175: Tonight, by Ken

Hullo.

Ludochat & Chums
Thoughts Bubble
Byyyyeeee!!!

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Big week, and any of these could be my lead story. Let’s go with the trade…

Hello, you beautiful monster, you.

Ludocrats is a seventeen years in the making sort of book which simultaneously feels like it was conceived of and created across an intense, overstimulated weekend. Otto Von Hades, Professor Hades 0-k and friends are the aristocrats of the ludicrous, protecting the universe from the forces of all that is fucking boring. Across the run was had trouble describing it. Here’s what we put on the back cover…

That’ll do.

It’s in comic shops and digital now. You can order it from book shops or online retailers, which is likely trailing a week. Here’s bookshop.org for those in the UK.

The end of an arc and the start of one. DIE 15 wraps up THE GREAT GAME, with all our cast at one another’s throats. ONCE & FUTURE starts the third arc, as we start to explore A PARLIAMENT OF MAGPIES.

These are two of the favourite books I’ve ever written, in completely different ways.

Preview for DIE 13 here, and you can buy digitally here. Preview for O&F 13 here, and digital here.

Oh – Boom apparently sent a “Thank you” variant to each retailer who orders the book, which looks like this. ..

Coo.

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Thought bubble this weekend. They broadcast their schedule, in which I did quite a few things. Firstly…

I ran a one-off DIE RPG game for the lovely Matt Fraction, Marguerite Bennett, Chip Zdarsky, Emma Vieceli and Ed Brubaker. Rather than the standard game set up I ran one from the Arcana, based around everyone being people who are connected to a successful imaginary indie comic together before being sucked into the awful world of DIE. You might imagine this gets a bit meta. You’d be wrong. It gets a lot meta, and is a delight.

(Also, if you’re interested in seeing how I run a game of DIE, this is a good document.)

Oh – while there’s a lot of great stuff on their channel, as we’re talking RPGs, I’d direct you to this Marvel Superhero RPG session being ran by Al Kennedy for Al Ewing, Becky Cloonan and comics heartthrob Jamie McKelvie. I’ve still got to watch this, but can’t wait.

I was also part of this edited bit of a conversation about endings. I’ve not watched this, but I’m aware that on the day I was very much in the more voice of basic practicality corner. Hopefully fun.

And then there was the Thought Bubble dancefloor.

This was something of a battle. I’d spent the best part of 2 days actually working out how a bunch of people could quasi-DJ on twitch, wrote up the requisite massive e-mail, turned to twitter to discover twitch had just started cracking down on music streams, rendering the whole exercise pointless. I laughed.

Instead, we went to a simple B-plan. They’d be a spotify list. People would listen to the playlist. I’d add stuff to it live, as prompted by the DJs. There’d be a zoom room folks who wanted to dance silently together could join. I’d stream that room (without sound, as there was no sound) to twitch. We’ll see if it’ll work.

It worked. It made me have a lovely time and made me miss people more intensely than anything else this year.

You can listen to the full playlist here.

In terms of “abstract” timeslots, it was this. I include everyone’s first/last song so you can keep track, as we certainly didn’t stick to time exactly.

8:30-9:00 - Kieron Gillen. (The Boys Are Back In Town to I’m Not Okay (I Promise)
9:00-9:30 - Al Ewing (Nobody To Love to Work Bitch)
9:30-10:00 – Dearbhla Kelly (WAP – Fun Version to Run Away With Me)
10:00-10:30 – Sarah Gordon (Think About Things to Movies)
0:30-11:00 – Jules Scheele (Express Yourself to We Didn’t Start The Fire)
11:00- 11:30 - Ivan Salaczar (Real Magic to Once I Had A Love)
11:30 – 12:00 – Al Ewing (Eve of the War to Philadelphia Freedom)
12:00-Close – Kieron Gillen & random suggestions from everyone else (Pull Shapes to Close)

You may note one song isn’t on the list: Tonight, by Ken Laszlo That was by Umar Ditta, and I accidentally copied it across from his Italio playlist, like a fool. Booze is a bad wingman.

Here’s the playlist again…

Sniff. It was a time.

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This was the messiest week in a while. The bedding in continues, and basically works, but I’m also reminded that it’s not a one-strike solution. Still, any progress is progress.

