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.
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.
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.
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.
Assorted links sitting in this document from the last month or so.
I made the Dionysus E-mail archive accessible to the public. Of some historical interest, perhaps. I believe all of these were collected in one of the hardbacks.
Eisners happened! Gratz to the winners – Willow & Christian are great people to top Best New Comic, and I can’t believe she’s never actually won one before. That seems absolutely bizarre. Hugos happened! Gratz to the winners –Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford topped graphic story, and well done to them. It was a great selection of winners. Best Novel going to A Memory Called Empire was especially great to see.
The Last War in Albion reaches the end of Book 2, which is the conclusion of Watchmen. This is a good one. I mean, they’re all good ones, but this one especially. It’s a good time to re-read all of Book 2, which is a journey. Last War in Albion, for those who are new to this: “In the late twentieth century, beneath the surface of Britain's green and pleasant land, raged a war that spanned the heights of mystical transcendence and the most obscure gutters of popular culture. The stakes were unfathomably vast: the fate of the twenty-first century, the shape of an entire artistic medium, and whether or not several people would make their rent. On one side was Alan Moore, the acclaimed literary genius who would transform comics forever. On the other was Grant Morrison, the upstart punk who never met an idol he didn't want to knock off its perch.” It’s a lot of fun.
Dorian Lynskey writes a little about the idea of flattening the past by removing the idea that works which we now find controversial were not controversial and debated and fought over at the time. The “a person of their time” actually removes the complexities of both people and time.
Article about adaptation to film and an author’s involvement not always being the unalloyed good. I’m a little suspicious of the anecdotal methodology of any of this, but always an interesting thing to think about, in terms of transformation of stories.
Dehumanisation of Authors, which unpacks questions of power. Especially for more marginal writers, this seems something worth thinking about.
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.
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.