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

165: This Is A Lot Of Plot

Hullo.

D13
Links
Books
Byyyyeeee!!!

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DIE 13 is out. I woke up and tweeted “Good morning DIE 13 day. It's one of the Kieron Read Some Books one, but also the Shit This Is A Lot Of Plot ones and, as always, Stephanie, Oh God, Stephanie, You're Amazing ones” which seems about right.

About once an arc, we do the deep historical dive one, and DIE 13 is this arc’s. Compared to the poetry of issue 3 and the horror story of 9, this is something more conspiratorial, and very much is showing a whole bunch of cards. I don’t think there’s an issue which reveals more about the mythology of the world than this – well, except as we head towards the end, obv. Answers and questions. Your move.

Lots of fun stuff in here, and I was pleased that folks have googled HG Wells wargaming tables, as the images are just adorable.

This sets up the last two issues of this arc, which are just full on emotional dominoes falling. Hope you like it.

Digital Purchase links here and preview here.

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I’ve finally managed to get my prose brain in gear. I now need to do that while also keeping my comics brain in gear. I appear to be able to read one or the other right now, or nothing.

YEAH, YEAH, YEAH by Bob Stanley has been my slow-read for several months as I wandered through the fog. Despite the fact it took so long, I never stopped loving it. It’s a huge one-volume over-view of popular music, as defined by as the starting at the UK charts and ending at the debut of Itunes. It was brought to my attention when a reader asked me for a recommendation for such a book, and I had nothing. As in his other life in Saint Etienne Stanley is part of one of my favourite bands, I’m surprised I hadn’t read it already – except it came out in 2013/2014, which basically explains everything. It is, broadly speaking, a history which comes from my aesthetic corner – as in, it assumes that Pop is Good and Rockist attitudes are Bad. As such, the stuff I loved is the stuff I knew less about – the earlier, pre-60s sections, and the side of the sixties I didn’t care about. There’s a playlist of all the tracks in it here, which was a great accompaniment. I’m sure that one reason why I spent so long to get through it that every second paragraph I was stopping to go and look up a record. It opened a lot of doors for me, and reminded me of doors I loved and hadn’t been through for a while. Not the actual Doors. You won’t trick me that easily. Basically, whoever recommended it to me on twitter was right – if I was to lob a single book at someone to tell them about what Pop was all about, it’d be this – not least that it is entirely upfront about the implicit Argue With Me. History is a conversation.

Then I hit the prose, with a couple of excellent novels, both enchanting the modern world with different tactics. Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame was on the Hugo shortlist this year, and she managed to create another fantasy mythology. Her prose remains dazzling, simple ink transmuting into gold like the alchemists the story circles around, and some of the most compelling monsters (as in, ethical monsters) I’ve read recently. Just released last week, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Doors of Eden takes the long-view sci-fi evolutionary ideas which provided the intellectual punch of Children Of Time (or as I like to call it It Made Me Cry Over Spiders) and drops it into a present day multidimensional story, which moves like a thriller and thinks like that gif of the guy with the board covered in string, waving his hands. And while I read it much earlier, to provide a blurb, XX by Rian Hughes came out recently too, where Rian brings his powers as a designer to create a novel which only he could have done. That it manages to be so clearly experimental while also having a big, rock solid story engine is a hell of a thing to see.

I’m now back onto Non-fiction, with John Keay’s China: A History, where I will try my hardest to finally memorise the order of the main Chinese dynasties.

There’s also smaller things I approach. I also finished Board Games In 100 Moves by Ian Livingstone and James Wallis, which is a brief but characterful look at the entire history of boardgames. Clearly, this is all great stuff for DIE – lots of anecdote, detail, wit. I’m trying to read a short story from Yoshi Yoshitani’s Beneath The Moon. She’s one of my favourite fantasy illustrators, and she’s done 78 illustrations for 78 of her own short retellings of stories from all around the world. I love this approach – a short, determined injection of ideas, efficiently opening up worlds. It’s just come out, and there’s a sister-tarot deck along side it. Coo.