Last week was primarily DIE 16 which I polished up on Monday, went through editorial yesterday and is presently in Stephanie’s hands. As we said in the back of the new issue, we’re planning to return in April. Trade out before Christmas. Stephanie is excitably sketching the new status quo, which makes me happy. Not much happy in the issue, of course. After the higher scale emotional adventure, this one turns to horror, and turns hard. It also has a handful of images that I can’t wait to see what Stephanie does with them.

Next I moved to Once & Future 18, which is the end of A PARLIAMENT OF MAGPIES. I smile a little that in the week where the start and the end of an arc come out I’m writing the end and the start of the other book. That’s aligned in a fun way. Last issues of an arc are, unless something has gone drastically wrong, normally some of the quickest to write. All the pieces are in place, and I know the moves, and it’s a question of doing them. As such, I expect the script should be all wrapped up by Friday.

Hmm. Writing all that makes me feel like I’ve been productive, when I feel like I’ve been slacking. I need to be kinder with myself. If you’re wired like me, you should try that too.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
18.11.2020

174: Thanks Nicole!

Hullo.

New Old English
Thanks Nicole!
D15E
Books
Boldly
Byyyyeeee!!!

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The second Once & future trade is out today, from comic shops. A scan online reveals that book shops will lag behind a bit, but if you hit up your fine comic retailer, it’ll be there and waiting.

This is where Once & Future relaxes into itself. The first arc expanded from a mini to the ongoing, but this is where it’s being written as an ongoing, and I think the team pulls that canter the form likes. This just cascades, and it’s where I spend a lot of time creating places for Dan and Tamra to go to town in. This is some of my favourite action-set-pieces I’ve ever written in, and is very much the book I wanted it to be - this pop thrill, in the new-pop mode, keeping a splash of theory while still getting you on the dancefloor.

This metaphor is totally inappropriate for this book.

There’s a preview here.

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And lo! The second issue of Marneus Calgar. This is the one which is most weighted towards the past sequence, establishing a bunch of fun stuff, and has a lot of clearing up in the present day, both literally and figuratively. The response to the first issue was excellent, and I think it only amps up ever more.

There’s the preview here, and let’s drop a quick page here…

See! Literal clearing up. Read the rest of the preview here, and you can but it from your comic shop or digitally.

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DIE 15 is out next week, which means we’re in the stage of the arc where posting a preview of the cover is basically spoilers from the off. You can look at the 2 pages here. Instead, I show the lovely alt cover by the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz above. Let’s all coo at it until next week, and then you can coo at it in the flesh.

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My reading this week was primarily research based, so abstractly a spoiler, so I can’t mention it. However, I did manage to read a couple of lovely comic hardback’s.

Marguerite Bennett and Leila Leiz’s Horde is the first of Aftershock’s French-format OGNs I’ve managed to look at, and it’s a lovely volume. As a story, it’s deep in the family-as-Iron-Maiden theme, essentially taking Labyrinth as a horror story, but resting it upon the mother’s obsessions rather than the daughter’s. Imagine Labyrinth’s Junk Lady building a haunted house...

(It’s also ended up on the DIE RPG’s reading list, as it’s an excellent example of how to externalise internal trauma as fantasy structure, which is about 75% of the core game.)

November’s third volume is Matt Fraction and Elsa Charretier continuation of their apocalyptic-tinged noir. Elsa remains a revelation, with the Cooke-esque soft and hard in every panel, that glamour and grim, and I always tune in to watch what Matt’s up to. I always will. We seemed to start from not dissimilar places in our careers stylistically, we’ve divulged hugely – I’m aware that he is, in a real way, the grown up in the room, as far as the medium goes. How he works the 12 panel here is a joy, just pure comics. I think it’s the best of the volumes so far, with the multi-threaded story all pulling together from its atomic elements in the symphonic way you’d hope for.

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I mentioned I was the guest judge in the Golden Cobras this year, which is an open LARP competition. The results are here, including all the games to download. Worth noting that LARP is a much broader term than you may be familiar with here. There’s games of every sort here, with a strong showing of epistolary games, online games, and so on. Here’s what I wrote about my  winner…

The Kieron Gillen Special Judge's Choice Award
Drawing Out The Demon by Liz Stong

I occasionally think comedy is a strange Faustian pact. Comedy just has a winning personality. We like people who make us laugh. You get a long way on that. Conversely, Comedy is something which seems to make you much less likely to do things like (relevantly) win awards. Comedy gets you so far, then stops, the applause and smiles your only reward. Part of me almost submitted to that instinct, thinking “are you really going to pick the one which just delighted you most as the winner, Gillen? You’re going to get laughed out of serious Nordic LARP circles if you ever show you face there. Well, “laughed out” is probably the wrong phrase to use, but—”

I digress.

