I forgot to write an intro, so will have to just fill something in. Er... I got re-obsessed with Purity Ring's Fineshrine yesterday? Will that fill the space?
Yes. It will.
Killing Your Spanglies
Big release of the week is the Christmas Special. This was born of us looking at the schedule, and deciding that with the next two arcs of WicDiv being six issues each, it would be a good idea to do another schedule. We could have a skip month, but we're basically allergic to skip months in WicDiv, and we kind of have a surfeit of things we'd like to do.
Necessity is the mother of awesome, in this case.
Originally I was working on something else, but couldn't quite make it work to my satisfaction, so we went over to one of Jamie's ideas – which was basically to go back to do some of those key scenes in the comic we had skipped due to the story starting nearly six months into the recurrence. These were generally the fun times, and tend to involve quite a bit of funtimes. We'll warn you that it's a dangerous one to read in public. As I was just saying to Irene Koh on twitter, no matter how much excellent stuff is in the issue, this will be remembered as the one with the penises.
There's a full preview here, but here's a page from Kris Anka's story.
(What was the dropped idea? I won't share, as I may do it down the line. I've got a better idea of how to approach it.)
It's 28 pages of comics, so basically nearly 50% extra content for the same money. I suspect the year has been hard for the WicDiv readers, so we thought by ending it with a party was a fun thing to do. We are big on parties, whether in real life or paper. It also took a party to make it – Kris Anka (with Jen Bartel), Emma Vieceli, Rachel Stott, Chynna Clugston Flores and Carla Speed McNeil on inks, Tamra Bonvillain and Matt Wilson on colours with Dee Cunnliffe, Fernando Arguello and Ludwig Olimba on flats. Thanks to everyone. Yay for everyone.
Oh – we're told that the Annual may not be on people's comixology subs for WicDiv, so you may have to actually just go and buy it
Obviously, it's a big week for Star Wars, as once again, Disney have been kind enough to release a cinema-only advertisement for my comic. Thanks, Disney. You're the greatest.
Star Wars 40 includes Leia sharing stories about her family and Benthic stabbing some dudes. Benthic is all about stabbing dudes.
Finally, Uber Invasion 10 came out last week in shops, and hopefully will be on digital today, as they’re normally lagging by a week. If not (er) soon? Comics!
This issue goes back to the USA, with everyone dealing with the aftermath of the emergence of the Zephyr. I handed in Uber 14 at the weekend, so Daniel’s at work on that, hoping to get it half done before Xmas. Odd to think that it’s literally only seven issues to go now for me. Having done the tight plotting I can see how it all breaks down, so it should work, but it’s still fascinating to see something that I stared working on way back in 2008 reaching a conclusion.
I was also doing a pass on the lettering for issue 12. Er… even for Uber, that one is grim.
Er… not the real logo. OR IS IT?
(But I would say that, right?)
We’ve tweaked the schedule on the production of Spangly New Thing scripts. Plan was to get all five written before the new year, but art is a little slower, so I’ve decided not to kill myself, and instead do a little more research.
It’s well timed, as issue 3 is where one of the other aspects of the book comes forward. When I conceived it, I was hopefully it would be a little more conceptually elegant than my personal work tends to be. Suffice to say, the possibility of this disappeared some time back. It was only when re-reading the Planetary omnibus that I realised that there was a whole skein that was explicitly trying Planetary-styled examination of elements genre. Fiction as a lens to examine fiction. Well… less purely fiction, but fiction in the broadest sense, in terms of its sociopolitical placement and all the rest. Cleverthinks.
Three kicks that into gear properly. Among (many) other things, it’s the issue where I touch on Tolkien, and it got me thinking about the killing of the father aspect in fiction.
There’s a line critic Douglas Wolk said about Journey Into Mystery which I always liked, though not enough that I remember where he said it or the exact wording. It paraphrases to something like “Journey Into Mystery is the most affectionate killing of fathers of recent years.” Which made me smile - I’ve tended to take quiet pride in thinking I see through a lot of that usual Oedipal bullshit. Journey Into Mystery broadly deconstructed and even more broadly took the piss out of some of my major influences (or, if not influences, people working in the same pace.) It’s a story where the closest figure to Sandman in the Marvel universe’s first line, outraged and directly to camera, is “He’s ripping me off!” Elsewhere, Loki and Leah don V masks and blow up pagan monuments. I’m smiling. There is no rage here, but glee. I hope everyone I touch on would laugh too.
