I had so much stuff I wanted to get in this one I had to push some it to next, as otherwise none of you are going to read it, right? I mean, I barely read it, as anyone who follows my typos will know. I like to imagine myself as Luke, approaching the Death Star, and listening to my dead ghost buddy, turning off the spell-check and then colliding with the side of the thing, dooming the whole galaxy.
Let's put this up front. Remember last week we unveiled WicDiv Branded Bombsheller leggings and I said we'd try to work out a way to get folks outside the US them without exorbitant US shipping? Well this well...
We did nothing, as Bombsheller suggested trying this until the end of the month. So for ten (count 'em!) dollars you can have your fine moisture-wicked leggings shipped anywhere in the world. Non-Amerifolk! This is your hour! And then another hour, and a further hour, until the end of the month. Go gets.
(I dunno if the DIVINE code still gives 10% off, but it's worth a shot, right?)
The Image solicits for January 2019 are up, which is officially OMG IT'S 2019 SOON warning for us comics folks. Also, as I have two books out, it means I officially have too many pretty covers to show you without breaking this newsletter. First up...
WRITER: KIERON GILLEN
ARTIST / COVER: STEPHANIE HANS
VARIANT COVER: JANA SCHIRMER
JANUARY 09 / 32 PAGES / FC / M / $3.99
“FANTASY HEARTBREAKER,” Part Two
Remember last time, when we said “Goth Jumanji”? As the bleak, austere fantasy-horror ramps up, we start underlining the word “Goth” in black marker until we cut a hole through the page.
Jana’s cover is over here, and startling. I also want to unpack Stephanie’s cover, but that segues into talking about the character, and I want to avoid that yet. Suffice to say, I’m unsure whether the vape-knuckle-dusters or the PLAYER jacket is Stephanie’s finest touch here. It’s also fun to see the cover we sent to solicits, and to know where the cover is now - we’re iterating on the design, and I’m really pleased with where we’re ending up. This is great, but the actual cover is moreso. Fun!
Talk to your retailer to pre-order it or for Comixology folks subscribe here.
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #41
WRITER: KIERON GILLEN
ARTIST / COVER: JAMIE MCKELVIE, MATTHEW WILSON
VARIANT COVER: PAULINA GANUCHEAU
JANUARY 09 / 32 PAGES / FC / M / $3.99
“OKAY,” Part Two
Back in black.
Yes, we’re deep in enigmatic solicit text mode here. Jamie’s cover’s here, but I’m showing Paulina’s as it instantly made me want to do a fantasy comic about a kick-ass bard. Those swords are a delight.
I’m doing a signing this Saturday at GOSH in London, from 1-2pm. Come say Hi! I’ll write my name on your stuff.
I mentioned this last week, but as you can get hold of it now, let’s talk a little more.
ICONIC is a fanzine by the WicDiv fan community about the in-universe WicDiv fan community. That’s a sentence which pleases me. By “in-universe WicDiv fan community” I mean, as well as a bunch of original art, the book primarily consists of in-universe forum threads, articles, web-pages and basically everything else you can imagine. From Reddit Conspiracy boards to hilariously angry 4Chan threads, this is a worryingly convincing image of what would be churning along in the WicDiv universe.
(To be honest, it’s also the sort of thing we wish we had more space to do in the actual comic.)
It’s impressive enough at first glance, but the curatorial brilliance is in its sequencing. WicDiv’s timeline isn’t straight. We start six or so months after the Recurrence starts. The book is chronological, starting from David Blake posting a facebook ad for Ragnarock 2013 and ending with the emergence of the final god. It’s worryingly comprehensive. I opened the book randomly and a take on a letter that Laura wrote to Brunhilde and Brunhilde’s response, an event I reference in a single annotation in issue 6. That’s ludicrous. Good work.
(I am also more than a little annoyed that the graphics they add to the god wheel with the emergence of each god are totally better than the ones we did. How dare they! I will fight them.)
I could flick and pick excellent stuff, but I don’t think I need to. I showed my hard copy to a bunch of peers over breakfast at NYCC, and they were astounded. Kelly-Sue’s eyes went delightfully wide, and I just glowed and gushed how proud I was of the fanbase WicDiv have accumulated. It’s one of the best fan things I’ve ever seen – entirely its own thing, and entirely in the spirit of the thing it’s talking about. I applaud.
Minor bit which made me get a little misty-eyed. Their opening interstitial quoting Phonogram’s David Kohl talking about Los Campesinos: “They’re going to be big to some people.”
I’ll say this about WicDiv: it was good to be big to these people.
You can download it here. Get the main zine edition for the full effect, though do look at the art only one too. There’s a free hardcopy in the works, which you can nose at the tumblr for more info on.
I may come back to these interviews, but here’s a couple more things about DIE. One at the Beat (which was done in person, and is gloriously messy in a way which only 3 days at a con can do) and the other at Previews World (which was done by E-mail, which gives it a certain clarity.) Go nose and talk to your retailer. Assume that all sentences end with “Talk to your retailer” from now until December, basically.
This is a great long piece about metafiction and Agency in Journey Into Mystery and Loki: Agent of Asgard. I loved that book, and I loved what Al did after I left.
At NYCC, Jamie and me were interviewed by 943 The Shark, which is an excellent sentence. It wasn’t an actual shark, but still fun to do. Listen!
I found myself thinking about permission and creativity, and how the two intersect.
It’s prompted by thinking back to a conversation I had with a game designer, back when I was a critic, circa 2008 or so. I was arguing the strength of recruiting people who aren’t game designers into being game designers – primarily due for the formalist reason of different perspectives lead to radically different games. Recruiting from the same gene-pool leads to these inbred games.