However, then I thought that the business of delight and joy is precious, in all years, and this year especially. And, above all, always remember, that funny does not mean joking.

Which is my long way to say “I love this”.

You play 12th century French artists, all tasked by your patron to draw an animal. Sadly, despite your talent in other areas, you absolutely cannot draw this one specific animal. Problem. You all try to draw it, occasionally writing to your peers to share your progress, asking for advice, and filling them in on the 12 th century France chat. Your peers write back with feedback. Eventually, the final work is completed… and then we skip to modern day, and all the players become art historians, presenting a short academic thesis on the work of this unknown 12 th century artist in a streaming symposium. And then all the essays and art are collected in a little book.

I am delighted.

It’s a clear smart satire of art, creativity, academia and everything. I love how the playfulness of the concept is mirrored with the formal playfulness of skipping between digital, epistolary, streaming and publishing. It’s charmingly written, and skilfully evokes the mode it hopes to be played in. It understands the difficulty for players to create art for others to see, and makes it accessible by insisting everyone – no matter how talented – must make bad art, and then makes it funnier by everyone taking your doodles of a cat with odd eyes intensely seriously.

Most of all, it’s my winner because it’s the one which I immediately wanted to play, would enrich my friends life, and bring us together, no matter how apart we were. It’s the one which I will forward to my friends and go 12 th CENTURY ARTISTS! NOW! LET’S GO! excitedly.

I also cannot draw, and feel very seen and cared for. Thanks, Liz.

I also wrote a few capsules for a few other games that particularly caught my eye…

Voyagers: a larp duet by Margo Gray

Playing the same scientist in a parallel worlds who have two hours to communicate with one another, to ask questions about how their lives differed from one another would be sufficient for a fascinating game about lives as lived. That the only way that the questions can be answered is by selecting a song and playing it turns it into something else. How art communicates, how art defines us, what it can say, and whether or not playing It’s Raining Men is metaphorical or actually trying to talk about the awful day the skies opened and men plummeted from the sky. In a real way, I’m someone whose natural state is to try and communicate solely via careful selection of 1990s indie-pop girl-band B-sides, so this is very much my Jam.

To Boldly Hakuho by Wendy Gorman

A masterclass in character design pushing play. In one corner – the crew of a Star Trek-esque space ship, trying to make a lost ship come home. In one corner – the ship’s AI which has no interest in talking in anything other than the world’s greatest sumo wrestler, Hakuho Sho. Can they find a way to communicate? It’s obviously funny, and obviously born of clear love for its topic but also presents a problem I’d love to see a group try to solve. The image of Picard desperately googling facts about Sumo to try and make a space-ship activate its engines is worth it alone.

Taller Than Space Is Wide by Alexa Kirchner

One of my favourite novellas of last year was This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, and this is the google-doc powered epistolary sister-game. Players travel through time. One player writes an ode to that time. The other writes a little response. The googledoc generates whole new timelines prompts. Time is written over when cells are written over. The sort of collision between poetry and math which I can only imagine Ada Lovelace applauding saying “Yes! Yes! More of this kind of thing!”

I actually managed to play To Boldly Hakuho with my regular group, and it was lots of fun. I played the AI, and communicated primarily in memes I’d generated using the various online generators. It’s a fascinating period of creativity we live in, right? We have all these tools and can just use them.

Anyway! This was an honour, and it’s definitely worth going to see the full list to see what folks who actually know about LARPs selected, as they are wise and I am not.

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In short: phew.

Just keeping on going last week was enough. I had personal stuff as well as world stuff, which all comes together. It’s a week where I have to keep to the mantra of “be gentle to yourself” when things aren’t as quick as you’d hope. Getting anything done is better than getting nothing done. And, by the end of the week, I’d managed to get a tight synopsis for the next two issues of DIE done, and all the pieces for the next three. They may not all be entirely in order yet – 18 and 19 are the fluid ones – but it exists.

