184: the elusive bumblebird

Hullo.

40,0005
Going Underground
Let me be your (British) Fantasy (Award Winner)
Links
Byyyyeeee!!!

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Marneus Calgar 5 arrives via drop-pod in shops today, completing the mini. This has been just a lot of fun, in the bleakly horrific way you’d hope it would be. Jacen outdoes himself to the end, joined by Guillermo Ortego on inks – there’s just a world of brutal stuff, and I manage to cram in a whistlestop tour of other things I wanted Jacen to draw. Also, murder. Java Tartaglia paints everything in red and horror and Clayton deals with yet more lettering challenges with skill.

I think it’ll make a lovely trade, and is my potted introduction to all things 40k. Well, not all things. It’s 40k. 40k is huge. Some things, mostly things involving power fists.

Oh – and Games Workshop are doing their own exclusive-cover runs in their own shops. Details here.

It’s in comic shops now, you can buy digitally here and the preview’s here. Actually, here’s the first two pages…

…as I like the transition. You can read the rest here.

Looking at that reminded me of one of my favourite bits in the Crown of Destruction Mini I wrote for boom, back in the 00s when I was breaking into comics and I used to basically start to learn to write American-format action comics. It’s the only beat in that whole series I can really remember at all, so it’s nice to see a sort of echo here.

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Die’s in the May solicits for Image, and as it’s the start of the final arc, Image lobbed out a press release. Here it is.

PORTLAND, Ore. 2.18.2021 — Bestselling series Die by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans will kick off its final story arc—ominously titled “Bleed”—beginning with Die #16 out from Image Comics this May. The highly anticipated conclusion for the series will be revealed in Die #20.

To go into the dark, you have to get to the dark. They never put a dungeon anywhere accessible, do they? Past sins haunt our party, and future sins permeate the landscape. Die’s closing arc begins as we began: with regrets and screaming.

Die has consistently held a seat as one of the top selling Image Comics series with multiple sell-outs at the distributor level and regular reorder activity that’s skyrocketed with each new installment’s release. Perhaps best described as Jumanji with goth sensibilities, the series has stolen headlines since its launch for ushering in a new trend in RPG themed storytelling.

“The concluding arc is always bittersweet,” said Gillen. “Sad that the adventure is coming to the end, but the wicked glee of finally being able to reveal all the bleak secrets we've been keeping.”

Die #16 Cover A by Hans (Diamond Code MAR210062) and Die #16 Cover B by Alberto Varanda (Diamond Code MAR210063) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, May 5.

Die #16 will also be available for purchase across many digital platforms, including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play.

Coo! If you Coo! too, speak to retailer to order.

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This was a lovely thing. The British Fantasy Society selected DIE as the British Fantasy Awards 2020 winner for Best Comic/Graphic Novel. Stephanie and I were completely delighted…

The full award show is here…

…where you can see Jody Houser virtually present our award, and see our own virtual acceptance. Also, all the other awards. Tor has a good round-up of all the short lists and winners here.

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There’s a lot this week. Hence, brevity. Never my natural mode.

The easy part is just my standard pages. I’m working on issue 20 of Once & Future, which I should finish the first draft off tomorrow and polish up on Friday. It’s very much still exploring and establishing the new status quo, as well as bringing in some myths we haven’t seen yet. It also strikes to me that Once & Future really leans into my occasional tendency to have arc titles be absolute spoilers – so far all of them have been spoilers for the arc, with only Parliament of Magpie being at all borderline. In this case, it’s the most gives-it-all-away title since the first arc’s THE KING IS UNDEAD. So it’ll have to wait a bit to give details.

(And a bit more – I mentioned we’re going to have a gap between issue the third and fourth arc – likely three months, but I’ll confirm when we know for sure.)

Then there’s a couple of other things I’m co-writing I need to do a turn-around as quickly as possible – I’ll go straight from this to one of them, to try and get it off my desk, so I can then get onto the other intensely pressing thing, which is basically a big planning document for what’s next on Eternals. There’s also significantly more than the usual amount of conference call stuff to do.

Basically, I’m in a deep depressing but productive work groove, and I’m aware the only thing which is breaking this cycle is the Band of Blades game I’m running on Thursday. That’s something, and I’m trying to be grateful for it. This is a useful thing.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
24.2.2021

183: howl at passing biplanes

Hullo.

