159: A Brighter Shade Of Blue


Ted and Rosy and Jamie
Not Just A David Bowie Album


Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar was announced last week by Marvel, with myself and my old friend Jacen Burrows turning up the volume. They asked me for a quote, and I gave them this.

"I am venerable enough to have bought Rogue Trader in 1987. Since then, I like to think every hastily dry-brushed Necron, every badly edge-highlighted Marine, every ignored Harlequin (as painting Motley petrified me) has prepared me for writing the first Warhammer comics for Marvel. If I said, ‘Getting to explore the roots of Marneus Calgar and setting the stage for Marvel's Warhammer comics is a dream come true,’ I would be betraying everything this grim future should be since ‘dream’ implies the possibility of hope.  But getting to do this is the sort of thing Slaanesh would wave in my direction if she wanted me coming over to the tentacle-y side.“

“Or to translate for those less indoctrinated in 40K, I'm excited."

I’ve been approached to do Warhammer things in relatively recent years before. I’ve turned them down for various reasons – which are less relevant than the reasons I said yes this time. With the resources that Marvel can bring to bear on a project, it’s a chance to do try and do Warhammer comics with a different sort of scope. I basically pitched a set up where I write the first mini, consult on the line and generally give them fun connective tissue to play with. It’s not the Full Hickman Age Of X, but a chance to be more involved in a development of a line is certainly one of the reasons I said yes. It’s also been fun to act as a sort of Warhammer Whisperer, translating ideas in Warhammer to Marvel Speak, and back again (“Like, Guilliman is kind of as if Captain America fell asleep, and woke up in The Hight Castle.”) It’s been interesting stuff, and also new stuff.

As I’ve alluded to in other mails here, if I’m to do stuff that isn’t creator owned, I want to do stuff I haven’t done before. Not in terms of the characters, but the whole process. This is definitely that.

I also suspect it’s not a surprise to many people that I’m launching this. I’m told when it was mentioned they had the licence at the Marvel Summit, the room basically went “So Kieron, right?” My brand is remains my brand.

Marneus Calgar is our entry way into the world of 40k. My inspiration is very much Batman Year One. As in, do a book which works both as an introduction to a character and a world while also absolutely hitting the notes a fan of the world would like to see. If you’ve always wanted to know more about 40k, this is a place to join us. If you always wanted to see how a power fist turns people into mist, this is also the place to join us.

(This was Project Brighter Shade of Blue for those who follow this newsletter’s codes, which is a clear nod to the fact it’s a book about the Ultramarines. No, the other Project titles aren’t as connected to their name as this one was, so I wouldn’t recommend trying to go guessing.)

More details to come, obv, including release date.


We’re doing a second printing of issue 2 of Ludocrats, as the first one sold out. Look at Ro Stein and Ted Brandt’s amazing cover, which they turned down with ludicrous speed and skill.

We extended the deadline on this so more folks could get a chance to order, so there’s still time. Speak to your retailer. Its code is APR208635 if you require such things.

Actually, talking about Ted and Ro…

They did a short comic with Jamie McKelvie for Aftershock’s SOS anthology, in aid of retailers. Available from your retailer now. This is Jamie’s comics origin story, and I love that he’s put it down on paper with Ted and Ro.


Image Solicits for September are out.

DIE #13
WRITER: Kieron Gillen
ARTIST / COVER A: Stephanie Hans
COVER B: Mike Del Mundo
SEPTEMBER 02 / 32 pages / FC/ M / $3.99

“THE GREAT GAME,” Part Three “War isn’t a game” seems obvious. Let one of DIE’s most aggressive masters explain: i) why that isn’t true ii) that war being a game only makes it worse. Can our heroes save the world? Can they save anything?

Back after a gap month, with this clearly being One Of Those Episodes. Plus, I finally manage to get a Mike Del Mundo cover on one of my creator owned books. I purr.


WRITER: Jim Rossignol, Kieron Gillen
ARTIST: Jeff Stokely, Tamra Bonvillain
COVER A: Jeff Stokely
SEPTEMBER 30 / 32 pages / FC/ M / $3.99

CONCLUSION! LUDOCRATS ends as it began, with the release of a 32-page comic pamphlet. We leave you with fond memories and longing. Forevermore, LUDOCRATS will be the comic whose name you accidentally moan when having sex with other lesser comics.

