This, as I'm sure you can see, is my Master Painter t-shirt from the inaugural 1987 Golden Demon Awards. Strangely, there exists no photographic evidence of me wearing this prestigious garment, which is probably just as well. I was 17. The word 'gawky' may have been coined especially for the occasion. Nor is there evidence of the miniature with which I won the regional heat that earned me this, but I can picture it clearly: it was a dark-elf archer armed with a crossbow, and I spent bloody HOURS shading those knife-edge cheekbones. Presumably it was fairly decent for the time but compared to what I've seen in the cabinets of Games Workshops today it wouldn't even merit a glance, and that's as it should be. Standards improve. Each new generation raises the bar for the ones that come after.
Look, I know we're only talking about painting gaming miniatures, okay, but like I say, I was 17. It was a big deal. My family had moved to the windswept wastes of the Cumbrian Borders from Australia barely two years earlier and like a lot of nerdy and socially maladjusted teenage males who weren't into sport (or in the case of the Borders, chasing tractors and wrestling highland cattle) gaming was a both an escape and a lifeline.
Which is kind of why getting a story published by the Black Library is also a big deal now that I've blossomed into a nerdy and socially maladjusted middle-aged man. The gawky 17-year old is still inside (believe me, there's room for him, and a few of his mates), and he's currently bug-eyed with happiness.
Have a great Hallowe'en season, everyone.