Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Citadel Of Comics - A Fantasy Convention In Which YOU Are The Hero!

Your journey has been long and arduous, but your goal is finally in sight. As you make your way across the empty, barren Plains of Parking, it looms up above you - a monstrous edifice of glass and steel: the Thinktank of Millennium Point. You begin your adventure with one Trusty Companion and zero Pitch Points.

You pass the entrance gateways unchallenged, navigate the escalator maze effortlessly thanks to your Scroll of Floorplans (cross this off your Adventure Sheet) and finally stand at the portal to BICS. Two cosplay stormtroopers step forward to block your path, but a quick flash of your Pass of Professional Entry silences them and they meekly step aside. Readying your treasure bag, you step boldly forward, only to falter to a stunned and stumbling halt. Directly to the West, you spy the demigod Talbot, guarding a mighty stack of hard-bound books. A queue of supplicants and adventurers awaits his benediction. Will you:

Join the queue to pray at the altar of Talbot: scroll to paragraph 15?

Bypass the queue and enter the convention proper through the portal to the North: scroll to paragraph 7?

As you arrive at the Stand of Markosia, you are astounded at the range and variety of goods on sale. From the monster-infested epic, Serpent Wars to your own humble run on Starship Troopers, every item glitters with possibilities untold. What's more, within mere feet lie the jewelled caverns of Orang Utan Comics and Monkeys With Machineguns. The hypnotic, simian synergy of these fabled studios is almost too much to absorb, but their deadly ensorcellment is broken by the stern voice of your Trusty Companion, who announces that it is time for the Bryan Talbot talk. You hurry out of the main chamber and toward the amphitheatre, praying you are not too late. Scroll to paragraph 6.

The cosplay Judge Dredd grimaces at the perp scum he has allowed to infest his convention. Within moments the entire Fetishman creative team is led away in cuffs and Britain takes another shuffling step toward artistic authoritarianism. Lose one Pitch Point for your lack of backbone and integrity and slouch off in shame to paragraph 19.

Moving on North, you find that the aisle takes a sharp turn to the West. You continue to follow the path, coming to a junction. Will you:

Continue West by scrolling to paragraph 2?

Turn south toward paragraph 16?


Your argument is forceful and persuasive. Comics is a legitimate artistic medium, and no field of human interest lies beyond its scope. Soon, other passing conventioners rally to your cause and the cosplay Dredd is forced to back down and reconsider his position. Gain one Pitch Point and head to paragraph 19.

As you march to the amphitheatre, you are shocked to spy the demigod Talbot himself bearing down upon you. If he notices you at all, it is as the mountain notices the climber at its roots. You rummage hurriedly through your treasure bag. Do you possess the Tome of Grandville? If so, scroll to paragraph 8. If not, scroll to paragraph 17.

The entrance to the main hall is packed with questing conventioners, and you marvel at the diversity of life within the citadel. Surely, it is a golden age you live in when so vast an array of disparate creatures can gather together to celebrate a unified appreciation for Pokemon cards and violent anime porn. Will you:

Head West, where the crowd is at its thickest (scroll to Paragraph 13)?

Make your way North on your Trusty Companion's advice, in search of obscure trinkets (scroll to 18)?

Go North-West, where an altercation of some sort appears to be brewing (scroll to 16)?

Drawing the sacred tome from your treasure bag, you miraculously catch the attention of the demigod Talbot. He looks down at you with an expression of benign dignity, and in an unimaginable show of generosity offers to show you the back way into the amphitheatre, bypassing the queues and ensuring a front-row seat for the ceremony. Gain one Pitch Point for your excellent fortune and scroll to paragraph 14.

Terror grips your throat as you realise you have not prepared your pitch! Panic-blind, you flee the main chamber and hurtle out of the citadel and back toward the Plains of Parking...

... where you are probably eaten by, I don't know, a Troll or something. Either way, your convention ends here.


Thinking quickly, you offer to introduce the C2D4 crew to Stacey Whittle, co-host of the Small Press Big Mouth podcast. Your offer is accepted and the cause of independent comics is advanced one notch. Gain one Pitch Point for contributing to the cause and scroll to paragraph 4.

Crawford considers for a moment before speaking. He's obviously interested in your ideas, but there's something missing. Your heart sinks at the prospect of reformatting your pitch and submitting it again, but your determination remains untarnished. One way or another, your story will be told! For now, however, your convention ends here.

After the intensive training of your conversation with the Nuge, your pitch is primed, honed and razor-sharp. You hit Crawford full in the face with it, obliterating his scepticism and dazzling him with a virtuoso display of cosmic genius...

...or so you hope. Look at your Adventure Sheet. Have you accumulated 3 Pitch Points in your travels? If you have, scroll to paragraph 20. If not, make your way cautiously to paragraph 11.