I fully admit to having enjoyed writing the Ludocrats solicits, and Jeff has outdid himself with the cover.


C’s second book of Poetry has just been announced, showing the new Tom Humberstone cover. It’s called Low and it’s out in May. It’s been an honour to watch her pull this one together.

Its details of its contents are here and is available to Pre-order.



Work wise, I’ve decided to spend this week trying to get scripts in a finished and over to editors state. Once  & Future 13 went over on Monday, and I’m trying to get DIE 14 and 15 written up across the rest of the week – Stephanie is wrapping up 13, so she’ll need it, and as the pair are tightly wrapped, I may as well do it.

I also want to finish compiling the names that have popped up after the Warhammer announcement, of creators who are interested in doing Warhammer comics. I don’t have hiring power or anything, but I want to try and make sure the widest range of people who know the property are brought to Marvel’s attention. If you’re an artist or write who knows Warhammer, do wave at me.

Months of this, I have finally reached the point most people were two weeks in. I’ve baked something.

Banana bread, done in an unconventional tin, as we don’t have a loaf one. I used this recipe (which my mum lobbed at me) but used 3 bananas instead of 2 (as they were smallish and I had bananas to get rid of, which is why I was baking banana bread), 90g of Butter instead of 100g and about 60g of sugar instead of 175g, because I looked at that amount of sugar, and suspected I’d die. I also threw in some chocolate chips, because I’m not a total puritan.

Turned out great, so I recommend.

We also bought a car. I have never owned a car. The last time I drove a car, I was 18. I will be having more lessons before I get anywhere near the car, clearly. I’m hoping all those years of videogames will have kept my skills in line, which does bring to mind Gorman in Aliens, talking about how many combat drops he’s been on.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen

158: That’s all I’ve got.


Stephanie is celebrating her birthday today, so send her your wishes.



Out this week is the return of my two big comics. DIE and Once & Future return.

DIE 11 launches our third arc, THE GREAT GAME, which is kind of our emotionally messy War of the Ring. It involves maps, so people can get how all this merges together. Compared to the second arc’s character-portraits as a portal in a moment in time, this is much more driven, dovetailing between these two main arcs. It’s emotionally grueling as ever, and re-reading this morning I’m shocked by how much it goes for it, in every way. It’s a weird book, DIE, but I’m proud what Stephanie and Clayton create here, and happy – or as happy as DIE gets – that we’re back.

Oh – we also change up the essays, moving to interviewing some interesting figures. This time it’s Alex Roberts, whose For The Queen was probably my RPG of last year and whose BackStory podcast was a crucial survey in the modern form.

You can buy it digitally, or from your local shop. There likely is a preview over on the Image site soon – it’s normally if you just click the cover.

Once & Future 8 picks up after 7, in the second part of the second arc, OLD ENGLISH. After the expansion of the universe in last issue, this is where we dig in and start building some more tension and getting a little more world building. It doesn’t show you everything – it is only the early days, right? – but the scope of the mythology certainly starts to come into play. Dan, Tamra and Ed are basically doing state of the art action comics, and this is a joy to do, and hugely freeing to write.

Preview here, and available digitally and also from your local shop.

Oh – and Ludocrats 2 apparently hits the UK this week too.



It’s normally an update of work. Since last writing, I’ve written a handful of pages on Thursday but otherwise barely managed plate spinning, and otherwise been swallowed by all that’s happening, and the conversations it’s prompted.

Kelly Sue’s Instagram responses to the news about Warren here and here is a rawness I recognise, as well as her trying to put it into a direction forward. I was asked about Warren specifically over on tumblr, and I’m really still not able to go further than what I said there and implied here last week: believe women, examine your complicity in these systems, think of how one can avoid propagating them any further. I’m reading around and thinking. For a sample of things, here’s Harris about the WEF culture and his own response, a lot which I recognise from being around there. Here’s Cheryl Lynn Eaton on the problems with the well meaning but emptiness of pledges, which is useful. There’s a lot and I’m trying to take it in and see what to do with it.

