Wayne England – In Memoriam

It’s only February, but 2016 certainly hasn’t been pulling its punches so far, with some spectacularly talented people sadly departed from this planet these last few weeks. Unfortunately, Wayne England is now among those departed, and I was very sad to learn yesterday that he had passed away, because he has been an all time favourite among GW’s artists for me: His very stylised, angular illustrations of heavily armoured – and mostly very evil – guys were one of the most effective gateway drugs for getting me in this hobby and played a big part when permanently roping me into assembling and painting little spiky plastic men. In fact, Wayne England’s work was probably just about as important for getting me into the hobby as the iconic illustrations by John Blanche, especially during my younger years, when the latter’s work sometimes just seemed a bit too trippy for me to grasp 😉

By the same token, some of GW’s publications – and indeed some stages of my own hobby life – will always be inextricably tied to Wayne England’s artwork, so in honour of this great artist, allow me to reminisce for a bit:

 

Army Book Realm of Chaos and the Champions of Chaos Supplement

These were the first chaos army books I ever owned, and I can still remember poring over Wyne England’s tableaus of jagged chaotic weaponry and armour in search of possible conversion ideas as a lad:

Wayne England artwork (18)

And his cover for the Champions of Chaos supplement was probably even more iconic (and also served as the cover for my first ever issue of White Dwarf, incidentally):

Wayne England artwork (17)

This bad boy really embodied everything that I loved about the hordes of chaos back then: He’s heavily armoured, faceless, spiky and utterly menacing – what’s not to love?

 

3rd edition Codex Chaos Space Marines cover

My first CSM Codex  — and the one iteration of the book that I think most chaos players would rather like to forget: This Codex was one of the first to follow GW’s somewhat questionable idea of radically reducing the Codices in scope (in order to be able to produce more of them at a faster rate). Alas, it didn’t end well, as the resulting books ended up feeling rather thin in more ways than one. But something that still stays with me is the warped, iron-toothed champion of the ruinous powers to adorn the book’s cover, once again courtesy of Wayne England:

Wayne England artwork (8)

In a way, this illustration actually serves as a perfect companion piece to the aforementioned cover of “Champions of Chaos”, with both pictures creating perfect avatars of the WFB and 40k sides of chaos, respectively.

 

3rd edition Warhammer 40k rulebook
This book ‘s background section has often been called one of the darkest versions of the 40k universe, and this is at least true when looking at the very dark, brooding black and white artwork appearing throughout the book. Wayne England created a couple of extraordinarily dark pieces, giving us, among other things, some very grimdark interpretations of the three monkeys,…

Wayne England artwork (20)

Wayne England artwork (19)

…a brilliantly creepy illustration presumably showing a Dark Eldar Haemonculus that had me marveling at how monstrous these guys seemed…

Wayne England artwork (21)

…a splash page perfectly capturing the Astartes’ duality between noble and righteous warriors and creepily inhuman weapons of mass destruction:

Wayne England artwork (22)

….and finally what may still be my favourite piece of Dark Eldar art, even after all these years:

Wayne England artwork (11)

 

2nd edition Codex Chaos

Actually published earlier than at least the two previous entries on this list, of course, but I didn’t own the book until well into the 2000s. It remains one of my favourite GW books ever, as you may remember. Of course I was delighted to discover some very cool Wayne England artwork in this book as well. Such as one of my all time favourite World Eaters:

Wayne England artwork (23)

I actually think Wayne England may also have been responsible for the original version of the various traitor legion symbols published in this book – at the very least, they seem to show quite a few hallmarks of his style. I still love these symbols and the amount of detail that has gone into them – Forgeworld’s treatment of the traitor legion heraldry notwithstanding, these older versions blow all of the newer interpretations out of the water, if you ask me.

 

And all of this is really merely scratching the surface: How can I not mention the excellent illustrations for Kharn the Betrayer or Angron from the Horus Heresy trading card game, along with more excellent work from the same source (In fact, his work for the setting really managed to give the Heresy an epic and mythical quality, something that seems to be missing from the more codified, cleaner artwork of recent years)? Or the beautifully forlorn voidborn? Or the seminal Sons of Sekh art? In fact, let me just share just a few of my favourite pieces by Wayne England that appeared beyond the books mentioned above:

In short, Wayne England’s work has always been emblematic of GW’s style during some of my formative hobby years, especially when it came to portraying the forces of chaos. I remember reading about him participating in the Oldhammer scene a fair bit recently, and while that scene’s old school sensibilities don’t always fully agree with me, I was still very happy to see him make an appearance there. He also created a brilliant illustration for morbäck, depicting the latter’s Chaos Lord Korthalis a while ago. It’s an excellent piece of art with all the strengths of his vintage GW artwork, and Maxime must be incredibly happy to have received it – even moreso in the light of recent events.
Wayne England’s artwork still speaks to me many years later, and his trademark style added a layer of visual identity to GW’s publications that is sadly lacking from the newer books – and has been for quite a while.

My heart goes out to his family. And thank you, Mr. England, for all the wonderfully spiky evil guys! And all the best to you, wherever you may be now!

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23 Responses to “Wayne England – In Memoriam”

  1. Nice one mate, a lovely round-up of a real talent & pillar of ‘the hobby’. He will be missed.

  2. He will surely be missed – like so many other greats.

    Damn you 2016.

