so mugs like me feel obliged to buy the box set despite having already purchased the previous series. Grrrr.

      Or tennis star, or actress, or... eeeek, my wife's coming into the room. (Laptop) SLAM!

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  4. Dave, I have to ask - is Jamie sure that it was Steve & Ian who appeared to him in the vision and charged him with setting down their scripture - or could it have been Dirk himself, trying to get Jamie to 'unbind' him from this mortal plane ? I think close attention will have to be paid to what happens if the book is read backwards !

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    1. Ah, so you think it was a satanic verse type encounter, John? I have an even more alarming idea. What if Jamie has been permanently channelling Dirk's sayings for the last forty years. Older readers will remember with a chill Marvelman's reunion with Kid Marvelman in the pages of Warrior. Like that, only even darker.

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    2. Well, being a kid myself when that was publishedI had to just google it and have had a shock- treatment crash-course in the Kid Marvelman saga courtesy of Wikipedia, culminating in “...Kid Marvelman ravaging London and horrifically murdering much of the city's population...” . Though I do note that Marvelman “and his allies” then used the destruction of London as a pretext for taking over the world’s governments...hmm, is that the long game here ?

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    3. This is the panel that's seared into my memory. The moment Marvelman realizes that in the 20 years he's been away, KM hasn't changed back to mortal form once. Brrr...

      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-w4akDx_wcu8/VPAYI0wW-3I/AAAAAAAAFsQ/1am5X0jmdgA/s1600/Warrior_Issue_03_Page_09.jpg

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    4. Now this is the shot in the arm that the ‘Marvel’ cinematic universe needs, I think !

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    5. They'd first have to overcome Alan Moore's legendary aversion to movie adaptations. But I'd pay to see it.

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    6. Agreed ! Can’t exactly remember now how we got onto this topic from a book about GW during the ‘Life on Mars’ era, but let Jamie (and Dirk) know that I’ve chipped in my two penny’s worth, and if it doesn’t get funded maybe we could all just meet up and blow the pot on pizza ; )

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