Lances
Reckmore
Links
Byyyyeeee!!!

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Once & Future 16 is out today, wherein I wrestle to get all three threads of the plot to align, and Dan and Tamra continue to serve up the best looking action comic on the shelves.

(I was going to add a “one of the best” but figured it’s my newsletter so I can climb to the top of the nearest skyscraper and howl at passing biplanes about my collaborator’s greatness if I want to.)

As well as Hot Lancelot Action, this is where the reveal that closed Old English comes back into play properly. I remember the week Once & Future 1 came out, and being in the pub with Ram V. He’d just read it, and noted that all those interviews where I said it wasn’t really a particularly political book? Kieron! You were totally lying!

Well, kinda? I was trying to ensure that no-one came to it expecting a Joe Sacco book. Speaking to my own canon, it’s doesn’t have the societal weight of something like Three. It’s very much a 2000AD type of political energy. It’s mainly giggling. But it’s giggling angrily.

Hope you like it. I’m getting pages from Dan’s issue 18 at the moment, and this goes to some wonderful places. I’m giggling (oft angrily) with every page.

Preview here. Available from shops and digitally.

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I was lucky enough to get the advance of RECKLESS: FRIENDS OF THE DEVIL this week. It’s still available to pre-order, and I’d recommend you do so. By this point it sometimes feels like recommending Ed and Sean’s work feels like recommending food. “Have you tried food?. It’s really good. You shouldn’t even try to go without it.” It’s like being friends with an amazing chef. Of course, the food’s going to be fucking amazing any time you go around Ed and Sean’s.

This is the second Reckless book, which is a key thing. When I was coming into comics, serialised graphic novels for adults was basically the aesthetic end goal our wave were building towards. The first Reckless was abstractly the first in the series. It’s the release of Friends of the Devils that it actually becomes a series, a standalone private-eye mystery in a Satanic-Panic-infused 1980s LA, building on what was before, certainly making you want to read them all, but not requiring you to. It was a great thing to settle in with last night, and I am – not for the first time – actively envious. Oh – and Jacob Phillips work as a colourist continues to effectively build the mood. Reckless has that nostalgia of a period piece energy, with all kinds of sharp and ugly edges – a like poring fondly over faded polaroid photos of your first switchblade. Out in April, pre-order now.

I mentioned all-the-award-winning The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal last week, and finished it over the weekend, and would have gone straight into the next in the series if it wasn’t for another novella I want to hit first.  It opens with one of my favourite-rendered apocalypses in recent times, and that’s just historical kick required to get the book to what it really wants to do – imagine a space program which included women astrounaut. Eventually. After all the battles and political manouvering and everything else. With its deft historical touch and defter intersectionality, I’d be in. I’m triply in, as people trying to survive in space in a layer of tinfoil and hope is 100% my jam. Recommended.

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  • Excited to listen to this. Mangasplaining, where Deb Aoki, David Brothers, and this episode’s host Christopher Butcher make Comics Professional Chip Zdarsky read famous manga.

  • The New York Times’ article on Slate Star Codex’s rationalist community is worth reading, especially with El Sandifer’s thread of commentary.

  • The second I saw that excellent Jane Austen RPG, the Good Society, is doing a kickstarter for a reprint, I thought “post-Bridgerton, this is excellently timed.” Well worth your attention. Writing this, I’m struck by the similarities of Anglophone comics circa-2000 and the RPG space, in terms of one-sub-genre (Superheroes in comics, action fantasy in games) being considered the default genre and anything else being weird and experimental. This totally isn’t weird and experimental. This is mainstream.

  • I dunno if this Is mainstream, but it’s adorable. Alex Roberts of For the Queen Fame is kickstarting a journaling-RPG about being a cute animal and writing your diary, inspired by looking for good things in your day. Go nose here. Oh – also, attention to Tension, the tarot-powered game of queer hunter-and-hunted flirtation and murder. If you’re looking for a Killing Eve/Hannibal RPG, this is the one.

  • Excited to see Deadly Class is on Peacock to watch. Less so that it’s not in the UK, but I mention for the US folks. Hurrah Image TV shows!