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The main thrust of work this week has been twofold – firstly getting books out the door and secondly, working on Project Millionaire Sweeper, in various formats. The books out the door are Ludocrats and DIE 14, with the first issue of Marneus inching towards that door, and O&F and Eternals having lettering drafts too. Project Millionaire Sweeper remains secret, but is basically a re-examination of what we’ve done so far, and a reconsideration of purpose. What draws this all together is that it’s basically editing and micro-rewriting.

C, Jim and I are talking about tweaks to the penultimate line of Ludocrats, weighing up comedy and momentum, the effect of context and all that. With Project Millionaire Sweeper – and similar to what I was doing in the DIE essay mentioned upthread – it’s a question of reduction, without removing of flavour. You can trim a lot from the piece from losing sentences, but you lose too much flavour, and it’s semi-skimmed prose. It’s functionally the same, but no-one liked it. Alternatively, you can cut a whole section, and leave the rest with full-fat writing. Or anywhere between the two poles. That’s why it’s a job, and that’s why it’s fascinating.

In other notes, it appears that Wednesday is a deeply mixed metaphor day.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
2.9.2020

164: capsule thoughts are piling up

Hullo.

Eternals
Next November
Next Week
Links
Byyyyeeee!!!

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Yes, this will be a pretty book. More images here.

The first press about Eternals happened this week, with an interview, which is a broad overview of some of the things we’re up to. Go have a read, and you’ll get the vibe. Let me pull out a quote.

This is one of the first things I have in my bible. “Eternal” doesn’t mean immortal. “Eternal” means unchanging. That’s a different thing.

[Neil] Gaiman and [John] Romita Jr. very much brought this aspect out, and we’re pushing it even further. There can be something comforting about the Eternals, but there’s also something fundamentally disturbing to it. The old superhero cliché of “The Never-ending battle against crime” is one of those lines which, if you take it out of context for a second and think about it, seems absolutely Sisyphean in its hopelessness. Yet, to lift a line from Camus, we must imagine Sisyphus happy – the Eternals have been doing this for so long, they must be accepting of it? Right?

Clearly not. The irony of the book, as we show the epic history of the Eternals, this hasn’t been true. The Eternals have been having arguments about what it means to be “unchanging” forever. They must remain, and their cellular programming demand they remain and continue… but it causes all manner of tensions.

This ties in with the present situation in the Marvel Universe, where they’ve just had a huge shock with the reveals of Jason Aaron’s first arc of Avengers, which (er) they took badly. Their purpose is over. Yet they still continue… and it’s increasingly hard to imagine Sisyphus happy.

I didn’t even quote the Jung Avengers bit.

The fun thing is that it’s the sort of expansive book that I could just keep on talking forever about it, at risk of sounding like I’m describing my homebrew D&D campaign. It’s a book that I’m trying to write to be bigger than the page, which is quite the task, when the pages are as big as Esad is making them.

Read more here.

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Solicits are up. Image first!

THE LUDOCRATS TP
WRITER: Jim Rossignol, Kieron Gillen
ARTIST: Jeff Stokely, Tamra Bonvillain
NOVEMBER 18 / 152 pages / FC/ M / $16.99

The Ludocrats! The aristocrats of ludicrous! Defending reality from the encroaching forces of boredom while having a nice time. KIERON GILLEN (DIE, THE WICKED + THE DIVINE) and JIM ROSSIGNOL (Sir, You Are Being Hunted) write! JEFF STOKELY (The Spire) draws! TAMRA BONVILLAIN (Once & Future) colors! CLAYTON COWLES (Every excellent comic) letters! The universe screams in pleasure, writhing, finally satisfied, complete, joyous!
COLLECTS THE LUDOCRATS #1-5

As the cover puts it, being the first volume in a one volume series. This is something we’re enormously proud of, and it’s going to take people’s head off in a concentrate burst of everything. It’s an entirely self-contained trade. Grab it for a friend! Grab it for an enemy! Grab it!

