So Scholastic have set the next six #FightingFantasy books into motion. Another five revivals and a brand new title, The Gates Of Death, should be joining us around April. Whilst not many of the die hard fans appreciated the cover art of the first six releases last year, at least they was all done by the same artist and looked generic. Unfortunately we are now met with a change in design. It’s not good.
Though one may argue the artwork is slightly more in line with the classic series (I said slightly) , it has been confined to a tiny circle in the middle of the page with about 80% the rest just a single colour broken by white lines. I’m pretty certain this is a money saving device. When you consider the full cover of art we had in the 80s – 00s this isn’t progress nor very eye catching. With the last six covers Scholastic gave the excuse they was using this type of art to appeal to an era of video gaming children. So why the change? I guess they’re admitting they was wrong and the fans we’re right and now going down the cheapest route tasting sour grapes.
The Gates Of Death will be the first ‘presented’ written FF adventure since Jonathan Green’s wonderful Howl Of The Werewolf, and from the look of it Charlie Higson (of The Fast Show fame) will be the first non series creator to have his name boldly displayed on the front cover. Prestigious that may be, but is this a marketing twist to attract his own fans to buy this new quest? Either way, I am grateful for another new story and hope it goes down well with fans expectations and spurs Scholastic to employ other guest writers too such as the aforementioned Jonathan Green, Dave Morris, Jamie Thomson etc etc
Jam meets Charlie Higson at FFF2
»»Warning, contains spoilers
Port Of Peril was always going to to be met with critique, with it being a brand new story in a brand new series relaunch. Many people including myself have already given their opinions but this post is to purely point out the bits I really enjoyed.
My first favourite bit was the delve into ‘the cellar’. Half expecting there to be something large and ravenous down there I never expected to find a zombie mooching around. Although these are never much of a threat on their own to a tough treasure seeking adventurer, Ian Livingstone incorporates a bit of character history behind the shambling wretch with a letter written by the unfortunate before they turned. It wasn’t just there for sword fodder there was a reason and a rewarding one at that. Given that this takes place in a single entrance/exit room, a greater threat comes along in another simple but cruel form.
Another piece I really enjoyed was exploring the Skullcrag. The bit in particular was the encounter with the Lavaworm. I had recently watched Tremors 5 with my niece and nephew from which I could vividly set the scene. Luckily I had a possession which could deal with this slimey brute and avoided hand to hand combat. The result was a pleasing descriptive demise for the creature and an even more pleasing discovery within the creatures innards.
Given that this was written for a younger audience, I still didn’t manage to complete it first go, I got captured once and didn’t have an essential item to complete the quest second time round. Though it isnt Deathtrap Dungeon or Crypt Of The Sorcerer, its above average and shows the series still has it’s flair for any gamebook fans.
Whilst many of us have still to get our hands on a copy of the Scholastic reissues of Fighting Fantasy, the gang have been circulating enough plot points and pictures to do a personal mini review here. We find that the illustrations are not really what us fanboys turned men (and women heheh) are used to. They are very angular and cheap looking which has come as a downer. The good news is Ian Livingstone’s new adventure is true to his usual form, with an enjoyable yarn in which you need to find a multitude of items to take along the way.
(The Ghoul in Warlock Of Firetop Mountain by Vlado Krizan. That’s a skeleton not a ghoul. “Semi decayed man…”? Theres nothing left of him grrrr!!!)
(Foiled again! Photos by Kevin Abbotts and Paul Berry)
People are already having trouble with the gold foil in the bookspines. They haven’t had their copies more than a day and its beginning to fray and peel already. All in all, production and design of the iconic book series’ new look is quite a hash. Personally I’m only interested in the new adventure and hope their are more thus I shall only invest in the limited edition of Port Of Peril at this point partially due to Iain McCaigs incredible cover for now.
I very much doubt scholastic will care to actually give their audience what they want with their daft ‘we are selling to kids of today art’ approach …(this is bum cum, the cover and internal art are no different to some tacky Choose You Own Adventure books of the early 80s they’ve just gone for the cheap option) …while alienating a 30 year fan base of thousands. My gut reaction is this could all fizzle out soon like it did for Wizard books only much faster and that would be a great shame given the writing of the new adventure is on par. I hope not, but I’m listening out…
Ok so im a couple of days late because I didn’t think I could really be bothered to talk about this. However, scholastic have released the cover art of Ian Livingstone’s brand new FF book, Port Of Peril. I first started reading FF during the greenspine era around 1988, and as such have been weened on the realistic lifelike strokes of such artists as Les Edwards, Ian McCaig, Jim Burns and a whole load more. The new cover art is somewhat more cartoonish, with bold colours rather than blended and angled lines rather than curved. Such is the style of the artists Robert M Ball who has taken on the project. They somewhat remind me of the old Tunnels & Trolls book coverart.
A lot of fans, myself included will take time to adjust to this entirely new look with the FF facebook threads being something of a debate on the matter. After a bit of research however I have found out kids today are favouring this new art format over the old. At least with one cover artist all the books will look consistently designed. Another nice touch Ian himself let slip is there are no more greenspines they have been upgraded to a very eye catching gold foil, as have the dagger logo and title. Who doesn’t like gold right? Apart from maybe the crap Cybermen off Doctor Who!
So as a purist, I’m going to miss the old cover art and swallow a rather bitter pill. But as for the series, I think its got a tough challenge ahead levering kids off of video games but if it works then the future of FF and likelihood of more new adventures will be in good stead. It’s a good time for us to all test for LUCK.