Fighting Fantasy book covers

Here’s one for the old school super-nerds. When I was in grade 6 back in 1988 my friend Scott brought some adventure books into class one day and the things caught on like wildfire. By “wildfire” I mean within the confines of myself and about three of my other friends. While the girls were reading Sweet Valley High or whatever, this is what the guys were into. Monsters, swords and fire.

Shown here are the covers of 10 Fighting Fantasy books created by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. Remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? Well, these were like the upgraded version where you kept track of stamina, strength and powers as you battled various monsters along the way. Even needed dice to read these things. So much fun. I have fond memories of playing through some of these books, and dissecting the killer artwork on the covers. It was just recently I started thinking back to these, and the art really holds it’s ground. Some nice typography in there too. Look at that Phantoms of Fear title! And I love the colours on the Vault of the Vampire cover.

Hell, Fangs of Fury as a 2-headed fire-breathing snake! How could I not be into this what I was 10?

Sorry about the low image quality, these suckers were hard to track down. Anyone else out there read these when they were kids? If so, you were obviously with the popular crowd.

12 Comments

  1. Jason Devine

    Oh I remember these fondly. The first one I bought was The Seven Serpents in the ‘Sorcery!’ series – I remember finding it in a small bookshop that was on my route home from school. Totally felt like the kid from Neverending Story and that I’d somehow stumbled on a mysterious tome that was a portal to another world. Magic indeed! Here’s the cover of that particular gem: http://goo.gl/Ul2AO

  2. Ryan

    Yes, remember them fondly. My school teacher gave me one after we read The Hobbit. Went on to play the Lone Wolf series (more complex with a continuing narrative and character development, look them up), but have a fondness for the old school classics, And yes, some fabulous artwork. I particularly like Freeway Fighter, Rebel Planet & Temple of Terror.

  3. Ah man this brings back memories!! In the uk I don’t recall those exact books but we had something similar, I spent hours in the school library when I should have been working but instead I was flicking through an amazing adventure! The best bit was to the average teacher it looked as if I was really studying!! Good times!!!

  4. Cam

    Some of my favs: “Deathtrap Dungeon”, “Citadel of Chaos”, “Forest of Doom”, “House of Hell”.

    Thanks for this… brings back memories.

  5. Janek

    A nice trip down memory lane. :)

    Did anyone else cheat in these books and mark the pages before you made your choice in case you made the wrong one and died?

  6. Cam

    @Janek

    Haha ya… I went a step further by going through every scenario so I could draw a master map.

  7. I’ve never heard of these, but the Phantoms of Fear cover art rocks!

  8. Ron

    ‘Island of the Lizard King’ was my first one, art by Ian McCaig (long time master fantasy artist). I read/played through that book a hundred times, eventually, between the ages of 10 and 12 I collected most of them. ‘City of Thieves’ was the last one I got, and the rules and gameplay was expanded upon and more elaborate, the world itself was more developed and detailed too.

    It was a great precursor to Dungeons and Dragons, like D&D for kids or something, MANY fond memories.

    Reminds me of the ‘Scary Stories’ books too. I read those as a kid and get so immersed in them, THAT artwork hold up well, soooo creepy.

  9. I devoured these as a kid; especially the ‘Sorcery’ series. But it wasn’t until I got Steve Jackson’s “Out of the Pit” monster manual on a trip to Halifax that my mind was totally blown. I loved the cover – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Out-Pit-Fighting-Fantasy-Monsters/dp/0140319999

  10. Maaaaaaan!!! You brought back so many memories! I’ve still got Stealer of Souls and Chasms of Malice somewhere!?

  11. Thanks for posting these James.

    I worked on the Fighting Fantasy series as part of my first job as a designer at Penguin Books back in the late 80′s in London.

    This was mainly pre-Mac and much of the artwork was done on boards with typeset content. The Night Dragon and Fangs of Fury text was hand drawn although the Curse of the Mummy text was one of the first I did in Illustrator. It makes me shudder looking at these just how bad the typography looks today! :-)

    This will be our own little secret! OK?

  12. KiDG

    Love these. Brings back a whole load of memories for me.

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