I also am aware that if I did want to say more right now, I couldn’t do it when writing at the end of a day when my brain is chewed up . I want to say useful things, I want to center the people targeted and their desires and generally think what next?

That’s all I’ve got. I’m sorry.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen

157: I recall walking Bath graveyards


This will be relatively brief.



Ludocrats 2 is out, in shops both temporal and digital. First reviews are verykind (and we seem to be infecting the critics with our nonsense, as planned). It’s been a journey.

I don’t just mean the coronavirus delay, but this is the longest a script I’ve written has gone between being written and being drawn. I only realised this when doing some research for an intro. I’d convinced myself that, logically speaking, the Ludocrats demo script probably only dated from the early 2010s, but going back to my original mails, I discovered that Jim and I had compiled the script in the winter of 2007. 2007.

I suppose this makes sense – I recall walking Bath graveyards, thinking about Multimedium (my other didn’t-happen project of the time) and running scenes of Otto and Hades’ during the end sequence of issue 5, to the soundtrack of the Klaxons’ Gravity Rainbow. We were talking to the amazing Lee O’Connor about doing it then, but the project drifted away in the chaos of 2008 (I only now realise that it’s likely one of the books which didn’t get pushed into reality due to the time I committed to launching Rock Paper Shotgun.) Some stuff just peters out, and there’s some of Lee’s early work on a VERY different take on Ludocrats over on his blog.

So, if you’re keeping track at home, issue 1 was written in 2014, issue 2 was written in 2007 and issue 3 was written in 2019. Nobody ever said it was gonna be easy.

In truth, the script has been reworked to be a considerably different, and more easily understandable beast. The story still flips over itself like the guts of the beast the story is set inside, but there’s much more space given to guide us through it – plus snipping the extraneous parts and characters to mean there’s less distractions. I write that, and I suspect people will be wondering how on earth it could possibly be more berserk.

Anyway – glad that this is finally with you and I hope you enjoy it. Links to buy it digitally compiled over at Image, which also has a preview. Yes, more Otto flesh. I swear, the next issue doesn’t start like this.


  • It’s been another week where people have bravely spoken out about predatory behaviour from pros. It’s bullshit that this happens and I believe the statements. Jules Scheele posted a comic they’d done a while ago (CW: Sexual Assault) about The Guy At The Pub. As with all of Jules’ work, it was really good, and while I’d seen it before, seeing it yesterday reminded me that I was in the pub that’s in the comic, and this specific stuff happens all around us. It makes me think what (if I was in a pub today) I would be more actively looking for and what I’d do if I saw it (friends and peers explicitly calling out behaviour isn’t a complete solution, but is required). Better is a direction, and we should try to head there. This means being aware and fucking doing something.

  • Zdarsky interviews Nocenti, and it’s great.

  • My old friend Merritt K and my new friend Eric Thurm had me as their first guest on Watch Anime, where Eric makes Merritt watch some Anime, and in this case, made me watch it too. This time Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which I was glad to finally watch some of and speak some of my words. Go listen.


Mink Ette is the main person I talk about RPG stuff with IRL (she’s my game design coach for the DIE RPG, being a fancy designer) and having heard it all come together, I’m excited to see her new project drop. It’s basically a whodunnit-cum-reality TV show where famous people (see above) are – I quote – “are vying for survival avoiding a murderous cultist in their midst - they need your help to solve the mysteries and tell them via 'magical scrying crystals'.”

I went “magical scrying crystals?”

She says “Instagram.”

Basically there’s a $10 donation to Red Nose Day to get access to the puzzle content and play, but all the videos are free to see on Instagram or the DnD Youtube channel if you like a more traditional relationship to your medium.

Go nose here, basically. GO NOSE.


I get sent a mail this morning, and goes like this…

SPARTA LIVE! event: Sparta in Graphic Novels with writer Kieron Gillen (Thursday 18 June, 5-6pm UK time)

This week’s Sparta Live! event will bring to you ‘Sparta in Graphic Novels’ and in particular the graphic novel THREE that explores Spartan history and culture a century after the Battle of Thermopylae. The event will be hosted by Dr Lynn Fotheringham and will bring together writer Kieron Gillen, historical consultant Professor Stephen Hodkinson, and publisher of the Greek translation Lefteris Stavrianos, to discuss Spartan women, helots and balancing research with story-telling. The Centre for Spartan & Peloponnesian Studies is grateful to the University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Arts for the generous sponsorship of the Greek translation of THREE.

