Don't worry. I've got no comics out this week, so I won't be trying to make you spend any coins. Keep your coins. Save them. Get enough and you can connect them all together into an improvised scale-mail shirt. Wear your scale-mail shirt. Everyone will be very impressed. You will be loved and accepted when you have a scale-mail shirt.
The Atlantic did an article about colourists and letterers this week. That's one hell of a thing, and a sign that while it's unlikely we'll ever be free of BIFF! POW! Comics Aren't For Kids, there's an ever-swelling amount of understanding of the medium in the mainstream. Read it. It's great, and has great people in it, including Matt “Eisner for Matt Wilsohn” Wilson and Clayton “Ace” Cowles.
There was a quote which we had some fun with on twitter, which reminded me of a craft point...
Other performances were trickier to sell, though. “Kieron [Gillen] writes these incredibly abstract ideas, which evoke some amazing imagery, but are sometimes a bit tough to actually depict,” Wilson said. “Kieron’s script will say something like, ‘and their powers are waves of extreme nothingness pouring over the crowd’ and then I have to go figure out what fucking color ‘extreme nothingness’ is.”
Firstly, I've searched and “extreme nothingness” doesn't appear in ANY of the WicDiv scripts, so Matt will be hearing from my lawyers.
Secondly, it hits one of those things about comic writing. In that, what is a script actually for? You'll get as many answers to that as there are creators (both writers and artists, who'll always have their own personal take). But one key way of looking at it isn't what the script is for – but who is it for?
The safest way of writing a comic script is the architectural blueprint model. You write cleanly, drilling down on the key part of the image you require to tell the story. This is safe, in many ways. Firstly, if you do it well, you will get a story that makes sense ever time, assuming the artist is following it. Secondly, that it is so clean that it's easier to read for an editor, which means that story mistakes and problems are more easily seen. The more you obfuscate, the more you risk obfuscating, to state the fucking obvious.
(It should be stressed that this does not mean simple storytelling. If you get a chance, look at how someone like Ellis writes a fight scene. I would bet that the magisterial sequence that opened the latest issue of THE STORM WATCH was written in the above method.)
The above isn't that. It also isn't the other kind of “WTF?” comic writing, where you ask for something that is literally impossible to draw. That's “A man, facing away from us, smiling.” The “extreme nothingness” can be executed. It's just that it's up for the collaborator to decide what that aesthetic prompt actually looks like.
In other words, the scripts to Jamie, Matt and Clayton are both commissions and calls to collaboration. I throw ideas at the page, some ludicrously detailed, but there's also spaces where I'm looking to create spaces for them all to solve problems. I want to see what three of the best minds in the industry come up with when given a problem. They're obviously infinitely better than me in their relative skill-sets, and if I want to see the edges of their ability I have to leave space for them to do that. That's where I'd go impressionistic. It's writing about an idea than a specific visual, and the start of a conversation. It's not the way to work with anyone – hell, it's not something I'd do constantly – but it's worth being aware of it as a tool in the box.
Thirdly, for those who were wondering, “extreme nothingness” is apparently a kind of glowy black.
This weekend I went to Margate. I basically disappeared offline for the whole period. I emerged on Sunday night and caught up with the developing Hell on Earth, starred at twitter, and couldn't find anything to say which felt woefully too small. That feeling has persisted as the ever-swelling shit snowball that is American politics has continued to roll down the dungy mountain that is 2017.
In short: look after yourself if you need to, unless you're a Nazi.
You may have noticed that the WicDiv pins have yet to actually arrive on the shelves of comic shops. We reached out to Image about it, and the problem was that orders came in higher than they were expecting, so they had to manufacture some more badges to fulfil demand.
We're told they should reach shops early September, but we'll keep you updated.
The second large interview I've done about Star Wars went live. I say stuff like...
With Jason, we’ve seen a lot about the Jedi. The primary narrative of that run was about Luke trying to develop his powers and become a Jedi. Luke has become about as good as he can be — we saw how good he was in Empire, so we can’t make much more progress there. What we can explore is Luke’s relationship with the Rebellion. We can show him within the ranks and doing things like assembling squadrons.
