172: I shouldn’t stan Cao Cao




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.



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.


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