I Like Comics They Are Nice
Eternals 3 is out, where we reach Lemuria and introduce Thena. I have no idea what folks will make of this one. Actually, that’s not true – I always have ideas of what folks will make of it. But, in a broad way, there’s some of my favourite things in the issue are things which may not even be visible to some folks. Luckily, everyone is going to get the atmosphere which Esad and Matt bring to the page, and the design stuff Clayton has done is the most extensive we’ve done so far. There’s a design spread which I showed C and her response was “I’m glad I’m not working on this book.” I basically want to send apology flowers to Marvel’s proofreader.
All Deviant names, bar pre-existing ones, were generated via the Deviant Name Generator I mentioned coding. We’re still working out whether we can actually get it out there so you lot can play with it – I wrote it Gamemaker, which has exported to HTML5 but we’re still working how best to show it to folks. Everyone I’ve showed it to has highly amused themselves by just generating hundreds of Deviants. I just had a play with it now, and I’m sure that Old-fashioned Ahar'ag, Dasrhudeana Daytooth and Karyheitiny the Grubby will be the break out MCU characters in Wave 7.
Here’s the first two pages of the preview…
…And there’s another one here. You can buy it digitally or get from fine comic retailers.
Since we last talked, I was a on an Image panel for a future virtual con. It was genuinely a positive experience, and so much of what I most love about doing a book at Image. These creators, in very different ways, staking what they actually want to do. I’d caught up with all the books on the panel, and was struck by how putting them all together you got an snapshot of these takes on what comics can be. Clearly, it’s not the full range of what comics can do, as Image primarily deals in genre work with a pop aesthetic… but I was struck how big that space can be when the idea of a house style is an anathema.
Barnes and Alexander’s Killadelphia has just finished issue 12, and so the one which I had the joy of catching up on in a big rush of strong-perspective, grounded vampire horror, set in the shadows of the American dream. Alexander’s manages this unflinching mood, and I am mildly obsessed with Barnes’ caption use, sometimes with multiple first-person narrators interlocking. To add to my previous paragraph’s point, I hadn’t even thought of the connective tissue – “Vampires” - between Killadelphia and Dracula Motherfucker until writing this sentence, as they come from such different places. This is gloriously lurid, stylish, feminist arthouse/grindhouse pulp, and De Campi and Henderson do the trick of creating pages both beautiful and horrific. Synder, Daniel and Morey’s just-out Nocterra is also in the horror space, but finds its rhythm in the big-blockbuster mode, of huge action in an apocalyptic, sunless setting – no actual vampires, but speaking to the same fear of what could be out there to take us. Finally, not out yet – i.e. time to talk to your retailer - is Pichetshote and Tefenkgi’s The Good Asian which goes deep into that noir space, with a lot of formalist style, the cast caught between the invisible quotation marks in the title, ready to crush you all. I was sitting and looking at the PDFs, and just overjoyed at how much the comics were comics, each to their own, and each of themselves, screaming COMICS.
So that was good.
In terms of other new books which delighted me recently, I grabbed Fleecs and Forstner’s Stray Dogs from Image, which is the 101 Dalmatians vs Criminal book the world had no idea it needed. That it hits credible noir beats, and equally credible dog psychology while also being so cute is a miracle. And I’ve just read an advance PDF of Ram V and Andrade’s Many Deaths Of Laila Starr from Boom which is some Divine Comedy-esque satirical magic realism about Death losing her job due to… oh, let’s just quote the solicitation. “With humanity on the verge of discovering immortality, the avatar of Death is fired and relegated to the world below to live out her now-finite days in the body of twenty-something Laila Starr in Mumbai.” That. Well worth your time.
Over on the DIE RPG discord I was asked a simple question, which I hadn’t heard before. It prompted enough of a ramble that I felt worth putting a version of it here…
Do you write with previews in mind? I've always wondered about this. Is there any sort of pressure, either self-imposed or otherwise, to have something happen in the first three pages that end up on Comixology/AIPT/wherever before the issue comes out?
Not really. At Image, we get to decide what's released as a preview.
You'll have seen in some issues of WicDiv we didn't release a preview. Comixology is a slightly different beast, in that they tend to choose their own previews, but what they do release isn’t put out as widely as a generally released preview is. You normally only see them if you explicitly go to the page.
In terms of Image books, we get mailed and asked what preview pages we want to release, and I look at the issue and make a call. I say “I” - it's a job that's mainly my responsiblity, in a "just one of the things I do" way, like writing solicits.
In reality, the problem is the opposite of what you’re suggesting - it's more that I'm thinking of a preview spoiling the issue in some way (For example, if it starts with a major reveal - like WicDiv 32). Alternatively, if the opening creates a disturbing idea which we don't want the audience to linger on – as in, they’ll see it, and find it upsetting in a way which I don’t intend. This is similar to me not writing certain sorts of cliffhanger, which I feel is unethically distressing or leaving too much space for people to have an unwelcome reading of the work.
But, to return to the question, the needs of a preview and the needs of the opening of an issue are often similar – an opening tends to be an engaging thing which brings you into the world. That’s what a preview tends to do,, right? In other words, it’s rare that the first few pages don’t work.
Failing that, there’s also the option to lift a preview from anywhere in the issue.
Last week was the first week this year where I haven’t written a new script. Not a problem – it was planned as such, as there was a lot of other things to deal with. Like, at least another 12 or so hours of zoom added to the schedule, which is not an insignificant thing. Instead, I was concentrating on polishing up script and deeper long term planning. I did start Monday thinking “I don’t really have enough firm plans for what to do next in Eternals” and then found myself a couple of hours later having written a 6000 words e-mail of what I want to do in the next six issues. That gave me some clarity – with Eternals, it’s not about not knowing what I want to do – it’s knowing what I want to do next.
After that, I’m in one of those agreeable spaces with only micro-deadlines. Lettering drafts, notes on lettering, etc. I finally did the lettering pass for DIE 16, for example. Here’s its title page.
The big extra, external work has stepped away momentarily too. That means I can dig down wherever I want – I’ve basically decided to try and do a draft of two issues of a thing to remove it from my “Actual Creative Work I Have To Do At Some Point” part of my brain. As another new thing is starting to gear up, that’s probably wise. Alongside that, there’s things like polishing up the last three issues of DIE and getting them over to C. I’ve even managed to send a mail I’ve put off for getting on for something like four months, trying to fix my website.
I also finally managed to beat the boss in Hades.
Much productive, me.