Sunday, 3 September 2017

Thoughts on new Fighting Fantasy art


Yesterday I was at Fighting Fantasy Fest 2, which was a hoot. At the event Scholastic launched its Fighting Fantasy line, complete with all new covers and interior art. This is generally par for the course when FF gets a new publisher, but Scholastic is a pretty big coup for the franchise considering it's the biggest children's publisher in the world and had school-based book clubs. This in theory should put FF in front of a whole lot of kids, which is a fantastic thing.

Because Scholastic has to cater for a market of digital natives who are used to a certain style in their app games and animated series, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson have kind of told us older fans that we've got to give the new art style a chance, and I completely agree. We still have our Nicholson, McCaig, Hough and other FF masters, but according to Scholastic these artists' works aren't going to resonate with the kids today (I don't agree with this - I think kids want quality and cool shit as much as the rest of us).

So let's talk about the new covers first. The first phase contains: Warlock of Firetop Mountain, City of Thieves, Citadel of Chaos, Forest of Doom, House of Hell(!) And the new Port of Peril. Guys, I really like these covers - particularly Forest. They're bright and a little trippy. Sure, they look like they've come from a gaming app but that's the point I think (not to be cynical about it).

I can't comment too much on the interior art, because I've only seen snapshots of some books, but I did pick up a limited edition hardback of Port of Peril (interestingly with a bloody amazing McCaig cover) and had a flick through at the art. Let's just say it's not for me and I can't see too many current fans being enamored. It's all a little flat and cartoony - a complete departure from anything done before in the series. The paragraph dividers are also quite poor - 3D rendered greyscale treasure chests that look like they've come from a generic fantasy app.

I don't know how engaging this art is to kids nowadays - I only know that the art of the old green spines were a joy to me as a kid and part of the reason I got into gaming. The art has stuck with me for two decades because of the absolute mind blowing detail, gore, and wonder it conjured. When I look through Port of Peril I can't imagine the art really affecting anyone in that way.

I'll have a review of Port of Peril on the blog soon .

Top image: Scholastic