Some of you may recognize the character featured here as Derek the Troll, who starred in his own comic strip back in the 1980s, first in the pages of fantasy game mag Warlock and then in its sister publication White Dwarf. Now Derek is set to return for a special one-off full page strip later this year.
Written and drawn by Lew Stringer once again, the brand new Derek the Troll strip will appear in You Are the Hero, A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks by the author Jonathan Green.
A ‘coffee table’ book celebrating 30 years of Fighting Fantasy, the publishing phenomenon created by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, the book was funded via Kickstarter. Such was the enthusiasm for Jonathan’s project that it easily exceeded the £15,000 target figure.
A freelance writer, Jonathan is well known for my contributions to the Fighting Fantasy range of adventure gamebooks, but has also written for such diverse properties as Sonic the Hedgehog, Doctor Who, Star Wars and Games Workshop’s worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. He’s currently writing an ongoing series of novels set within the alternative steampunk universe of Pax Britannia, featuring the debonair dandy adventurer Ulysses Quicksilver.
As well as his fiction work, he’s also written a number of non-fiction books including Match Wits with the Kids and What is Myrrh Anyway? Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Christmas.
“I remember picking up one of the very first copies of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain [the first Fighting Fantasy book] when it was published in 1982,” says Jonathan. “Here was a book in which you, the reader, were the hero. You chose the course of the adventure, deciding which paths to take, which traps to risk, and which monsters to fight. I had never read anything like it before, and so began a life-long love affair with Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.”
He wrote a piece about the history of Fighting Fantasy for SFX magazine last year, but the more Jonathan researched the story behind the creation of the world’s premier gamebook series, the more story he realised there was still to tell. “To do the subject justice I needed to write a book – and so the idea that was to become You Are the Hero was born.”
His passion for the series clearly resonated with many, attracting more in funding than he expected – and support from others involved in the Fighting Fantasy range, including Iain McCaig, legendary Fighting Fantasy artist and the designer of Darth Maul (almost other things), who is provding a pair of brand new black and white illustrations for the book.
But what about Derek the Troll? What’s his place in the Fighting Fantasy saga?
“Derek the Troll started life in 1984 when I created the diminutive spotty troll for a contest in Warlock magazine,” Lew says. “I don’t think I won the contest but the editor was impressed enough by the strip to offer me a regular page in the magazine beginning in late 1985.
“I’ve been intending to revive Derek the Troll for years but the right opportunity never came along, so I was very pleased when Jonathan contacted me late last year about the possibility of a new strip featuring the troll for his book.”
• More about the You ar eht Hero book here: www.youarethehero.co.uk
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.