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I finished a first draft of DIE 20 on Friday, for a certain value of “first draft.” 18, 19 and 20 exist in that liminal state, and I plan to hack all three of them simultaneously, bringing things up in the mix as required. I’m aware that there’s certain subplots that I need to include more of, but the “sub” is key here. I have big stories I need to ensure I land, without which everything else becomes nothing. I think the structure here does, which means that now it’s just a question of improving it. I’ll get to that early next month, I suspect.

As it is, I’m on another side project this week, and then back to Once & Future 20 next week. I’m also doing some tight planning for a few other comics, in terms of what to do. It’s not a bad place to be in, really. I’m doing a lot but not too much, which means I’m steadily building up a firebreak in case everything explodes, as it likely will. This is also useful, as emotionally, I feel I pretty worked over right now, so this kind of gentle march is perhaps the most I can ask from myself.

Right – I have a bunch of calls this afternoon, and I also have some serious research to do. By which I mean, read a pile of comics, but reading them seriously. Perhaps I’ll have a pipe to add to my aura of academic heft.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen,
London.
17.2.2021

182: criminal histories of travelling charlatans

Hullo.

Eternals
Poetry
Consumer
Links
Byyyyeeee!!!

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Eternals 2 is out today, wherein we stretch a few other muscles, and reveal a few cards. I’d be interested by what people most take from the book – it does a lot, in different modes. Some people are going to be into the embedded short story. Others will go for the cosmic level fight. Others are going to be into the debut of several other key members of our cast. There’s likely some other responses too. I’m always quoting Wilde’s “All Criticism Is Autobiography” but I suspect that’ll be especially true here. Not in a bad way.

It goes without saying that Esad and Matt tear things up. Here’s the first two pages…

and the rest of the preview here. You can buy from shops or digitally.

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Sidekick Books have just released a digital version of Over The Line, the introduction to of Poetry comics edited by Chrissy Williams and Tom Humberstone. Alan Moore said  “This is that spine-tingling moment when two attractive and sophisticated forms, both admired for their rhythm and sense of timing, eye each other across the cultural dance floor. In Over The Line, at once an insightful introduction and a comprehensive showcase for the emerging phenomenon of Poetry Comics, Chrissy Williams and Tom Humberstone provide the best possible venue for what looks like being a breathtaking tango. I really can’t recommend this venture highly enough, and I’d advise you mark your card immediately.” Get it for £5 here.

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I haven’t talked about what I’ve been consuming for a while, have I? Let’s grab some highlights.

It’s A Sin was the best TV show I’ve seen since I Will Destroy You. It’s about death, clearly, but its key ingredient is how much it’s about life and joy – which is why it’s so terrible when it’s stolen. I saw a friend note online that early on the 1980s queer coming of age stuff is so well done that it’s almost possible to forget what’s looming above them all. It tore a literal scream from me in the last episode. I both wept and felt grateful that this got to be made and shared. It’s out in the US on Jan 22nd, I believe.

Black Country, New Road have finally released their debut album, For The First Time. Loving their EPs, I’ve ended up saying things like “Slint meets Art Brut” while knowing that’s not really it – or, at least, not all it. There’s a James Murphy wit to the monologues, but they’re clearly so much angrier – closer to the Pop Group in their haunted delivery, some early Birthday Party, even. I eventually realised that their closest peers in my head are Meanwhile, Back In Communist Russia, a band I loved so much I wrote some hugely hyperbolic things that I should be ashamed about, and I know were I still in the writing hugely hyperbolic things that I should be ashamed about game I’d be writing hugely hyperbolic things about that I should be ashamed about Black Country, New Road. Suffice to say, if you even vaguely recognise two of the above name-checks, you should grab this. I also suspect they’re the band with the most strikingly wonderful gap between their image and their music since the Pixies. Sometimes it’s like if a chemistry undergrad D&D group opened their mouths and all of hell’s demons marched out, grabbed you around the throat and dragged you in.