DIE #15

WRITER: Kieron Gillen

ARTIST / COVER A: Stephanie Hans
COVER B: Bill Sienkiewicz
NOVEMBER 18 / 32 pages / FC/ M / $3.99

"THE GREAT GAME,” Part Five
The Great Game ends. The board is flipped. The pieces go to pieces. Can anyone play on?

Whereupon you can imagine Stephanie and I holding hands, crouching and whispering billsienkiewiczcoverbillsienkiewiczcoverbillsienkiewiczcover. Also, end of the arc.

And here’s Marvel and Boom.

ONCE & FUTURE #13
(W) Kieron Gillen (A/CA) Dan Mora
* Beowulf's arrival was an unexpected one and now that the smoke has cleared, Gran and Duncan are beginning to wonder what other surprises lurk around the corner.
* Meanwhile in the Otherworld, Merlin is up to his old tricks and crossing over with another story was just the beginning of his plan…
In Shops: Nov 18, 2020
SRP: $3.99

Which is the start of our third arc, which is called something which I’ll reveal down the line. I’ve just remembered it probably shouldn’t be mentioned yet.

ETERNALS #1
KIERON GILLEN (W) • ESAD Ribić (A/C)
Alt covers by many people.
NEVER DIE. NEVER WIN. ETERNALS.
What’s the point of an eternal battle?
For millions of years, one hundred Eternals have roamed the Earth, secret protectors of humanity. Without them, we’d be smears between the teeth of the demon-like Deviants. Their war has waged for all time, echoing in our myths and nightmares.
But today, Eternals face something new: change. Can they – or anyone on Earth – survive their discovery?
From the thought provoking minds of Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine, Uncanny X-Men, Thor) and Esad Ribić (Secret Wars, King Thor) comes a new vision of the classic Marvel mythology!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

The thoughts I mainly provoke is “is that meant to be dancing? Is he ill? Someone get him help.”

WARHAMMER 40,000: MARNEUS CALGAR #2 (OF 5)
KIERON GILLEN (W) • JACEN BURROWS (A) • Cover by JAMES STOKOE
Variant Cover by JACEN BURROWS
DESCENT INTO CHAOS!
• The untold origin of MARNEUS CALGAR continues as a startling discovery is made on the moon of NOVA THULIUM!
• But will the young Marneus face his first triumph…or a soul-shattering loss?
• A shocking revelation in the history of the legendary Chapter Master of the Ultramarines that will forever change what you thought you knew!
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$4.99

Where James Stokoe joins us as a cover artist, which is just delightful. I’d seen James do Warhammer fanart before, which was very much my prompt to start prodding Mark at Marvel saying “Go on. Ask him! Ask him!”

Anyway, that’s November, and – oh my! – I am totally doing a lot of comics again. Speak to your retailer if you wanna pre-order anything.

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Got DIE 13 comps yesterday. Mike Del Mundo alternate cover, which I adore – Mike’s always a surprise as an artist, as he’s so adaptable, and playful, and Sol is so awfully charming her. And awful.

Out next week.

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Weird week, and I’m not quite in a place to write about it. I’ll get back to you on that.

Still, it was weird in a few good ways – not least, that we’re pushing Ludocrats over to Image to be examined by their horrified staff before publication. Clearly, despite being 13 years in the making, we’re still in full on panic stations, with the final pages and colouring elements being throw into the back of the metaphorical van as it pulls away. In a series that’s done a whole bunch of very silly, experimental weird stuff, the last issue takes it even further. When the final pages arrived,  showing this visual sequence that I had in my head since 2007, it’s something else.

Next, DIE 14, whose lettering draft I’ve just mailed over to Clayton after going through Stephanie’s pages. The opening page is one of my favourite things Stephanie has ever done – and she’s just been nominated for a Ringo Award as best Cover Artist, Clayton as best Letterer and (in an un-DIE place) Dan Mora as best inker. Only professionals can vote, and can do so over here.