Looking at Tolkien again has made me aware of that “quiet pride” I said earlier is just nonsense. I realised that as someone who came to comics as an adult, I’ve less of the aforementioned Oepdial Nonsense about my influences, because I came to them as an adult. To people who got to me young, it’s clearly sitting there, sullenly, glowering, vengeful.
I wasn’t entirely unconscious of this, of course, but it certainly has led to me looking at Tolkien through the filter of my specific autobiography. As I’ve said before, I’m aware if I was in Middle Earth, I’d likely be an orc. I’d have been dead at 25 without modern medicine. I view pastoral sentimentalism through the filter of Britain’s know-your-place-culture as loathsome.
There’s a resentment from knowing all of that, while simultaneously being born through it.
While the above is fair critique, the seething beneath it fogs the vision. Actually looking at Tolkien in the way I’d research other subjects has opened him up. Things which I find abhorrent, I see why they became so important for him. If his formative memories of cities are “places where my mother died” and the happiest times they had were in the rural West Midlands countryside, I can understand why your aesthetics would shaped the way they were. The process has been seeing Tolkien less like a literary father and more as a man, and it’s given me a lot of useful stuff – mainly as it’s additive to everything that’s already there.
I’m definitely in the place in research where I’ve been rendered unbearable. A couple of Sunday backs my friends and I had a Lord of the Rings marathon. I mentioned that “You know when he was a toddler Tolkien was bit by a tarantula? Easy to see where Shelob may have come from” and was roundly mocked for the next twelve hours. “Hey Kieron,” they’d say, “Did you know that when living in Greater Haywood Tolkien was bullied by a Cave Troll?” This is the correct way to treat me at such times.
In short: Moorcock has already done Epic Pooh. No need to repeat him.
Talking about Tolkien, Bundle-PDF RPG specialists Bundle of Holding are presently doing two offers for The One Ring game. This is the most recent Tolkien RPG, and a good one. If I had the time to do a year-plus regular traditional fantasy campaign, it would be it. Alas, I’m not, so I make do with (er) basically buying all the book in Hardback and staring at the maps. I love maps. Here’s one offer, here’s the other.
Talking about maps, Jim pointed me in the direction of MythicsMaps on twitter which basically makes me curl up in a ball and make cute noises.
Talking about cute, Image did a WicDiv horrorscope post to publicise the Christmas Annual. It is delightful. Go see.
Talking about (er) lists, Spotify’s end of year coding did some fun stuff. I’m in the process of preparing my trad own end of year lists, so seeing what the machine thinks I’ve been listening to most is telling. The ones which profit from volume are mainly ones on Playlists – especially those on the Aphra playlist, which is shorter, so everything on it gets played a LOT. That said, I was hurt that Spotify put some stuff I have listened to a bunch on the Ones That Got Away Playlist it generated for me. Oh, Immortal Alien Machine. Why won’t you turn your ever staring gaze to me?
Talking about the staring gaze of an immortal alien machine, Phil Sandifer’s collection of essays on Neo-reaction and the Alt Right is now on Tumblr. These mostly date from before (er) most of the world was aware of these guys, so are useful in many ways. Also, deeply weird. I can’t stress how weird it is. Phil’s one of my favourite critics, and this is a big ol’ download. You can buy it digitally here.
I should be finishing Star Wars 45 after I send this out. Ideally that’ll go over today. If not, first thing in the morning – I just need to polish, and check a few details. That’s the final actual script I need for the year, which leaves the remaining time open. As said above, I want to do at least the third script of Spangly New Thing, but I hope to I hope to finish reading his collected Essays and perhaps the Silmarillion before I actually do that. There’s a couple of plotting jobs that have appeared, which will require some time, but in practise I think I’ll just stop scripting and concentrate solely on the text elements of the 1923 WicDiv special.
And – er – buying Christmas presents. That would probably be an idea.