After a Christmas when I found myself inspired to read a lot of comics, I’ve inched back into prose. I finished Magical Folk, a book of essays of region-by-region of fairy lore. I mentioned it before, and how I was charmed by the line between contributors who are “Someone was clearly walking home drunk” and those who are “THERE ARE DEFINITELY FAIRIES!” The charm did wear off. The book took me more time than I’d hope just through the repetition of it – it turns out 75% of all fairy lore in each region is basically slight variations on the same stuff. If I was doing a very deep dive and planning something intensely fairy-centric, it’d be great, but as it is, It was seeing 20-or-so essayists have their own specific takes on changelings. Still – there’s a handful of stuff in here which I’ve filed away, and special kudos to the essayist who took time to talk through criminal histories of travelling charlatans explicitly ripping people off.

After that being something of a battle, I wanted something that energised me. I jumped into the latest Wayward Children Novella, Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire, which once more a magic portal in book form – Seanan’s prose-style and approach is something I find incredibly sadly resonant. We’ve joked on twitter about a Wayward Children/DIE crossover, but there’s something in there, somewhere. I then read my advance of Whisper Down The Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman which does the dual-timeline trick of following a Satanic Panic incident in the 1980s and its fall out in 2013. There’s a lot which resonates with the present day here – QAnon and Satanic Panic’s bear comparison, for example. Formally smart, much like his previous The Remaking, and I liked this too. I’ve jumped straight into Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars, which I’ve devoured 40% of in the last two nights, so I suspect I’m going to be talking about it a bunch next week.

Battling with Magical Folk did crystalise a few things. When I finished it, I put it down and thought  “Why don’t I just stop consuming media which I don’t enjoy?” It felt as potentially magical and as impossible as thinking “What if I just started to fly?” I am not good at quitting. I’m trying to give up not giving up.

This was foreshadowed a couple of months earlier, when I was crawling through a French BD. I turned to C and said “If this character gets her boobs out in the next page to distract the bad guys, I’m going to stop reading this”. Cynical me. It was a far better book than that. It took two pages to get to the inevitable boob distraction. Even then, I fought on for another chapter or two before knocking it on the head.  I’ve been inching towards doing more of that.  The last holiday I went on I was reading a fantasy novel, where I stopped 250 pages in, 100 pages later than I really should, skipping to the end to make sure it was going to do what I hoped it was going to do – I wanted to go away knowing whether the work was merely bad or actively immoral. Thankfully, it was merely bad.

As said, this is not something that comes naturally. The joy of enjoying something is one thing, but there is also a joy in completing something, and I loathe to lose that. Equally, I’m aware that there are things which I need to read, whether I like them or not. There’s also developing my taste – there are things which were not interesting to me once, and now are. You want to leave yourself open to the world. But it is key that it is not that they are hard to read as they are difficult – it’s that I am bored of them. There’s nothing difficult about Magical Folk. I just wasn’t in the mood for that much identical Fairy Lore.

However, the problem is that when I’m abstractly reading something and it’s not encouraging me, I read it slower (or not at all) and so a book which isn’t working is a closed gate between me and something I may actually enjoy. A book I’m not enjoying is an anchor, preventing me going to another destination. I’m going to try to read and hard reject earlier. My reading pile is such that I can likely do this for years and still have books lying around. Equally, we’re thinking about it with TV. Trying an episode of TV and noping out instantly. Why not? You can always come back if you want to give it another shot.

I am thinking of death a lot right now, for obvious reasons. If art does not add to my life in some way, I shouldn’t let it steal those hours out of my own obstinance. We’ll see how it sticks.

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As the length of media download above implies, this week has left me with a little hole in my work schedule, and I’ve been filling it with minor work or a determined effort to try and get some more procrastination later. I’ve also finished off that Deviant Name Generator I mentioned, just in time for Clayton to use it. I still have no idea if we’re going to make it publicly available, but that it exists still seems like intellectual buy in from me.

In terms of new writing, I’ve kept to plan and kept finding my way through DIE’s dungeon. I’m onto issue 20 now, and deep into resolving the climax. I’m saving some of the more emotional final scenes to write last, but the shape is there, and I just solved the last of the plotting problems. I suspect I’ll have it all in a draft form by Friday, which means I’ll be able to work on a polish of 18, 19 and 20 simultaneously. I want to make sure the subplots are properly delineated alongside the main thrust of each issue, which is tricky work, but work I like. I’m pleased with how it’s looking.