Which means that I started DIE 16 this week, and am on track to get it over to Stephanie on Monday. I have no idea how good it is, but it is certainly existing. I’ll talk more next week, when DIE 15 is out.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
11.11.2020

173: doing Byron or doing Tumblr

Hullo.

Trash
Compo
Ludobookexists
Tbubz
Answers
Books
Byyyyeeee!!!

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I wasn’t going to do a newsletter today, but then I figured I needed the distraction, and you may too. Love to the lot of you.

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We’ve mentioned the competition to “be” in DIE (if you don’t mind suffering an awful fate) in the backmatter and in passing here, but Stephanie recorded a video. Watch it here, as she fills you in.

We’ll basically be closing the competition at the end of November so Stephanie can do them on a cover. We’re loving the entries we’ve had so far.

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The Ludocrats trade comps arrived this week, which is just a beautiful, awful, heart-warming, heart-devouring volume. We are very proud and/or ashamed.

It’s out November 18th, so you can talk to your retailer to get a copy. Also, for those who like supporting local book shops, here’s its link on bookshop.com. Actually, while we’re linking, here’s DIE: THE GREAT GAME’s one too.

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Thought Bubble is running its digital con on the 14th and 15th and has at least some of its programme online. I believe there’s more coming, but what’s there is a whole bunch of exciting. Everything will be released online that weekend, so this is hyper accessible to all. I’m doing a couple of things…

I think this is actually the first video of a DIE game I’ve recorded and made public, right? And with an all-star cast and everything. It’s a (er) unusual set up for the game, but certainly should give a taste of how it can work, or at least how I GM, or at least how I GM with this bunch, whilst on camera. We recorded it this Sunday night and it was just too much fun. The players were a total delight, all as good as you’d hope they’d be. Also, monsters.

And we still need to work out how to use twitch to make this work. Oh noes!

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I did a quick walk through my asks on tumblr this week. Here’s a selection.

Q: I know you decided against a big essay explaining every WicDiv Playlist song. But I have to know. I have to know so badly that I've literally signed back into my Tumblr just for it. Why "Baby's on Fire"?

A: Baby’s On Fire isn’t on the WicDiv playlist - however, the title track of the album it’s from is - Here Comes the Warm Jets.

I was on a panel at (I believe) ECCC. It’s a music and comics panel. It’s basically me, Matt Fraction and the host. We’re talking about music and comics, and a key part is just playing some records and listening to them. As in, a big hall of people, just silent, listening to whatever we’ve selected.

Matt picks Here Comes The Warm Jets, and it’s just magical. Warm Jets-era Eno is something I knew of, but had never actually went into, so hearing this big fuzzy piece of distorted pop was a full body shiver experience, and just religious.

I quietly added it to the playlist beneath the table. In a real way, the sort of thing WicDiv was all about.

Q: Do you have a process for coming up with period dialogue for comics like the WicDiv period pieces and Three? You can't write the exact same dialect as the era (I suppose it's possible for more modern periods but not for the rest of them) so you have to come up with something that isn't real but feels real.

A: Good question, and one which I don’t have a fantastic answer for. Getting dialogue to feel like a period is something which is one of my more instinctive bits of the skill set.

In a real way, it’s an aesthetic job - it’s never really about the period, and how you want the period to feel to the modern reader.

I love when Death of Stalin does with casting regional accents, as it manages to underline that rather than the somewhat austere nature of most Russian translations that these are basically a group of working class guys who’ve somehow taken over a country. It reveals a truth about them, but is a clear styilsed choice.

I’m half-way through Maria Dahvana Headley’s excellent new translation of Beowulf right now, which uses a lot of modern phrases - the bit which everyone picks up on is its opening, which rather than using something like “Hail!” goes with “Bro!”, which says a lot. But it also doesn’t say everything - this is still a poem, and is powerfully of its moment, but by its choices brings it closer to a warrior talking to you about shit that went down. It makes those ancient warriors feel as murderous and real as the guys in That Pub at closing time.

I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like any of the two of the above - I’m normally writing history to heighten difference. With Three I cut a bunch of period words from the draft, and likely should have cut more, and was deliberately trying to ape the austere nature of classical tales. It was a classical story which just happened to star people who never usually got to star. With stuff like the WicDiv specials, that they’re embedded in a modern story means I want to heighten the difference from the modern day - and as they’re often writers in the period, I’m often trying to capture the timbre of specific writers.