Anyway – DIE 14. Stephanie’s done good, and I hope you’ll like it too. I’ll be finishing the interview off tomorrow, and I’m starting to think about whether I want to do it for next arc too. I think the answer is “Yes” despite it clearly being far too much work. I am very lazy.

After that, polishing up Once & Future 15, hopefully finishing a little eight page story I’m doing for a lovely artist and then straight into Marneus 5.

In other news, I’m exhausted.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
26.8.2020

163: Cowboy

Hullo.

Eternals
OnceLudoFuture
Skottie
Books
Links
Byyyyeeee!!!

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And lo! My return to the Marvel Universe proper, with Esad for company.

Go watch the video trailer

It’s been a while. I just checked, and by the time Eternals 1 drops, it’ll be over five years since I took lead on a Marvel Superhero book (Siege, during Secret Wars, for the records). I took a break. I was burned out and wanted to do other stuff, mainly my own. What lured me back?

Partially as it has been five years. I’m not burned out any more. Planting clover for a while your superhero bit of your brain works. Plus, I’ve kind of been missing it a bit. Seeing old peers and people who came after me tear things up is a delight, and you do get an itch to get involved.

Secondly, and most importantly, it’s always the chance to do something different, something I haven’t done yet. As in, taking a set of characters who’ve been a way for a while, deconstructing their engine apart, and re-assembling it and unleashing it.

Thirdly, Esad Ribic. I’d said yes before Esad jumped aboard, but my yes changed to YES! the second he did. I expect some YES! yelping from you lot when you see more. It goes without saying it’s good to be working with Matt again, and he and Esad are just magical together. Clayton has yet to escape me, but I’m especially interested to see what he does with the lettering challenge of the book.

Clearly, there’s going to be a lot more chat about Eternals down the line. Here’s the quote I gave for the press-release…

"I said if I was ever to do a book again at Marvel, it would have to be something I've never done before. This is exactly that. This is me teaming up with literally my favourite artist of the epic, taking one of those lightning-storm Kirby visions and re-making it to be as new as the day it was forged,” Gillen said. “While Esad makes whole worlds on the page, I'm applying all the skills I've developed when I was away. It's a lot. It's everything. There's enough scale packed in here that I believe that when you look at the comic, you'll see the pages slightly bulge. Essentially 'Eternal' has to mean 'never going out of style,' which means we're aiming for 'instant classic.' Also -- fight scenes, horror, human drama, emotions, explosions. Comics!"

…which has me laughing at myself. People always ask me for quotes at the end of the day when my brain is fried and my resistance to my own nonsense is low.

Key facts: it’s a clean, accessible book. It’s set in the Marvel universe, and will impact it hard, but it’s also designed to be picked up by anyone and enjoyed. Plus it’s very much me trying to bring to bear the skillset I’ve developed when I’ve been away (especially from WicDiv and DIE) and a whole bunch of other things I’ve been chewing over, in terms of things one could do.

Suffice to say, a huge bible document is involved, as I can’t help myself. In this case, I really can’t. One of my things I’ve tried to be doing more with my work is to do the stuff only I would consider doing, and there’s a lot of that here. Issue 3 has something so offkilter I’m even giving myself side-eye.

I think you’ll like this. Out November. Speak to you retailer. More press soon.

(For those who are keeping track, this was PROJECT COWBOY.)

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Two books out this week.

The Ludocrats reach issue 4, which has one of the most pure-radiance covers in comics. This one actually makes me a bit emotional when I read it, which says more about me than it, I suspect. I’m just proud of what the team have done with all of Ludocrats, and how it just builds towards its conclusion next issue. I’ll especially like to highlight some of Tamra’s apocalyptic colouring here, which is something else.

Preview and digital purchase here.

Also I’m told that Ludocrats 3 was delayed in reaching the UK , but should be there today.

