Christmas now done, we can now return to the task in hand – Fighting Fantasy. Firstly, just wanted to say congratulations to Johnathan Green and his successful You Are The Hero project on Kickstarter, which at the time of writing you still have 45 hours to back and get yourself some goodies. And congratulations to the community too!
Secondly, the meat. Arguably the most famous Fighting Fantasy title other than Warlock of Firetop Moutain is the next book, Deathtrap Dungeon. Like City of Thieves, this comes from the writer and artist combo of Ian Livingstone and Ian McCaig, which as you’ll probably know if you read my City of Thieves account means that the illustrations are top-notch and push the atmosphere to another level. In my opinion, outdoing his work on the Forest of Doom cover, Ian McCaig created an iconic piece of fantasy art for the cover, a print of which I bought several months ago and have finally got around to framing. And before you ask, it appears to be sold out still.
Considering the iconic nature of the cover, you’d expect it to survive into the publishing of the book in foreign territories wouldn’t you? Well, as I learned from the recent Dragonmeet panel with Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, the Japanese release had a slightly different cover.
My copy of the book itself is an eBay purchase, again in great condition, but this one did actually come with a hidden bonus; access to the sellers bank account! Normally when the bank sends you a new pin number, you’re expected to remember it and destroy it as opposed to post it to someone. You plum, eBay.
Anyway, Deathtrap Dungeon was obviously a big favourite of mine as a kid, as it was for many other people. My memories of it are actually relatively fresh though as I did buy the iOS version back when it was still on sale. I’m fairly sure I died in a hole somewhere though, so hopefully I can rectify that outcome with the physical book. It really wasn’t done as well as iOS Blood of the Zombies though, and presumably the up-coming House of Hell conversion and others too! Regardless, Deathtrap Dungeon iOS looked a bit like this…
And this isn’t the only computer based version, an old PSOne game was made back in 1998. From my memories of the demo disc off the front of Official Playstation Magazine, it was a fairly generic, very ugly hack n’ slash game which I had little interest in save for the Fighting Fantasy branding and the launch campaign which introduced a delighted teenage-me to Kelly Brook.
As for reading it for the first time, I’m pretty sure it was a purchase from my favourite shop at the time, Alley Books. As my burgeoning army of Twitter followers will know, I visited the shop over the Christmas holidays, I hadn’t been there in years but some twenty plus years later, it’s amazingly still running. I swear it’s shrunk though, it was much bigger when I was 8.
I remember being enthralled by the cover art, again like the Forest of Doom Shapeshifter, the Bloodbeast sucked me in and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I was fascinated by horror as a child, sneaking looks at gory images on the backs of scary movies in video shops and specifically novelizations of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies which had stills from the film in the middle, all the stuff I knew I shouldn’t be looking at drew me in and fascinated me. Picking up Deathtrap Dungeon from the shelves of Alley Books and seeing this weird thing on the cover, I had to read it and kill it! And that’s exactly what I intend to do all over again; I know which is your real eye this time Mr. Bloodbeast…