The best Black Library books are often really cinematic, jam packed with scenes that play out in the mind’s eye of the reader as though they were taking place on the big screen. With that in mind, many a fan has wondered why the worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 haven’t been translated into films or TV shows, with the exception of the poorly-received Ultramarines movie. It’s a good question, although the answer is probably something to do with Games Workshop’s (perfectly understandable) desire to keep a tight rein on their intellectual property – if they’re going to do it, they’ll want to make sure it’s done their way. I can see how that might not appeal to film and TV studios keen to make as much money as possible.
That’s not to say you can’t experience Black Library stories in any way other than the written word. Audiobook versions of the novels have been available for quite some time, along with full-cast audio dramas complete with music and sound effects, which have been increasing in quality of late to the point that the most recent titles have been jaw-droppingly good. There are also various fan-made films out there, notably the impressive The Lord Inquisitor which is looking like it’s going to be a true thing of beauty when it’s finished.
Recently, however, people have started talking about something new – fan-made, and not officially approved by Games Workshop, but garnering huge praise from pretty much every quarter. If you haven’t already come across it, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY recommend you check out Richard Boylan’s incredible Helsreach animation, which combines his characterful, dark comic noir* animation style with narration (perhaps cheekily) borrowed from the official Black Library audiobook, and stirring, martial music. It’s being produced in chunks – check out the Prologue below:
I don’t think you need me to tell you how amazing this is! The way Jonathan Keeble’s narration fits the animation, and the music, it’s just instantly gripping, and brings the story to life in a way that I’ve never really seen before. It feels like the natural extension to the audiobooks, adding a layer of incredible visuals on top of something that’s already impressive. I can’t get enough of this, and can’t wait to see the rest of the instalments as and when they arrive. I’m also now incredibly tempted to go back and re-read Helsreach…
I first heard about this via Aaron Dembski-Bowden, the author of Helsreach, when he posted his own comments about it on his blog. Rather than me rehashing what he said, here’s a link to that post – it’s worth checking out:
I don’t want to spend too long talking about this, because you’re better off just watching these incredible videos. It’s worth saying, however, that in creating these videos Richard has demonstrated that it’s possible to create something cinematic without losing control of the IP. Sure, he’s done this in his own time and based his animation on his own personal take on the book, and the IP overall, but it’s hard to argue with the impact it has. Come on Black Library/Games Workshop…how about you commission Richard to create some animation for one of your audio dramas? I’d buy that…
Anyway, enough talking. Here are the next two parts of the story…enjoy.
* I’ll be honest, I stole that description from a friend – thanks Stu!