THE BLACK SUN

I have updated this post to include additional content. Many thanks to Pariah, Brett Easterbrook and Marc Gascoigne for their contributions.

The Black Sun, or sometimes just Black Sun, was an irreverent short magazine included with White Dwarf mail-order subscriptions for two short periods in the 1980s.

I never owned any copies (though I may have seen one or two a long time ago), and they are as rare as hen’s teeth today, but I have tried to piece together what information I can about the magazine. Perhaps others can fill in some of the blanks, especially insofar as they might refer to WFRP.

I believe at least thirteen issues were produced in two separate series.

SERIES 1

The first series was produced by the London Games Workshop team in 1984-1985. It was an an outgrowth of GW’s mail order ads in White Dwarf, and was edited by Steve Williams, with contributions from White Dwarf writers and Games Workshop staff (including Marc Gascoigne, Ian Marsh and Paul Mason). It was printed in black and white on A5 paper and featured illustrations by Trevor Hammond.

WD55.jpg

GW mail order ad in WD55 (June 1984), the first issue to mention The Black Sun

The Black Sun‘s contents blended humour with reviews and gaming news. Since it predated the merger of Citadel and Games Workshop, it focused mainly on imported RPGs and is of less interest in the history of WFB and WFRP. I believe at least eight issues were published in this series.

There is limited information available about these issues, but I have set out below what I have been able to piece together. I have listed the issues with covers, summaries of contents and in two cases even full scans.

Merchandise

Issue 1 July 1984

BS1 cover

A5, black & white, unstapled. 12 pages, including the cover.

1 ‘The Black Sun’ by Steve Williams. Editorial.
3 ‘Tales from the Crypt’. Product reviews.
5-7 ‘Battlechairs’ by Michael Bradford. Injured drivers in Battlecars.
10 ‘Auntie Maggie’s Agony Column’. Letters omitted from White Dwarf.
12 ‘Gutter Press’. Fanzine reviews.

Marc Gascoigne has kindly shared photographs of all the pages of this issue, as shown below.

Issue 2 September 1984

2 p1

A5, black & white, unstapled. 12 pages, including the cover.

2 ‘Editorial’, by Steve Williams. Editorial.
3-4 ‘Tales from the Crypt II’. Product reviews.
6-7 ‘Larry Niven’s Ringworld’. Product review.
9 ‘The Castle of Cross Moles’. Comical solo adventure.
11-12 ‘Gutter Press’. Fanzine reviews.

For this issue I have been able to obtain a scan of its full contents.

Issue 3 October 1984

3

A5, black & white, unstapled. 12 pages, including the cover.

3-4 ‘Tales from the Crypt 3-D’. Product reviews.
6-7 ‘How Gabran No-Breeches discovered the intricacies of Storm-Bull philosophy, and why the only good Broo is a Quick Broo!’. Comical RuneQuest short story.
9 ‘Auntie Maggie in ‘The Hairnet of the Baskervilles’’. Common roleplaying ailments – going to the toilet.
11-12 ‘It crawled out of the … Gutter Press’. Fanzine reviews.

Issue 4 November 1984

A5, black & white, unstapled. 12 pages, including the cover.

3-4 ‘Tales from the Crypt Ride Again’. Product reviews.
7 ‘Golden Heroes’. Product review.
8 ‘Not so much an article…’, by Pete Tamlyn. An extended ramble.
11-12 ‘Gutter Press’. Fanzine reviews.

Issue 5 Christmas 1984

5

A5, black & white, unstapled. 12 pages, including the cover.

2 ‘The Black Sun’, by Steve Williams. Editorial.
3-4 ‘Tales from the Crypt’. Product reviews.
8 ‘The Castle of Cross Moles II’, by Steve Williams. Comical solo adventure.
9 ‘Extract from a Sermon by the Rev. Theophilus Bonehead’. Comical sermon.
10-11 ‘Gutter Press’. Fanzine reviews.
12 ‘Warhammer’. Product review of WFB2.

Issue 6 Winter 1984

6

A5, black & white, unstapled. 12 pages, including the cover.

2 ‘The Black Sun’, by Steve Williams. Editorial.
3-4 ‘Tales from the Crypt’. Product reviews.
6-7 ‘RuneQuest III: I ain’t afraid of no goats’. Product review.
12 ‘Gutter Press’. Fanzine reviews.

