posted by John
So here's what led up to this weeks' strips.
It was originally just going to be jolly laffery at the expense of the quite spiffy, very big, and very expensive new Warhammer Fantasy Battles 8th Edition rulebook. Y'see - I love Warhammer, and I have several friends who have worked for Games Workshop, and a few that still do.
I have two Warhammer armies: one Orc, one Dwarf. I love the many Warhammer-based games that have come out since, from the licensed Warhammer Historical to Flames of War (which certainly owes more than a simple debt to Games Workshop).
So, I was lying in bed, pouring over the (did I mention 'very heavy'?) new book, when I suddenly realized something.
In more than 500 pages, with hundreds of photographs or literally thousands of miniatures, there wasn't a single human mini painted anything other than Caucasian that I could see.
With hundreds and hundreds of human figures painted up, NOBODY thought to open a second shade of skin-tone?
I just thought thought that this rather surprising fact needed pointing out. You know: in delicious cartoony form.
Now, the vast, VAST majority of the mail and messages I've received since the cartoons have begun to run have been wonderful. A couple have brought up some interesting points, and only one - which finally arrived today - was outright rude. You know: internet rude. So thank you, everyone, for being so positive about the strip. Honestly, I always knew my readers were an erudite, witty, sharp, intelligent and - let's be honest here - outright HANDSOME group of folks. Yet I still utterly appreciate the show of support, and I'm humbled.
Now, some points brought up:
(1) "It would be anachronistic to have black troops in the European medieval armies Warhammer Fantasy Battles has for its humans." Any more anachronistic than fielding Skaven Warp-Lightning Cannon, Orcish War Boars or a Chaos Dwarf Hellcannon? Let's face it: once your Bretonnian sorceress faces a Snotling Pump Wagon, that ol' "historical accuracy" argument is about as useful and bright as my band of Trolls. That is to say: not very. At all.
(2) "But what if I still want to use the anachronism argument?" TOTALLY cool with that: I'm not even saying 'create an entire new army of Araby.' Just sprinkle a few Moors around your core rulebook, for heavens sake. No, no, no, really - listen: THEY GOT TO EUROPE. They had plays and stuff written about them.* If Shakespeare could scatter a few here and there, your bit is comparatively easy.
(3) "Egypt is represented in Warhammer. Look at the Tomb Kings." I am looking at them. And their troops are entirely bone-white. (Fortunately, "Bone White" just happens to be a hue of high-quality paint available from Citad...oh, nevermind...)
(4) "Do Dark Elves count?" I'm sure they do. They probably read and write, as well. But when painted up, their skin tone appears to be paler than even the other elves in Warhammer. And yes, I do realize you meant this absolutely as a joke. Still: buncha crackers, them Dark Elves...along with those honkey-ass Tomb Kings...
(5) "In a Fantasy setting with Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, etc., the Humans represent ALL humanity." But Orcs don't represent all Orcs: they come in different flavors (Black and Regular). Why not humans?
(6) "You can paint Warhammer humans any way you want to." Yup, you absolutely can. However, as already stated, in hundreds of photographs of thousands of figs over 500 pages of your core rulebook - the go-to guide of the Warhammer universe - nobody actually DID.
(7) "Warhammer 40K is a lot worse." Yes. Yes, it is. Let's move quickly on, now.
Look, I adore Warhammer, and the lore surrounding it. I know it's not to everybody's taste, but it sure has been to mine. And while I believe an Araby army would be a ton of fun to play, I'm not even begging for that. Heavens knows I've enough minis to paint as it is.
I'm definitely not saying I'm never playing Warhammer Fantasy Battles again. Love, love loves the game. And a pal has offered to teach me 40K the next time I'm in Austin. I am so taking him up on this.
All I'm saying is, I don't think it would be that hard to break open that one pot of different-skin-tone paint, and be a bit - jussssst a bit (OK...a lot) - more inclusive in the core rulebook to one of your major lines.
I'm just sayin,' is all.
I note well, by the way, just how much better I am at saying this sort of thing in Comic Strip Form, as opposed to Long Blog Post Form.
They're also a lot more fun, those darned comic strips...
OK. Here's the single kinda snide e-mail that came in:
"So you're saying that there are loads of minority players who are just waiting to buy gaming products if only they were better served? Heavens, if you have proof I suggest you hand it off immediately to the major companies so they can grow their business, or better yet, there is obviously a huge market waiting to be tapped by someone with your major knowledge of untapped markets."
Now, originally, I was just about to dismiss this out of hand. But then I thought to myself: wait. Wait. Perhaps I am misinterpreting this, here. So let's break it down:
"So you're saying that there are loads of minority players who are just waiting to buy gaming products if only they were better served?"
Why yes. I am absolutely saying this. But I don't think I could have said it better than you just did. In fact, I think this is one of the basic tenets of Business and Marketing: there are loads of ANY market that will buy a product if they are better served. I am glad you saw fit to point this out, and cheer your insight and business acumen. My Economics degree applauds you.
"Heavens, if you have proof I suggest you hand it off immediately to the major companies..."
Fortunately, I need not do this, as any basic Business textbook will pretty much say the same thing.
"...or better yet, there is obviously a huge market waiting to be tapped by someone with your major knowledge of untapped markets."
Why, yes, there most likely is. So I thank you deeply for agreeing with me again. As a co-founder and co-owner of Out Of The Box Games - a company we built up to multi-million dollars in annual sales in just a few years - I have direct experience with huge untapped markets and their potential. And you know what? We did it by being inclusive.
It pleases me greatly that you recognize this, and I thank you for getting in touch.
Yer bestest pal forever,