It's me again. I had a brief break, for the dual reason of prioritisation (as in, I had nothing 100% essential to get out so other things took the lead) and inertia (born of the hell that we find ourselves). So this is a little catch up. Nice to see you again. Yes, you.
Warsing In The Stars
This was announced yesterday. Here's the solicit...
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE 1373 (ONE-SHOT)
WRITER: KIERON GILLEN
ARTIST / VARIANT COVER: RYAN KELLY
COVER: JAMIE MCKELVIE, MATT WILSON
SEPTEMBER 26 / 32 PAGES / FC / M / $3.99
“THE TRANSUBSTANTIATION OF LUCIFER” The final THE WICKED + THE DIVINE historical special plunges into the shadow of life after the Black Death. KIERON GILLEN gets back together with THREE collaborator RYAN KELLY to tell the story of penitent nun Lucifer hearing the confession of penitent murderer Ananke. Yes, everyone will be sorry.
This is the final historical special, though one non-historical special will follow. These will all be collected in the eighth trade, to be released between Mothering Invention and the final one. Yes, that means we'll have three trades released in a single calendar years. Everything accelerates towards the end.
The idea for this was one of my original story ideas: a medieval Lucifer as a nun, and a particular meeting with Ananke. An image. Lucifer as Nun.I knew it was a story I wanted to tell, and I suspected it would be the last historical one. This is the one which is played with the majority of the cards on the table. All we needed was an artist to fit the execution I had in mind.
I was chatting to Paul Cornell in London and he mentioned that Ryan Kelly had a window in his schedule. The following morning I fought through the hangover and dropped him a mail. He was perfect. I loved his stuff before I worked with him, and THREE is this weird academic passion project. Also, an intense period piece. If WicDiv consumes everything that has come before, getting back with Ryan to do this little slice of horror would be perfect. He said yes. Phew.
It's the most easy-going of the specials, in some ways. I didn't have to over-work it. It doesn't reach further than it needs to. It's an intense character study one. A short play. It involved the least research – a couple of books, just to get what I needed. When writing it, I had a structure, an emotional flow, a set of reveals and an awful tone. I set off knowing which way I was going, and saw what I found on the road. As such, it surprised me with every single page. I was horrified at some of the things I was coming up with.
Influences; Ken Russell's The Devils. Bergman. Joan of Arc. Carrie. Catholicism. So much Catholicism.
The cover at the top of this section is by Jamie and Matt. The one that follows is by Ryan and Matt. It's out in September, and speak to your retail if you want one.
Since last newsletter, Star Wars 49 dropped, which wrapped up MUTINY ON MON CALA and set everything up for HOPE DIES kicking off in Star Wars 50. There's a preview here for 49, if you haven't had a chance to nose yet. The arc has been somewhat playful, and it takes a turn for the serious here. The lightness was at least in part knowing that Hope Dies, as the name suggests, isn't exactly a fun time. It's very Empire Strikes Back scale emotional drama, so getting some caper-ish glee in before closing time was a point.
It's also me taking a dry run on what is a major part of Hope Dies. As in, trying to do a large-scale space battle. Across all my Star Wars work, I've minimised the Space Battle side in favour of ground-level adventure. We've done it, but not as much as the source material. This is because, traditionally, vehicle-based action is not comics' strong point.
(At which point you'll probably be reaching for examples you think did vehicles well in comics, as is only right. You should understand that if you're you're looking for exceptions, it says a lot – and a lot of them are 100% reliant on the nature of the artist.)
So, with that on my mind, was interested in seeing Retcon Punch picking up on the issue and talking about the pros and cons of doing such things in comics. Seeing critics pick up on something which is on my mind is always gratifying, as it implies the intent is reaching the page. This also comes from some other conversations with friends, and thinking of subject-to-subject transitions rather than moment-to-moment transitions as basically being a way to get the required sense of movement with a photo-realistic artist like Salva. And perhaps more generally as well? We'll see.
