Sunday 28 September 2014

Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014

So, Fighting Fantasy Fest... This time three weeks ago (as of writing*) I was unloading a carload of stuff** at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, ready for the first ever, dedicated, Fighting Fantasy convention. Almost twelve hours later, I was getting back into said car to return home. The bit in between was a bit of a whirl.

Jonathan Green, Geraldine Cooke, Zagor the Warlock, Steve Jackson, and Ian Livingstone at Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014.

It really came home to me that Fighting Fantasy Fest was actually happening when all the traders started to turn up and unload very professional-looking display cabinets and the like. And it was the presence of Otherworld Miniatures, Leisure Games,, Snowbooks, Arion Games, All Rolled Up, Scriptarium, Tin Man Games, Inkle Studios, Gothic Manor, and Legend Photography that really helped to make what started out as a book launch into a proper con.

Otherworld Miniatures' Zagor miniatures in special FFF blister packs.

But of course the day wouldn't have been what it was without the presence of the host of Fighting Fantasy guests who made their way to Ealing especially for Fighting Fantasy Fest. There were the artists Chris Achilleos, Malcolm Barter, John Blanche, Leo Hartas, Tony Hough, Russ Nicholson, writer Peter Darvill-Evans also made it, along with very special guests Philippa Dickinson and Geraldine Cooke (who just made it in the nick of time to rapturous applause from the audience). But none of us would have been there in the first place if it hadn't been for our very special Guests of Honour, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone.

Just part of the much marvelled at FF Exhibition.

Jamie Fry of

I am grateful to Neil Rennison for kicking off the talks with a presentation  about Tin Man Games and the company's plans for the Fighting Fantasy apps, which was followed by the headline act of the day, as it were - Steve and Ian in conversation with Philippa and Geraldine (eventually).

One of the goodie bags given away on the day, plus contents.

Just some of the highlights of the day
  • Meeting so many FF fans and backers of YOU ARE THE HERO.
  • Meeting the Demonic Three (a.k.a. Mark Lain, Steve Leicester and Jam Hirons).
  • Seeing a Goblin patrolling the queue attempting to register on the day and berating them generally.
  • The FF Exhibition.
  • Damien Sparkes' FF miniatures.
  • People asking me to sign original copies of Spellbreaker and Knights of Doom, along with my other gamebooks at the mass signing.
  • The FF Auction (with Ian Livingstone working the room like a pro).
  • Getting the band back together. (All of the WARLOCK level backers who went for lunch with Steve and Ian back in June 2013 were there.)
  • Thomas Nielsen winning the costume competition dressed, appropriately enough, as Zagor the Warlock.
  • Facebook friends and Twitter adventurers meeting in person for the first time.
  • My Skill, Stamina and Luck t-shirt.
  • Having my photo taken by Legend Photography alongside Ian and Steve.
  • The positive atmosphere and happy con-buzz (which still hasn't left me).

Who let that Goblin in?

Pure Evil Miniatures' take on some Fighting Fantasy classics.

The Downside
  • Timings going a little out the window (but thank goodness the hotel let us stay on for an extra hour).
  • Not getting my own copy of YOU ARE THE HERO signed by all of the guests.
  • Not having enough time to speak to anyone beyond saying "Hello, thanks for coming" in some cases.

The creators of Fighting Fantasy, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, and the author of YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, Jonathan Green.

FFF 2014 would not have run so smoothly without the help of my family and best friend Andy, so a massive thank you to them***. But the biggest thanks has to go to all those who attended. If you hadn't stumped up for a ticket or two, the event could not have happened.

There are already rumblings regarding FFF 2015. I think it's safe to say that if we do do it again, it won't be quite the same as this year, put I will also be sending out a questionnaire, in due course, for attendees of FFF 2014 to give their feedback and have their say regarding what they would like to see at the next Fighting Fantasy Fest.

If you missed the event, the exclusive Zagor the Warlock miniature that was given away in the event goodie bag is now available to buy from Otherworld Miniatures. And if you'd like to see some more photos from the day, you can do so here.

Because of all the work involved in preparing for (and promoting) Fighting Fantasy Fest, I completely failed to blog about Bex Levene's Smiler's Fair book launch, Geekfest 2014, or even what I got up to at Loncon 3 (which including accidentally saying "Hi" to George R R Martin). However, I'm back on the blogging horse now and would like to let you know about some other events that I shall be appearing at in the run up to Christmas.

MCM Comic Con London
Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th October 2014
I'll be at MCM two out of the three days it's running, selling my Steampunk Pax Britannia novels as well as bringing along YOU ARE THE HERO this year.

Kilburn Literary Festival
Sunday 2nd November 2014 (2.00pm-3.30pm)
I shall be at the North London Tavern, talking about how my History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks came to be, giving you the story of the book, as it were (rather like the 'Making of...' documentaries you get on DVDs).

Steampunks in Space
Saturday 29th & Sunday 30th November 2014
I will be at the National Space Centre in Leicester for a weekend of Steampunk splendidness. So why not come along and pick up one of my Pax Britannia novels while you're there? After all, Dark Side is set in space as well as on the Moon!

Saturday 6th December 2014 (10.00am-6.00pm)
I'm going to have a table at Dragonmeet this year, so come along and pick up one of the last hardbacks of the first edition of YOU ARE THE HERO and get it signed at the same time!

Maybe I'll see you at one of the above...

* 7.00 a.m.

** Goodie bags, Kickstarter backer copies of YOU ARE THE HERO, bottles of water...

*** It's been particularly gratifying to read other people's kind comments about how hard my wife worked on the day, and even one attendee remarking how much he enjoyed embarking upon an AFF adventure with my sprogs.


Steven Leicester said...

Not sure how we became to be known as the demonic three, but I kind of like it.

Thanks again for a fantastic day.

Jam Hirons said...

Think you can blame me for that Steven. I had referred to us as that before the title Triumvirate lol.
Great day Jonathan it couldn't have been better. I still want your Stats T-shirt ;-)

MALthus Dire said...

Thanks Jon. It was a joy to meet up with so many people from all the different FF and gamebook groups, along with all the talented writers and artists who made it all happen. Here's to FFF 2015

Colin Oaten said...

Thoroughly enjoyed the day and the new friends i made. Just wish i had the time to talk to more people there

Nicki Gray (The Analander) said...

Thanks Jon.
It was a pleasure meeting not only yourself, but others from the FF Groups on Facebook.
I hope to make it next year as well!