Pushing your way to the front of the crowd, you find yourself basking at last in the glory of the Stand of Insomnia. Truly, this is the altar of ultimate comics coolness. Crawford Coutts, inscrutable overlord of this realm, ushers you behind the stand to take your place among the company's many creators. You encounter Jeymes Samuel and Michiru Morikawa of Buskers fame, and spend several minutes discussing Burke & Hare with its creative team, Martin Conaghan and Will Pickering. Ferret the Artisan is busy proclaiming the significance of Bad Rain, a moment from Cancertown immortalised in the most ambitious work of textile art since the Bayeux Tapestry. In time, a pilgrim drifts as a shadow through the massed conventioners toward you. Recognising him as the silent enigma known in these parts as the Nuge, you steel yourself for the confrontation. The Nuge demands that you regale him with tales of adventure and mystery. Searching frantically through your memory, you muster up your strongest saga - the legendary Gamebreaker Pitch.

As your story reaches its apex, the Nuge's implacable gaze finally relents. He offers you the slightest of nods, an almost imperceptible acknowledgement that you have narrowly passed this test. Make a note that you have practised your pitch on this most ferocious of audiences, before heading off North by scrolling to paragraph 2.

The Talbot talk is a kaleidoscope of wonders - a sixty-minute epic of brilliance and awe. The depth of the demigod's knowledge and experience instantly robs all those present of any lingering delusions of their own competence or fitness to call themselves creators. While this lesson in humility may be galling to some, you find it personally inspiring. Whatever your own writing capabilities may be at this time, you feel sure that you are on the proper path.

Your self-reflection is cut short at the ceremony's end, as your Trusty Companion reminds you of your appointment to speak with Crawford Coutts about future projects. Have you already spoken to the Nuge? If so, scroll to paragraph 12. If not, scroll to 9.

As you join the supplicants' procession, you are surprised to spy the Small Press Big Mouth podcaster, Stacey Whittle hurrying toward the exit. You hail her, making a mental note that she is present for future reference.

Your wait is long, but fruitful. Your encounter with the mighty Talbot yields a copy of the Tome of Grandville, complete with the demigod's personal blessing inscribed inside. You head off toward the portal to the main chamber, feeling that your quest is well starred already by this chance encounter. Scroll to paragraph 7.

As you proceed, your attention is drawn to raised voices at a small stand to your right. Following the noise, you discover a cosplay Judge Dredd remonstrating with the creators at the Fetishman table. Will you:

Attempt to convince the cosplay Judge that the Fetishman comic is both a legitimate use of the comics medium and a thing of beauty in its own right (scroll to paragraph 5)?

Stand by and watch the situation develop (paragraph 3)?

You are as dust beneath the boot-heel of a giant, staring in undisguised awe as the demigod passes. Scurry quickly to paragraph 14, where the ceremony is already beginning.

Heading North, you are pleased to find the site of C2D4, whose Last of the Chickenheads, Crowman and Jack in the Box have provided you with much entertainment. You rack your brain for a way of assisting them in their efforts to promote their work.

Have you encountered Stacey Whittle in your travels so far? If so, scroll to paragraph 10. If not, continue your journey by scrolling to paragraph 4.

Your phone vibrates in its plastic sheath. Examining it, you receive a text message that Ferret the Artisan is summoning you for a photoshoot at the Bad Rain quilt. You hurry to the Stand of Insomnia and prepare to take your place before the monstrous work of art. You resolve to retain your smile despite your dire suspicions that the arcane camera device will rob you of a portion of your soul. Scroll to paragraph 13.

Crawford's eyes widen in astonishment as your well practised pitch strikes him between the frontal lobes. You spin the tale of Gamebreaker in dizzying detail, taking the overlord through every layered nuance of the premise and its characters. You lose all track of time as your pitch reaches its climax, but when the dust settles and the red mist finally fades from your eyes you see with great satisfaction that your efforts have landed a telling blow. Crawford reaches to shake your hand and the legend of Gamebreaker is cemented as a three-book deal.

Congratulations, conventioner. You have won a hard-earned victory in the Citadel of Comics!


  1. EPIC WIN!!!

    Turn to page 400

    Your Trusty Companion leads you off to the traditional ritual celebration of your awesome!

  2. Genius :)
    I failed though :(
    mightily I fell.

  3. Now to do a 200 choose your own adventure graphic novel...

  4. Peter-David: Plans already in motion on that!

  5. The current plan is for a 180-page book with 9 interlinked, 20-page paths through it.

  6. Definitely best blog post ever, especially "Ferret the Artisan".

  7. That is the coolest review of a con ever - I love my Tome Of Grandville....

    As one of fetishman's comic selling gimps - I would like to point out that given there PVC, chains, masks and clubs the judges are in fact one of us....

    Mavis - the one with the daft beard and long hair.

  8. Kinky Judges fill my brain with nightmares...

    Fetishman: so funny it needs a safety word!


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