Friday 7 March 2014

Where are they now? Slaves to Darkness original cover painting found in Canada!

About a year ago, I posed a question. I asked 'where are all of the original pieces of art for the classic 1980s GW releases'? For example, on whose wall did the cover painting from the Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition rulebook hang? And what about the cover painting of Warhammer Armies? Or Warhammer Siege? 

Did they even still exist? After the tales we learnt together of dumped material in rain sodden skips? If you need a refresher, or were not part of our community this time last year, have a quick look at my original article here.

We have had some success. Tim Pollard's collection was a revelation, with some very famous White Dwarf and other minor supplement covers in his collection. Some of Tony Hough's Eldar turned up too. The Ansell family owned the original Warhamer Fantasy Battle painting from 1983, as those of us at the last Oldhammer Weekend would have seen. But it wasn't until Pat Robinson contacted me to share the fact that he owned the original cover painting for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay did we start hitting on the big league.

Well, Pat has got back in contact with me and is keen to talk to you dear readers about his latest purchase, the original painting from the Slaves to Darkness cover!

I'll hand over to Pat and he will fill you in on all the juicy details. I will just add a big thank you to him once again for remembering the Oldhammer Community and sharing his discovery with us all here.

Over to you Pat...

For all the worshipers of Khorne and the Slaanesh – and who isn’t? – here are a few pictures of the original painting of Slaves to Darkness, by John Sibbick. 
When I acquired this, I believe that was one of the last of John’s Warhammer pieces, and my framer framed it as a set with the original WFRP cover from John that was discussed on this blog in October of last year. 

Pat's evocative frame for Slaves to Darkness
Slaves to Darkness is a fun painting, with that smiling hound of Khorne in the bottom right, and the bright colours and contrasts of the various horrors.  

It is exactly what the World of Warhammer is supposed to feel like.  So, we framed this one with a little more fun in mind, in contrast to the somewhat more grim WFRP cover.  The dark maroon suede matting really emphasizes the crazy World of Warhammer, in my opinion. It would be perfect to use as a background on a blog, or something!  

As we framed these together, we chose the identical lizard-scaled frame, but in jet-black this time.   I think they look pretty good together, and they are always fun to review, as there is just so much going on – you will always notice some small new detail.   They are always a conversation piece, to be sure.  Although sometimes the conversation is from my wife, Irina, asking why we have so many monster paintings hanging in the house!

As with all his paintings that I have seen, John kept this one in perfect shape.    I wish I had a time machine to go back and get some more from John, as his paintings really stand out as something special from the 1980s.

The original preliminary artwork for Slaves to Darkness. I am not sure if this has ever been published before! I am certain that I have never seen this.
John emailed me a picture of the preliminary, which I confess I do not own, and he thinks was sold.  There are some interesting points in this very detailed prelim.  Most noticeably, there was at one point to be an orc-type beast on the spine, behind the large axe, but presumably he was cut because John remembered his sacrificial alter did not make it on the WFRP book, due to Games Workshop not having art on the spine, typically.

A close up of the previously unknown (to me anyway) Khornate orc from Slaves to Darkness. In fact, looking at it again poss the question, is it supposed to be an orc? Lizardman? Beastman?
John obviously nailed the colours, as they are exactly as described in the preliminary - it is almost like two paintings.  The prelim details were so precise, there were not many other significant changes in the final painting, other than filling in the details and adding some background villains to give a greater sense of depth.  Also, one of the shields has “Khorne” written on it, if you look closely.

He even planned out some more heads on spikes.  I look forward to a discussion as to who's heads these are?  Sibbick?  Gallagher?  Some luckless GW intern? 

Pat's art collection hanging on his walls. 
As I said, these are great conversation pieces for my gaming friends, and I am honoured to be able to display them.  Sometimes I am asked about this painting’s cousin, the Lost and the Damned cover – “Nurgle” by Les Edwards… While I have a few Fighting Fantasy game book covers from Les, sadly, he sold Nurgle long, long ago (and not to me, I swear!)…  So, there remains a mystery out there as to who can track down what has been lost… and what is lost and damned!!

Cheers from Calgary,


Once again I have to thank Pat for sharing his collection with us. But he poses us an interesting question, doesn't he? Where is the original Lost and the Damned artwork?

If you know, or know of the location of any other artworks, please get in contact with us here at



  1. What a treat! I've always wondered what the cover art would look like laid flat; I don't have to imagine any more. I always think the preliminary work tells you as much about the creation & concept as the finished piece. Thanks for sharing!

  2. An interesting look into the creative process of cover art. Thanks!

    Also, these old pieces of GW art are always so ****ing metal. So to speak. They're a lot of fun to look at with all the nasty little details and weird characters.

  3. I love to see the prelims!! You can tell so much more about the artist's techniques and way of thinking than you can glean from the polished final illoI Cool that you found the finished covers though - I loved this one for all the bizarre detail. I think the Chaos books were my favourite ones to draw.I don't have many of my Realm of Chaos illo originals left anymore having had a run of sales lately.... They've all gone to good homes, though, fortunately!! What remains in my folder is in this 'ere album here...

  4. I have a Beastman with rathead by Ian Miller. I think it is from Slaves to Darkness.

  5. I just checked & it's the image on page 53. I also have a few other Ian Miller originals including Chaos Swords & some of his 40k work.

    1. Very envious of anyone with an Ian Miller original. I'd love to see them!

    2. Feel free to email me a photo Steve Moss and the background about it and I will do a post about it!

  6. I'm betting the Khor'c is a Beastman. What with the goat legs 'n all.