Issue 7 Spring 1985

7

A5, black & white, unstapled. 12 pages, including the cover.

2 ‘The Black Sun’, by Steve Williams. Editorial.
3-4 ‘Tales from the Crypt’. Product reviews.
5-9 ‘The Shadows of Frogs Yoghurt’. Comical adventure for Call of Cthulhu.
11-12 ‘Gutter Press’. Fanzine reviews.

Although the cover of this issue is not numbered, according to this discussion it is internally described as number 7.

Issue 8? Summer 1985

8

The same discussion mentioned above states that this issue refers to The Black Sun‘s first anniversary, dating this issue to July 1985 or later. It is not numbered, and my assignment of the number 8 to it is guesswork.

SERIES 2

Around 1987 the magazine was revived. GW’s London office had by now been closed, so the new Black Sun was produced in Nottingham by Tim Pollard. Pollard provided the illustrations and most of the writing, with occasional contributions from other GW authors. It was printed in a single colour, which varied from issue to issue.

I have only been able to identify five issues, whose covers are shown below. I suspect they may be the only issues produced, as Tim Pollard showed the same five issues in his interview for Realm of Chaos 80s. All five are undated.

There appears to be even less information about the contents of the second series of The Black Sun than the first. It apparently contained news, reviews, articles, competitions, a cartoon serial and plenty of humour. It was more focused on GW’s own games, and so is of greater relevance to WFRP. If anyone has more information, I’d love to hear it.

Issues 1 and 2

I assume by a process of elimination that these are issues 1 and 2. The blue issue may be number 1 and the green issue number 2, based on the progression of the title graphic.

Issue 3

R Y

This issue refers to Chainsaw Warrior and The Price of Freedom, which featured prominently in WD86-89 (March-May 1987), and so probably dates from that time.

Pariah has very kindly provided a scan of this issue, which can be read here.

Issue 4

R W

This issue includes chainsaw rules for WFRP1. Again Pariah has made a scan available of this issue, which you can see here.

Issue 5

R 5

The ‘Black Eye’ issue is numbered “#5” and so presumably the last of those here.

Title image used without permission. No challenge intended to the rights holders.

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10 thoughts on “THE BLACK SUN

  1. Wow, “Black Sun” – haven’t seen that in a while! While never a big fan of WFRP, I have some frineds working for Games Workshop, and apparently it’s still a living piece of history; as it, people actually still do mention it sometimes when working in the graphic studio there 🙂

    By the way, I think you might be interested in news about the new in-development tabletop hard sci-fi RPG, Project Aphelion (www.projectaphelion.com) – the author is not only working on the RPG itself but also on short stories and novellas set in the universe – well, our universe, just a bit in the future. Might be worth following!

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    1. That’s great. Would you be willing to share any more details, such as the missing covers or the contents of the other issues? I could add them to this post, if you like.

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      1. I’m sure I still have the scans of all the covers 1-7.. I might have done 8 ( I thought I had).. if you have a look at that link through the way back it lists the rpg contents of the first 7 issues.. send me your email so I can send you the scans.. beasterbrook@hotmail.com

        Brette:)

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  2. I have found on ebay two issues of the second series, the Blue “The Disgusting Lie” and the Red one.
    I can confirm that back in the days we had “official” rules for chainsaws weapons in WFRP.

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  3. Pariah has very kindly shared scans of two issues of series two. I have updated the post to include these scans, so everyone can now include chainsaws in their WFRP1 games!

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  4. The splendid Tim Pollard alerted me to this article. Lovely bit of nostalgia, thank you!

    As you said, it originally grew out of the increasingly bizarre Mail Order adverts, set in the catacombs with Gunatha, his teddy bear, and a gaggle of relatives. It was a great “Friday lunchtime” project, a good outlet for creativity that wouldn’t fit in the more respectable pages of White Dwarf.

    I happened to remember where my copy of Black Sun #1 was, so I quickly photographed all 12 pages, and here it is (up for one week, so move quickly). Feel free to clean these up and repost, whatever. Link: https://we.tl/t-4zhaW2czMb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this! I have added this material to the post above. If you have any other recollections of Black Sun, it would be great to hear them.

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