(Do I have to define Subject-to-Subject? Probably. The best take is “read understanding comics” but the short take away is rather than staying on the same subject, the focus moves to a different focus and the transition between the two is where meaning happens. In the case of the example Retcon Punch describe above, it's two subject-to-subject transitions. Leia inside cockpit to the effect of her shot back to Leia in the cockpit. The one problem with doing this I've found in writing this and Hope Dies is that it does burn up a lot of panels on a single effective beat... but I suspect if you're doing action you've got no choice if you want meaningful effective action. Efficiency has been on my mind a lot in the last few weeks as well.)
Anyway – Hope Dies kicks off on July 4th in an oversize issue. I'm signing on the 5th at Forbidden Planet in London, so do come along and say hello.
If you follow my work, you'll likely know Kate Brown from two key issues. Firstly, Young Avengers 6 (wherein we do temp job superheroes meets Lovecraftian Cosmic Horror) and secondly, The Wicked + the Divine 12 (wherein she has the difficult job of being the first artist who isn't Jamie in an ongoing series, and nailed it with the correct mix of heart and pained melodrama.) In short: she's great. You should give her money.
And lo! There's a chance to do exactly that. Her Kickstarter for her own It's Dark Outside has just hit its funding total this morning, but goals need a stretching. Go nose, and throw her digital coin. It's fantastic stuff.
I've still got to pull together the Writer Notes for WicDiv 36. Until then, the Twatd folk have done annotations for every single historical panel. Suffice to say, I won't be doing this. Go admire 6000 years of Murder. They've also put them in a ebook for their patreon, which is worth your time.
I ended up an early patient in the Bearded Men In Selfies meme. I have also been doing more puns on twitter than normal. I mentioned inertia in the intro. I suspect these are also symptoms.
I've been following Al Ewing's development of his Jungian Horror take on The Hulk for a while, but he and Joe Bennet's Immortal Hulk dropped, and is fantastic. It's exactly the sort of book I've been hoping he'd do, and it demands your attention. Here's an interview about it.
Hvae you been intrigued by my Indie RPG rambling in here? Well, Bundle of Holding have been basically doing packages of Stuff I Dig in a row, which means it's a relative inexpensive way to experiment if you wanna. This Apocalypse Engine one includes many things, but Monsterhearts 2 (Queer Teenage Monsters) and Bluebeard's Bride (A Gothic Pixar's Inside Out with each player controlling the bits of the Bride's personality as they make them way through the fable.) This Dungeon World one includes basically all the Dungeon World stuff I've been rambling about. And I haven't had a chance to really look at any of the Gumshoe games, but Hite and Laws' run one of my current fave podcasts so also had me clicking excitedly.
Er… they’re making toys of Aphra, BeeTee and Triple-Zero. SDCC exclusive. I smile.
I’ve been on a worryingly good reading streak. It’s just been a string of things I’ve adored.
Tiny Pieces Of Skull is Roz Kaveney’s fictionalised “mostly-true” memoir of her time between 1978-80 in London, New York and Chicago, centring on trans street and bar life. It’s eighty pages in before I place it in a novel of manners in the mode of Austen, with the parlours swapped for bathrooms no-one goes into alone. It’s art which point its subtitle (“A Lesson In Manners”) comes to mind. Of course. And I…
I wrote “smile” and felt heartless, as much of what is included is awful. Plain awful. Stuff that shouldn’t happen to anyone. Images and scenes have come back to me ever since. The “smile” comes from the mode where it is written, in terms of the clear affection Kaveney uses to summon all the characters in it, even the monsters. The sense that the best time and the worst time in your life can be one and the same, and a clear reason why you’d want to write this book, as you believe it and all the people herein deserve to be immortalised. The raconteur, sardonic mode Kaveney uses enchants with every sentence. I want to quote at length, but that’d spoil the joy of reading them in context, which I insist you must do. To do otherwise would be rude.
