This was my very first book, published 15 years ago by McFarland and now reprinted in paperback. This thing took me around two years to research. I wrote it in between night shifts splicing together ad reels for movie theatres. My models were the film books that had really expanded my mind in terms of what the genres of the fantastic can do (namely Paul Nicholls's Fantastic Cinema and Kim Newman's Nightmare Movies).
Though Empires never reaches the impossibly high watermark of those books, it was still one of the very first to offer a serious critical survey of fantasy as a genre distinct from horror and science-fiction.
Remember, kids, this was written long before the internet and Stranger Things made Dungeons & Dragons cool. Back then, this sort of thing was the love that dare not speak its name!
A lot of water has passed under the bridge of fantasy cinema since the genre hit the mainstream, but I'm still really proud of this book and stand by pretty much everything it says - not sure I should have been quite so harsh about The Never-ending Story though...
The warlocks and ghosts of fantasy film haunt our popular culture, but the genre has too long been ignored by critics. This comprehensive critical survey of fantasy cinema demonstrates that the fantasy genre amounts to more than escapism. Through a meticulously researched analysis of more than a century of fantasy pictures—from the seminal work of Georges Méliès to Peter Jackson’s recent tours of Middle–earth—the work identifies narrative strategies and their recurring components and studies patterns of challenge and return, setting and character.
First addressing the difficult task of defining the genre, the work examines fantasy as a cultural force in both film and literature and explores its relation to science fiction, horror, and fairy tales. Fantasy’s development is traced from the first days of film, with emphasis on how the evolving genre reflected such events as economic depression and war. Also considered is fantasy’s expression of politics, as either the subject of satire or fuel for the fires of propaganda. Discussion ventures into the subgenres, from stories of invented lands inhabited by fantastic creatures to magical adventures set in the familiar world, and addresses clashes between fantasy and faith, such as the religious opposition to the Harry Potter phenomenon. From the money-making classics to little-known arthouse films, this richly illustrated work covers every aspect of fantasy film.
Available from McFarland Books, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, Blackwells and Waterstones.
If you're a fan of Black Library's Warhammer fiction and audio dramas, then I would urge you to follow the review blog Track of Words.
Run by reading-machine Michael Dodd, this comprehensive site is essential for anyone keen to keep track of Black Library's dizzying level of output.
How Mike manages to read all that he does is pretty unbelievable and his reviews are never less than literate, well-considered, and contextualised with a comprehensive knowledge of Warhammer lore.
Anyway, I was lucky enough for Mike to have me aboard for an interview about my audio drama Broken Saints, which had just been released as a three-parter for Black Library's December Advent event.
I ended up getting a bit carried away and gabbled about all sorts, from how I write to Sisters lore. Click here to read and make sure you sign up for the Track of Words newsletter.
The latest DURHAM RED one-shot has just appeared in the 2000 AD Christmas Special.
Mutant vampire bounty hunter Durham Red corners her latest quarry in the ruins of an ancient castle, but her prey proves far from helpless...
Here's the first two pages from artist Ben Willsher...
The revamped Durham Red is back for a yuletide one-shot in the 2018 Christmas bumper edition of 2000 AD with art by Ben Willsher (Judge Dredd, Doctor Who, Roy of the Rovers) and letters by Annie Parkhouse...
It’s Christmas Eve. The city is in thrall to a powerful criminal gang whose envoy comes bearing a gift for Durham Red. But the mutant vampire has brought offerings of her own. Three gifts are exchanged, each one revealing the next step in a deadly game...
“You’re the angel of death, Red. That’s why every goon in this galaxy is afraid of you. But I’ll bet that reputation weighs heavy on the soul... especially around Christmas.”
"After their triumphant revamp earlier this year, it’s good to see Worley and Willsher return to the bloodiest of all the Strontium Dogs."
Featuring a bundle of other new stories, including Judge Dredd, Caballistics, Inc. and Slaine, the 2000 AD Christmas Special is available from all good newsagents and comic shops, and from the 2000 AD webstore.
You can also download the 2000 AD reader app for the iPad, Android and Windows.
Download one of these to your mobile device and get access to legendary British sci-fi weekly 2000 AD and monthly sister-publication the Judge Dredd Megazine, as well as TONS of digital graphic novels collecting stories from the past four decades, including Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Sláine, ABC Warriors, Nikolai Dante, and Robo-Hunter!
My very first short story for Black Library was a tale of aerial combat between a grouchy Iron Priest and a pair of crazed Drukhari aces. Stormwolf vs. Razorwings! Top dog vs. top guns!