All welcome! Join us via the CSPS website or using the MS Teams public event link

If you've read or are interested in reading THREE, Dr Lynn Fotheringham is also looking for audience-research participants - more info: www.nottingham.ac.uk/go/three-audiences

 … this sounds like something worth sharing. See some folks tomorrow.


DIE 11 comps arrived yesterday. Out next week. It seems oddly ancient to me, with the various delays, but I’m glad it’s going to be with you soon.


Back at work properly. The week off wasn’t, but I attacked the week pretty hard, breaking the core of the third arc of Once & Future. The timeline is going to be tricky, but it hits some big Arthurian stuff I haven’t touched properly yet, brings certain characters more towards the spotlight and generally takes it where I want to go next. I even have a title.

There’s also a lot of other things outside work, meaning I’m busy, time is filled, and I’m rushing from one thing to the next. I also finished off the quasi-holiday by running my Come-Dine-With-Me-inspired RPG in a playtest, which went worryingly well (i.e. it worked and was very funny, while also immediately highlighting areas I need to fix, which we mostly did on the fly).

I need to go for a walk.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen

156: making tea in mugs that I would never normally use


Three weeks. That’s a big break, and likely says something.



Gail Simone had an idea, which took the form of #comicwriterschallenge, where a writer auctions a piece of art they own. The winner then donates directly to Black Lives Matter, and the writer mails the winner the piece of art.

I’m presently auctioning the only piece of Young Avengers art I own, namely the above alternate cover by David Lafuente. Er… likely without the frame, to help with postage. David was very kind to give to this me, and is also very kind to let me auction it. As most people reading this will know, the book was a life-changing one for me.

At the time of writing, the top bid is $1500. Put bids in the thread, though if you’re not on twitter I believe you can reply to this and the bid will reach me. Bidding ends Thursday June 11th (i.e. tomorrow) at 6pm GMT.

Also have a look at the hashtag – there’s still auctions going on, and some other amazing pieces.

I haven’t written for three weeks, which has been a huge three weeks, and impossible to sum up in a few words, which means I’d much prefer to encourage action.


The 2020 Eisners were announced this week. It’s a strong selection of books, and Once & Future finds itself in the Best New Ongoing category, which is very kind, and it’s great to see Dan, Tamra and Ed’s work be recognised. Clayton is also nominated for Best Letterer, and Rian’s lovely collect of his logo design work Logo a Gogo gets nominated in best comics related book and best publication design. Hurrah for everyone.

Industry professionals can vote here, or register then vote. It’s definitely worth doing.


Ludocrats issue 2 is out next week. In the last two weeks I went into the archives, and discovered we wrote the first draft in 2007. 2007. I’ll write more next time about the whole history of it, but that discovery, more than anything else made me realise how long this has been going on for. I knew that first exquisite corpse with Jim dated from 2003, but I didn’t realise the basis of the script is nearly as old.

(It’s been reworked intensively, of course. I am no fool, except in good ways.)

Oh – and Jim and I were interviewed over at SyFy Wire, where we did our usual professionally smart-dumb routine.  For example…

Kieron, your recent work is steeped in both history and philosophy; where did this wacky gory story come from?

KG: I’d immediately raise an eyebrow at the false dichotomy in that question. Ludocrats is enormously silly but absolutely grounded in thought. Oh Jim, paint me with your words as if I were one of the "Philosophy of Boredom" girls.

JR: Well, the extent to which goofing off with pals should be sacred. I think if you read something like, say, a biography of Peter the Great, who once had a beheading competition with his drinking buddies, then you can see where our attempts to create caricatured lunacy are really just clutching at the straws of possibility.

Go read the rest.



