Human After All
Guiu and I wrap up Judgment Day with the Omega. There’s a relevant grace note for Krakoa, but this is mainly about where the Eternals are. It also ends my time with the Eternals, at least for now, and is provides a close for the major arcs of the series, including some really emotional ones. The vibe is very much last episode in an HBO series montage.
I believe I’ve got some interviews which touch on Eternals, but the basic note is: I am pleased. I think we did good stuff, told a meaningful story, and left the cast in a more useful place for the whole Marvel Universe.
As you’ll note, we’re not both there the whole time, due to Iris not quite being ready to wander a con by herself. We’re next door to Rowan Rook & Decard, who may be able to help you if you want to buy stuff when we’re not about – they have many people and we have few. I’ll be bringing (er) some stuff to sell. I need to work out what I’ve got lying around, as there’s basically 3 years worth of comics lying around the house.
My signing rules for the con: no more than 5 signatures in one go, but you can re-queue. The exception will be if we’re near the end of a signing slot, when I will prioritise people who have had no signatures. While normally I stretch signing sessions, due to the nature of this con, I’ll have to keep them to schedule.
Looking forward to seeing everyone. This will be lots of fun. Also, the X-panel we’re doing with Si, Al and moderated by El should be a hell of a thing. We probably will end up giving away the next year of X-plots or something.
As I’m writing this, RRD are pulling levers and pressing buttons and the updated DIE RPG PDF will be released to backers. Including Rian’s tweaked cover design, which is above. Coo.
Check your e-mails, and then your spam, and if it’s not there, levers may still being pulled. That they’ve just done the KS update post (including other details of new and fancy stuff) implies you may be in luck.
As well as the typos from the Discord, RRD decided to do another whole proofing pass on the thing, to tighten it further. I’m told there’s over 2000 tweaks, though the majority of them are standardising phrasing (as in, +1 Defence, Increase Defence By 1, etc). Still – there’s been some meaningful tweaks to make sure certain rules are clear, and some changes where something went awry entirely.
We’ll be sitting on it for a couple of days, then getting it off to the printers.
News broke about Kevin O’Neill’s death this week. This has been a bad year for losing comic titans early, and Kevin is one of my particular heroes. I only met him once, at a dinner of Avatar creators in London. We walked back to Charring Cross afterwards, and he was as charming as the edifices of ornate gleeful horror he produced were berserk.
I love all his periods, but the frenzy of the 1980s stuff was something else. Never forget: Kevin O’Neill’s whole style was considered objectionable by the Comics Code Authority. That requires a real level of heroism. When I heard Fraction hadn’t read any Nemesis at the first SDCC I was at, I bought him the first collected edition, with the note “That this is what Brits were reading when they were 10 instead of Superman explains a lot about us” All his Nemesis and Torquemada work lives in my head, building gothic palaces.
When anyone asked who I’d like to work with on almost any Marvel project, I’d say Kevin O’Neill circa 1983. The specific time-based nature was to make sure that no-one bothered him and actually asked. He did amazing work across his whole career, and spent the last twenty years being Alan Moore’s most ongoing collaborator on the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, as well as Cinema Purgatoria at Avatar. Alan’s facebook page posted this poem
An absolute one off.
JY over at Comic Book Herald walks through Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt as part of Who Watched The Watchmen, and I was genuinely touched by what this did, and how much what we were trying to do landed. Also, reading shortly after Judgment Day ends, made me realise the impulses I was trying to bring to the fore with JD too.
Chad Nevett’s These Guys Aint Dumb reaches the end of Judgment Day (though the Omega’s still to come). It’s been fun to watch him take his own journey on this. I will fully admit of all the event influences on JD, the biggest single one is probably Infinity Gauntlet.
Cannibal Halfling delves into the history of the phrase “Fantasy Heartbreaker” which you’ll recognise as the title of the first DIE arc. It nails that, for a phrase that was often used as a straight insult, the real interesting part is the “heartbreaker.” That empathy is key.
Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files is just an astounding conversation between creator and audience. Just profound, life-affirming, humbling stuff that I can wish was in my life earlier, when I definitely needed it.
Salgood Sam writes about Blockage and the T-rule as they apply to comics. I was unaware of the research he references, which shows that only 9% will go across the page to a tall panel when there’s a panel beneath it, so implying that this often frowned-upon layout is fine actually (especially with correct lettering choices). Which seems good, but I find myself thinking losing nearly 1 in 10 of your readers is a choice isn’t a small thing in any way – which gets me thinking about the nature of all those sort of questions. “How many of your readers are you willing to lose with choice?” is something pretty central to anyone’s style.