Once & Future reaches issue 10. This arc is basically divided into two halves, with the second half being our talk on the Slasher-around-a-house horror trope, except in this case, it’s an old people’s home. Dan and Tamra are just tearing the pages up, and I’m enjoying it enormously. Hopefully you will too. There is at least one little homage in here which I laugh a lot at, which I said as a side note, and Dan went full in on.

Preview here, digital here.

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And the final cover for Ludocrats is revealed, with Skottie Young capturing the magnificence of Gratty as only he can. I love this. As the press release says, Look at it smolder! Look at it pout! It urges you to come hither! Step into its boudoir and hold it lovingly!

Speak to your retailer. It’s out September 30th and its order code is JUL208125.

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I managed to catch up with some advance PDFs that folks sent me this week, so here’s some quick plugs of things which are either approaching their ordering cut off, or are (er) just past it, but still worth talking to your retailer to try and secure a copy of. I still have some more to get through as well. Comics!

Sina sent me GETTING IT TOGETHER, which he’s doing with Omar Spahi and Jenny D Fine. On twitter I said “Slice of life joy starring a cast of loveable car crash humans. Speak to your retailer, order popcorn and settle in for the comic drama” which sounds about right. It reminds me a little of the Real Mainstream comics that Oni were putting out circa 2000, but absolutely put in the present day. It’s the sort of book I wish all publishers were doing more of – fun, smart, flirty, stories about people living lives and fucking up. I wish I could do stuff like this, but I always end up sticking a fucking wizard in it.

Department of Truth is James Tynion, Martin Simmonds and Aditya Bidikar, and feels like a huge hit in waiting. “Hickmanian conspiracy games, Burroughsian crime, Sienkiewiczian style” I said on twitter, and nearly used the line "Stray Toasters meets Stray Bullets" which is very good, but not exactly it. "Stray Toasters meets Stray Bullets with a Hickmanian conspiracy heart" may do the trick. It’s got a BKV level big dirty hook, and exactly the sort of pointedly political and personal work I like to see from these creators.

Rachael Smith finished her run of 200 (count ‘em) Quarantine Comix, and started a mailing list to keep people up to date on the Print Edition. These have been just one of the things that have acted as an emotional lodestone this year, and are going to make an amazing volume. Go read ‘em and sign up.

Paul Allor sent me GI Joe 7, which I’d read a little of earlier in the run – it’s about a grounded a take on the concept as one can imagine. The first issues reminded me a little of the opening arc of QUEEN & COUNTRY, even. This issue takes that even further, which is a very human and well researched take on PTSD in soldiers with some almost Hawkeye-esque storytelling moments. There’s a review here to give you a little more on it, but it’s impressive stuff.

WE ONLY FIND THEM WHEN THEY’RE DEAD is Al’s successful move to take the title of the longest-title-at-Boom from SOMETHINGhttps://www.comicsbeat.com/we-only-find-them-when-theyre-dead-preview/ IS KILLING THE CHILDREN. With Simone Di Meo summoning a hyper-tech post-Kirby visions of the future, this is Al digging into his pulp-big-ideas-2000AD heart and I love it. I can’t wait to read more. Essentially: people mining dead star gods.

Stillwater is so good it annoys me. Ramon K Perez and Chip are doing something which seems to exist in a magical place between Chip’s Daredevil run and the Walking Dead. It delineates characters, throws ideas at the page and by the last page, you are 100% in. If you’re looking for first issue textbook, you should file this next to Y: THE LAST MAN #1.

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A weird, emotional couple of weeks. Two funerals. A little travel. Brain distracted. Also, sleeping in a bed isn’t my own for the first time since February. Some good stuff, but certainly hard. I also finished off my Stormcast. Look at this good boy on his lovely birdycat.

Work continues. I’ve been mainly just deciding to get all my back log of scripts sent over, which will be completed when Eternals 4 has the last few bits of historical fact checking. This week I’ve been scripting ONCE & FUTURE 15, which is coming out gratefully easy. A couple of weeks of non-new-scripts always leaves me  hungry for scriptscriptscript. I likely will move straight onto Marneus Calgar 5 next week, which wraps off the mini and leaves space on the board.