Foul-tempered and superstitious, Iron Priest Anvarr Rustmane of the Space Wolves has a bad feeling about this mission. He and his brothers have been deployed to capture a marauding Drukhari pirate unexpectedly stranded on a crystalline death world. Sure enough, upon arrival, Anvarr’s squadron are ambushed by the Drukhari’s rescue party, led by the pirate’s equally lethal twin sister. Anvarr must lead his surviving packmates in a desperate defence while imploring his own ship’s truculent machine spirit. His situation appears hopeless, but only a fool would underestimate a cornered wolf...
“Rest assured, little brothers,” Anvarr laughed. “Should we burn, my guts shall be filled with drink enough to light our passage all the way to hel!”
Track of Words
Stormseeker: A Space Wolf Story is available as an e-short from iTunes, the Black Library webstore, Amazon UK and Amazon US.
It’s also available as part of the print collection On Wings Of Blood: An Aeronautica Anthology, alongside other tales by writers including Gav Thorpe, Cavan Scott, James Swallow and Guy Haley. You can pick this up from Amazon UK, Amazon US and the Black Library Webstore.
A saintly psycho must choose between victory and virtue in a fantasy football tale that’s just been collected in a shiny new paperback...
The Bright Crusaders have somehow made it to the Purity Cup final against the Doomtown Rats, but the saintly humans are 2-1 down at halftime and most of the team have been eaten by the Skavens’ ravenous Rat-Ogre. The surviving players are now forced to rely on their unpredictable star player Gerhardt the Penitent. Insanely puritanical, Gerhardt is famed for giving away his winnings after every match (along with everyone else’s), sharing team tactics with the opposition to ensure no unfair advantage, and purging himself of pride for scoring a touchdown by nailing himself to whatever comes to hand. But will the prospect of saving an imperilled orphanage be enough to convince Gerhardt that winning is more important than piety?
"I wish I could have been a fly on the wall of the Crusaders’ dressing room, Jim."
"I know a wizard who could arrange that, Bob."
"Hugely entertaining... Characterful, beautifully paced..."
Track of Words
Pride and Penitence: A Blood Bowl Story is available as an ebook from iTunes, the Black Library webstore, Amazon UK, and Amazon US.
It’s also available as part of a softback print collection, alongside other tales by Black Library legends including Josh Reynolds, David Annandale, Gav Thorpe, David Guymer and Guy Haley. You can pick this up from Amazon UK, Amazon US and the Black Library Webstore.
The first of my Sisters of Battle shorts for Black Library introduces Sister Adamanthea, a zealot driven by a twisted sense of faith and with a prodigious talent for violence...
Charismatic missionary Marcus Amouris must convert a tribe of heathen savages to the glorious creed of the Emperor, but something in the forest beyond the village is preying upon his newfound disciples. Eager to win the tribe over and prove his worth, Marcus summons the Adepta Sororitas, the Sisters of Battle, led by the brutish Sister Adamanthea, a legend of the Order of the Valorous Heart. Marcus must guide Adamanthea and her squad to the so-called ‘City of Whispers’, a mysterious ruin at the heart of the forest, a place said to be the haunt of worse than ghosts! Will Sister Adamanthea’s ferocity prove a match for what lurks within or will Marcus’s vanity prove the undoing of them all?
"I am Sister Adamanthea, Dominion Superior.
I am told you need me to kill something."
"A pleasure to read a story which really shows the Sisters of Battle as a characterful, powerful force... Plenty of action balanced out by a strong sense of atmosphere all wrapped up in a smart concept."
Track of Words
"What makes Whispers stand out is the excellent execution and masterful representation of the Adepta Sororitas... Worley has a vivid, descriptive style, and he brings these stoic, lethal ladies to life... utterly engrossing and exhilarating... Top-notch stuff."
Voxcasts from the Void
Whispers: An Adepta Sororitas Story is available as an ebook from iTunes, for £2.49 from the Black Library webstore and Amazon UK, and for $3.26 from Amazon US.
Continuing my longstanding obsession with the Adepta Sororitas – the Sisters of Battle – my latest short story for the Black Library explores an order of the Emperor’s faithful who speak softly but carry a big chainsaw...
Lost on a feral world, a nameless Sister Repentia has miraculously survived the suicide mission that claimed her fellow penitents. Through faith and ferocity, she has recovered a powerful relic that could turn the tide in a failing campaign against the Ruinous Powers. But when her rescue ship crash lands, she and a handful of Battle Sisters must protect the relic from a ravening pack of Khornate butchers who seek the artefact for themselves. As the hunters close in on the ragged company, the Repentia must choose between protecting her newfound squadmates and honouring her own death wish
“I shall know victory only ever as defeat,
Until the blessed Throne restores my name,
Be it upon my living flesh or be it upon my ashes.”
From 'The Repentia’s Lament'
“Relentless, gruelling, fast-paced and action-packed – cuts to the heart of what makes the Sororitas such engaging characters.”
