Tuesday 30 May 2017

Hacking the Curriculum

Available now from John Catt Educational Ltd is Hacking the Curriculum: Creative Computing and the Power of Play, written by Digital Schoolhouse Director, Shahneila Saeed, and godfather of the UK games industry, Ian Livingstone CBE.

In Hacking the Curriculum, the authors explain the critical importance of coding and computing in modern schools - and offer teachers and school leaders real practical guidance on how to improve their current provision to a generation of youngsters for whom digital skills are critical.

The reason I mention the book here is because I contributed a chapter to the book, co-written with Mr Livingstone, called 'Interactive Fiction in Education'.

Here's what reviewers have had to say about the book so far:

"Education is the future and this is the future of education. Essential reading." ~ Amazon.co.uk

"This should be compulsory reading for anyone in teacher training. Not only does it clearly articulate the need for computer science in schools, but also gives practical advice for non-technical teachers." ~ Amazon.co.uk

"The book is at its best when it offers these simple, applicable ideas to teachers. One particular surprise was the chapter on interactive fiction by Livingstone and fellow Fighting Fantasy author Jonathan Green. Whilst this initially appeared as self-indulgent (especially given that Livingstone’s other works are mentioned throughout too) Livingstone and Green make a good attempt at demonstrating how works of interactive fiction such as The Forest of Doom (1983) might be used in a classroom setting to link literacy with the new computing curriculum." ~ Games Research Network

Monday 29 May 2017

Thought for the Day

"The job of a writer is not to convey emotion but to invoke it."
~ Eric T Benoit

Monday 22 May 2017

International Biodiversity Day

Today is International Biodiversity (and World Goth Day, and International Sherlock Holmes Day) and you don't get much more biodiverse than sharks, cthulhoid horrors from the Elizabethan era, and dinosaurs!

Thought for the Day

“Self editing is the path to the dark side. Self editing leads to self delusion, self delusion leads to missed mistakes, missed mistakes lead to bad reviews. Bad reviews are the tools of the dark side.”

~ Eric T Benoit

Sunday 21 May 2017

The Freeway Fighter signing at Forbidden Planet, London

Yesterday, Saturday 20th May 2017, fans of comics and gamebooks gathered at the Forbidden Planet Megastore in London for the signing of the very first Fighting Fantasy comic, Ian Livingstone's Freeway Fighter, published by Titan Comics.

In attendance were writer Andi Ewington, artist Simon Coleby, letterer Jim Campbell, variant cover artist (and original cover artist for the Freeway Fighter gamebook) Jim Burns, creator of the original adventure Ian Livingstone, and Yours Truly, since I edited the comic.

Signing pre-orders in the back room at Forbidden Planet.

Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks were also available for fans to pick up and have signed at the event, as were copies of my Pax Britannia novels.

The fans gather for the signing, including the usual suspects.

Two fantasy legends were reunited for the event - the original Freeway Fighter cover artist and author, Jim Burns and Ian Livingstone.

It was a special day for me too, because I got to meet Jim Burns for the first time, having interviewed him for the original YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks.

Jonathan Green, author and editor, with Jim Burns, artist.

You can see more photos from the signing here.

Ian Livingstone's Freeway Fighter has been very well-received and you can read reviews of it all over the web. And of course Issue #2 goes on sale next month and is available to pre-order now, while the variant covers for Issue #4 have also been released.

Cover A by Simon Coleby & Len O'Grady - Cover B by Ben Oliver - Cover C by Tazio Bettin & Luis Guerrero

Friday 19 May 2017

Gamebook Friday: Freeway Fighter signing at Forbidden Planet, London!

Tomorrow, Saturday 20th May 2017 from 1:00-2:00pm, many of the creative team behind Ian Livingstone's Freeway Fighter, published last Wednesday by Titan Comics, will be visiting the Forbidden Planet Megastore in London to sign copies of the very first Fighting Fantasy comic.

Joining writer Andi Ewington, artist Simon Coleby, original gamebook cover artist Jim Burns, letterer Jim Campbell, and author of the original Freeway Fighter gamebook, co-creator of the FF series and co-founder of Games Workshop, Ian Livingstone, will be Yours Truly, since I worked as editor on the title. Having edited three short story anthologies (to date) this is my first professional comic-editing gig and it's been a lot of fun to work on.

As well as being able to pick up various variant cover editions of the comic, at the Forbidden Planet signing Freeway Fighter fans will also to be to buy two limited edition Jim Burns giclee prints (each one £29.99, 18" x 24"), signed by Jim Burns and Ian Livingstone. These will only be available at the event and will not be available later from the Forbidden Planet website afterwards!

The event is bound to be very busy, so make sure you start queueing early, may your STAMINA never fail, and maybe I'll see you there...