We’ll see Leia increasingly as a military leader. So we’ll have her exploring the responsibility that she’s been positioned in. A lot of this period was about Luke deciding to become a Jedi, but mirroring that is the fact that Leia, as we realize by the time of Return of the Jedi, is Force sensitive too. You see that in The Force Awakens, but she hasn’t done much with it. Her interests are practical. In that film she’s General Leia.
So my run will be kind of the time period where she goes this other way. Dovetailing the two unknowing twins and their lives seemed really interesting to me.
I did some more asks this week, which I think may be worth including here...
Q: In your most recent newsletter you said, "I am also not a fan of Queen." Can you expand on that? (I'm also not a fan of Queen.)
A: I’ve already had a few asks about this.
Earlier in the piece I said I liked Electric Six, but wasn’t a fan, I was hoping the contextual use would carry over to the repeat of the phrase to Queen.
“Not a fan” colloquially normally means “dislike.”
I mean it in a literal sense - I’m not someone who identifies as a fan. I like a chunk of Queen, often for sentimental reasons. It’s just not something I would have ever wore a T-shirt about, in the era when I wore T-shirts to express fandom.
(You may ask why I didn’t use the full “I like Queen, but I’m not a fan” in the second use. Because in context I thought “fuck me, that breaks the flow of the piece entirely.” You may ask “So why didn’t you rewrite it?” to which I’d tell you to lean closer, and then poke you in the eye.)
Q: Do you have theme song for each character? Also, if you do, is Cass and Laura's different from Urdr and Persephone's, respectively?
A: It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the playlist, hasn’t it?
Basically, I used to do some essays on random songs picked from the Playlist, but stopped doing that. You can find the ones I did here. Then I sporadically asked people to send asks to me, picking songs from the playlist, and I’d answer telling people why it’s on the playlist. (Or at least, some of the reasons why it’s on the playlists - WicDiv is complicated.) I also haven’t done that for a while.
I was invited on a podcast recently where I talked about how they work, so if you’re interested, it’s worth listening to. The short version is the Playlist is a mood-board, an inspiration sheet and something I obsess over while thinking about the themes. Songs sometimes even get put on the list before I truly realise how they tie into the plot. As I always say, trust your subconscious. By definition, it knows things you don’t.
So there’s a bunch of songs which tie into different characters, and different bits of the character, and the character at different times. So the answer would be yes, there’s songs connected to both Cass/Laura Urdr/Persephone on there.
When WicDiv is over, as part of the emotional disengage from this monster, I do to go through the whole thing and try and do at least a sentence on every song on it. But we’ll see.
Q: just reread singles club, and i'm wondering...if cole could teach kid-with-knife how to do some phonomancy, does that mean that anyone CAN be a phonomancer, in the same way anyone could be a, i don't know, writer, or doctor, or plumber, if they did the work to learn and practice it? it's less an inherent ability or superpower, and more a skill set, and the ppl who call themselves phonomancers are just the ones who dedicate serious time and effort to it?
A: It’s more than that.
The relevant page…
Allow me to highlight the key line.
Everyone can and does use phonomancery. The magic is for everyone.
“Phonomancer” is a label for people who are just obsessed with this shit. Phonogram, generally speaking, is not a book about people who music has made better. It’s a book about people who need music beyond any reasonable level. It’s a book about addicts.
But the magic it describes is for everyone and anyone who wants it, and distrust anyone who says otherwise.
Did you read Kelly Sue and Matt's newsletter this week? It's a great one. If you haven't signed up, you really should.
The sequel to the Eisner award nominated Critical Chips is crowdfunding, and still needs a couple of thousand more. Definitely go look.
Now, I'm off to toast a drink to a friend's cat who has passed. Goodbye, Biggins. You were a good cat, though the time I wore a rat mask in your presence must have scared the hell out of you.