And the third volume of Once & Future is out in comic shops today. It follows in book shops a little later – I see it’s next week in US, but not until next month in the UK, it seems.
THE PARLIAMENT OF MAGPIES is where we take all that’s been put into motion in the last two arcs, and build towards perhaps the biggest status quo change in all of Once & Future. It’s us at our most 2000AD-y political, has some huge action set-pieces but is also the arc where I’m most happy with the character work. There’s some scenes in here which are just people being people, and I can’t get enough of it. Dan and Tamra do amazing things to each page, and rise to everything I throw at it. There’s one character design which is clearly Dan scratching a particular fan urge, and I live for it.
The opening to issue 13 is here, which certainly shows you some Magpies. It’s also one of the scenes that I’m just really fond of.
Available to buy in your local comic shop or digitally.
It’ll be a curtailed newsletter today, because I need to spend the rest of the day doing my final prep for the Masterclass tonight. This is basically just looking what I did at the last one, and seeing how I can improve it – there’s a whole example I’ve rewritten which I’m really happy with, for example.
Tickets are for sale until 4pm British time, so it’s not too late to jump on. The event starts at 6pm.
Jamie McKelvie both wrote and drew a back up story in Captain Marvel 30, out today. There’s a preview here, and having read the whole thing, it’s really strong stuff. It’s been 10 years since he’s last hadd a story published, which seems obscene. Whatever monster kept him away from writing deserves a firm slap on the wrist.
Polygon profile of RPG Designer Grant Howitt and the ongoing impact of Honey Heist. Occasionally a novelty hit absolutely explodes, and changes the landscape. That’s how pop culture works. If you could predict it, it wouldn’t be so much fun.
On how to moderate a community. I’ve curated various online communities over the year, and this brings a lot of things into tight 2021 focus.
Interview with Jon Savage about his history of punk England’s Dreaming, 30 years on. One of the most influential books I’ve ever read, in dozens of ways. As much as anything gave me permission to be a writer, this was it.
It’s been a complicated week for thinking of teenage heroes. The latest White Dwarf arrived whose focus was paying homage to designer Jervis Johnson, who’s retiring. He was my favourite of the Games Workshop designers in the period, and seeing a lifetime of work spotlighted was a hell of a thing. That he went out on the excellent Age of Sigmar 3 including an explicit Player Code (TL;DR: FFS! Play fair and be nice to each other) also gains an extra raised glass from this part. I also once stood on his foot at a Games Day by accident. The shame.
On a far sadder note, it was when googling around to check the spelling of his name to do a throwaway joke about the new serious Lawnmower simulator, I discovered that games journalist Duncan MacDonald has died a few years ago. Duncan was, to use the idiom of the magazine, Completely Hatstand. His Your Sinclair review of Stunt Car Racer was the first time I was so delighted at the sheer giddiness of the writing that I remembered who wrote it. I suspect if you want a “I’d like to do that!” moment in my origin story, this is the earliest one, and the moment when I fell in love with writing about games enough to spend fifteen years of my life doing it. I eventually converted his April Fool’s joke Advanced Lawnmower Simulator to the Amiga, which ended up on the coverdisk of Amiga Power, complete with screenshot. He was weirdly, hugely influential. Hell, I can still quote bits of that Stunt Car Racer review. I too do not know what a Sandboy is, or how happy they are capable of getting (Though now have google, so can find out). Apparently hearing of Duncan’s passing was one of the things which prompted the PC Zone Lives podcast, and this is the episode where they talk about him.
Big week, but one of those Big But Can’t Tell You Why ones. But big, across several areas where bigness can incarnate. Suffice to say, there is bigness, happening. I appear to be trying to essay Ducan MacDonald, badly. Again. Lawks. Now, wait, I think that’s a J Nashism. I give up.
It’s one of the most frustrating things about the gig. Sometimes you just can’t talk about stuff. Sometimes you just can’t talk about stuff even after it’s all done, for dozens of reasons, some legal and some ethical. Sometimes you’re just petrified of accidentally saying something at the wrong time. When I’ve been working at Marvel, I am always extra anxious, in fear that I’d accidentally tweet something that happens in someone else’s comic before it comes out. I find having secrets hugely stressful, which if I stop for a second, makes this a weird career to choose.
Work is also broadly busy – a small extra thing from Marvel is being announced later today, and I just went through the artist’s roughs for the issue, which are a total delight. I did the same for Stephanie’s roughs for issue 20, which makes the end real – as does my early readers being sent issue 19, which has prompted a lot of emotions. It goes to press next week, and will be with you shortly. Once & Future 19 is also just being finalised, and will be good to be back. I’ve almost finished my pass on DIE CORE, which I’m really pleased with – I’ll come back to it over the weekend, but it really feels like a useful version which folks could read and get to table with less heartbreak. You should save the heartbreak for during the game, not in the prep.
After the masterclass later today, I suspect I’ll slip back to polish up Eternals 9, and next week likely start on (er) a new project I’ve just got given the You Can Write This Now. Or possibly more Eternals. Or possibly even the other Big thing which is now properly in motion.
But, as I said, tediously, I can’t talk about that. Or the other thing. Or even really the Eternals thing. Or anything. So I’ll shut up, at least until 6pm tonight, when I will just talk and talk and talk.