132: the elf who lived in a basement in Rivendell

Hullo.

Murderous Grandma
Nerdy
Links
Byyyyeeee!!!

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Once & Future 3 drops today, wherein we dive straight into the action, Bridgette’s determination to be the one Chandlerian person to walk into a room with a gun whenever the plot slows down continues and I send Dan masses of references for Bath Abbey.

Bath Abbey’s makes relatively regular appearances in my comic work. It’s in issue 2 of Rue Britannia. The second comic I wrote (never actually completed) was a short told from the perspective of a slightly voyeuristic slowly-dissolving statue at the front of the Abbey. This is mainly as I used to live in Bath, and for a few years, was literally 100 yards from the Abbey with a pretty impressive view. I lived in a white box with Dan Griddleoctopus, and was only really paying for the view. I has lived in Bath for nearly a decade at that point, and decided that for once I’d not be the equivalent of the elf who lived in a basement in Rivendell.

So Bath Abbey appears. Eventually I will do something with the busker owho sang one verse and a chorus of No Woman No Cry outside our window for upwards of eight hours a day.

Anyway –Once & Future! It’s a fun time. I hope it’s a fun time for you lot too.

You can see a preview here. Here’s the first page…

I am very fond of Duncan going Arggghhhhhhhh!

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Random nerdy moment of glee this week was when Rossignol and myself mailed each other simultaneously to say “White Dwarf is here!”

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After being away for basically a week and a half, it means that there’s a lot of wading into my inbox with a flamethrower. Project MILLIONAIRE SWEEPER reached a brief impasse, which is handy, as Project PRIVATE BUKOWSKI goes into full drive today. I will need the space.

Thankfully, in a rare example of planning actually working, I also handed in Once & Future 6 on Monday, which is the last of the comic deadlines for a while. DIE 11 is due at a point to be determined based upon the gap between arcs – likely at least a month from now, and maybe more. Ludocrats 4 would be just before Christmas. Once & Future 7 would also be just before Christmas.

So bar Bukowski, I have a little space. Part of it is needed for research – both DIE’s third arc and O&F has some required reading. Part of it is needed for a few other things – I want to get DIE RPG’s Arcana out, and have set myself a deadline of releasing when issue 10 drops. Setting a deadline is what means it gets done. The Arcana is a mix of really experimental stuff which is deliberately messy and designed for people who want to get their hands dirty and stuff which is actually designed to be helpful to new players. I cut the main document to be about a core DIE experience, and things which were diversions were cut and pasted into here. I suspect it’ll read more like a compilation of magazine articles rather than an actual book.

(I also want to commission some stuff from a few GMs, which requires me thinking about exactly what I need.)

But most of all, this is creating space to actually do some hard, large scale plotting.

Plotting is interesting. Of all the things which you get comic writers talking about ad nauseum, it’s the one which gets least play. You get asked Where Do You Get Your Ideas From. You get asked How Do You Write A Comic Script. You rarely get anything about how one turns to the other. You get a How Do You Structure an Issue occasionally, but rarely how you get to an Issue To Structure.

You may be hoping this is building towards a Reveal All moment. You will be disappointed. 

I find the earliest stages of turning an idea into a story by far the most mysterious. I’ll be paying intense attention to the next few weeks of this, as I’d like to include SOMETHING practical in this area my masterclass in February. Moore (and others) have talked at length about the mystery of where ideas come from. For me, with little interest in metaphysics, it’s not that mysterious. The origins doesn’t matter to me – just the practise. It’s about sufficient input entering your head from life, art, history, whatever and then you drawing an unusual connection between two of those elements. Brain as a pattern sorting system, noticing an interesting line.

It's how you get from a raw concept to the specifics where it gets mysterious. At a certain point, it all gets easier. You have a certain number of elements – characters, character choices, previous established elements, a genre structure, a literary structure, a scene, a vision – which starts to limit (and so guide) other choices. It’s like putting together a jigsaw – as in, weirdest in its earliest stages, where you throw down pieces and see which ones seem to be a part of a picture. This continues until you can see a ghost of a story connecting the tiny pinholes of clarity. You have those moments – a girl in the crowd, a girl on the stage, a boy eating a raven, an ancient king slashing the throat of an anglo-saxon  - and hope that eventually sufficient moments to become a story. It’s worse because I usually know what the jigsaw is a picture of.

I know what’s wrong. But what is right?

Suffice to say, for me this is the most stressful part of being a creator. It’s not something I can predict. It takes as long as it takes. It’s not like running a marathon. It’s being lost in a forest.

It’s also one of the most rewarding times. When it clicks, and you see light dappling ahead of you, it’s about as good as it gets. There’s a lot of work to make something real, but you can see the route ahead of you.

I’m smiling. As Chip and Ryan are showing how funny a newsletter can be, I’m turning ever more purple.

Kieron Gillen
London
16.10.2019

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