The iconic frontispiece of Rogue Trader by John Sibbick. The heroic last stand of the Crimson Fists Chapter against orks. Its never been bettered, not even by Blanche himself.
I sit here with my battered paperback copy of Rogue Trader in front of me. I never owned it back in the day. We were straight fantasy boys but I had a fair few of the miniatures for painting and use with Space Hulk and Advanced Space Crusade round other people's houses.
As I flick through the pages the first thing that strikes me is the art. It incredibly varied in style but unlike Warhammer Fantasy Battle, which to varying degrees, love it or loathe it, is a gallery of GW's art assets circa
1987, Rogue Trader's art is a little more consistent, in a fairly inconsistent way. What do I mean by this? Well, the art was fairy contemporary to the ruleset. Many an artist was busy scribbling away through the middle 80s to contribute to the look of Rogue Trader, most of whom were regulars from the WFB side of GW's output, but there were a few new names in there too.
I really like the 2000AD influence in this picture. '80s comics, being a child of that decade, are always a favourite of mine. This image reminds me of Death's Head. Prototype bolter design there too.
Early Rogue Trader fluff about the marines. Not much to go on yet
I love the punky graffiti on the shoulder pad of this Crimson Fist. Very '80s street!
Iconography for Space Marines was clearly an important element from the beginning. Its change quite considerably since then, hasn't it?
Out of all the images here, this one has really got me thinking. Who are these guys? Prototype chaos marines or something different? What do you think?
What strange alien species is this? Or is that some kind of elaborate mask or helm?
I really like the 'shark face' design used on these early Blood Angels. I must have a go at painting one up one day!
Here are the early colour schemes for the Marines. Most of them are well known today. The Rainbow Warriors? Could they be one of the missing legions? (joke)
Again the varied style of the artwork is obvious; another comic strip style image. I like the Mad Max influences on this picture.
A fantastic picture. Is this a Space Marine? The jump pack is very familiar but the armour? Quite a nice image to do a conversion based on really, isn't it?
Vietnam Vet style Space Marine (love the taped on screwdriver) lets rip with a big gun. Grisly ork trophy completes the scene.
Graphic battles scenes; gritty but not grimdark. Those trees look decidedly morbid, don't they?
More grisly trophies. Not quite so heroic be these early Space Marines.
Sinister Marines pose with their weapons. These creatures look radically different from the Rogue Trader Marines (more on this later) and I wonder which came first? The art or the miniatures.
The fluid style gives this picture an immediacy. I bet it was drawn in a few minutes too.
More hideous marines with bizarre weapons. More conversion ideas here I reckon.
No Chapter Masters yet, just Imperial Commanders. Here a trooper reports to his superior.
Cool shades there mate, very '80s indeed. Where's your silver, sequined glove?
That's a lot of beaky marines. I wonder what they are doing here?
Is he riding some strange machine or are those wheels part of his body?
Look at this marine! Souped up with fancy chainsaw arm and tank track foot. Nasty!
An early concept of a titan?
I wonder what these marines will do with their slaves considering their squats? Write them out of the background perhaps?
Close combat carnage. Note how the art is beginning to reflect the models we know and love!
Looks like the work of Paul Bonner? Am I right? Either way, these marines look just like the RT plastic ones released in 1987.
Finally, the Emperor himself.