What goes in the space open. I want to take a week off soon and just work on the DIE RPG. Project MILLIONAIRE SWEEPER has also been in play – ideally I’m going to just finish this, and then go over some tweaks, but I suspect I’ll have to save that until tomorrow, and it’s going to need much more time eventually. And also… okay, don’t take this as actual confirmation news, but I had some conversations about Uber recently with Avatar, and it’s looking like there may be movement towards actual comics. Having enough space so I can just write those issues if I need to at short notice is an option I like to have, as I’d like to get Daniel drawing them and into readers hands as soon as possible.

We’re also putting Ludocrats 5 to bed. Jeff is finishing the pages, Tamra is colouring, Clayton has a lettering draft and… I can’t really say any more, as it gives away the fun stuff. It’s going to be a lovely final issue, and a lovely trade. “Love” is a word I think a lot about with Ludocrats. It’s taught me a lot, in weird ways, in terms of where I came from. Seeing the bits of the book which is still so clearly, on some level, in conversation with Casanova is plain odd.

I’ve also started reading prose again, which is a relief. I’ll see if I can get some book reviews in next time.

Until then, look after yourself. Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
19.8.2020

162: you'll never walk alone

Hullo.

Seb
Shower Curtain
Ludoread
Ultramar
Links
Ed&Sean
Bye

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Photo by Dan Griliopoulos. Seb on far left, at the WicDiv launch party.

Seb Patrick died without warning this week. It’s an enormous shock to anyone who knew him, and impossible to comprehend.

Seb wrote for a lot of places. To quote the GofundMe created to support his family, these included “reddwarf.co.uk, Cinematic Universe, Mifflinfinity, F1 Colours, Beyond The Touchline, When Saturday Comes, Empire, Roy of the Rovers, Den of Geek, Ganymede & Titan, Unlimited Rice Pudding, Noise to Signal” and a bunch more.

I saw one editor who worked with him say something which stuck with me: Seb was the sort of geek we needed more of. I read that and nodded. Seb brought an enormous love for all his many passions, and a determined desire to share, to welcome people to them. His writing was always full of that – always being good at nailing down why it mattered to him, and so how these things hit our souls and fill them. The understanding that joy is infinite, and so joy should be shared, not locked away. Whether it comics, television, sports – there was enough for everyone.

I keep on trying to remember the last time I saw him. I think it was Thought Bubble, but can’t be sure. The last time we interacted directly was on twitter, when he observed “Can't shake the sudden realisation of how Ade Edmondson's silhouette in the closing credits of Bottom is @kierongillen” which is deniably i) funny and ii) true.

The first time I met him was at Bristol Comic con in 2007, just after completing the first Phongram, where he and his comrade-in-arms James Hunt interviewed us. Jamie remembered it as our first interview, which isn’t true… but it was the first interview of the sort that matters. It wasn’t done to hype the book. It was people who were interested in talking about the work, who knew the work, and wanted to pick it apart. Years down the line, Seb wrote a series of columns about Phonogram, which is one of my favourite things ever written about the book. He wrote about how the changing Phonogram soundtracked his own changing life, getting how it was a book about how we are seen by art and see ourselves in art, and how they push and pull.

In a real way, Seb did that for us as well. That first meeting was when Seb was just starting to make his way into writing, mirroring our own into comics. We got to watch him grow, and explore avenues, and new passions, and help other writers enter and everything we’d hope for a writer. Seeing Seb be was a privilege. He was one of a short list of people who, when I released a book, I’d always be thinking “I wonder what Seb will make of this one?”

He’s survived by his wife, Jo, and his lovely daughter, Lois, and (as I said) there’s a fundraiser to help them through the future. If you ever loved his writing, it’d be a wonderful thing for you to contribute to.

