The passing of Angus McBride

We’ll be carrying a full obituary in issue 8 of the magazine, written by Angus Konstam, who collaborated with veteran brushman Angus McBride on a number of projects. I’m also grateful to the staff at Osprey Publishing, who have kindly consented for us to reproduce some of his work to accompany that piece. My thoughts go to out to his family, friends and colleagues, all of whom are in a state of shock.

But I wanted to put on record my own thoughts at this moment.

I received an email from Angus Konstam with the news, barely two hours ago. My first reaction was stunned disbelief, but I felt that journalistic integrity could only be served by calling Osprey for confirmation. They told me that indeed, the terrible news was correct, and that our hobby has lost an almost legendary figure.

Wargaming is such a trifling thing, really. We argue over the most ridiculously small matters, get heated about the buttons on a grenadier’s coat or whether one of our units of toy soldiers should be classed as veteran while another is classed as élite. On online fora, we trade vitriol over whether magazines should be abandoned in favour of pixels, and have virtual punch-ups about whose opinion should count more than another’s.

But this is all as nothing compared with the passing of someone who I think we can all agree was a towering talent, a true artist amongst craftsmen, and an inspiration for generations of wargamers, military modellers and historians alike. I have many ‘normal’ friends who couldn’t give a fig about our games with toy soldiers, but have lingered with admiration over the work of Angus McBride.

I can’t help thinking about the periods of history and conflicts I became interested in because of Angus’ wonderful illustrations. If you go to the Osprey site (here) and enter “McBride” in the search box, it comes back with no less than eleven pages of results. That’s more than 100 Osprey books alone that were illustrated by this remarkable man!

Perhaps it’s because I was brought up to admire original illustration and artwork by my own, talented father that I feel the loss of this extraordinary illustrator so keenly. As someone who has struggled to produce illustrations, drawings and paintings of my own over the years, I have lost count of the hours I have spent studying the technique, composition skills and eye for detail displayed by this master of military art. Painting a sculpted miniature is one thing, but to produce a lifelike rendition with paint and pencil and ink on paper, that captures the imagination and inspires us — that’s something else entirely.

I never met Angus McBride, but I truly wish I had. There are a million questions I would have loved to have asked him, but I shall never have the chance. His work will have to speak for him, as it has always done, most eloquently.

He will be missed.

2 comments for “The passing of Angus McBride

  1. May 17, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Very well said, Henry. I look forward to seeing the end result. When I first heard the news, I checked my small set of Ospreys to see which ones he illustrated. 25% of mine are his work.

  2. bobm1959
    July 1, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    A hugely talented illustrator. Apparently military illustration wasn’t his main area of interest but birds. Saw some of his avian work adorning decorative plates, somehow the style attracted my eye and then I noticed the signature!
    I’ve always been a fan of military art, having books by Mort Kunstler and Don Troiani amongst others and Angus McBride was as good as any at imparting mood and feel.
    How many people have bought Ospreys simply because he had the art credit I wonder.

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