I am also back into Someone To Drive You Home after a friend mentioned it on twitter. It remains a glamourous muffled scream of a record.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
10.2.2021

181: Chip is redefining standards of professionalism in this industry

Hullo.

40,004
A Good Walk Spoiled
April
Chipdate
Links
Yabber
Byyyyeeee!!!

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The penultimate issue of Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar is out. I’m finding it enormously entertaining to just write “Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar.” It’s just a satisfying sentence to tap out. After DIE’s response to The Wicked + the Divine being incredibly long, I suspect my next creator owned book will have an overblown. Perhaps it’s time for something which homages the multiple colons and subtitle-overload of mid-00s C-list PC games?

Anyway – this issue, as James Stokoe’s astounding cover shows, is very much about Marneus Calgar becoming a space marine. One of the goals of the series was basically to do that – while we’re showing a specific marine’s journey, there’s the implication that all marines have their own version of this particular hell. Let’s show the hell.

Of course, there’s also the story happening in the present day as well. Here’s the first two pages of the preview…

I’m a critically acclaimed, award winning writer, me. There’s a third image here if you need more convincing. You can buy it from your local clomic-selling shops and digitally.

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Oh, I released another game.

Amble is a narrative game for two people on separate walks. You talk on the phone, and use environmental prompts to tell anecdotes about a horrific journey. I was doing the cover of this, and found myself thinking "the aesthetic for one-page narrative RPGs and self-published poetry collections are identical, and I am all for it."

It’s only a 2 page thing, so here’s the rules…

You can download the PDF from here though. I released it as a pay-what-you-want, but the recommended level is zero. I’ve been quite touched by people throwing in a few dollars though. I really wasn’t expecting anything.

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Marvel released their solicits for April, where Eternals 4 drops.

Coo.

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I’m unsure how I get the reputation for puns when Chip called his series with Jason Loo about a app-Taxi-to-hell series Afterlift. It’s unfair. Anyway, after it’s time on Comixology, it’s now in print over at Dark Horse. Chip did a trailer which is another amazing example of how Chip is redefining standards of professionalism in this industry.

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I appear to have been going through a purple patch for heavyweight interview coverage. Since last time…

Three Crows Magazine did a long profile interview with me, which you can read here or buy the issue it’s from here. It’s so long I’m not sure I want to pull a quote – I touch on a lot. Hmm. How about this bit?

Luke: We’ve talked a lot about The Wicked + The Divine, which is a book that I love, so thank you for that. I want to talk about DIE as well because you have done something ridiculous here. You have created a whole RPG to go along with the comic because you felt like it, I guess. As far as I can tell from other interviews I’ve seen, it was part of your world building process gone completely out of control.

Kieron: It is one of the things that I have done that I have spent a lot of time reverse-analysing. I think this might be from Natasha’s Dance, and I’m paraphrasing, it is the difference between German and Russian writers. Germans will make the theory, then write the book, while Russians will write the book, then make the theory to justify it. I feel very Russian. I wrote that and I always question how much I planned. In the case of DIE, the weirdness of it came from a conversation I had with Leigh Alexander, the writer and ex-critic. We were having a drink after the launch of The Wicked + The Divine magazine issue and she’d done an interview for and she said, “you know what Kieron, your work is most interesting when you are doing something only you can do.”

I had a think about that and said, ‘pull the other one.’ She talked a bit more and got what she meant. This is based on the fact that I was a magazine writer and played internet message board stuff in the 1990s, which meant that I could role-play the character I’d written to journalists I knew; I am a critic as well and all of those things come together. I wouldn’t say I’m the only one who can do those things, but it is a unique set of skills. It’s led me to want to push to the extremes more, so yes, I will have conversations with Hollywood and take those meetings, but also try to be in touch with the Alan-Moore-of-it-all–as in doing stuff only you would do. For example, I’ll just make my own RPG. It was almost like The Wicked + The Divine playlist in that it was an object of obsession. To put it another way, this is the device that allows me to think about the work from a different angle. There were times when I wondered which was the tail and which was the dog. Though I don’t see it like that anymore. I kind of see it as like a superimposed hologram as in DIE exists as an idea that is emerging into different shapes. and I try to triangulate it. I found myself thinking about Tolkien. There is a weight to Middle Earth that is palpable. It is easy to mock Tolkien, god knows I have, but the amount of work he put into it gives it a weird gravity that is undeniable.

