I read a book, like a grown ups
If you can’t love yourself
Immortal X-men is back, with issue 12, which is our Colossus point of view. It’s somewhat packed. It’s only when seeing the initial response I’m reminded that “Oh yeah – we do that too.” Colossus is an unusual PoV, because due to his plot over in X-Force, he’s being manipulated by a reality-warper, who tweaks existence by writing. I mentioned this way back in issue 1 of Immortal X-men, so it was always on the table, but bringing it to the fore has been interesting.
The issue’s called “The Idiot” after the Dostoevsky novel and about poor old Piotr tends to be looked at. After writing it, I had significant guilt because it’s a Dostoevsky that I haven’t read. So after handing in the script, I did – the first big literary thing I’ve handled since Iris joined us – and then did some extra specific tweaks at lettering. It was pretty small stuff, because I’ve handled enough of the big D to write the issue, but the tweaks were fun, and it was a joy to read the book. It’s a book of complete hot messes. I also wasn’t expecting a joke about throwing a dog from a moving train.
Anyway – here’s the preview, which includes the first of the big WTFs.
You can’t keep a good woman down, and you can’t keep a bad one down either.
Last time I forgot to mention that the second Immortal X-men trade has been released…
…which collects issue 7-10, which wraps up Judgment Day before cascading into the build up for Sins of Sinister. There’s some of my fave stuff in here – issue 10 is one of my favorite issues I’ve done since I’ve been back at Marvel, for example.
Meanwhile, the Sinister 4 special has its unlettered preview released. You can look at all four pages here, but here’s an example one…
Yes, if it they weren’t bad enough, now the Sinisters are dating.
This picks up of Sins of Sinister’s status quo, and builds from what Gerry does in X-men today. While we’ve seen them both as active players in a load of comics, this is where we dig into their background, their motivations and who they actually are. I want to delineate them as much as possible, and hopefully afterwards folks will really get how (say) Stasis differs fundamentally from Sinister.
For the record, I consider it as an issue of Immortal X-men, and believe it’ll be collected in the third trade .
I found myself thinking about something I wrote for Empire magazine back in 2016 recently, and realised I didn’t think I had put it out anywhere. It was for their feature where they got people who hadn’t seen a movie in Empire’s readers Top 50 to watch it and then write about it.
I hadn’t seen Drive, so chose that. Reading this, I smile a little at the tone I choose. As a compare and contrast to what I do in the newsletter is telling. I’m awful.
I’m not sure if I’d try being an inconspicuous getaway driver if I had Ryan Gosling’s face attached to the front of my own potato shaped head. “Do you remember the driver at all?” “Yes, I do. He had a face like the very sun itself. He made me want to do a film that lingers lovingly on his features for – oooh – about one hour forty.”
I have no idea why I hadn’t seen Drive. I’m pretentious enough to like Refn’s previous Valhalla Rising. Presumably 2011 was one of the years I dedicated to solemn solitary crying and masturbation. I’m a writer. We do that occasionally. In retrospect, I can’t help but link the films – Drive needed Gosling in the same way Valhalla Rising needed Mikkelsen. Both wouldn’t have worked without a face for the lens to fetishise for its length. It’s striking that both films that are so deeply embedded in an examination of masculinity objectify their paragon so much. It’s interesting to compare and contrast that to its treatment of a crime trope as hoary as backstage with the strippers – where the lens showing no interest in all the boobs. This isn’t male gaze. This is a movie that’s predominantly gazing at males.
It’s a deeply old fashioned, traditional form of masculinity. This isn’t even Han Solo. Driver would always let Greedo shoot first, because that’s what real men do. With the greatest of love for you lot, with Empire’s demographics, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that it’s in your Top 50. Running through here is how to square being a good man in this world which often isn’t – the fantasy of hypercompetence with the longing for peace and home. In the film’s most memorable visual tour de force in the kiss/fight elevator scene, the doors shut on the possibility of squaring those two worlds… but with the doomed, mythologising romance.
However, as we head the credits, with College/Electric Youth’s A Real Hero playing out you do pause. This is so glossy, so hyper-stylised, so about the idea of all this, you can’t help but read some irony into it. “A real human being – and a real hero.” I’m unconvinced that there’s a real human being anywhere in here. That the movie manages to fetishise so much about being male here while leaving a question mark may be the most interesting thing of the many interesting things about it.
I’m glad I watched it. I’ll watch it again. I’d recommend to others. I would have probably have ended up writing about it after seeing it even if Empire hadn’t asked me to. That said, there’s an alternate universe where slow-motion hasn’t been invented where Drive is about a half hour long.