I mean, as a writer of dialogue, I’m someone who looks at style. Whether I’m doing Byron or doing Tumblr, it’s the same skillset.

I admit, there is a story I want to do set in the Bronze age which has a bit more of the anachronism-to-make-stuff-more-empathisable trick.

Q: Any Uber news you can share?

Nothing I can share right now. There have been some positive noises last time I chatted with Avatar.

After so long, I don’t want to say “I have hopes for 2021″ in case of giving false hopes but I do.

Q: Hey! Loved Ludocrats in its completed form, the bit with the stuff (you know) was so good. Quick question, are all the backmatter pages in the trade?

A: Ludocrats includes the main backmatter stuff, and certainly the stuff you’re talking about - we don’t have every single credits page or the next month page, as that would be pointless and make no sense. However, we also have other presentation stuff in the trade which is unique to it.

Basically, we’ve edited it to the format.

Q: I had a question about comics versus books. I’ve written a story but I don’t know whether it would be best served as a comic or a book? I was wondering if you there were any times you considered going with books over comics or the other way round, and what made you go with your choice? Thank you.

A: Medium is the first question I ask about any story. Normally the medium is part of the story’s inspiration - I am explicitly thinking of doing a comic with (for example) Stephanie and thinking of what would work well with her, in that medium. Even earlier, when I didn’t have an artist in mind, I’m thinking about the pure and beautiful idea of comics. I came to comics hard. I wanted to do comics, and was thinking of comics and their strengths and limitations. That’s what was exciting me.

I have had some story ideas which I’ve realised don’t quite sit well as comics - and they normally feel like something else. I mean, I did a twine thing for my own amusement this year, as it was something which was about THAT medium. There’s one fairly big Idea I have which I flirted with a comic for a while, but never did it, and I realise that it is fundamentally a novel. It’s about that medium, and needs what a novel allows.

Unless it shifts, and suddenly becomes something else, and works as a comic. Or a twine game, apparently

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There was an entirely unplanned music-centric and period-centric theme to my reading this week. I read 45 by Bill Drummond, My Riot by Rick Spears/Emmett Helen and Smoove City by Kenny Keil. All circle around the early 90s in different ways, either as inspiration or a gravity well it can’t quite escape. I know the feeling.

My Riot takes Riot Grrl and uses it as the backbone of a coming of age story – girl finds escape from stricture of her life in the punk rock scene as it transforms into the emancipatory A-bomb of Riot Grrl. Spears is particularly well observed in his choice of scene detail, and Helen’s cartooning absolutely nails the variety of emotions here, all in zine-appropriate black and white. I was struck how its opening classical YA-beats are subverted as it builds towards a more emancipatory conclusion, with the story slipping the shackles of its genre in the same way that its protagonist slips the shackles of her life. Smoove City is inspired by New Jack Swing, and a hypercolour kaleidoscope of loving silliness of boys trying to perfect their air-humping while not being chewed up by the music industry. It kicks into a higher gear when their equally incompetent manager arrives as a foil, and things escalate and finds new ways of using its striking 100% period perfect aesthetic to great effect.

45 is the book that Bill Drummond of the KLF wrote when he was 45. There’s relatively little about the time when he was in the greatest band on the planet, and this essay-memoir circles around it – before and after, admitting that period is likely why you’re reading this, but not focusing on it. Not a problem in any way – Drummond is someone with a huge history in pop before that weird period where they got to reign supreme in the UK charts for a year or two, and has enjoyed (or at least employed) the later infamy. The Discordian Pranksters of the Imperial Phase is born of all of that late 1970s art-scene which begat a bunch of fascinating bands. The section of managing Echo & the Bunnymen was most inspiring, and also saddening – the specific alchemy which allowed these ideas and this art come together is just gone now. The KLF are one of those bands which people who care say “We’ll never see their like again” which seems especially true – the context and the culture which allowed them to germinate and allowed them to do what they do simply doesn’t exist any more. We won’t see their likes again simply because the rainforests are burned to the ground. I found myself just chewing over the idea of the Crucial Three, leading to three bands, two of which had literally some of the greatest band names I’ve ever heard – Echo & The Bunnymen and the Teardrop Explodes. No wonder Pete Wylie kept on changing his Wah! Moniker – you had to feel competitive. Point being: a band name is the simplest sign of thought in a band, the ability to conceptualise yourself, to know what a band is beyond simple sound.

