I got a new router this week, and it is basically the greatest thing. The hyperplague that has infected my body (aka A Mild Cold) has rendered me physically weak, but steady bandwidth has left me strong. I am touching my new router now, gently. Please don't leave me, router. I will be loyal and true and kind.
It's not Uber, except it is.
So Aphra, So Good, What Are These Titles Doing This Week?
I Called Him Bond, James Bond, As That Was His Name.
This Week In WicDiv
And Uber's back.
The delays are just for pacing – basically, it's moving to a 2 issues every three month schedule, which keeps up with Daniel's work-rate, meaning we're steadily ahead. There's three and a half issues in the actually – I say “and a half” as I got the first half of Uber 10 this morning. And it's lovely, for a certainly Uber-y value of lovely.
Issue 6 is the end of the first trade. In an abstract emotional way, I feel that issue 7 is actually the end of the first storyline, but when Invasion works primarily on an issue by issue basis, I don't mind a trade cutting it. Especially with Uber, we're working through the story towards its conclusion. I need to write issue 11 shortly, and may try to go straight to 12. That will leave me with (probably) another 12 to go. When big projects have a finish line in sight, it gets strange.
Talking about finish lines in sight, I should be finishing of Aphra 13 either tomorrow or Friday. Well, Friday depends on a possible hangover, as it's the book launch of Chrissy's Bear. That's the end of year one, which is the point where I sit back and decide how we're going to play year two. As I've said in interviews, I always planned a structure for the year, which was to establish everything I wanted to do with Aphra and her supporting cast that I hadn't done in Vader. In a real way, at this point, we'll see who Aphra is, and know what a solo book of her should look like. If I decided to leave, someone would be able to take over and not be required to do any necessary construction work on the character.
(As someone who's been doing the WFH thing for a while, one of those minor annoyances is when a writer fractionally-creates something and never does anything with it, creating an overhead for a future writer to either write (i.e. dictating what someone else has to do with their run) or write around (i.e. creating a problem to disrupt their run). This is both a different thing from leaving possibly interesting angles for someone to pursue (i.e. a writer doesn't have to do anything with them if they want to) or leaving spaces entirely open for future writers to define (Jamie and I left a big space in Miss America's history for this exact reason.))
(Wow. What a lot of parentheticals.)
(Anyway – that's annoying, so I try not to do it. As in, not create overheads, not over-use parenthetical constructions)
Er... back to Doctor Aphra 7, which is a long way away from that. It's the mid-point of THE SCREAMING CITADEL which everyone seems to be enjoying as much as we should. This issue ends in one of my favourite beats of the whole series. You can imagine our faces when we thought it up.
Did you see Hannah Berry say she's giving up Graphic Novels?
The short is “I can't earn 8k a year for another 3-4 years to do another one.” Read her piece on the economics of working in literary graphic novels in the latest ink over here. Also, sign to ink when you're there, as it's the sort of thing that is useful to drop in your inbox.
Here's a quote...
How many people are out there who could be, should be, making graphic novels but can’t afford financially to commit to this lifestyle? Or can’t afford the time to focus on a novel-length comic? Or any comic, for that matter? How many stories are left unwritten because circumstances force them to be forever kept on the back burner? Yes, we have gender parity in the creator-owned comics scene here in the UK, well done us, but we can’t afford to sit back and celebrate because there is an ugly-looking class issue at work here. On top of that, financial stability still favours white people in this country, and a look at the lack of creators of colour in the comics - particularly long-form comics - landscape should be enough to raise flags.
So what’s the solution? I can’t blame the publishers: the readership is so small that they can’t take advantage of economies of scale, so there’s very little profit to be made and passed on. Even at Jonathan Cape my kindly editor has had to fight to keep the graphic novel list going in the face of pressure from the holders of the purse strings. I can’t blame the readers, who already part with surprisingly large amounts of money in exchange for our marvellous works. I can’t blame the comics community itself, which is as supportive and welcoming a group of people as ever existed.
It's worth thinking about generally, and it's worth thinking about specifically. Hannah is a major talent, whose work seems to be an almost exact embodiment of the sort of graphic novels that we, as a culture, should be producing. In fact, it's the sort of graphic novel which, when people were putting the movement together (See Alec: How To Be An Artist, kids) were thinking would be the predominant form.
I read half of her latest, LIVESTOCK, on the way to the MCM Expo at the weekend, and the other half in bed the morning after. I was going there to speak as part of a S.M.A.S.H. Panel on selling out. As in, a discussion of the topic, not a Kieron Gillen's Guide To How To Do It.
(Now I want to write a guide to How To Sell Out, but I suspect someone would take it seriously. I work in a medium where a non-insignificant percentage of critics didn't realise that calling a book Style > Substance could only be ironic. Yes, I'm clearly in a “Kieron shows some claws” mood.)
Anyway – LIVESTOCK. It's strong work – timely, pointed and just beautiful in the craft of each image. It is like a product of some dream dimension where the writers of Thick Of It got the budgets and genre-play of Doctor Who. That's kind of what comics are for – a pure burst of a creator's vision, undiluted.
I suspect that's one reason why concepts like Selling Out are even being debated in comics in 2017 – that a comic creator has, on average, more control than any other visual narrative artist, means that there's more worthwhile things to sell. It's not like films where budgets of millions are going to lead to compromise, even for the most powerful. A cartoonist and the page. There's a lot to lose.
If Berry doesn't do another, it will be a loss.
I find myself thinking I probably should do more comic recommendation stuff in here, right?
I think that would be useful. Though probably expose that I should be reading more stuff. Though a threat of public censure and shaming is always one of my better motivators.
I did some writer notes for my James Bond comic. You know the score.
And then I found a pretty impressive level of self-parody, and did Writer Notes On My Writer Notes. They were prompted by some thoughts in the review, primarily reminding me of how Roger Moore's Bond was perhaps my primary influence on my Bond. Which isn't something I was aware of, but is also undeniable.
General work update? We hand in WicDiv 29 next week, so Jamie is finishing off the inks and Matt working through the colouring. As the trade hasn't dropped, let's just say it's a hangover of an issue.
Oh – the trade! Here it is. Out June 7th in good comic shops...
Which is next week. Cripes.
I've been ill in a tedious low-energy headache and tired for no reason way after a cold last week, so work generally has been slow. But I've done pages and finished scripts. I should finish WicDiv 32's first draft by the end of the week, and probably 33 quickly the rest. Which will be the end of Imperial Phase.
It's going well. It's odd, in terms of these are some beats I've planned since the very beginning, so on one hand, it's all familiar and well thought out... but at the same time, the grace notes you add to the song are transformative and magical. There was one minor subversion I did today which made me blink. Wow. Really, Kieron?
Anyway, Jamie has just given me an okay to share an inked panel from WicDiv 29...
...which I just love, and is exactly what I was hoping for.
Jamie also showed his inking process, which is a craft masterclass.