Mimi Parker from Low died, and Stevie Chick writes about her A huge loss. Low’s work is an astounding body of work, and that voice was central to it. I was starting a new project, and I was looking for the mood – and it was only when the news arrived that I realised the soundtrack was one word: Low.
I’ve known something’s slightly off with me for a long time. The question’s always been nailing that down more precisely.
That I’ve spent the last two hours not writing this may give you an idea where it’s going. Plus, I’m going to stop now to get a cup of tea before continuing, except when I did that I turned to twitter for a refresh or forty and have resorted to just turning off the Wi-fi to create a slight obstruction to not doing something, as sometimes that works, and gives me enough space for the focus to kick in.
So, yes, I finally got around to getting an ADHD diagnosis.
The “finally” is a load-bearing word in there. As said, it’s been on the list of possibilities forever, and the list of “I will actually see if I can get a diagnosis” since before Covid.
Before that decision, it was something that I chewed over, and then got distracted by other problems and built up mechanisms which allow me to get by. I’ve been lucky enough in life to manage to avoid doing things which bore me, born of knowing if I have to do something which genuinely bores me I’ve seen what happens. As in, nothing happens, unless there’s an external force. I’ve chased my obsessions, which has maintained me. When something stops being an obsession, I get out.
(The ADHD relevant word is “hyperfocus”, which has always been part of me. I’m either all in or not there. This is hard for myself, and everyone around me. It’s also the aspect which, until I discovered it, made me dismiss ADHD as a possibility. Yes, my attention is a clear problem – but I can concentrate on a task indefinitely if I lose myself in it. That my work method is finding ways to lose myself in something before I get distracted never really registered)
The decision was born of meeting a new friend, immediately struck me as having almost exactly my energy. It was so striking it threw me. She told me she was planning to get an ADHD diagnosis, but didn’t want to medicate. She was fine with her working rhythm – procrastinate all day and then write 5000 words in an hour. Let’s just say, that’s familiar too, as evidenced my many things – not least this essay. She just wanted the diagnosis for various reasons, including the support she should have.
That was a new idea for me. I didn’t want to medicate then, and less so now (with my other medical history, not worth the risk of complications). But the idea that there was other things I could be doing, to be better for myself and people around me, was powerful. Plus, on some level, having something which affirmed that this was actually a thing meant a lot. I was tearful on the way home after the lunch. Oh. Yes. That would explain it. I felt simultaneously foolish (for being so late) and relieved (for it being there).
Still, even with his desire, I didn’t get around to doing it until three years later. I didn’t have a deadline. I could string it out for years, and I did.
I did put some extra techniques in place, which have been life-changing . I’ve never been able to concentrate on phone calls, which has led to huge amount of shame. These are people who I care about, and I’m just not there – so that must mean I am a terrible person who doesn’t actually care for them at all. So now I allow myself to wear headphones and do tasks – tidy up, do dishes, go for a walk – and I’m present and able to engage. It feels almost miraculous. Stuff like having a fidget toy to play with on Zoom calls works similarly.
Part of me through this thought this was sufficient. I didn’t really need a diagnosis or not. If this stuff worked, this stuff worked. I was also aware this was a justification, and not the real reason why I was putting it off.
Later, when Iris was coming, that brought sharp focus to it. As said, I don’t do boring. Childcare, from what everyone said, includes a whole lot of basic tedium. Even if I don’t want to medicate, I was aware that if I found myself having problems, I would want to medicate, and having the diagnosis in place was important for that. As it turns out, I’m doing okay – as long as I’m playing music or something, I can keep focus (the constant-music thing is another of my things I see as a coping mechanism now.)
Iris also brought sharp focus over other aspects. If asked, I’d always say it’s not that bad. Like, if I have it, it’s relatively mild on the larger scope of things – and that implies “why should you make a fuss about it by getting a diagnosis?”
However, as C was pregnant, I found myself thinking “I hope that Iris doesn’t have what I have.” And that immediately made me realise that if I was wishing for her not to have it, it’s something which has more significance than I was willing to admit to myself.
There was another reason, bar a lack of deadline and procrastination that I didn’t get around to arranging a test. I was afraid that I’d be told no. I am not good at being told no. I’m not even good at the idea I may be told no, to the point that I mostly don’t ask for things I need, even on the basic level (“Pass the salt”). I suspect this is at the root of some of my worst personal traits – my passive aggression is off the scale. The idea that I’d do all this and be dismissed made me do anything else but arrange it.
I told that to my assessor, and he laughed. Rejection Sensitivity Dyphoria is a classic ADHD trait, as I knew, but he hadn’t heard it as the reason why you put off an assessment.