The August solicits are out, which are…

WRITER: Jim Rossignol, Kieron Gillen
ARTIST: Jeff Stokely, Tamra Bonvillain
COVER A: Jeff Stokely
AUGUST 19 / 32 pages / FC/ M / $3.99

We were going to give away a free pen on the cover of this issue, as it’s the penultimate issue, but we costed it, and then our accountant attacked us, and then we decided to just do the comic instead. Hope that’s okay with you. I’m sorry. We’re disappointed too, but also bleeding from the accountant onslaught.

I am very fond of that cover, especially with the title.

You’ll note that we’re not releasing an issue of DIE this month. The world events impacted the production of DIE, so we’ve decided to be safe than risk being sorry and insert an extra month to help the deadlines. We’ll be back next month.


If we weren’t under lockdown, we’d be in Wales right now. Various British comics-related folk have a retreat we do, where we book a house in the middle of beautiful nowhere and go there for a weekend. This is what I was doing two years ago today…

I do miss the Alpaca.

We’ve basically been working in endless workweek for all of this year. My only break has been the few days in Philadelphia on work. As such, C and I decided to try and have a week off and treat this as a holiday. This has been not exactly 100% successful, as evidenced by the newsletter I’m writing you. We’ve done little things to try and make it feel different (Both large and small. For the latter, I’m making tea in mugs that I would never normally use) which have been good, but hasn’t quite succeeded in making it feel like a holiday. It feels like a slow week. That’s also fine, and necessary. I needed a moment to breathe, as there’s many things to think about.

I also obviously fill the space with some work anyway, as evidenced by the fact I’m writing to you.  I’ve written a first draft for a short-form RPG I wanted to write up for a while. I even wrote a fairly long actual piece of journalism about comics this week, with research and everything, and only when it’s all done do I realise that it’s not exactly a good idea for me to post it.

I’m aware that this quasi-holiday is an extension of various other rituals I’ve been doing since lockdown started, trying to find ways to re-conceptualise spaces I’m using  to often. As bits of social life end up on Zoom (especially online) I am deliberately changing how I sit to delineate it from my normal writing stance. Basically, I go full bisexual seating , which does mean the space feels different, because I am 95% sprawl. The cats likely think I’m one of them now.

As I said above, especially having not done a newsletter in three weeks, the BLM protests have been the main motif of the period. I can’t easily sum, it up, and don’t want to. I have mainly been angry and ashamed. The one moment when I’ve felt unreserved joy was seeing my old stomping grounds of Bristol do what should have been done decades ago, correcting something that should have never been done at all. Still: there is a hope there, that people are being reached here, and ideas that were inconceivable are being discussed and considered.

Work wise? I sent off the third script for PROJECT BRIGHTER SHADE OF BLUE, which now actually have a release date. PROJECT COWBOY’s first cover in progress. I’ve written a handful of short comics for charity anthologies, and have a couple more anthology shorts to do. I need to plot the third arc of Once & Future basically immediately after I return from the quasi-holiday. MILLIONARIE SWEEPER and PRIVATE BUKOWSKI are getting documents passed around, and there’s a call on Friday which may lead to me having to make up a new codename.

Anything else?

I saw this birb on my run yesterday.

Lovely birb.

That’s where I am. I hope you’re okay where you are.

Kieron Gillen

155: proud of its fractal dumbness


My present aim is to try and channel Animal Crossing positive NPC energy in my every interaction. I am mainly offering to buy turnips. I don’t even like turnips.

Stephanie Watch


The Ludocrats is here (in America shops, and digital (worldwide), but not in the UK shops until next week because 2020 is committed to 2020ing as hard as it can.)

The Ludocrats is a story written by Jim Rossignol and myself, drawn by Jeff Stokely, coloured by Tamra Bonvillain, lettered by Clayton Cowles, edited by Chrissy Williams, flatted by Fernando Arguello, designed by Sergio Serrano, published by Image comics and loved by you.

A bunch of reviews here. It is basically as divisive as I suspected it would be, but it does please me that half the time you can’t tell whether someone likes or hates the book from any given pull quote. It’s a very silly book, but is also a very very. We’re proud of its fractal dumbness. The closer you lean, the more you’ll see.

Ludocrats is the story of a group of aristocrats of the Ludicrous, who are becoming aware that their land of unfettered imagination is under threat by the creeping forces of boredom. They want answers. What is the threat? Where does it come from? How many orgasms can they experience in the next 22 pages?