All of which is miles away from the book, but still part of it. Drummond has stories to spare, and is a hell of a writer. It was bought for me as a present (thanks, Sarah!) as I turned 45, and it written when I was a similar age to when Drummond started his career. This is a rare burst of much needed perspective from one of my inspirations. Recommended.

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Bedding in of methodology continues, and seems to be holding up. Managed to finish the ludicrous self-imposed deadline for a project last week, wrapping it up. Monday was polishing up an Eternals issue, leaving the rest of this week for doing the tight plotting for DIE’s fourth arc. I’m leaving myself lots of space to solve this equation – yesterday was a tight read of the 15 issues so far, seeing what’s left lying there that I need to bring back in.

Plotting is my least favourite part of writing. It’s the literal blank page. You have a bunch of ideas, and a direction, but in a very real and literal way, the story doesn’t exist. It’s the difference between “the hobbits go to Mount Doom” and “How the fuck do they get to Mount Doom?” It always intimidates me, and then I just crack down. Collect notes for everything. The aforementioned re-read. Start seeing what appear to be the necessary elements. The second you’ve got those necessary scenes, you start suggesting other necessary scenes. Suddenly, you’ve got an actual structure, and then it comes together, and it’s a story where nothing was before. You lean back, a little dazzled. Creation. That’s one of my favourite things in writing. You just have to go through an existential hell to get there.

I will return to it, after I eat some cheese on toast. See you next week, when I believe Marneus Calgar 2 should be out.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
4.10.2020

172: I shouldn’t stan Cao Cao

Hullo.

Future
Links
Books
Byyyyeeee!!!

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I don’t often actually run a preview in full here, but that this is such a stand alone opening, and entirely devoid of spoilers, I thought it would be fun to include here. It works just as a teaser for the next arc, and a taste of what the comic is for those who haven’t read it. You can read it here too, if reading in e-mails is very annoying.

ONCE & FUTURE 13 starts the third arc of ONCE & FUTURE, entitled THE PARLIAMENT OF MAGPIES and is out on November 18th. Its second trade coming out the week before.

I swear, this is the last time I return to the magpie rhyme, at least for now. And sorry for the “Sorry” typo. Sorry.

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*****

Andi Watson mailed me a new edition of his comics novella Dumped, which is a lovely hardback, and gave me a chance to read a story which since I read it in the early 00s had come to live as an example in my critical theory rather than a living story. Reapproaching it reminded me how unfair this is. If you’ve heard me mentioning it before, I use it as an example of how smart creators can write about comics culture without just making it literally about comics culture. Here is a love story between two people, both collectors, one of who literally collects rubbish. You can see why my read stuck with me – but it’s incomplete, but for Dumped’s small size, its aim is bigger. I had made the same error as those who read Seaguy as being about comics culture rather than all capitalism… and that’s still not enough. Dumped isn’t about how objects tie us down and separate us from people. It’s about people, and it elegantly eviscerates a budding relationship only to find a still living heart within. And, as always, Andi’s work is always just beautiful. You can buy it direct from Andi here.

I also finished the latest Penguin translation of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It isn’t about three kingdoms, getting it on. It’s the classic of the fall of the Han dynastyand the civil wars that fallow. It’s an abridgement of the whole story, with some sections included whole and others condensed (primarily battle scenes the translator thought too repetitive). Even so, it’s still over 600 dense pages, so I’ll happily take this journey through a classic I’ve never experienced before, and enjoyed its berserk energy and sheer scale. Early on, I suspected (and was right) that I shouldn’t stan Cao Cao as hard as I did in the opening, but it didn’t stop me. I also learned that Dynasty Wars’ army-punching heroes is more faithful to the text than you’d expect, especially the bit where the awesome dude uses two corpses as weapons to fight basically everyone. As a side note, discovering Creative Assembly released a Three Kingdoms Total War game last year was the closest I’ve come to being dragged back to playing a computer game in some time. I can “be” Cao Cao? I’m in, without actually being In. But I was close to In. Nice try, games.

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Hmm. Last week I mentioned I was bedding in a few things. I am… intrigued by how that’s progressed. I want to give it another week before I write anything about it though, at least. I suspect I may become unbearable. Or rather, more unbearable.

