Dragged into Turbolasers Episode 52: What is Blanchitsu?
We are joined by our good friend Eli Parsons to discuss the rumor that White Dwarf magazine may no longer contain the John Blanche-themed hobby showcase articles, Blanchitsu. We talk about what we think Blanchitsu is to us, as well as what it represents for the hobby, including some of the reservations people have voiced about the feature. We also talk a little about how we got involved in creating models that were featured in Blanchitsu, and how others might go about creating models that represent their own personal visions of Games Workshop’s universes.
Watch the entire stream on YouTube:
Thanks for a good listen. For me, the thing about many good Blanchitsu-style models is they generally don't even need backstory - the models themselves tell a story. Whether that's the same story their creator intended doesn't matter. Seeing a cool model, either an unconverted new model or a full-blown conversion, gets my imagination working. To think that some people look at Blanchitsu models, which are so overtly telling a story, and need background and rules is somewhat depressing.ReplyDelete
But the articles themselves have been a bit superfluous. It's nice to see them in print and it's cool for the creators, but anyone interested in that kind of thing has probably seen them before. It does expose them to new people though, so maybe something more is needed. Interestingly, January's rebooted White Dwarf has longer, more coherent articles, so maybe a future Blanchitsu article could follow that format. Something more on process or inspiration. A bit of background. A bit of context.
Thanks for listening! I think you are right when you say that a Blanchitsu-styled model does not need to have a written story to go along with it, the model should be able to "speak of itself." It should ooze with character that gets the viewer's head spinning with ideas of how they fit into the 40k universe. Towards that end, I have been told that John tends to not name or give many of his models background, but just follows his muse and creates things he finds to be neat. Personally, I really like to have a backstory or theme for the models I create, thinking that it allows myself to create a more cohesive and convincing model. This story never needs to be told, but just its existence helps create a better model I feel.Delete
You are right that some of the recent Blanchitsu articles being a little superfluous, as virtually everything seen has been all over blogs and instagram the months leading up to the articles. With the longer articles in the new WD, hopefully any new Blanchitsu articles will also be a little longer and contain more material also. Time will tells I suppose.
You guys have basically managed to cover most of the important angles. However, allow me to add the following observations:ReplyDelete
Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Blanchitsu. Like you guys already pointed out, it's more a state of mind than anything, or probably an - often radically different - way of approaching this entire hobby, and having this "officially" represented in White Dwarf was (and is) an important thing. Also, the best installments of the series are basically worth the price of admission for the entire issue of WD. You are right, of course, that the feature can never really hope to do justice to the featured models or games, at least not without a massively increased page count (and fat chance of that happening, right?). Anyway, I really love Blanchitsu and hope it makes a return!
That being said, there are a couple of factors I think are important: First up, as shocking as it is for me to contemplate this, maybe John Blanche is no longer even that much of a household name to younger and/or new hobbyists? When I got into the hobby, his artwork was front and centre in every GW publication, but that is certainly no longer true for newer books, right? They‘ve even begun to fade out some of his timeless classics that used to appear in every version of the 40k rulebook (like the Black Templar spread, the iconic Sorotitas art,...) So for quite a few readers of WD, Blanchitsu might be the first point of entry for the Blanchian style, and you'll admit it can seem like a rather abrupt introduction, in that light.
Secondly, I'd say John's work can be a bit of an acquired taste: I remember much of it just feeling a bit too trippy to me when I was a teenager: too loose and painterly. And it was only some years later that I would return to it all with a fresh mind and reevaluate my stance. By the same token, I would argue that the INQ28/Blanchitsu approach to the hobby is, likewise, an acquired taste: It takes a different approach to focus on the people in the background, to build models because they fit from a narrative point and not so much from a rules perspective. Even people who start to get into INQ28 usually have a hard time getting away from the overly-powerful 40k conventions (including Space Marines in your warband, using nothing but Cadian bitz for every human character). Adjusting to this either takes time and/or it's just not for everybody.
Oh, and it‘s actually hugely ironic that people discuss the possible end of Blanchitsu when GW's output is more Blanchitsu than it has been in years: Stuff like Kill Team Rogue Trader or Blackstone Fortress are possibly as close to an actual official version of INQ28 as we are ever going to get -- and even then, there are already rumours about an actual Inquisition-centric release somewhere down the road. So maybe, in a way, Blanchitsu has managed to work as an catalyst for that kind of development within the company?
One more thing: You guys are definitely right that it's possible to get in on the INQ28 shenanigans, even to become *teehee* "acolytes of the inner circle," but at the same time, I can understand how the whole scene around Blanchitsu may not feel particularly welcoming to "outsiders", at least judging by the way it's being featured in WD: These days, it does feel like a rather hermetic, close-knit group of recurring artists and hobbyists, and that can feel slightly intimidating, even for someone who - like me - has been, at one point, a part of this partiuclar scene. As for the upcoming INQ28 fanzine, which I am in fact looking forward to quite a bit, it seems to be featuring many of the same "big" names over again, at least to some degree. So maybe both things are true: Yes, it's possible to become a part of it. But it can also feel rather intimidating and, dare I say it, slightly elitist from the outside, even if that was never the intention.
Cheers for the shout out, which was all the more delightful because it came totally out of the blue!
Thanks for listening and providing all of your insight!Delete
Blanchitsu was certainly the element of WD that was always the most exciting part to me. I am skeptical that they would dramatically increase the page count if they do continue to include it in future issues of WD. I guess it is hopeful that I have been told that the latest WD has more in-depth articles than it did in the past, so you never know!
