I missed a week, because I am awful.
Careers In The Toilets
Once & Future 4 is out this week, where I suspect people will realise “this is my lighter comic” is relative. Cards are shown, adventures are have, Dan and Tamra continue to kill it on art.
(And continue to kill ever more on art – I’ve started getting pages for issue 6, and they’re another change of gear. I just hope Dan’s enjoying this book, as I’m sitting here and eating gleeful hands of popcorn at seeing what he’s doing.)
Jamie’s done his first 2000AD cover, for their new Best Of 2000AD Monthly. I always knew that he’d do a killer Anderson (not least as he’s drawn fanart before) but seeing his Dredd is an absolute delight. I’m looking forward to next year when everyone realises “Wait – why has Jamie been drawing fantasy stuff all these years when he CLEARLY should have been doing Sci-fi? What idiot was that?” and I get to go “THIS GUY”.
Thought Bubble in Harrogate ended the con season for us. It was joy. Which was a relief.
It’s always been my favourite con, but a move between towns is no small thing. Harrogate is to Leeds as Bristol is to Bath – the smaller tourist town next door. So it’s more expensive, plus a little harder to get to. There was a chance even if the new venue was great, folks wouldn’t come.
In the end, it worked. The new venue was great (better than any venue Tbubz has ever been at) and the place was heaving. There were teething problems, but by Sunday the redshirts were already working solutions to some of them. I hope the rest can be dealt with – the one I saw most was the first hall being too tightly packed so traffic got stuck there, though there’s definitely some accessibility issues to be considered. It’s a hell of a venue, the town is great, the party was killer with DJs being amazing and there was much love (not least in the glitter-everywhere ethos, which led to me coining the look “Bisexual Crossed”).
But I’m here to talk about the toilet.
I was one of the few people who had actually been to Harrogate before, for Follycon a couple of years’ back. As such, I’d been in the toilets in the Majestic, and saw it as my holy mission to ensure that everyone else saw them, as often as possible. I led missions on Friday night. I led missions on Saturday night, dripping with glitter post-party. I led them on Sunday night, to get photos of the WicDiv team. I led whatever genders into the room, as this is a natural wonder that should be savoured by all, plus they’re so big that anyone in there would take five minutes to run across to shoo us away, and likely fall on the highly polished marble.
I have seen larger toilets. I have seen prettier toilets. I have never seen a toilet that is both as large and as fancy. I have never seen a toilet with two dining tables kept there, just in case. I have never seen a toilet like this next door to an entirely normal women’s toilet. Hey, Patriarchy, you’re out of control.
After the con, Gerry Duggan and I crept down, planning to do a quiet photoshoot. We picked up Torunn Gronbekk and John McCrea on the way, and somehow Ed was dragged in too.
Here we are, at the back of the room to show a little of the scale. Do not be confused - this is not trick photography. We are normal sized humans.
Here’s the reverse. There are more cubicles in here than in the Women’s next door, and each has its own individual activated light. It was such a long walk we had sobered up by the time we got back to the bar, which made us drink some more, and then we had to come back here and get tired and sober going to pee again. Life is very hard.
And here’s a shot showing a little of the urinals. I’ve lived in smaller houses than this bathroom and slept in worse beds than these urinals.
And finally, we managed to do our Reformed Band shot, which is total art. I feel like a member of the 2019 Afghan Whigs here.
Also, we managed to do what I hoped…
And get a useable shot I can use for press.
Well, a certain kind of press.
All shots by Gerry Duggan.
Stephanie has finished issue 10 and now heading off on her adventures. She’s walking again, which is a huge thing. On her way back, she’s doing a signing in Singapore on December 7th and 8th, with a special new edition of issue 1 by Franny. Which is amazing. Details here.
It’s the one-year anniversary signing. It’s been a time.
One of the fun things at Thought Bubble was folks saying they’re looking forward to my Comics Writing Master Class in February next year, which is a reminder to i) write it and ii) plug it again, as it’s changed venue. It’s now at Amnesty International in London, where I presume they’re going to keep watch on any torturous puns. You can get your tickets here.
I’m actually looking forward to this too, and have been chewing over my approaches to it. Anyone who’s seen me talk craft stuff knows I like to add as many caveats to advice as possible and try to get people thinking of how this applies to them, so I’m working out various tactics to try and do that. I’m also aware that the audience will be fairly wide in terms of experience, so I have to start basically from first principles of comic writing and rush upwards.
But I like this sort of thing. And with the rate I speak, you’ll get 5 hours of class into 3 hours, I’m sure.
