183: howl at passing biplanes




Once & Future 16 is out today, wherein I wrestle to get all three threads of the plot to align, and Dan and Tamra continue to serve up the best looking action comic on the shelves.

(I was going to add a “one of the best” but figured it’s my newsletter so I can climb to the top of the nearest skyscraper and howl at passing biplanes about my collaborator’s greatness if I want to.)

As well as Hot Lancelot Action, this is where the reveal that closed Old English comes back into play properly. I remember the week Once & Future 1 came out, and being in the pub with Ram V. He’d just read it, and noted that all those interviews where I said it wasn’t really a particularly political book? Kieron! You were totally lying!

Well, kinda? I was trying to ensure that no-one came to it expecting a Joe Sacco book. Speaking to my own canon, it’s doesn’t have the societal weight of something like Three. It’s very much a 2000AD type of political energy. It’s mainly giggling. But it’s giggling angrily.

Hope you like it. I’m getting pages from Dan’s issue 18 at the moment, and this goes to some wonderful places. I’m giggling (oft angrily) with every page.

Preview here. Available from shops and digitally.


I was lucky enough to get the advance of RECKLESS: FRIENDS OF THE DEVIL this week. It’s still available to pre-order, and I’d recommend you do so. By this point it sometimes feels like recommending Ed and Sean’s work feels like recommending food. “Have you tried food?. It’s really good. You shouldn’t even try to go without it.” It’s like being friends with an amazing chef. Of course, the food’s going to be fucking amazing any time you go around Ed and Sean’s.

This is the second Reckless book, which is a key thing. When I was coming into comics, serialised graphic novels for adults was basically the aesthetic end goal our wave were building towards. The first Reckless was abstractly the first in the series. It’s the release of Friends of the Devils that it actually becomes a series, a standalone private-eye mystery in a Satanic-Panic-infused 1980s LA, building on what was before, certainly making you want to read them all, but not requiring you to. It was a great thing to settle in with last night, and I am – not for the first time – actively envious. Oh – and Jacob Phillips work as a colourist continues to effectively build the mood. Reckless has that nostalgia of a period piece energy, with all kinds of sharp and ugly edges – a like poring fondly over faded polaroid photos of your first switchblade. Out in April, pre-order now.

I mentioned all-the-award-winning The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal last week, and finished it over the weekend, and would have gone straight into the next in the series if it wasn’t for another novella I want to hit first.  It opens with one of my favourite-rendered apocalypses in recent times, and that’s just historical kick required to get the book to what it really wants to do – imagine a space program which included women astrounaut. Eventually. After all the battles and political manouvering and everything else. With its deft historical touch and defter intersectionality, I’d be in. I’m triply in, as people trying to survive in space in a layer of tinfoil and hope is 100% my jam. Recommended.


  • Excited to listen to this. Mangasplaining, where Deb Aoki, David Brothers, and this episode’s host Christopher Butcher make Comics Professional Chip Zdarsky read famous manga.

  • The New York Times’ article on Slate Star Codex’s rationalist community is worth reading, especially with El Sandifer’s thread of commentary.

  • The second I saw that excellent Jane Austen RPG, the Good Society, is doing a kickstarter for a reprint, I thought “post-Bridgerton, this is excellently timed.” Well worth your attention. Writing this, I’m struck by the similarities of Anglophone comics circa-2000 and the RPG space, in terms of one-sub-genre (Superheroes in comics, action fantasy in games) being considered the default genre and anything else being weird and experimental. This totally isn’t weird and experimental. This is mainstream.

  • I dunno if this Is mainstream, but it’s adorable. Alex Roberts of For the Queen Fame is kickstarting a journaling-RPG about being a cute animal and writing your diary, inspired by looking for good things in your day. Go nose here. Oh – also, attention to Tension, the tarot-powered game of queer hunter-and-hunted flirtation and murder. If you’re looking for a Killing Eve/Hannibal RPG, this is the one.

  • Excited to see Deadly Class is on Peacock to watch. Less so that it’s not in the UK, but I mention for the US folks. Hurrah Image TV shows!


I finished a first draft of DIE 20 on Friday, for a certain value of “first draft.” 18, 19 and 20 exist in that liminal state, and I plan to hack all three of them simultaneously, bringing things up in the mix as required. I’m aware that there’s certain subplots that I need to include more of, but the “sub” is key here. I have big stories I need to ensure I land, without which everything else becomes nothing. I think the structure here does, which means that now it’s just a question of improving it. I’ll get to that early next month, I suspect.

As it is, I’m on another side project this week, and then back to Once & Future 20 next week. I’m also doing some tight planning for a few other comics, in terms of what to do. It’s not a bad place to be in, really. I’m doing a lot but not too much, which means I’m steadily building up a firebreak in case everything explodes, as it likely will. This is also useful, as emotionally, I feel I pretty worked over right now, so this kind of gentle march is perhaps the most I can ask from myself.

Right – I have a bunch of calls this afternoon, and I also have some serious research to do. By which I mean, read a pile of comics, but reading them seriously. Perhaps I’ll have a pipe to add to my aura of academic heft.

Speak soon.

Kieron Gillen,