Tuesday 6 May 2014

Blood Bowl and the Art of Graphology

If you've read some of my previous blog posts, you will know that I have a bit of a soft spot for signed GW memorabilia. Not the everyday commonplace rulebooks or latest codex that got signed 5 minutes ago, but the old stuff (when everything was better*).

*Disclaimer: it may not have been better, I just remember it as being so.

What follows is one of life's little lessons - make sure you inspect the merchandise. The object in question is a classic 1986 boxed set of GW's game of fantasy football; Blood Bowl. This one in fact:

A classic cover for a classic game
I very much like Blood Bowl, although in reality, I've only ever played one game of 1st edition. And what would make me buy a second, slightly more battered copy of a game I already own?


That's right, signed by the Blood Bowl creator himself, Jervis Johnson
And that's where things stopped. I opened the box briefly to scan the contents, then put it away in the pile of other boxes under my desk for several months. Until yesterday evening when I decided I was going to sort through a few things. I picked up the box, and went through all the contents to verify it was complete. In the process I turned the lid upside down and placed it on the floor beside me. After 10 minutes of checking, I did indeed have a complete boxed set. I turned back to the lid and saw this:

The inside box lid, complete with an array of signatures
That's right folks, a host of GW luminaries had put their pens to cardboard, and signed the inside of my copy of Blood Bowl. I had bought the box on the strength of the Jervis Johnson signature on the cover, but inside are no fewer than 9 further signatures!

Phil Gallagher rendered in exquisite calligraphy.

Adrian Smith, in sadly fading red biro.

Nigel Stillman - where did he end up?

Possibly Bil, or maybe Bob, an illegible red biro signature beneath and Derrick Norton. Who was Derrick? I can't recall the name - anyone remember?
The Warhammer master himself, Rick Priestly

Graeme Davis and someone I can't work out. Sam? Sean?

So the moral of the story folks - actually look at the things to buy instead of slinging them into the nearest lead pile / cupboard / pile of boxes under your desk!

All help with the signature IDs gratefully received.


  1. Sean Masterton probably. Edited WD. I think Nigel Stillman was one of the unsung heroes of GW back in the day.

    1. Thanks for the ID with Sean - looks like a probable candidate. I agree with you on Nigel Stillman - he seemed to to a lot of the grafting on numerous projects.

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  3. Bil and Derrick, something about those names screams Gobbledigook to be. Great find.

  4. Phil Gallagher always did have nice handwriting. Most of the calligraphy on WFRP1 maps and player handouts is his.

    I lost touch with Nigel Stillman after I left GW. I think he is still in touch with Wargames Foundry.

    Derrick Norton joined the staff arounf 1988 as a writer/editor. I'm pretty sure you'll find some WD articles by him around that time. He also contributed to the brief from which Empire in Flames was developed. He didn't stick around, though, eventually joining the police force as some kind of scientist. We used to joke that he was developing a new kind of truncheon that didn't leave telltale marks....

    The signature by mine is Sean Masterson's, for sure.

    There are probably more signed games and books out there. As I recall it was a pretty common practice in the Studio for stuff to come round with a request for everyone to sign it (or everyone who was in the office when the whatever-it-was came around). Occasionally these were for prizes or charity auctions, but more often it was just other folks within the studio who got the game as a gift for a friend or relative.

    1. Thanks for the details Graeme - all very helpful verification :) I had assumed that the origin was a Games Day or similar - I wasn't aware that it was (relatively) common practice to do the rounds of the studio itself.

      I wonder how many hundreds (thousands) of items there are out in the wider world with various scribbles on?!

  5. Oh, yeah, and it's definitely Bil, the creator of Gobbledigook.

  6. Hey mate, I just Liebstered you. Don't think you've been hit before? Here's the post on my blog:

    1. Thanks preedh! I got nominated a little while back, but I like the look of your questions so will answer them in the next blog post :-)

    2. Great! Looking forward to it. The hardest part was to find 11 blogs not already done. It's a small community and with everyone nominating 11 other blogs we're quickly all covered.