Luke: A few editions ago, I interviewed Marlon James and he said something like, “Tolkien is both over-exposed and under-appreciated.”

Kieron: That is entirely right. There are so many levels of rebellion against him, including mine. There is a weirdness to Tolkien because he sits to the side of fantasy separate from the American pulp tradition. He wouldn’t have gone to the Hugo’s. He is almost an outsider artist despite the fact that he sits at the heart of the genre.

Secondly, the always sharp Elana Levin over at Graphic Policy Radio had me on their podcast, which was also lots of fun. She uses the tagline “How are The Celestials and The Eternals like Diana Ross & The Supremes?” and I can’t see any reason to change it. There’s stuff on everything, but it does float around the Eternals and Kirby. Oh – it’s also on Youtube. That’s an easy link.

Also, after the Kickstarter, Wyrd Science is now available to buy both physically and in PDF. Click through to see what they’re covering – it’s really that intense approach to tabletop gaming culture which reminds me a little of what Arcade magazine did for videogames back in the day. Oh – here’s the opening of my interview to give you the idea of the design.

Lots more example pages from the rest of the magazine in the link. Also, so many footnotes in the interview, which does make me smile. It makes me feel like I’m a character in a Pratchett novel.

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I started this one thinking it’d be short, but when I have a week off, stuff does build up, right? Hell, the quote from the interview would be a newsletter alone. I’m going to keep this tight. I want to try and do a bare minimum of actual typing today, as my RSI is a bit up.

Short version: January closed out, and I kept roughly on target. Four scripts for the month (A DIE, 2 Eternals and something else), plus significant other work. I hope that February keeps on that – I’m starting on DIE, planning to write issue 19 and 20 back to back. As I ended January with the DIE, I’m actually keeping it in in subfolders in the same Scrivener file, and sort of moving between them as needed. Stephanie is just starting 17 now, which means that I do have space to do that – a rare luxury, but a useful one. Then… back to O&F, and more Eternal planning.

Also, fingers crossing. This month is a lot.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
3.2.2021

180: You know what we need? A Vampiro.

Hullo.

Quite Contrary
Nananana
Young Adult Friction
Links
Line up
Q&A
Byyyyeeee!!!

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And Once & Future hits 2021. I’m fond of this issue – it’s very character focused, very much about the people in it, and cut to the bone. Two people in a room with a gun. It also introduces the character that Dan recently described as his favourite in O&F, and I fully admit it when I thought them up I was hoping to tickle parts of Dan’s brain which loves certain things, and he totally goes for it – it’s simultaneously cool, while having some really weird things you look closely. Nice work Dan. Tamra, of course, totally joins Dan in the mission of Going For It.

Anyway – Character heavy, big beats, reveas, excitement. In a real way, the first half of this arc is doing some heavy lifting on some of the supporting cast – Rose and Mary – and this issue is right at the heart of that. I hope you’re having as much fun as we are.

In shops now. Preview here. Digital purchase here.

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This was announced last week.

To quote the key bit…

Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, the celebrated team behind Phonogram, Young Avengers, and The Wicked + the Devine, make their DC debut with a story that pits Batman against the Riddler in a way you've never seen before!

Jamie and I are doing a short in issue 5 the Batman: Black & White, out in April. Here’s what I said on twitter…

If you’ve been following this newsletter for a while, this is the story I was banging my head against for weeks. Its three primary influences are the first two Riddler stories, something I don’t want to say yet and this…

We remain ourselves.

TL;DR: BATMAN!

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Some comps just dropped through the door. Good to see this back in print. I’d forgotten that Entertainment Weekly had it as one of its comics of the decade. That one can forget something like that says a lot about how lucky we’ve been.

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After the triumph of Blue in Green, Ram V and Anand RK’s next book is Radio Apocalypse over at Vault. It sounds hugely exciting but I thought worth highlighting the alt cover, as shown above. A homage cover to a homage cover is the sort of meta I live to see, and I can’t wait to see what they bring to the table this time.