  3. My heart hangs heavy in my chest. The artwork of the Third edition Rulebook is what made me fall in love with the 40k universe. Those black and white images of England’s are some of the most powerful in the book and have inspired countless hours of imagination in so many of us. It is a dark day indeed, his talent will be missed by so many.

    • I can still remember getting a look at the 3rd edition artbook – once again courtesy of my good buddy Phil who had also borrowed his 2nd edition Codex Imperialis to me before, thereby actually getting me into 40k – and merveling at how much darker the illustrations were, even compared to the stuff in 2nd edition. All of the artwork being in black and white – probably due to production reasons – certainly played a part in this, but Wayne England’s style really made the most of those limitations and basically turned the lack of colour into s strength. Which is why I actually picked up the book last year, even though the rules are long out of date by this point.

  4. Definitely my favorite GW artist of all time. He was a great counterpoint to John Blanche, with a nightmarish quality to his work, and a preference towards the hulking Chaos champions. His grinning, skull-faced World Eater is something I have been wanting to re-create in mini form since I first saw it, maybe 20 years ago now.

    Why, oh why couldn’t it have been Matt Ward instead?

    • I fully agree about Wayne England serving as a visual counterpoint to JB, in spite of there being some conceptual similarities: These two basically acted as the Alpha and Omega of GW artwork during my formative years in the hobby, with some Jes Goodwin and Mark Gibbons thrown in for flavour.

      Even so, let’s not get our disdain for some of Matt Ward’s work get the better of us, eh Dexter?

  5. These past couple of years, man. It feels like people I admire are just dropping off like flies- from Terry Pratchett and Christopher Lee last year, to Robin Williams a few years back, to Alan Rickman a couple weeks ago and now Wayne. My childhood is dying off quicker than a grot under an ogryn ‘s bootheel. Time to toll the Bell of Lost Souls again, for a great hero of the Imperium has left us.

  6. What a great loss to the hobby. His work was some of the first that really impressed upon me the grim nature of the 40k universe. I have always loved his stylized overly grim looking skulls. Few capture the weirdness of 40k as well has he did. I am just happy for the excellent legacy of work he has left behind.

    • Well said. I think the stylised nature of Wayne England’s art was what made it channel the 40k grimdarkness so well — with the added benefit of making it very distinctive. There’s just no mistaking it for anybody else’s work, just the way it’s with JB’s illustrations.

  7. An amazing artist who helped make the future compelling, grim and dark in equal measure. Like all artists he’ll live on in what he created and those he inspired. Great wrap-up mate, good to be reminded of a few pieces I’d forgotten about – and introduced to one or two I’d never seen. Time to be inspired to make evil spiky men again.

  8. Working with Wayne on Realm of Chaos and Champions of Chaos was what this industry is all about. i would give so much to have one of those days back to share a cup of tea (or better yet an pint) with Wayne again, and talk through the art he was going do for the books.

    • Tuomas, first of all, thank you so much for commenting on this blog! It’s quite an honour, because your work during the Realm of Chaos/Champions of Chaos/Mordheim era was possibly just as important for my getting into GW’s various settings as the wonderful art. Like I said in my post, Realm of Chaos was my first real WFB army book, and I can still remember picking it up at the store, then spending an entire weekend wolfing down all the background and marveling at the artwork. Those were the days!

  9. Thanks for collecting some of your favorite Wayne England art here on your blog. His passing is a huge blow, but it is nice to know his legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of the community. His style was immediately recognizable and to me really helped define what Warhammer and Warhammer 40k were. I love his exaggerated and creepy grinning faces (whether they were from humans, aliens, or even just skulls).

    • Cheers, Adam! I think one thing that was very characteristic for GW’s artwork in the 90s was that you could basically almost tell who created a piece of artwork, mostly because each artist really had a very distinctive style. This seems to have been dialed back a fair bit in GW’s more recent output, and while it certainly makes for a more homogenous look and feel for the setting (which can be a good thing), it also loses some of the originality and unconventional quality. Which seems sad, because the various artists’ unique voices were one of the most important things to make GW’s universes great in the first place, if you ask me.

  10. […] A blog about KrautScientist's wargaming exploits « Wayne England – In Memoriam […]

  11. […] Scriptorum might look like. Incidentally, I have featured the very same illustration as part of my recent tribute post to Wayne England, and it’s easily one of my favourite pieces of art done by […]

  12. […] machines of the Heresy era Astartes legions. So you would see all kinds of crazy armour designs (Wayne England’s Heresy artwork is a prime example of this), and then people would go and convert models based on that, and it was […]

  13. […] In spite of feeling fairly happy with my hobby output this year and having my share of awesome hobby moments, I also have to say that it wasn’t all peaches and cream: For one, there were some rather sad developments: 2016 saw my beloved FLGS, Frabusel, closing its doors for good, which still sucks (and which has also rendered the procurement of hobby supplies somewhat more complicated). And I was really sad to learn of the passing of hobby and fantasy legends such as Joe Dever or the late, great Wayne England. […]

  14. […] And so let’s look at the finished model. Keep in mind that this was the piece of artwork that inspired the conversion in the first place. A fantastic piece by the late, great Wayne England: […]

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