Thursday 18 May 2017

SHARKPUNK cover artist at Forbidden Planet this Saturday!

This Saturday, Simon Coleby - the ace artist behind the SHARKPUNK  cover - will be at London's Forbidden Planet Megastore, on Shaftesbury Avenue, from 1:00-2:00pm, signing copies of Ian Livingstone's Freeway Fighter comic.

Also in attendance will be the selachian anthology's editor, Jonathan Green, and it is rumoured that Alec Worley, who wrote Sharkcop 2: Feeding Frenzy, will also be attending the event.

So if you're in London on Saturday, and maybe planning on attending the signing already, don't forget to bring along your copy of SHARKPUNK to get that signed too!

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Happy 117th Birthday to L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!

On this day, 17th May, in the year 1900 - which just so happened to be a Thursday - L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published for the first time, making his world famous children's book, and classic of American literature, 117 years old today!
And to celebrate the occasion, here's a sneak peak at the character paintings that will be adorning The Wicked Wizard of Oz collector bookmarks, courtesy of illustrator extraordinaire Kev Crossley.

Freeway Fighter the Comic - Launch Day!

Andi Ewington first approached me about working on the Freeway Fighter comic with him last summer. As well as coming on board in an editorial role, the plan was that I would run a Kickstarter to fund production of the comic, Andi having already assembled a team of veritable comic talent to help turn his script into a piece of glorious sequential art, including artist Simon Coleby, colourist Len O'Grady, and letterer Jim Campbell.

However, before I could get underway with setting up the Kickstarter, Andi got in touch to say that Matt Mastracci had come on board as executive producer*, providing the financial backing which meant we wouldn't need to crowdfund the comic after all.

Then began the process of creating the comic, from refining the script - making sure it worked as both a comic and a Fighting Fantasy product, linking back to the original Freeway Fighter gamebook by Ian Livingstone - to Simon producing the art, which was then coloured by Len and finally lettered by Jim Campbell.

As things currently stand, Issue #3 is well on the way to being finished, with work having already begun on Issue #4 and its variant covers.

The next piece of good news was when Andi revealed that he Matt and Ian had been in talks with Titan Comics who would being coming on board as publisher, which brings us to this very day, when Issue #1 of Ian Livingstone's Freeway Fighter goes on sale for the very first time. It includes an exclusive introduction by Ian Livingstone himself and a letters page featuring letters by some very well-known figures within the world of comics indeed.

If you're in or around London on Saturday (20th May 2017) why not pop along to the Forbidden Planet Megastore on Shaftesbury Avenue from 1:00-2:00pm, when the creative team behind the Freeway Fighter comic - creator Ian Livingstone, writer Andi Ewington, artist Simon Coleby, original cover artist Jim Burns, and editor Jonathan Green - will be taking part in a mass signing.

Maybe I'll see you there...

* And all because he read about Andi Ewington's dreams of publishing a Freeway Fighter comic book in YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks!

Monday 15 May 2017

Thought for the Day

“No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire.”

~ from The Lost Princess of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, born on this day in 1856.

Monday 8 May 2017

Thought for the Day

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

~ Ernest Hemingway

Friday 5 May 2017

The Wicked Wizard of Oz is published today!

The Wicked Wizard of Oz is a portal to another world - the world of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

In The Wicked Wizard of Oz you take on the role of the one of the protagonists of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and undertake a new and perilous quest as you find yourself called upon to save the world once more.

Hunted by the Wicked Witch of the West's winged monkeys and joined by her friends – the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion – Dorothy sets off for the Emerald City. Surrounded by enemies on all sides, will you uncover the secrets of The Wicked Wizard of Oz?

YOU decide which route to take, which perils to risk, and which of Oz’s strange denizens to fight. But be warned – whether you succeed in your quest or meet a dire end, somewhere over the rainbow, will be down to the choices YOU make.

Are you ready to return to Oz?

You can purchase your copy of The Wicked Wizard of Oz here.

And, coming soon...

Gamebook Friday: The Wicked Wizard of Oz

This week I've been checking over the typeset manuscript for The Wicked Wizard of Oz, which will be launching in four weeks' time at the UK Games Expo 2017. The cover has also been finalised, and here it is, featuring Kev Crossley's artwork.

Backers of the original The Wicked Wizard of Oz Kickstarter, who pledged to receive the WIZARD reward dice and playing cards, will doubtless also be intrigued to see these...

Did you know...?
On 5th May 1919, L. Frank Baum suffered a stroke and the following day he slipped into a coma. However, he briefly awoke and spoke his last words to his wife, “Now we can cross the Shifting Sands.” Baum died on 6th May 1919 and was buried in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. His final book, Glinda of Oz, was published posthumously on 10th July 1920.

Monday 1 May 2017

Thought for the Day

“As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.”
~ Mark Twain