Thinking about it, for reasons that’ll become clear as we continue, I suspect it’ll be filled next to Peter Cannon in my wing of the biblography. Partially because of the theme, but also because of an issue-by-issue atomic structure where each episode uses a certain type of adventure fiction to hang our playfulness off. Issue 1 was the second issue written, and dates back to the early 10s, and has been reworked ever-since. Looking at the drafts of the first two Ludocrats scripts is like archaeology. Jim and me trying to make each other laugh, and give Jeff something to riff furiously off.

I mean, here’s two random very minor and pretty minor restrained panels from page 3.

It’s written in a mode which is very much maximialist. A little detail to say what we need, and a bunch of other stuff which Jeff may find amusing to draw, or inspiration to draw something else. Then we see what Jeff has drawn, and work it back in. One of my favourite jokes in the issue is Jeff’s bag of wheat, which Jim then expounds upon at length in the back matter.

It’s a lot. It’s a ludicrous  awful world and I hope it distracts you from this awful one for a while. It loves you very much.

Grab from your local shop or online. There’s a preview here.


Stephanie’s lobbed a few panels online from issue 12 in progress. Coo.

Stephanie’s style changing across DIE is one of the things which is fascinating about this endeavour. She’s got a real sadness and cleanness to her work here, which I love to see develop. It’s certainly impacting my thinking on the next arc.


Nottingham University’s Centre for Spartan & Peloponnesian Studies and the City of Sparti have teamed up to do a series of Sparta Live lectures, about all things Sparta. Have a nose. Every Thursday, 5-6 pm (GMT) there’s a lecture, with the first one tomorrow. I’m doing one on THREE on June 18th, which should be lots of fun.

I was thinking about THREE a little more this week, and chewing over ideas linked to it. I’m aware my pure historical work is never my most popular stuff (as any pure historical stuff is in comics) but that’s never kept me away from something, right?


Comixexperience have hooked us up with Phangs next week on the 27th, which should be fun.



Work continues. Finished a draft of issue 3 of Project Cowboy. Now mostly finished a draft of issue 3 of Project Brighter Shade of Blue. Other work creeps in the edges. More stuff on Project Millionaire Sweeper. A few calls about Project Private Bukowski. Stuff. Things. It stretches on.

I’ve been luckier than many my friends, who have found work nearly impossible. This does make me feel guilty, as if I’m not taking it as seriously as I should be… but I recall I wrote pages the day I buried my Dad, the day he died and every day in between. I’m not someone who stops. It may not be me at my best, but I continue. It’s useful that I had a lot plotted which I’m writing. Execution is a different beast than building from nothing. That I’m rapidly reaching the end of my plotted material is going to be interesting – I can see my brain flirting with the next arc of DIE, so we’ll see if it can solidify. I am aware that I’m distracted, but I’m always distractible. This is perhaps more so. My work method is that mixture of hyperfocus and pressing refresh on one screen.

That passes into everything. I’m interested in how this house’s media consumption have changed. We’ve stopped any serious drama – not because it’s serious per se, but that it is a long term cognitive load. The idea of chaining a serialised television novel is too much like work… and another thing which makes days too similar. Instead, I’m watching more movies – both serious and not. A movie on a day makes each day different. A TV show chained makes all days the same.

The flip of that is the weird comfort rituals – I have watched more Come Dine With Me than is possible to imagine. Every day, we eat alone and see people eat together, and pick apart the fascinating social dance of humans cooking for each other and lying about what they like.

I have been genuinely making some notes about a Come Dine with Me one-page RPG, which (like all my short form RPG ideas) seems to exist to bemuse Americans. Here’s a precis. Come Dine With Me is British show where a group of people take turns to throw a dinner party. After each meal, everyone marks the host out of 10 secretly. At the end of the week, the winner takes home a grand. It is quietly glorious, whether it turns into a knife fight or a bonding exercise.

Part of me would love to enter, as I know exactly what I would do to game the system. No, not in the “there’s no reason not to just give everyone 1/10” way. I will save for another time.

Be careful and speak soon.

Kieron Gillen

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