martedì 26 giugno 2018

The Joe Dever Collection

Joe Dever was a giant. I should really dedicate a post to him, sometimes, but today I won't say much. Most of you probably knew him anyway, and almost everybody in my generation (those born in the '70s-'80s) is in debt with him for being introduced to Fantasy and RPGs. I said something about Gary Chalk already, his partner in the first Lone Wolf books, but Joe was the one who started it all. All I can say today is: thank you.

After his untimely passing at the end of 2016, Joe left behind a huge collection of miniatures. His family took the decision to auction most of it, to offer the fans the chance to buy a small memento of the celebrated author (a beautiful thing, if you ask me). Single pieces were put on sale at different times and on different platforms, and a lot of different people could bid and purchase one or a few of them. I was one of the lucky ones: below you can see what I won, three original miniatures owned and painted by the great Joe Dever.

The first one is a Citadel BME2, Nazgûl on Winged Beast. This figure was originally sold by the manufacturer in a box also containing a Nazgûl on foot wielding a mace, but this sold separately in the auction. Also, the base was missing and what you see is a temporary one. This miniature was first advertised, as far as I know, in Citadel Journal Spring 1986. I don’t know who the sculptor might be: perhaps a reader can help?

The paint-job of Joe is not particularly detailed: it looks to me that he was painting with enamels. The Nazgûl is completely black - black the cloak, the tunic, the pants, the boots and even the dagger - highlighted with broad brushstrokes of a very dark violet hue. At first this seems a sloppy blot of colour but the more I look at it, the more it communicates darkness and evil. Nazgûl are, after all, a blot of shadow over the world. By contrast, the winged beast has been painted in different shades of green, with washes and dry brushing; claws and fangs are bone white and the tongue is dark red. The paint layer is quite thin and it allows the detail of wings and bones to emerge. While far from anything worth a Golden Demon, this is a wonderful piece, and even more wonderful as Joe was probably painting it while thinking at his own Helghasts riding Kraan. Anybody who played the first books of Lone Wolf remembers with true dread these two creatures.

Art by G. Chalk, from "Flight from the Dark"
The other two miniatures are a duo of figures - Citadel ME-81, “Aragorn: King of Gondor” - representing the same character on foot and mounted. I couldn't find a release date for these, but I think we are also looking at 1986. The sculptor is likewise unknown.

Joe’s paint-job is quite different from the Mounted Nazgûl: the paints are definitely not the same (they seem like regular matte acrylics) and the detail level is greater, so it’s possible that this miniatures were painted at later time. The level of detail is low, but the colour scheme is glorious, with bright whites/cool greys, shades of gloomy blue turning to grey-blue, and details of shiny gold and bright pink. Aragorn is the image of the noble hero challenging evil. It also reminds me, in a way, of the knights of Durenor. Joe was a great fan of Tolkien’s books, which clearly shows in his own work, but at the same time it’s nice to think that he was imagining the characters from Magnamund when painting Lord of the Rings figures.

I am really honoured and happy to have these figures in my collection. It would be nice to see more from other fans - while everyone is familiar with the books from Joe, it seems that his collection of miniatures was also very interesting. If you do have any piece from Joe Dever, please share!

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