Dark Horse are doing an edition of Grafity’s Wall, which I was honoured to write the intro for. Ram tweets about it here.
James D'Amato’s panel at Tbubz where we played his hack of For The Queen, where we were all sexy yet brainless Pirates playing hottie-tetris aboard ship was a joy. I grabbed his Ultimate RPG Gameplay guide, which I’m halfway through and seems a rock solid book of GMing (and playing) advice. I’ll try and write more when I finish it, but if you want to hear more, there’s a great interview with him half way through this Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff.
I finally actually finished Isabel Greenberg’s excellent The Encyclopaedia of Early Earth last week, which made the discovery that her next book is exploring the Brontes’ Glass town Juvenalia especially exciting. Obviously interesting timing with DIE’s recent issues. I can’t wait to see what she does with it. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy.
I’m enjoying the History of Sex podcast. It’s a pop anthropology/sociology with a side-order of thought experiments, and a mixture of big deep long series and quick noses at interesting subjects. Relevantly to my work, I’d have likely plugged it in the Uber backmatter if Uber was out at the moment, as it’s looking at Sex in the Third Reich (and some in the Weimar republic) which is all really interesting, if oft horrifying, stuff.
Over at Tbubz Jimmy of Comic Book Insider insider interviewed Jamie and me and a bunch of others. This was done just as the con was closing, so you can imagine we’re a bit loopy. Last night I realised that while Jamie and I often compare ourselves to the Pet Shop Boys, a better comparison for our dynamic may actually be the Mighty Boosh. Yes, that’s fearful.
Holly Gramazio’s concept review of Minit made me smile and think, and also made me want to play the game enough to almost start playing it, but it was a videogame, so I didn’t.
Jamie and I were interviewed by the Ladies of Valhalla at NYCC, which has been lobbed online. I think this is the interview where I work out a new oneliner near the start. You can see both me and Jamie look surprised if it is.
As I skipped a week, we have two weeks of work. In practise, you actually find me finishing what I was doing. I said I was plotting DIE? I’ve kind of plotted DIE and am about half way through issue 11. I want to firm up the exact who-what-where of 12-15 this afternoon, but it’s solid enough to start writing.
It’s oddly been a joy to do the first half. This is because the first half is half the plot, and that half the plot is actually all fun and games and adventure and character work. The other half is the heavy lifting. I have eaten my dessert first, and the rest of the week will be chewing fibre.
I’m also happy with where the plot’s landed – there was an awful moment last week when I realised I hadn’t got any major beats for one character due to tying off their two major plots early, but I dug into it, and hit something which made me upset, said “That’s awful” and then worked it in. This is a big part of my method, my own version of the Get Your Characters Stuck Up A Tree And Throw Rocks At Them. What’s the biggest thing for them to deal with? They deal with that. Heroes are defined by what they face and all that.
(And for a writer who does stuff with his heart on his sleeve, if I get upset at the idea of someone going through it in a physical, wet-eyed state, that’s my sign. I’m the first person to cry over my work.)
The other major work (bar Thought Bubble and entertaining and similar) was about the two other things I mentioned last time, which are looking fairly likely now, so let’s give them a codename each. PROJECT BRIGHTER SHADE OF BLUE and PROJECT COWBOY. Both are in exactly the same place, so let’s hope that I can remember which one is which when I next time I give an update. Both different, both a sort of job I haven’t done before, both appealing for exactly that reason. They’ll be 2020.
This week onwards is PROJECT PRIVATE BUKOWSKI and PROJECT MILLIONAIRE SWEEPER. Both will be a chunk of next week’s work, to be fitted alongside everything else. Stephanie is off to Tokyo, but I want to get DIE 11 for Friday. After that, likely I’ll want to nail down more of the specifics of ONCE & FUTURE’s second arc. Probably not as much as I need for DIE, but at least some more. O&F leans closer to the freeform fluid pop-work of Marvel, so doesn’t need the precision engineering, just sufficient scaffolding. I’m also aware that where I leave it in issue 6 means I have so much narrative momentum that if I just put the characters in a room and see what they do, it’d be watchable.
In short: I’m having fun.
We’re also working on other things to do in the gap months between DIE’s arc. Last time we had three months off, (2 gaps and a trade) and with the problems we’ve had recently, we suspect we’ll need another one. As such, we want to try and do something nifty in the new gap month. I’ll let you know how that goes.
I also forgot that I was meant to go to the dentist yesterday, because - as said earlier - I am awful.