I then went on to read Children of Time Adrian Tchaikovsky, which delighted me in such a way that the whiplash of changing mode made me thrilled with a naïve glee. As in, a novel can do this yet it can also do that. What a wonderful species we are to have pulled this off.
Children of Time may raise an eyebrow at the “wonderful species”. In short: far future humanity on the point of collapse attempts to uplift a simian species on a terraformed planet for shits, giggles and hubris. Humanity collapses before the process even really starts. Thousands of years later the humans who scraped together a civilization from the ruins of their godlike precursors limp across the galaxy trying to find a home, to encounter the intelligent eight-legged progeny their forebears have accidentally wrought. Except every step of that is utterly convincing, elegantly researched, wonderfully conceived, humane, horrifying and delightful.
I was forty-percent in when I realised that the amount o ideas Tchaikovsky has burned up would have powered two whole novels of traditional sci-fi. That rate continues. A less determined, delighted and serious writer have turned this into a five-part trilogy. As it is, Tchaikovsky didn’t and deserves all the awards. It made me cry over spiders. I suspect it’ll get you too. It’s space opera that makes me want to sing, and I haven’t shut up about it since reading.
The slightest of the three books, but no less charming is In The All Night Cafe. Founding Belle and Sebastian Stuart David writes about the first year of the much-mythologised band’s existence. A period piece has a lot to say about ambition, creativity, success, failure and the strange liminal period in the nineties they emerged from.
I ran another Murder Mystery. This was a fun time. The game I ran was from Freeform Games, specifically this one. They’re clearly leaning towards the LARP-y side of the market – rather than the glorified parlour games, these are really freeform roleplaying exercises, and both games we’ve ran have been about a lot more than just a murder. It is wonderful chaos to sit back and observe, and McKelvie made an impressively efficient detective. Hail him.
This photo somehow makes me think this a shot of doomed adventurers in Planetary. Or, as a friend of mine said on facebook, a WicDiv Pantheon who didn’t die and got old.
On a personal note, I’ve never felt more working class than when trying to work on how to put on the morning suit. It featured three garments I had no idea how to assemble.
I also took some alpaca for a walk.
I’m always tempted to always start this section with a Rihana Workworkworkworkwork gif before realising that gifs don’t embed in mailing lists. Embeddable mailing list gifs if my missing jetpack future.
It’s mainly been a period of low-key wrapping stuff off. I wrote the last two issues of WicDiv’s Mothering Invention back to back, as I wanted an editorial eye on the whole of how they dovetail. I passed over the arc after HOPE BURNS, which had a sudden left turn from my original conception. It serves the same purpose in the larger structure, but without just hitting the cast with the Despair Hammer, which makes me happier. While art for Codename Spangly New Thing will be played with until literally deadline night, the first issue is solid enough for a lettering draft. This is a process primarily involving deleting as many of the captions as I can, as I don’t want to cover a single extraneous centimetre of this glorious art. In terms of motivations towards brevity, that’s comics’ unique one. This is an interesting period, as now Clayton gets a chance to define the book’s look and feel. After I finish this, I’ll be trying to weigh up various options he’s selected for us to nose at. After this is thinking about a logo, which follows on from the cover designs, which are starting to come together… but by the next newsletter, an issue will exist which I can just give to someone to read. That’s a hell of a thing, and a distinct creative rubicon. I’m also turning my eye towards a couple of other projects, which means that my reading is turning from general curiosity and pleasure to work things.
WicDiv 37 out next week, which is another big issue. It’s a couple weeks late from what was solicited. The short version is that it’s compounded delays from the previous issues, plus continuing other issues. Our schedule will continue like this until the gap between arcs, which should re-set us to the beginning of the month – 1371 happen in the same month as 39, and the final special (the month after the 7th trade) should return us to our normal schedule.
And now, more tea. Love to you.