In the end, the diagnosis was basically exactly what I expected and also what I wanted. Towards the milder end of the scale, but fitting the criteria of a combined ADHD diagnosis. Not a recommendation for medication, but reference for coaching (but open for medication if the situation developed). I’m both glad and embarrassed. It changes nothing, really, while also affirming everything. I mean, it really hasn’t fundamentally changed things. I certainly haven’t responded to the coaching mail yet, because of my brain.
(I’ll say this: I actively have trouble with that kind of phrasing. I dislike how it makes me passive. Squaring existentialism with neurodiversity is a tricky one. As my mass of coping mechanisms show, I like to think of myself as actively engaging with a situation rather than just being acted upon. Your mileage will vary, and I’m aware I’m on a journey here. I definitely get twitchy around talking about ADHD as a single thing, as twitter tends to do even while giving lip service to it being broad. I’m trying to use “My ADHD makes me do this” rather than “ADHD makes me do this”. I think that’s key, because people’s own ADHD will vary, and I don’t want people to think that just because something is part of mine means it’ll be part of theirs.)
The most interesting part of the diagnosis was where he felt it was most impacting my life – which is less on the work side (like, I hit deadlines. My life runs off deadlines, large and small. As said – this is a constructed coping mechanisms. I only got the diagnosis as I had a deadline set) and more on the emotional and relationship side. The relationship side I knew, but the emotional side I didn’t as much. I didn’t really think about how this effects me, which is very me. Admitting that it’s been a source of pain and distress is just hard for me, especially as I know people have it worse. And yes, that last caveat is me still hedging my statements.
I have to apologise to the very many people I’ve talked about this over the years, who’ve gone on their own journeys. I should have updated them… but with my life at the moment, the idea of that number of emotional conversations exhausted me. I write it all out once here, and thank you all. The conversations have been affirming and human, and made me feel less alone.
However, there is some bad news: I have about a decade’s worth of crap ADHD jokes to unleash.
Work? Apart from Tbubz prep (very little), I’ve been working on the Apocalypse Keys KS stretch Goal mystery I said I’d write. I handed in the first full draft, and now it’s being playtested. I’m actually a inplayer in the game, so it’s going to be interesting – I’ve never not been the first person to run an adventure I’ve written, and I’ve also never played in an adventure I’ve written. As ApocKeys as deconstructed missions whose ingredients are rapidly recombined in play, it does mean that I can play and not worry about knowing what’s going on (as that’s simply not in the game). Also, the character I’ve made has a high concept that’s so good I fear I’ll rip it off and use it elsewhere (which is fair enough, as I gutted an old 00s era comics pitch I let die for parts to create bits of the mystery).
I also started work on the next project. I’m trying to work out what to say about it (and also trying to remember what I’ve already said about it). Let’s keep to the basics: it’s an OGN. As such, I’m changing up my working methods entirely. I was worried that as I wrote the basic synopsis at the end of last year, I’d be cold on the story now I’ve finally returned. That I was welling up all over it when I was going through implies that fear is unfounded.
As an OGN, I’m also challenging my working methods. I’ve been taking that synopsis, reworking it, and doing a scene list to work out how long it actually is going to be. I would write in a more exploratory fashion, but there’s budgetary concerns. I can’t make it too long, or the artist starves. However, I’m also taking the advantage of the expanse that I get to explore in a different way – as an iconic, heart-on-sleeve story, I’m writing scenes image first, just to show what happens. This means I’m vaguely planning on having a hyper-rough draft of the whole thing and then as it’s still in a fluid state I can edit and shape, depending how long we want it to be. It’s certainly nice to not worry about the issues – this is a story that would be 4-5 issues in comics, but my natural break down of the acts means that they’re between 13 and nearly thirty pages each. To make it fit into issues, I’d have either compressed or expanded, which is something I’m good at (by which I mean, I’ve had a lot of practise) but is still good to be free of.
(I also wonder whether the lack of the need to re-do exposition is going to save me space?)
Anyway – as I build this larger structure, I’ll be writing ideas for dialogue and monologue in a ghostly form, and assemble it when I can see it all. So far it feels a little more like how I’ve written screenplays than anything else, thanks to that structural focus – but significantly weirder, because it’s comics, and comics will always be weirder.
It really is a exploratory, developing thing. I have a half-suspicion that this may end up as YA, though that the characters keep on swearing in my rough dialogue may suggest otherwise.
Though Monstress has swearing and still gets nominated for the YA Eisners, right? Maybe I can have the swears?