166: this lovely vampire ambulance

Hullo.

Future 11 Out
Eternals 2
Wait, am I doing serious descriptions of the sections now?
Links
That’s a real abandonment of the brand.
Byyyyeeee!!!

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Issue 11. Cripes. I’m working on issue 16 this week as well.

We’re motoring along, building towards the conclusion of OLD ENGLISH. I keep on wanting to reveal what the title of the third arc is, but then remember what it arguably spoils. There’s some definitive Bridgette beats in here, and Dan and Tamra are going full horror on this. The second half of Old English is very much a Slasher Structure, and there is so much red here. So, so much red.

Preview here. Digital version here.

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Marvel released the cover of ETERNALS 2. Also, a lovely animation. I am very into the lovely animations.

I try to have a relaxed relationship with the nature of big-two PR. In my creator owned books, I keep things hyper tight. In the Big 2, I only really try to protect the hugest beats, because they’re all that really matters.

I try to remember that the people who are actively following comics conversation intensely (to the level of reading Previews months in advance) have bought into knowing some degree of what are strictly speaking spoilers. Not to know everything, clearly, but they want to know something.

Equally, I know that information being available is very different from all your audience knowing it. Some – likely most – people won’t know what’s in an issue until they open it. If spoilers distributed perfectly, no-one watching Game of Thrones would have been surprised by anything that was in the books. That holds true here.

That said, I’m aware different places have different preconceptions. I’ve retweeted it on twitter (as twitter is a place for comic chat, and most people on it don’t see anything but a tiny fraction of what any individual tweets) but I’ve decided I won’t be actually showing the cover for issue 2 in the newsletter, at least yet (as the newsletter is both more intense, and also more passive. It’s broadcast, not conversation, and people on are more likely read it.) I figure there’s more people in the newsletter who will like to not know what the cover reveals.

Anyway – the cover of issue 2 reveals the series’ villain. It’s a character I’ve only ever written very briefly before, and has always been one of my favourites. It’s very beautiful. Esad is a monster, and his vision for this particular monster is something else.

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Big ol’ interview about Marneus over at Games Radar. I think this is probably the most brain downloady one I’ve done, and so the most fun. Here’s a random quote…

I want to introduce 40k to people. If you ask someone who is vaguely aware of 40k to think of 40k, they'll likely think of a Space Marine. That's the icon. We have to start with the icon, which means starting with the Ultramarines and Calgar as their paragon. The thing with the Ultramarines is, when it comes to being Marines, they wrote the book. Literally. The book in question being the Codex Astartes.

My model of the book is basically Batman: Year One. It works simultaneously as an introduction to Batman's universe while hitting every single button a Batman fan would like to see. I want to be able to hand the book to my friends who always wanted to know more about this obsession of mine to explain it a little, while also handing it to my gamer friends so they can enjoy the truly gleeful destruction I get to wreck with Power Fists.

…and you can read the rest here.

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Couple of quick comic plugs for things I’ve read this week.

Ryan North & Albert Monteys adaptation of SLAUGHTER HOUSE 5 is out (I see it’s a month later in UK book shops, but I’m not sure about comic shops) and it’s a tour de force and an absolute shoo-in for Best Adaptation from Another Medium Eisner next year. Every page is a delight, and audacious.

Not meaning to take anything away from the achievement, but for a oft-described unadaptable novel, Slaughterhouse 5 is ideal for a comics translation. Vonnegut writes in something that can be seen as derived from comic vignettes: it’s atomic. Not as much as Cats Cradle, but still there. This means you can derive pages-as-stanza from there, and get an analogous effect. Equally, Slaughterhouse 5 is a story about the non-linearity of time. The story skips back and forward, part science-fiction construct, part-analogy for PTSD. This works in novels, but the ease of moving back and forward between moments, both for the writer and the reader (i.e. you can skip back or forward to a scene to check things with greater speed) gives extra focus on this aspect, which leads to fascinating effects.

It’s one of my favourite Vonnegut novels, and it does what any great adaptation does – let you see the work from another angle, adding rather than diminishing. Love it. Go gets.

SCARENTHOOD by Nick Roche and Chris O’Halloran is out in October from IDW, so available to pre-order now It’s a brutally funny horror story that finds genuine terror and honest messy humour in single-parenthood. I’ll note that while the cover is lovely, it’s a little deceptive of what it does – I’d file this next to a little-lewder-than Giant Days in its content and style. It does for being a parent what GREEN WING did for being a doctor, plus slams in a lurking suburban horror story for good measure. It also has interesting fact about Bono. Well, I never.

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I just started writing this paragraph and asked myself “What was the last week’s work like?” and then just sighed. That says something. It’s also not entirely true. It’s been hard, but not without victories.

I did manage to complete the multi-week battle with an eight page comic strip, and handed in something I’m pleased with. As I said to the editor explaining my lateness, this has now become actively uneconomical. I only realised afterwards the problem with it – it’s me at my most formally clever/wanky, but it’s also a story where all the fun is in the idea. After that, it’s just a lot of really intricate execution, flow-charts and diagrams, with little moment-by-moment spaces for play – or at least, back-ending the play after I’d hacked together this towering monster of panels. After the original creative idea, it was only in the last half day of writing that I felt I’d actually made something up.

But I like it and I think you will too. It’s certainly what I wanted it to be. Assuming it doesn’t kill the artist, of course.

By way of comparison, I finished that, and then downloaded the whole first draft of Marneus Calgar 5 in three days, which is nothing but page-by-page play. There’s definitely moments when it’s all too clear that I grew up watching Predator obsessively.

This week I’m onto Once & Future 16, which is very much the freewheeling experience of writing that Once & Future always is. This whole arc is so much a group of characters just responding to each other’s moves, and escalating, and oddly has me thinking of how I like to run role-playing games. Hmm.

Role-playing games have also been on my mind – I did a final playtest of COME DICE WITH ME, my Come Dine With Me inspired RPG. Al Ewing, Katie West, Jamie McKelvie and podcast producer Ella Watts, who were all great, and the game worked like it has every time so far – as in, people laughing far, far too much. I did the last few tweaks to the design, and passed over to C for proofing and design. Assuming there’s no huge problems, should be out in the next week or so, though I probably should record another game and stick it online to make teaching it easier.

I also finished painting my ghosts with this lovely vampire ambulance.

Go, Vampire Ambulance, Go.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
16.9.2020

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