Friday, 30 June 2017
Portraits of Peril
We don’t usually do news around here, unless it’s Brexit or Trump or other End Times scenarios, but there was some recent discussion in the comments about Scholastic UK’s re-release of the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series, and I kind of like the covers, so why not?
What’s good about them, first of all, is that they’re simple. These covers will have taken a fraction of the time of a full painting like Martin McKenna’s (very striking) image for Bloodbones. So they’ll be cheap, and that’s smart thinking.
On the other hand, cheap would be counter-productive if it looked cheap. Try the cover below that was proposed to me for Down Among the Dead Men by a mainstream publisher. ‘But… but…’ I said. And, when my brain regained control of my mouth: ‘It’s about pirates, not cowboys. And also it’s not a funny story for eight-year-olds.’
Thus it is that I know how utterly slapdash and dire a ‘professional’ attempt at a cover can be. By contrast, these FF covers are bold, modern and eye-catching. I can imagine them convincing today’s eleven-year-olds to give gamebooks a try.
But will those kids want to roll dice and wrangle their way through all that character-sheet arithmetic? Will the puzzle- and plot-driven adventures hold up? Will the creaky purple prose of thirty-five years past still compel attention in a videogame era? I don’t know. I just think they look pretty.