Written by Neil Rennison
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
I’m a huge fan of the original Watchmen comic. I was introduced to it by a friend during the mid 90s, when I was at university. Having always been a big fan of traditional superhero comics, it blew my mind and I never read another superhero comic book in quite the same way again. I almost got to work with John Higgins, the colorist for Watchmen, a few years ago, but sadly the stars didn’t align. I once also attended a talk by Alan Moore in London, and one of the first things he said was that he didn’t like interactive fiction, which was pretty damning for me at the time starting Tin Man Games, in which we were doing interactive fiction! He’s still a pretty big hero of mine though.
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
A bit of an obvious one here, but I’m a big fan and have read it a few times. I grew up in rural England, not far from Oxford where Tolkien lived and worked and Middle-earth always felt so English to me. As a kid I used to cycle around the laneways in the countryside and through our local forests, and I always imagined hobbits and barrow wights living around me. The films (while great!) didn’t feel Middle-earthy to me like the book did in my head. The village I grew up in also appeared in one of Tolkien’s books – I wrote a blog post about it.
Magician by Raymond E. Feist
As a teenager I was so hungry for fantasy stories, especially as I was setting up my own D&D Red Box campaign. This book was important for me as it further legitimized fantasy writing and world building. It also showed me that I didn’t need to just read Tolkien to get my fix, and there were lots of other authors out there taking his lead and going off in their own directions. It made me feel that I could do that too and it was around this time that I designed Orlandes for my AD&D 2nd Edition group, which was resurrected 20 years later for our Gamebook Adventures series.
Deathtrap Dungeon by Ian Livingstone
I first saw the cover of this gamebook on the bookshelves (that Bloodbeast!!) and knew instantly that I wanted to own it, even before realizing what a gamebook was. This is the book that started off the crazy addiction to gamebooks and then on into role-playing some years later. Who would have thought that years later I would be working with the authors of the Fighting Fantasy series and re-visualizing them for a modern, digital audience!
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The first film I can honestly say was my favourite film as a kid, even more so than Star Wars (A New Hope) and The Empire Strikes Back, which were big in my life then. This film has it all and even now I can mouth the script before it comes out of the actor’s mouths. Many aspects of this film had a huge influence on my life and even now I get goosebumps thinking about some of the scenes. My favourite scene has to be the silhouette of Indy against the sunset, picking up his hat, placing it on his head in that trademark way, all while the diggers sing in the background. Right, I need to go watch this
again – off to YouTube!
I watched this far too young without my parents knowing (this, Jaws and the last film in my list I think) after they bought a VHS recorder and I secretly recorded films late at night. It started a love affair with horror films and especially horror films set in space. When Aliens was released all my mates at school raved about how brilliant it was, but as an action movie with tense sections, it just didn’t live up to the sheer scariness of Alien. Ridley Scott was in his film-making prime back then (Blade Runner is another film that narrowly misses this list).
An American Werewolf in London
I LOVED this film and still do to this day. Everyone should be forced to watch this movie or at least forced to walk the Yorkshire Moors at night, in a full moon. Also, I had a massive crush on Jenny Agutter, who also starred in Logan’s Run, another of my fave sci-fi films. 🙂