DIE continues to reach folks over the world, which is lovely to see. We’ve updated the character sheet resources online, which you can get here. If you haven’t nosed at the game yet, skimming through some of the resources is likely the best way to get a feel for some of it. My suggested way to learn the game is to read the introduction from the book, then skim the Rituals character sheets (which include the core rules), then read the chapter Rituals and then likely the Rules chapter and a proper read of the sheets. After that, you really could play.
Oh – a couple of pieces on DIE. Here’s Eurogamer on what they’ve been playing at the moment. Here’s a rave over on Medium, though very mean to poor old D&D. There’s a number of actual plays coming too, which I’ll gather up and link in here as well.
Aditya reposted their lettering checklist, of what to consider when doing lettering. This is useful stuff to internalise for everyone.
This Scorsese quote is a lot. When I was coming out of games journalism, a question which was working into my standards when talking to older games devs was: You’re in your early 50s. Game dev cycles are about 5 years. You probably have 2 big games left, right? What do you want to do with them?” I also thought a lot that I probably should be doing big, serious career interviews with developers while they’re still here. You never know when someone is going to be Bowie or Prince. Then I gave up, and went to write comics. What am I like, eh?
The big thing was the UK Gaming Expo. As said, it was the first time I’ve spend a night away from Iris, so was a lot personally – but it was also a lot as a con. I’d never done the Expo, because there’s only so many cons one can do in a year, and ones not directly related to the job are going to suffer. But now it is the job! I had a very casual schedule – RRD had me sign for an hour and a half every day, which is basically the equivalent to a light jog for a comics wirter. Apart from a lovely live game of The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen in front of an audience, I generally filled my time seeing friends, meeting new folks, having a very reasonable amount of drinks, sleeping, doing a quick playtest of a new small game I’ve been fiddling with, buying a bunch of stuff, and so on.
Here’s what I brought home with me.
Which is a pretty good portrait of my head. You can see that the part of me which has thought “you know – maybe you’ll like to play a historical miniature wargame. That’ll be nice. Maybe you collect Carthage? Or Sumer? That’d be a nice time” has finally taken control of my wallet.
The Masterclass went well last night. Or at least I think it did. I’ll find out when the feedback form arrives. It also focused my brain on what I don’t include the Masterclass, and what I probably should if I ever expand into a two parter.
The other work has mainly focused around my X stuff, and the tight plotting going forward. Basically, if you take someone like Jon Hickman, and then hand stuff to someone like me, you end up with something that’s so impossibly complicated I’m going to have to work hard to make it as accessible and clean as possible. It may involve my ultimate Data page, which will look like a nervous breakdown on paper, but in a good way. But there’s really good stuff, I think. It’s big and (ironically) human, which is what the Krakoan age has always been about.
As such, the Creator Owned stuff has been a little slower – still in conversation with an artist for the furthest out book, and I need to do some digging into the one that’s nearest soon, but the other artist has just started work on our book, and sent over a screengrab of the first page, which is lovely.
Oh – I said I had something I wanted to float last week. Basically, you may remember why I left Substack – I didn’t think they had been sufficiently transparent about who they were giving grants to. There’s never been any proof that they were giving grants to dodgy folks (any news story which claimed that retracted it), but when the upside was “a free mailing list” I decided it wasn’t really worth parasitising of a Venture Capitalist’s money when I could pay for my own. It’s no skin off my nose.
Buttondown has been great, and the list has grown happily in its usual way, but I found myself looking at my substack account a couple of weeks back and was surprised to find it has a couple of hundred more subscribers than my actual mailing list. In other words, the passive influx of new subscribers from being part of an interconnected platform gained more subs than me actually running a newsletter.
You can see how this changes the math. This list is my main marketing outreach to readers, and so that I’m limiting my reach is actual skin off my nose – especially as I head into doing more Creator Owned work where reach is everything.
So, I’m thinking of merging the mailing lists, and moving back to Substack.
Anyone has strong feelings on this, feel free to reply to this. I’m still chewing it over.
However, as people who follow my Mastodon will know, the main drama has been my keyboard. Last week, it started going wrong. Everything is working… except Caps and a single key. Caps Lock works fine with it, but any Caps and this key doesn’t do anything. We thought perhaps it may be a macro, but the error remains on my PC and my Mac. Eventually, I realise that I’m not going to be able to fix this, and should just get a new keyboard. So I order one.
After it’s shipped, the key starts working again. Arghh.
Then today, it stops working again. Arrgh.
I then decided to slap the keyboard hard, to see what happened.
It’s working again.
I hope our forthcoming AI masters will overlook this act of brutality.