He didn’t quite argue the opposite, but he argued against me. He used an anecdote. It’s a good anecdote, as far as it goes.
He’s working at a large non-digital games company. Like, big. You’ll have heard of them. Someone new to the company is talking to him, and talks about wanting to get into game design. The designer suggests getting together in the pub and talking about it. One of the actual heads of company comes as well. So, you can imagine this is taking the newcomer’s desire pretty seriously.
They start talking. “So, what you up to?” My friend has brought along a card game he’s been messing around with. Just a few ideas he’s playing with. The Company head gets out a prototype of something his company would never publish that he’s been playing with just because he’s into it. It reaches the newcomer – and he basically shrugs. He hasn’t been working on anything.
My friend’s point was that guy didn’t actually want to be a game designer, because if he wanted to be a game designer he’d have designed some fucking games. The physical barrier to game design is non-existent. If you’re not actually doing it, you don’t really want to be a game designer, in the widest, truest sense.
It’s a convincing argument. If you set certain boundaries up, it’s even true. It also crosses over to most creative fields. If there is no physical boundary, why aren’t you doing it?
You especially come across this with writers all the time. “The guy at the bar, talking about his novel” is the easiest stereotype to mock, but it’s all over the place. Everyone wants to be a writer, no-one actually wants to write. In comics, you get god knows how many variations. “I want to write comics, but I don’t have an artist” is a good one.
And I’ll admit, my own response is in part not unlike the game designer. Nothing’s stopping you, least of all a lack of artist. I did just shy of 300 pages of photo-comics in my journey through the small press. I did found art collages. Hell, I even drew a few things in a minimalistic drawn style, but I did everything I could to avoid anyone suffering that. For a certain selection of people who approach me, I find myself thinking: it’s not that you want to do comics. It’s that you want to work in the industry, and I guess a specific slice of the industry. You don’t care about comics. You care about Spider-man. If you wanted to do comics you’d have done some fucking comics.
There’s a problem with the Why Not Just Do It? position, and it’s a problem born of a complete lack of empathy of how lives could be. The lack of physical boundaries does not mean the other boundaries aren’t there. There’s all kinds of material and societal pressures on people which stop it, and you have to understand they are real. However, there’s also the conceptual boundaries. The very idea that you’re allowed to do something is not naturally there – it’s something that the world around you informs you, and so if the world doesn’t inform you, it’s something that’s denied to you. That is someone like you allowed to do it? is there. The social pressures on individuals are likely to push you away from modes of expression. This only gets worse for more marginalised creators, when you see no-one like you in the form, in the credits, wherever. It simply isn’t an option you could have considered. The privilege to imagine yourself in a place is also a privilege.
As a white guy who has always done stuff for my own amusement, even I got my version of it. It was months after I had received my first paid work as a games critic that I read a fragment in Jon Savage’s England Dreaming which made me recognise myself in it, and realise that I could think of myself as a writer. I’m a working class guy from Stafford, and the first generation of my family to go into further education. Writing wasn’t an option, not because anything my parents had ever told me, but I hadn’t tried to imagine someone like me, from where I was, as a writer.
Let me re-stress this: I was already writing for money, and it hadn’t occurred to me that I could be a writer. Jon Savage talking about putting together fanzines in the toilets at work to let the A-bombs in his head out gave me permission to try and do likewise. In the few times I speak to people at schools, that’s the thing I try to impart – clearly, I can’t teach you to write in this hour or so, but I can at least allow those in the room to realise that it’s a possibility. And while most people never care, there’s always one or two whose eyes light up, as if they’ve just been shown magic. And all magic is fundamentally an act of imagination.
I think back to my friends’ story and I like to think it had an ending he didn’t think of. The young would-be never-was designer listens to the story and feels the flush of embarrassment. He feels stupid. There was no reason why he couldn’t have just done it. He sees how the world is. He heads home, and hacks together his first prototype, because finally he recognise how the world is, and by doing so, is given permission.
Those of us who have always felt we have had permission should feel sympathy for those who don’t.
The most pernicious boundaries are ones which you just assume are there. You’re in a field and you assume you’re in a cage, just because everyone you see is acting like they’re in one.
Sometimes you can run.
It’s a tense period right now, in that I’m aware various large deadlines are aligning, some of which involving breaking considerable new ground. I’m going to put off starting scripting on PROJECT OH CAROLINA to write the WicDIv 1373 writer notes, to let it cascade around my head some more. I’m in the position where I feel I have both too much and too little, which means editing to a skeleton and then rebuilding. Along with this, Stephanie is rushing through finishing off issue 4 of DIE, meaning I have to wrap up issue 5. Which I suspect will be a fun one to do (any issue which is pay off of set ups is usually fun) but still may not. Most of all, I have to speak to a room full of academic Goths in Sheffield in two weeks, and I haven’t written anything on my speech yet.
(Though lying in bed starring at the ceiling, I may have a way in. The word “goth” is an interesting one, in terms of how we (and I, specifically) use it. I also remembered an old comic I got paid for and was never published which is 100% on theme. I suspect I’ll be fine. If not, I will distract them by doing 1991-era Birmingham Meerkat Dancing. Oh – tickets still available, I think.)
As a final note, my best friend of my university days found the tape album of demos I made back in 1997, and ripped them to CD. They are exactly as bad as you would hope them to be. It’s almost impressive my devotion to never singing any song vaguely in my register. I admire flickers of what it trying to do, but my artistical goals were somewhat outside the reach of of my my artistic reach, and in terms of artistic reach, I was basically a T-Rex.