This full-page, full-color advertisement appears in the November 1984 issue (Volume 1, No. 10) of Marvel's "The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior."1 It is located on the issue's glossy inside-back cover.
The advertisement touts the Endless Quest gamebooks that TSR (the company that gave us Dungeons & Dragons) published throughout the 1980s. These were the wizards-and-dragons version of the more-famous Choose Your Own Adventure books, which got their start with 1979's The Cave of Time.
Here's how the advertising copy describes the Endless Quest series:
"One path leads to night creatures who live to destroy. Another leads to a castle holding untold riches. But one path leads to the Wizard King, who can grant you limitless powers. Which path to follow? The decision is yours, but only moments to choose...2
"Compared to the TSR ENDLESS QUEST Books, other adventure tales are just a yawn. Because ENDLESS QUEST Books let you decide the action and outcome of every story."
the Three Investigators series, Hans Holzer books, Star Wars figures and Lego's amazing Beta I Command Base.
I still have a handful of them on my bookshelf, mostly for nostalgia's sake. The early books had fabulous cover art and design. Titles included Dungeon of Dread, Mountain of Mirrors, Revolt of the Dwarves, Revenge of the Rainbow Dragons, and Spell of the Winter Wizard. Eight of the first ten books were written by Rose Estes.3
What are your memories of gamebooks like Choose Your Own Adventure, Endless Quest, Fighting Fantasy, and Which Way Books? Share your thoughts in the Comments section. Or turn to Page 13.
1. Full disclosure: I only bought this issue, from the discount bin, so that I could blog about the advertisements. "The Saga of Crystar" is a footnote in Marvel history that only ran for 11 issues and was a blatant attempt at cross-marketing new comic characters with a new line of toys and action figures. In addition to Crystar, the series included good-guy characters named Warbow and Ogeode (get it?) and a bad guy named Moltar who had an army of Magma Men. Doctor Strange made a cameo appearance in the series, but he really doesn't like to talk about it. I doubt we'll be seeing a "Saga of Crystar" Netflix series anytime soon. (I'd be all for rebooting this comic, though, if they want to weave Baron Von Papergreat into the narrative.)
2. Not true. There was no time limit. You could wait as long as you wanted before deciding whether to turn to Page 18 or Page 44.
3. During the first year or so of Papergreat, I came close to doing an email Q&A with Estes, who now has an ephemera-centric business, The Woof Gang, that involves the sale of notecards and art prints that feature vintage photographs of animals. But it didn't work out. Still, I recommend that you check out her website.