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If you have a question for me, my tumblr ask is open. I answered some stuff this morning, and here’s some of them…

Q: I was very impressed by the continuity mining on Eternals – but being the ridiculous nerd I am, I *was* able to find a handful of names that didn't make it on the list (and that I wouldn't expect to be on the Hex). Mostly thinking of Uranians of the Robert Grayson Marvel Boy variety, and other civilian-presenting characters. And Vampiro. I don't want to pry for spoilers, just wondering if those fall into the "don't worry about it" category more than something to expect reference to?

A: I’ll likely be asked about this in depth in an interview at some point, and I also don’t want to jump ahead of the story in various areas, but…

i) Eternals are listed by their Eternal names, not their human names. In some cases this means they’re listed by a name you don’t know. Vampiro would be one of those. Eternals going by many names across history is already an established trope, right? I just couldn’t see the Celestials arriving on earth and thinking “You know what we need? A Vampiro.”
ii) Some Eternal names have been Kirbyised - if they were just the mythological figure’s name without some spelling alterations, I increased the Kirby.
iii) It’s probably too early to talk about the various extraterrestrial Eternal colonies. There are definitely Uranians on the list.

Of course, I completely could have missed some, but I also have contingency plans.

And thank you!

Q: There seems to be more than a hundred Eternals. I typed them out onto a spreadsheet real quick and it looks like there's 102. Unless you count the Delphan Brothers as one Eternal and count [ALL RECORDS LOST] (under "Location Unknown") as two Eternals, it doesn't add up. Nevertheless, love it. Wish we could have issues twice a month.

A: Interesting, right?

And thank you.

Q: As someone who likes wordplay, how do you handle writing a character who has *no* sense of humour? Do you find that difficult/challenging/satisfying/etc.?

A: I’m reminded of the advice I was given when first writing for oft-dour games magazine Edge. “Write what you would write for PC Gamer, then take out the jokes.”

The real answer is there’s all sorts of no sense of humour characters. By the stressing the NO I suspect you’re talking about extreme cases… in which case, in a lot of writing someone with no sense of humour often says a lot of very funny things. The No Sense Of Humour Character is actually a comedy character. Amaterasu in WicDiv doesn’t have much of a sense of humour, but she’s often one of the funniest characters in the book in context, at least for me.

If it’s more generally writing a dour/serious character, it’s just part of the job. To really answer your question, all characters have to be themselves, which is challenging, which is part of the job, a job I like. Ideally you delete a lot of jokes, even with funny characters.

The bigger trick is trying to make sure different characters make different sorts of jokes. There’s a lot of Wordplay in WicDiv, but I tried to map different sorts of word play to different characters. Baal and Lucifer say different things. This goes more broadly as well - who swears in what way, to choose a banal example.

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I was writing the last of these hours before the US capitol was stormed. I write this on inauguration day, with the fear of violence. I’ve wanted to write something about this, but I’m so asynchronous it feels impossible. It’s a lot. Thinking of you all.

For me, bar the whirlwind of the world outside the house –the push and pull between the death toll in the UK right now with vaccine rolling out. the reality of Brexit biting, etc – on a personal level, things appear to be progressing in a worryingly organised fashion, at least work wise. I’m actually going to finish my newsletter before lunch. That never happens. I feel like I have got my shit together. This is normally cue to shit the bed, but I’m trying to remember that shitting on the bed is the cats’ job, and I’m no scab.

I suspect the reason that I kept on thinking it was Thursday on Tuesday was because I had basically done as much work as I’d have done by Thursday on a slowish week, and I was looking for a reason to panic a bit.  I shouldn’t, because this small nexus of being able to just concentrate on work without distractions will only last so long. I should enjoy it. Or use it.

Since we last talked, I finished off two issues of Eternals and now moved onto another script before I return to polish one of them up to hand in. On the side, I’ve been doing rewrites on a variety of projects, all of which are getting to a decent place. I need to do the final notes on DIE 17 for Stephanie to start work on it next week – it’s an hour’s work, but it all adds up. I also have a one page RPG which I want to write up and playtest, maybe today. I suspect that I’m ahead of my work means that it’s fairly likely?

Well, it’s either that or another run at Hades, right?

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
20.1.2021

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