I write from a house of plague. Do not approach. Do not inhale. Wear gloves to interact with the screen. Wear protective glasses. Wait, you're suffocating. I didn't think this through at all.
I find you uncommonly pretty
DIE 2 2
Pompey The Great
Doing It To Yourself
The only book out this week, which is the end of the main part of THE ESCAPE. It’s structured as a six issue arc, with an intro and and epilogue drawn by Andrea. As I’ve said before, the arc’s details came into being when I was walking down a hillside in Scotland, towards a noble house and thinking “I’d love to see Luke and friends deal with this sort of environment.” So, Bronte Star Wars mash-up.
We had fun with this. Hope you like it.
DIE 2’s going to a second printing. Press release here. Astounding cover above. Out Feb 13th. Code DEC188162 if your shop needs it.
Occasionally you get a piece of art which makes you rethink plans in your series, and this is one of them. That Stephanie literally painted it overnight due to insomnia makes it even more astounding.
I accepted the lovely invitation to to Portsmouth Con on May 4th for the con. First one was last year, which I heard so many good things about, I decided to pop along and skip the FOMO.
I haven’t been to Portsmouth since my childhood, where it was a regularly family holiday destination. I forget if it was one in Portsmouth where my Brother and I were led around a fairgound wearing identical blue outfits in the pouring rain, which I think may be the origin of my BLACK AND NOTHING ELSE wardrobe.
Hi, Mum! Only joking.
Lots of press!
Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt is out next week. Syfy Wire did a big interview with the team, including a whole new preview that follows on to the last. That actually means a fairly big chunk of the first issue is now out there if folks want to go nose. If you’re actually convinced, I suspect you should just hold off and read in one go. Issue one is a taut beast, and will take you for a ride. I’m really pleased with how this series is going. Caspar, Hassan and Mary are doing wonders.
I may have reached a new kind of peak me, in being interviewed for a “why are games workshop doing so well now?” article for the Guardian. I facepalm a little over one of my tongue in cheek one liners being used as the strapline.
I may have been avoiding work this morning, and answered some asks over on tumblr. Here’s a couple of the downloady ones....
Q: Drafts: How the hell do they work? While I brainstorm and mess around a fair bit pre-writing, once I’ve got the Thing fully put down it feels like throwing large chunks into or out of it would cause it to break. Any advice?
A: Starting the day with this. Excuse me if I’m rusty.
This question is making me muse about how Hemingway’s “Writing is rewriting” interlinks with Vonnegut’s Bashers versus Swoopers. I suppose it would make Hemingway a swooper, but I can’t picture him as one. I digress.
Like most things in writing, there’s various modes and various scales. Let’s go from biggest to smallest.
(I immediately question my order, of course.)
Biggest is just throwing it all out and doing it again. Total rewrite. This avoids structural problems by simply rebuilding from scratch. This is a lot of work, but occasionally necessary.
Then there’s localised throwing out and doing it again. What purpose does this scene serve? If your write a scene that serves the same purpose, you don’t need to touch the rest. I talked about an example of this in The Wicked + the Divine 24. My first draft had Persephone leave a fancy party, then Amaterasu followed and a kiss. The core information was identical. It was dead and terrible. I came back to it later and re-did it, and worked out more connective tissue. Persephone’s already outside the party (remains the same) on a ledge (obviously loaded, but also adds to the aura of otherworldliness) smoking (back to the worldy) watching a display of fireworks shaped like her dead friends (theme and visuals). Amaterasu leaves the party, we have a similar conversation, and a kiss in a much more interesting sort of situation. Structurally, these are the same scene.
I also think of one of my very early gigs at Marvel where Warren Simons got me to rewrite the first scene of my Beta Ray Bill comic for him three times. First time basically Bill turned up to Thor and tried to talk him into hunting down Galactus. Second time Bill turned up to Thor and tried to talk him into hunting down Galactus, except this time it’s on some kind of thunderous mountain. Third time Bill turned up to Thor and tried to talk him into hunting down Galactus, during them saving a coastline by punching a tidal wave (which as well as being obviously a superheroic beat, also set up the theme of What To Do About Natural Disasters and as they saved a whaling vessel What About Unintended Consequences Of Good Acts). I don’t think Warren asked me to do a rewrite that like after that. I kind of got the point of the genre I was working in.
I would also note if you’re thinking structurally, you can both collapse and expand scenes. If the point of the scene is “they go somewhere and have an argument on the way:” you could do that as a whole scene or you could do that as a panel of them driving and a single caption, and a single expression. Less can be more, especially if you’re working in a form (like 20 page comics) where space is a zero sum game. To have one scene longer, you need another to be shorter. Choose your poison.
(If I were to guess, It sounds like that you’re having trouble separating your specific execution of a scene from the structural purpose of a scene. I may be wrong, but this may be a useful line for you thin to think along)
The use of the word “break” is also interesting. There’s no problem in breaking things. Broke things can be fixed. Rewrite a scene? Great - what else needs to be reworked to do what the story requires? And, just as importantly, you can decided to change what the story requires. Maybe the element you liked is actually a darling that has to die for the better purpose of the movie?
