Missing in Action: Heroquest at Marvel UK, and the RPG magazine that never happened

Marvel UK's Heroquest - Cover

Back in my Marvel UK days, I edited a one-off Heroquest magazine at Marvel UK – a one-shot special licensed from Games Workshop that has some notable creators involved and, as downthetubes contributor Richard Sheaf notes over on his Boys Adventure blog, is quite a collectable today.

HeroQuest, sometimes written as Hero Quest or Hero-quest, is an adventure board game created by Milton Bradley in conjunction with Games Workshop, today better known for its Warhammer line and miniatures. The game was actually a game system, allowing the gamemaster (called “Morcar” in the original British version and most localisations, but “Zargon” in the United States and Canada) to create dungeons of their own design using the provided game board, tiles, furnishings and monsters.

Published in 1991, the 36-page magazine, featuring cover art by Les Edwards (also used on the cover of White Dwarf Magazine 128, published in 1990).

“Les Edwards was with the same agency (Young Artists/Arena) I was with in the 1980s and early 90s,” notes fellow artist Alan Craddock. “The agency would sell the art we produced over and over in different formats and different countries.”

Art by Alan Craddock used on two very different magazines

The HeroQuest magazine includes features by RPG game creator Ken Walton and then partner Jo Walton (Jo today an award-winning SF and fantasy author); and a comic strip by Alan Cowsill, written just before his days as a Marvel UK editor, and Ian Abinett.

United we Stand” is drawn by Gary Frank, who went on to draw Motormouth and Killpower for the Marvel UK “Genesis 1992” project, inked by Cam Smith, lettered by Helen Stone and coloured by Peri Godbold.

Marvel UK's Heroquest - Strip

“I think we had to write the script overnight due to tight deadlines,” recalls Alan Cowsill of the project. “If only there had been emails back then! It was a good looking magazine.”

Adrian Salmon – today perhaps best known for his Doctor Who strips and illustrations, did his first work for Marvel UK on the title, one of the first to be created on the company’s then new Mac computers.

“Paul Neary commissioned me to draw the artwork for the game pieces,” Adrian recalls. “It was an absolute nightmare using a cheap airbrush and can of propellant!”

Marvel UK Heroquest Quest Quest "Revenge of the Weather-Man" by Ken and Jo Walton

The magazine contains a short story, the Quest “Revenge of the Weather-Man” by Ken and Jo, plus new Hazards for the game, stats for new monster types, tips for painting your miniatures, and more.

Marvel UK Heroquest Quest Hazards created by Adrian Salmon
Heroquest Hazards created by Adrian Salmon

I’ve no idea why it was just a one off, as Heroquest seemed very successful at the time. I’d long argued for a RPG/ gaming type magazine as part of the company’s line, but the suggestion never got beyond planning documents.

As well as enjoying role playing games, as both player and game runner, before I worked at Marvel UK, designer and artist Matt Bingham and I proposed a redesign of TSR’s IMAGINE magazine to editor Paul Cockburn, a pitch that I recall being pretty blunt about the look of the title, but secured us a meeting with Paul and discussion about working on the title, that in the end did not materialise.

I was also offered a job at Games Workshop, as a designer, after an interview and day at the company’s Nottingham headquarters that included sight of their comic art archive, but decided against taking up the offer.

Perhaps, knowing my interest in gaming, that was why Editorial Director Paul Neary asked me to edit the Heroquest Special.

“It was remarkably popular,” notes Alan. “I still meet people at cons who were kids when it came out and get all enthusiastic about it”.

“I’d imagine Games Workshop stopped it from happening as they were tough to work with back then,” he suggests.

UPDATE, 28th December 2022: A new edition of the HeroQuest Game System Board Game was published by Avalon Hill, today a division of Hasbro, and released in 2022 after an hugely-successful crowdfunding campaign, available in the UK from Smyths and AmazonUK

Web Links

• There’s more information about Marvel UK’s Heroquest here on nederlands.yeoldeinn.com

HeroQuest and the Heroquest series at BoardGameGeek

Heroquest on Wikipedia

Check out Richard Sheaf’s article on Marvel UK”s Heroquest magazine here

The HeroQuest Game System Board Game published by Avalon Hill is available in the UK from Smyths and AmazonUK

Avalon Hill HeroQuest Game System Board Game (2022)

In the HeroQuest dungeon crawl board game, heroes work together to complete epic quests, find treasures and defeat the forces of evil. This semi-cooperative board game has one player taking on the role of Zargon, the Game Master, while 4 mythical heroes – Barbarian, Dwarf, Elf, and Wizard – team up in their quest for adventure in a maze of monsters and eerie dark dungeons. Players can immerse themselves in the fantasy with the stunning artwork, and 65+ detailed miniatures.

The game comes with 14 quests, and has limitless replayability because players can also build their own quests and create their own stories. Gather friends together for an exciting night of tabletop gameplay in an epic battle of good and evil. The game is for 2-5 players, ages 14 and up.

With thanks to Alan Cowsill, Alan Craddock, Adrian Salmon and Richard Sheaf

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.



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