Oh god. In a piece of Phonogram magic, as I’m just finishing this, Nina Simone’s cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone has just come on. Seb was an enormous Liverpool fan. This is exactly the sort of thing I’d message him to tell him about. He would have loved that, and the past tense in that sentence is unbearable.

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Stephanie has set up a DIE merch shop! You can get stuff like T-shirts

Coo! There’s also a bunch of other stuff. There’s different colours of T-shirts, prints and best of all…

A shower curtain. There is part of me which wanted to get Stephanie to remove everything else and only sell shower curtains.

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First issue of Ludocrats is available to read for free over on the Image site. Do so! Order issues and trade or just read it and go about your life.

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The first proper interview about Marneus Calgar went up over on CBR, where fellow lover of all things in the grim future of the 41st millennia Dave Richards and I talked all things grim, future-y and 41st millenia-y. Random quote…

For people coming to this interview with no real knowledge of 40K, how would you describe the world? What are some of the aspects you find most fascinating?

40K is a far future hellscape. That doesn't quite capture the scope though. It's a hobby universe where there's a theocratic regime with a God-Emperor that's fed thousands of souls of psychic human beings every day in order to stay alive and act as a glorified lighthouse. That awful scale is what makes it palatable. [Laughs.] This isn't like the small scale horror we see every day. This is operatic in its awfulness. That's the emotional kick.

I could write essays about the world of Warhammer, but it all circles around those “grimdark” concepts and whatever that even means. That's a word that's entered geek discourse, and, of course, it originates from the incredible 40K tagline, “In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war...” Talk about copywriting! That's a hell of a sentence. It's like, “OH! Tell me more about this future!”

So, it's a horror universe, but it's also a satirical and action universe. The people who take Warhammer a bit too straight clearly are working on the weird assumption they would be Space Marines when it's clear that if any of us were in the 40K universe we would be someone who was bombarded from orbit to clear out a rabid infection running through the tiny human population. It's so operatically, grim.

Read the rest here.

And in Warhammer news, I started a new thread for painting my Stormcast, which is a lot of fun.

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Assorted links sitting in this document from the last month or so.

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Ed and Sean have dropped PULP, which is a hardcover original crime story. It’s a story which covers two eras of pulp fiction, based on the observation that those young men in the wild west era were also around in the 1930s. It’s thematically powerful, emotionally driven and just great comics.

Ed’s interviewed here about it, and you should read and go buy from fine comic retailers everywhere.

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More work. Mainly polishing scripts and doing various odd bits and pieces – one of the more unusual things I’ve done is doing a more intense mentor/co-writing experience for an anthology, which was really interesting in terms of stretching muscles. There is part of me which loves just essentially being a consultant on things, and trying to work out a way to nail a story harder.

I’ve also turned down a couple of jobs – one which would have only been a few weeks, and the other which could have expanded indefinitely. I decided I was just actually letting that part of you which is just excited by the prospect of a new thing, especially a new thing that you haven’t done before. I have things I want to do. If I don’t leave space for them, they won’t happen. I don’t need to take them. I won’t take them. This is character growth, of a sorts.

(That said, I likely will be doing a short story with one of my fave artists, so I’m not entirely invulnerable to temptation.)

We’re back on PROJECT MILLIONARIE SWEEPER, which should be a moment of gleeful axedom. I’m also just finishing up polishing up issue 3 of PROJECT COWBOY, which I wrote a few months ago, and had forgot the one problem I’d left to solve in the script, which involves doing something which has lead to me to promise my editors that it isn’t a sign of lockdown lunacy, and I had it planned from before Xmas. But it’s very strange, a huge amount of work and clearly no-one will care about it bar the four or five critics who like when I go full WTF, so absolutely my thing.

Let’s move focus away from me, and over to Stephanie. In terms of DOING STUFF, the following was Stephanie’s response to reading the latest DIE script.

Stephanie’s work in progress images for a panel. It really is kind of magical.

Spoiler: Zamorna holds Ash’s hand at a future point in one issue.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
5.8.2020

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