(DIE 5 had a rewrite where I inserted a thematic scene at the opening at the cost of some detail about a different part of the backstory. Both scenes actually the same purpose in the issue, but coming from completely different and contradictory angles. I decided that the information in the original take could come to the reader down the line, and saved it for the second arc.)
You know people say “film is made on the editing table”? Basically the argument is that it’s only be selecting and arranging the specific shots that the specific movie you’re watching exists. It’s also worth noting that shots can be taken from whenever, re-arranged whenever. Hell, record new dialogue. Hell, in the modern say, you can fix it in post, tweaking lips, etc.
By which I mean, if they can do that in film with a medium far less mutable than the prose we write stories or scripts in, clearly that sort of editing is much easier for us too. Tweak a panel. Does this increase the meaning I want? Great. If not, don’t.
Your first draft is your most obvious draft. A second draft can tweak to make it less obvious.
And, finally there’s just a basic second draft which is just a surface polish. Punching up dialogue. Increasing clarity or whatever. Shine the script!
Oh - it’s also worth noting that comics have a unique advantage as a medium. As in, you can do a lettering draft after the comic has finished. If a panel is clear just via expressions, you can cut dialogue. If it’s not, you can add them. If an artist adds something in the art (or inspires in another way) you can add something that nods towards it. Put it like this: all comics are dubbed.
(It’s also worth noting some artists object to rewriting after the pages have drawn. Check in with them before you do it.)
That’ll do. I’ll post now, in first draft state, as I am, SHAMELESS.
Q: Is project Oh Carolina an Image book? Also why do you normally refrain from making creator owned books that are not “personal epics”? Don’t you want to have fun in your own worlds?
A: Will talk Publishers when I’m able, but regarding the other half? Well, as Thom Yorke once put it…
(The Radiohead song I think of most often, for the record. It’s easy to think of this as you look at the pile of books and know that people would probably like the book more if you just based it off a skim of the Wikipedia page.)
This is the sort of thing you end up arguing with your Therapist about. Why does it have to be so hard? It doesn’t have to be so hard?
Part of it is just thinking if given an open stage you should do the best work imaginable. If you have things to say and the freedom to say them, to not take that opportunity is almost a crime. Have you read Hicksville? If not, do so. It’s incredible. The concept is an isolated town where there’s a library which includes all the works of comics those masters of the form wanted to do, but weren’t able to due to the commercial realities of the time. All those “what I’d love to do…” books those people said in pubs, on the shelves. It’s a library of what comics could have been.
That we now actually have the freedom to do the books we want, it feels an absolute betrayal of the medium’s potential to not take it. I was aware that in my first book, Rue Britannia, I was able to do something more personal than some people who had worked in the industry their whole lives. We live in blessed times and to use those blessings lightly is selling all that out.
So there’s that.
(”Ambition makes you look pretty ugly”)
There is the other half of it though - that WFH is by definition lighter. The work can’t support that level of the hard stuff. It’s the Alan Moore “I wanted to do stories about environmentalism but this big green mud monster kept on getting in the way.”
I like to do a mix of work. I couldn’t do four books like DIE or Phonogram or WicDiv. I don’t have it in me, or at least, I wouldn’t have it for more than six months. So if WFH is, by definition, the lighter side of what I like to do, then parts of me I don’t get to tickle are the biggest, messiest most personal stuff. So if I’m only doing one or two creator-owned books, they’re going to be the bigger, darker ones.
However, if I’m doing DIE and WicDIv, if I do a third book, it’s not going to be like DIE and WicDIv. It’s going to be something else. You can likely see where something like OH CAROLINA comes from. If you’re not doing WFH any more, what I’m not getting to do is the explodey smart-dumb Ramone pop genre stuff. So I am more likely to build something of my own which I get to tickle those urges.
And I am, as I suspect anyone who’s read my twitter stream knows, something of a buffoon when I’m not trying to clobber you to death with an academic textbook (and sometimes when I am.)
I’m actually starting OH CAROLINA 2 this afternoon, so we’ll see how it goes. It’s not actually buffoonish - it’s playful, in a darker but less amoral Aphra-y place way. Funnily, the silliest thing I’m doing is Thunderbolt (out next week) which as it goes on basically exists as a natural collision between Watchmen and NextWave.
But I am having fun. For a certain value of fun.
In passing, it’s also worth noting “fun” is a word that, as an ex-game critic, I’m always a little suspicious of. “Fun” tends to flatten experience. “Satisfaction” is something I have a lot more time for, and there’s many ways to be satisfied. Missus.
Alternate take: I suspect it’s just guilt over the artist having to spend so long drawing it. I have to make it more work for myself or I feel shame.
I do like those two answers have different takes on my ability to feel shame.
This has been a house of sickness, which I’ve somehow escaped. This has led me to being low-level distracted, studying by body’s smallest responses for signs of collapse. My aim was basically “Get DIE 6 written before you fall to the ground, oozing.” I succeeded that. The rest of the week, whatever it is, is golden.
Kieron’s health tips: drink vitamin C. Do NOT eat human waste. I repeat: DO NOT EAT HUMAN WASTE.