But I have been productive. It’s the rarest of weeks – when feel my RSI is playing up not because I’ve been slacking too much and scrolling on the mousewheel, but because I have been writing a worrying amount. I suspect I’m going to cut this newsletter short rather than agitate it some more too.

I feel weirdly directed. Clearly, being me, I’m expecting it to go wrong any minute.

I ended up deciding to spend this week working on something entirely new, in a form I haven’t written for before, entirely for my own amusement. My aim is to write to a first draft by Friday, and then segue over to the other things I need to do – namely DIE 16, and the plotting of the next arc. 15 was signed off at the printers yesterday, and the trade being polished up. Stephanie’s pencil sketch interstitials are done, and as twist-the-blade as always.

(Stephanie has also just asked Twitter who folks would like to see do a cover. Do feel to feed her suggestions. I’ll be watching too.)

I was about to download other minor things I’ve been up to, but I’ve looked at some of the above, and feel that I’m about to jinx my own productivity, so won’t. Clearly if I said any more I would be destined to spend all of November lying on the floor, collecting fluff on my tongue.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
28.10.2020

171: the clitic lessons

Hullo.

Aud
One Last Time
Links
Honesty
OPTIMO!!!!
Byyyyeeee!!!

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Gosh are doing a bookplate for the 2nd Once & Future trade, as drawn by the always amazing Aud Koch, and signed by yours truly. You can order from here, if you wanna. If not, just stare at the Aud art. I totally am putting this up front as I want you to stare at the Aud art.

Go, on. Have a stare.

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At the time of writing there’s four hours left on the Jamie and me and chums humble bundle. Less by the time this reaches you. Last chance for the GillenMckelviechums deal of the century.

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I write most my comics in Scrivener now, which basically has a sub-document for every comic page. You can name each page, which I use for my top level plotting and what’s happening on any given pages. This week, I looked at one.

Sometimes it’s a bit too honest.

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I haven’t gone into detail about the DIE campaign I’m running. I do keep on meaning to, but…

Last session was fun.

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Bad day to write the traditional check in newsletter, as a few things have come together in my head, leading me deciding I want to try a few things, and writing about them before they’ve bedded in (or not) is always missing the point. So, I’m not writing about that, but clearly that’s all I want to write about.

The short of it is that I’ve felt off for a while, and it’s nagged at me, and a few pieces realigned in my head, and gave me some ideas of things I want to try (and ways of looking at what I already am doing). Hopefully it’ll make a difference. If it doesn’t, I’m glad I tried.

It’s small stuff, but small stuff matters and all adds up. 200 words a day is a novel by the end of the year, after all. Er… it’s not that, but that’s how I’ve always looked at time.

In terms of actual work, I’ve pulled together first drafts of two scripts since last talking – an Eternals issue by late last week, and Once & Future 17 this morning. I plan to polish one up tomorrow and the other on Friday. Then it’ll either be Once & Future 18 (just to finish off the arc) or writing DIE 16. Stephanie is having a month off after she finishes off DIE 15 (which she’s just done as I write) so she’ll be needing it soon enough.

She’s actually presently doing the sketches for the interstitials in the trade, so I’m expecting a handful of these little heartbreakers in pencil to turn up in my inbox.

I hit the 250 day streak on Duolingo. I haven’t mentioned that much, pretty much for the same reason I didn’t mention the stuff I’m alluding to in the first paragraph (i.e. don’t mention it until it’s bedded in). It also seemed a little gauche, due to being the second ultra-minor “oh, ffs” of 2020. I had two small rules of engagement when this year started, which were to not do any cons and to finally learn a little Italian so I can speak to C’s relatives. Turns out everyone was doing the former and the latter became the anthesis of people’s self-care advice (“Don’t feel bad you’re just trying to keep stuff together and not learning another language. People making a big deal about how they’re being so productive are awful”). I’d have likely been quiet about it anyway, but I’ve been doubly so.

The irony is that it’s 100% been my Animal Crossing-esque security blanket, and makes me think how people care for themselves and try to find meaning in this hellyear are as varied as people are. This small tiny thing every day has meant a lot. However, the clitic lessons can go fuck themselves.

Oh – let’s give one last bit of news. As issue 12 is out, I’m fine with saying the title for Once & Future’s third arc.

It’s called THE PARLIAMENT OF MAGPIES. It starts with issue 13, out on November 18th.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen
London.
21.10.2020

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