You make a good point that many newer hobbyists probably do not know who John Blanche is or if they do, only know of a few pieces he did. Few codex books or otherwise contain his artwork anymore, which is a shame. I admit that it also took a while for me to really appreciate his style of artwork (aside from some of the classics like the cover to 2nd 40k and the sisters cover). Eventually I started to like it more and more, appreciating the crazy energy and ideation present in his work. None of GW's IPs would be half of what they are today without his vision.
It is true that the Inq28 scene can seem a little closed off, due to the same names always coming up. I agree that a lot of those names are appearing in the 28 magazine, but it also contains a lot of lesser know people too. It also open for anyone to submit stuff. Despite this, I can see how it might be nerve-wracking to submit something if you are new to it. I hope after people see the first issue, it will encourage more and more people to submit things.
PS: If you'll allow me one bit of snarkiness, I was a bit surprised by how nonchalantly you guys glossed over the current state of the Ammobunker forum.ReplyDelete
I, for my part, had to take a break from the Ammobunker for a while because it just seemed to be turning into a huge arms race of increasingly spectacular warband concepts, but upon my return. Which made it all the more alarming, upon my return, to discover how eerily quiet the place had become in the interim, with many of the big names seemingly having departed for the supposedly greener pastures of social media. I personally think that's a rather big problem, especially when the forum used to be one of the most important virtual places for the INQ28 community. And I am still at the point where I refuse to just accept that as something that just kinda happened --like, wouldn't we all be capable of making it a livelier space again with just a bit of effort? Just sayin'...
I admit we might have been a little too dismissive of the current state of the Ammobunker. I hate to say it, but I have not really spent too much time there in the last few months, so I really am not a good metric for its current status. It has certainly been a great resource in the past, and it would be a huge shame if it fell to disuse. I sort of feel there was a mass exodus from it when photobucket made you start paying for it, and everyone's photos disappeared from all the threads. You are right that if we all started to comment and post there again, even just a little bit, it could really become a lot livelier!Delete
I have mixed feelings about John Blanche as an artist, and whether homages to his work are always even worthwhile let alone warranting an entire recurring column. That said, I am here for the characters and world-building rather than the game play, so I do tend to like that column better than the rest of the magazine.ReplyDelete
If I were putting something similar together, I might make what was once Blanchitsu into something more general and less tied to Blanche. Maybe call it something that makes it explicitly about creative models and terrain.
Yeah, I tend to agree that it might be better to make something in the same vein, but not tied quite as tightly to Blanche himself. And to be honest, when I hear Blanchitsu, I more thing Inq28, which does not really need to share his imagery at all. As it was, that column was the only one that focused on something that wasn't just building mega armies.Delete
Great episode as usual, gentlemen. I think, as mentioned above, magazines need to work hard to find some rationale in this day and age because everything they offer is done better and earlier online--and everyone interested in Blanchitsu had seen it all online already.ReplyDelete
Having said, if Blanchitsu wasn't in White Dwarf I wouldn't buy it at all (though I haven't actually had a chance to look at the new version yet).
As for what is Blanchitsu??? It started out as a column on painting techniques, before that was a thing (Blanche may have invented such things within the sci-fi/fantasy miniature community--though it's before my time so don't holkd me to that). Eventually in the 1990s Mike McVey took over with columns about painting in the 'Eavy Metal style. So it was not always as it is now.
I think it is welcome to see other aspects of the hobby, but I do think there is some truth to many of the criticisms raised. In truth I found White Dwarf basically unreadable for the most part. When 8th ed 40K was released I bought a few to read the battle reports so as to get a feel for the new game, but the battle reports gave me no useful insights into how to choose forces, or use strategems or tactics, or how the rules worked, and in fact I couldn't even follow them. The same occurred again when Adeptus Titanicus was released.
I too must admit to mixed feelings about Blanche as an artist. I love his big set pieces (2nd ed box art, 3rd ed box art, Epic 40K box art, Battlefleet Gothic box art, Sisters of battle cover, et cetera) but many smaller pieces are just sketches really. But his influence is undeniable. Perhaps Blanchitsu would be better if it was a periodic longer form series that mixed elements of hobby history, painting technique, rules and scenario ideas, and pictures of Blanchitsu style models.
Blanche's work used to be presented without comment in White Dwarf but there is perhaps some truth to what KrautScientist says in that we who came to the hobby in the 80s or 90s know who Blanche is, but someone who came in in the 2010s probably doesn't know or care and does not even really have a shared history of hobby experience with us in some ways.
I too have no real interest in getting White Dwarf if it does not have content like Blanchitsu, but agree that the articles will never really compete with just finding the content online. I think a lot of the criticism people had about the recent Blanchitsu articles is fair, but as you suggested, most of the WD articles as a whole were not particularly good either. Ultimately, I hope the column lives on, but is improved, including more depth.Delete
I honestly don't understand the claim that Blanchitsu is an elitist article and that those featured there are somehow elitist. It's absurd. I have been featured there so I'm obviously partial. We did a huge amount of work on Tor Megiddo and it was something John liked and wanted to show in Blanchitsu. Obviously I was thrilled and grateful, but it wasn't a goal we set out to achive. Since then I have met many if not quite all of the main members in what can be called (in lack of a better word) for the old guard of INQ28. They are amazing, humble people. To me it smacks of envy to label Blanchitsu elitist and to hold it to higher standard than anything else in WD just because it's different. Nobody expects background and rules from the other contributors, be they readers of Golden Demon winners. If you as a reader feel bad reading Blanchitsu then skip it, I skip a lot of stuff like battle reports. If it makes you feel small or mortal or whatever then maybe the issue is with you and you should consider why an article in a hobby magazine has such a negative impact upon you.ReplyDelete