A text heavy one this time, as I can't be bothered to go onto a real computer to actually insert pictures, and it's hell to do on an ipad. It's the holidays!
Love = Love Actually Out
Postcards from the edge
Christmas Wordcount Filling
As mentioned last week, the LOVE IS LOVE anthology to support the victims and family of the Orlando shooting is out this week. Obviously with something like this your sincere wish would be for the anthology never having to exist, but for a year as bad as 2017 to end with the release of something born of people’s desire to come together in response to tragedy is a reminder that for all the horror, there is a shared humanity, and it’s precious.
Comics aren’t out in the UK today, btw. They’re a day late due to the holidays.
Next week, we kick 2017 off with the Wicked + the Divine #25. It’s a relatively cheery one. For WicDiv, anyway.
Oh - Solicits for March are out.
On Boxing Day, Chrissy’s Dad came in and asked us about Robbie Williams having died. We both wanted to correct him, but at the same time, we simultaneously reached for our phone to check. It wouldn’t have been a surprise.
On the long list of things which made 2016 bad, it becoming a punchline certainly in there. Any individual awful human event is fired through the filter of a damned year in the calendar. A real human response is smothered with the protective comedy of 2016-as-serial-killer-gags.
I said before, 2016 is a fucking hack. The death of a man implicitly connected with two of the most iconic Christmas songs of all time on Christmas day is hack writing. And that is in my head at all is part of this year’s curse. Fascinating, complicated,, ground-breaking George Michael deserved better than being seen through a prism of internet meme bullshit.
For me the problem was working out what I wanted to listen to. I’m not a fan of his lowkey works. The George Michael I like is either the early political WHAM stuff, the Imperial Phase swagger of the early solo material or the post-arrest fuck you disco pop. None of which have any of the sadness that a death provokes. Listening to work which CHOOSES LIFE when you’re reminded that isn’t always a choice doesn’t exactly work.
I eventually found myself to his contributions to the Freddie Mercury tribute gig back in the early 90s. I was in the middle of my anti-pop metalhead stage, an aberration that couldn’t have lasted more than a year and a half (the metalhead stage was longer, but I had synthesised the aesthetics i.e. Got over my own sorry teenage bullshit. Or, at least, that part of it.) George Michael tearing though Someone To Love pierced by that critical myopia, and let a beam of light in.
It was a period I was thinking about anyone, involving a work thing. Rick Parfitt from Status Quo’s death was in a similar place. This was a period where every house party in a social group involved a Status Quo best of. Being a different strain of Metalhead, I hated that too, but they remain a band I connect to being 16, drunk and virginial. No wonder I had problems with George Michael. Jealousy is never a hot look, and 16 year old me was all about not-hot-looks.
The worst thing about 2016 is that I’m pretty certain 2017 will be worse. 2016 was a year we, as a culture, decided that it’d be fun to go drink driving. Next year we actually get in the car. I’ll consider 2017 a win if we live to see 2018.
I’ll try and work out something cheerier to say next week, honest.
I wrote this whole newsletter on Tuesday, and by the time I’ve found time to send it out, Carrie Fisher passed.
All of the above to do with the 2016-ness of her applies.
Obviously, this one is close, both personally and even in work. I’ve written Carrie Fisher’s most famous role, and tried to essay her voice in it. Of the three core Star Wars characters, it was the hardest. I was hoping I’d get a chance to write her again, as by the end of Vader Down, a few key pieces had dropped into place. After Fisher’s death, that urge is far more complicated. I have no idea what that would feel like.
As iconic as Leia was, it’s important to remember how iconic the real woman was. Her under-appreciated uncredited work as a script-doctor, her fearless and funny writing, her being out about her mental health at a time when that was far less understood or accepted than now… she was a fascinating and brilliant human being, and she’s filling my twitter timeline for many of those reasons.
I wish that tinyletter would let me embed gifs, as I’d grab the rocket launcher one from the Blues Brothers here.
I said I’d write a little bit about writing at Christmas. Meta, I know.
As a Freelancer, abstractly Christmas doesn’t exist. But it does exist for your editors, so I find it intellectually worthwhile to play along with it.
I wrapped up my year’s scripting on Christmas Eve, by tying up Uber: Invasion #8. I’d spent most of the month wrestling with the Gordian Not Working of WicDiv 27 and 28. Year 3 on WicDiv is tricky, and this is in many ways the hardest part. The problem was leading me towards grand formalist structures, and I could eventually see how it could work. Along the way, I just wrote without structure, generating masses of material as the characters verbally tore each other apart and made out. When I started to assemble it, I tilted my head, and saw a way through the tangle, and ended up with a story structure which is far simpler, and a much better choice for the material.. It’s still got a section where I’m literally using Excel to explain panel structure, but this is now two scripts which basically are something people will recognise as issues rather than trying to flirt with the Comics Journal.
After all that, they came together extremely quickly, and I’ve got enough material for the next arc too. With this dealt with – and another darling killed in the next arc – I’ve got high hopes the sixth trade will be as swift as the fourth. But I need to write the 450AD special before I circle back in that direction.
Uber: Invasion 8 was a joy in comparison – or, at least, as much of a joy as Uber ever is. It’s writing Maria, the primarily soviet PoV character, someone who I haven’t touched for getting on for two years now. Of all the Uber characters, she’s the one who always has something to say, and as it’s in a relatively small setting which I’ve already researched means there was less digging through the files. I know writing about Gulags on Christmas Eve isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but it takes all sorts.
And then work is over. I don’t plan to start actual work until January 2nd.
I will, of course, be writing. My friend Cavan Scott tweeted this earlier…
…which is very much how I see the liminal period between Christmas and New Year. Putting aside the human stuff, as a writer, if I have no work I have to write, it means I can write anything, without pressure, following my instincts. I normally produce the start of some new thing in the period, mailing the script to the artist in question at midnight on the new year. It’s a magical time-between-places, and it’s me at my most ritualistic. At the start of 2014, I mailed Jamie WicDiv 1. In 2015, I mailed David Ludocrats 1. In 2016, I mailed Jamie WicDiv 18. This year… well, I doubt it’ll be a completed script, but I suspect it’ll take the form of a series bible. Spangly New Thing’s design work is key part of it, and starting to improvise and play with its visuals as early as possible is going to have be a big part of its appeal.
More details as we proceed. I suspect it’ll drop at the back end of 2017, assuming everything goes well.
(Yes, more on Ludocrats soon too.)
That’ll do for now. I was going to write a bit about what books I’ve finished over Xmas, but this is already a bit of a ramble. Love to everyone.