I’m writing this in a bar in London, around the corner from the pub which Mike Carey used as John Constantine’s local. I would go and write there, but I would be murdered for my laptop and I need my fingers to type as voice-recognition and my hyperspeed midlands mumble don’t get on.
DIE 3 is out. Half way through our first arc, FANTASY HEARTBREAKER, and the book sort of aligns to do that. This is the sort of issue I want to talk a lot about, but I suspect (like Thunderbolt last week) this is one that I suspect you should go in clean on. Similar to Thunderbolt, but with completely the opposite intent. Thunderbolt is a creature of awful delight. DIE 3 is only the first six words of that sentence.
I do talk a bunch in the back of the issue, so you’ll have that for context if you want it. That people have responded to my essays as well as they have is a bit of a surprise. I’m used to people more annoyed with my tendency to download (or maybe the people who are annoyed have stopped reading them and/or anything by me). That folks like it also quietly raises the stakes for the later ones. The first ones are always going to be the ones which hit hardest, because we’re hitting on core things of the book. I’m doing a letters page on issue 4, as it feeds into its theme of community and the correspondence has been amazing, but even there I’ve basically written 2000 words. So maybe I just can’t stop writing words. Oh – and Stephanie’s written something for issue 5.
Anyway – DIE 3. As I say in the back, I fear it’s either very good or very bad, but it means the world to me. Hope you find it interesting.
You can find a Preview of the first few pages here. In your local shop, plus digital here.
The epilogue of THE ESCAPE has Andrea Broccardo returning to the book to set things up for my final arc. Digital here.
Oh - while we’re talking comics out this week, I want to highlight Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto’s Daredevil run which starts today. I’ve read the first issue, and it’s fantastic Daredevil. It glowers and shine and I love it.
Here’s Paulina’s Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt cover for issue 4. Out April.
The launch? It seemed to go well, which was pleasing. It’s the sort of impish book where you can get your popcorn and just shovel it into your mouth while watching people work through their own responses to it. The Hollywood reporter in their newsletter said “For those wondering what the next step in superhero comic evolution may be after Watchmen and The Authority, this just might be the answer” which sounds like the sort of thing which Dynamite are saving in their Put On Back Of Trade File.
It’s been a nightmarishly difficult book to talk about, which is in many ways a shame, but part of the cost of doing this. With the shaggy-dog sheared, things only escalate on 2, which is just plain ludicrous. We’re really having fun. People who like it seem to be too – seeing the timeline basically explode 24 hours after it came out in discussion about it was fun. The whole arc is going to make a lovely collection.
Oh - I wrote some writer notes for Dynamite, which BC have published. You can read ‘em here. Excuse the typos. I wrote it hot and raw as it was needed quickly and my time was cramped. Peter Morisi is NOT a 1960s comic book character.
I mentioned issue 5 of DIE and issue 43 of WicDiv coming out in April next month. But did I show you the alt covers by David Mack and Jason Latour? Did I nelly!?
(“You didn’t.” – Nelly)
Thanks, Nelly. Big fan.
I’ve been thinking a little about anachronisms and their use this week, specifically in terms of musical anachronisms as a stylistic choice.
When someone is particularly full on with them it’s easiest to forgive for all but the most literal viewer. The anachronism becomes the style. PEAKY BLINDERS’ moods is the glowering of Nick Cave, ether straight cut stuff or the appropriate reworking. MARIE ANTIONETTE. THE KNIGHT’S TALE. That kind of burst. It’s so gleefully gratuitous you understand the hyper-realiyty of it immediately.
Even without that stylistic flourishes, we’re more willing to forgive soundtracks erring as long as they fit the theme. 300 has many people picking over its historical inaccuracies, but I’ve never seen anyone include “the music.” In fact, the more general approach to soundtrack orchestration is more likely to date the period the film was made.
But the stuff which is on my mind is stuff which just cheats as much as giving a Greek Solider the wrong period-Helmet just because the Corinthian is a classic and the Pilos looks like shit. I was thinking about this when THE WORLD’S END dropped – a film, along with T2, which I was looking carefully at in the run-up to DIE, in terms of seeing a generation a few years before me dealing with a not dissimilar emotional place. THE WORLD’S END involves a bunch of 40-year olds trying to complete the pubcrawl they failed in 1989. As such, its’ about that being their golden age… but it’s telling that the always-good Edgar Wright soundtrack cheats significantly. There’s some 1989-1990 material, but it reaches as far forward as 1994’s His’n’Hers. The majority of the music isn’t stuff from that pub-crawl – it’s the stuff that the students among them would be listening to at university in the following years. To a ludicrous music fan, it’s absolutely a “Er… that Spartan has the wrong helmet” moment.
I end up chewing it over, and considering reasons. “I needed it in 1989 to make them 40 and the music in the years after 1989 is a more fertile ground for me than the years before” is likely it, but it also creates an idea that this is simultaneously more generally about the period than that exact moments, despite their protestations. It’s not about being 18 again. It’s about being 18-22 again.
Then there’s two of my favourite recent things – I, TONYA and THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE. Both of whom are set well into the 1990s – Versace died in 1997 – and both which draw on a soundtrack which is almost universally 1980s. Both use Laura Brannigan’s Absolute Banger GLORIA. The most iconic moment in VERSACE is set to Ultravox’s Vienna. There’s part of me which riles against this, in the helpless mashing of the past… but it’s also one which creates interesting resonances. We talk about decades ending, but of course, life as lived is not the same. For many, whether ultra-privileged or societal outsider, the 1980s continued. My main memory of growing up in Stafford was how long it took a musical movement to actually reach here. I remember my amazement when a local DJ playing a blur album track from THE GREAT ESCAPE the week of release – the that never happens. Both Versace and I, Tonya, despite the period, are talking about themes considered most akin to the 1980, and so it’s logical to turn to the music to signify that. Equally, both stories are about people who are trapped. The world is 1990s, and they are resonating to a different frequency. We experience time atemporally.
I admit, I have one particular pet hate connected to this – which is “giving a character more credible music taste than they had any realistic chance of having.” The STRANGER THINGS Smiths nod in episode one made me stroke my chin in a “yeah, college radio was likely playing the album in 1984, but really? Really?” way.
Er… bringing it back to my stuff?
I did a long twitter chain writing about random songs on the Young Avengers playlist. This is a fun time. If you haven’t listened, go nose.
As DIE 6 was a monster to write, I’ve been basically re-arranging deadlines – which meant that urgency meant Star Wars 56 jumped to the head of the queue. I handed that in yesterday, and have moved directly onto Thunderbolt 4. That requires a little research, so I’ve been lugging two genuine tomes around central London. One day my little research will actually involve little books.
After that, I plan to circle back to PROJECT OH CAROLINA. I handed in a final version of the first issue last week, which should be with the artist now. This should drop later in the year, and rounds out what should be a really interesting year for me as a writer. I was talking on a podcast with Adam from Orbital Comics about this (which should be online soon) in terms of this period being a genuinely blessed golden one for a writer – in terms of bringing long term projects to a close (so showing how a large design I started five years ago resolves) and starting new ones (showing what I’ve learned and where my head has been.) Jamie on twitter has talked about while he has clearly changed as an artist across WicDiv’s run, he’s also been forced to not do anything too radical, as it would break the book. That’s as true for writers. I have to write WicDiv like WicDiv, and a bunch of new things means I get to change gear. So a good time. Nightmarishly hard, but a good time.
I’ve also been on the phone a bunch telling other-media folk about DIE, which has regularly left me feeling like a 13 year old explaining his awesome D&D campaign to a very patient relative at a family wedding.