Track of Words
Repentia: An Adepta Sororitas Story is available as an ebook for £2.49 from the Black Library webstore, Amazon UK, and iTunes, and for $3.29 from Amazon US.
Superstar artist Dani and myself have resurrected an ancient comic-book heroine, one that’s obscure even by standards of vintage British comic books!
Black Beth first appeared in the Scream! Holiday Special back in 1988, four years after the comic itself had ceased publication. Unusually for a Scream! story, Black Beth wasn’t actually a horror strip, but a 23-page sword opera set in a brooding medieval world.
With beautifully sinuous art by veteran Spanish illustrator Blas Gallego (link NSFW), the strip was a mashup of Red Sonja and The Punisher with shades of MacBeth, in which our vengeful young heroine becomes a knight with a unbreakable vendetta against evildoers.
The identity of Black Beth’s original writer has unfortunately been lost in the mists of time.
The original strip was created in the mid 1970s for another IPC title (also called Scream), but the comic was cancelled before issue one saw print. Beth was left discarded in a drawer somewhere in the IPC offices until she was exhumed over a decade later by editors looking for material to fill up the specials.
I picked up that 1988 Holiday Special at an age when I was beginning to fall so very deeply in love with Warhammer, Fighting Fantasy, Dragon Warriors, Conan, Hawk the Slayer, etc. and would obsess over any scrap of sword and sorcery I could get my hands on.
So when I heard Rebellion were publishing a second Scream/Misty annual, I begged editor Keith Richardson to let me and Dani pitch him a Black Beth tale.
We wanted to tap into that vintage Scream! magic, as well as the kind of unabashed pulp vibe that pervaded Creepy, Eerie, and Savage Sword of Conan.
We dared to be unhip!
Driven by her crusade to punish the unjust, Black Beth must save a group of sacrifices from a warlock intent upon unleashing evil upon the world. But the witch Moldred has given Beth a dire warning: to undertake this mission will have terrible consequences! Will Beth heed Moldred’s advice? Or is her homicidal thirst for vengeance all that matters to her?
The 2018 Scream and Misty Special is available from all good newsagents and comic shops, as well as the 2000 AD webstore and in North America from Midtown Comics.
My team-mate – artist Ben Willsher – has been stretchered off our Durham Red project, but fear not. Indigo Prime and Dredd supremo Lee Carter is joining the team!
Sorry to report that the Durham Red revamp I’ve been scripting for 2000 AD has hit a spot of behind-the-scenes bother, resulting in an injured artist and a minor delay. A few weeks ago, my project team-mate – Judge Dredd artist Ben Willsher - badly scalded his hand (on one of those fancy boiling-water taps) resulting in a severe burn that required hospital treatment. The injury was compounded by the fact that Ben made the mistake of trying to soothe the wound with a bag of frozen peas! As his nurse apparently went to great lengths to explain, never ever cool a burn with ice or iced water! (Instead, run it under cool or lukewarm running water for 20 minutes.)
With his hand strapped up during recovery, Ben has been unable to work at his usual capacity and has therefore been forced to step down from Red at the risk of missing his allotted deadline.
I want you guys to know just how hard Ben has worked on this project. Durham Red and the Strontium Dog universe mean the world to him, and this project has been a genuine labour of love. Ben came to this with a distinct vision in mind from the very beginning, which he’s been seeing through by colouring his own pages and spending several weeks obsessing with me over Red’s new design.
Ben has managed to get four episodes of Durham Red: Born Bad in the can, leaving another four to go. “I am absolutely gutted to have to step away from Red, especially over such a silly and avoidable mishap,” says Ben. “But ‘C’est la vie’, as the French Esther Rantzen fans say. Despite the disappointment of leaving the series, I am overjoyed to have Lee Carter take over!”
If you’re unfamiliar with Lee’s art, go check out his website this instant! His dynamic work on strips including Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Angelic and Indigo Prime are something to behold. His pages boil with mood and atmosphere, his action scenes have thump and grit, while his flights into psychedelia are mind-blowing! In short, he’s perfect for this new version of Durham Red. Ben adds, “Honestly, I couldn’t be leaving Red in better hands – and both of Lee’s hands work! He’s an incredible artist. I’m so glad he’s joined the team. You’re all in for a treat when you see his pages!”
Our strip was originally intended to run in the recent ‘jumping on’ Prog #2073 in lieu of John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra and Ellie De Ville’s Strontium Dog: The Son. The two strips have now switched slots.
The first episode of Durham Red: Born Bad will now be published in Prog #2082, out on 23 May 2018, available at all good newsagents and comic book stores, plus digitally from the 2000 AD webstore, along with the official 2000 AD apps for iOS, Android and Windows.
Get 3,000 coffins ready...