April 12, 2017

023: genre on fire


This week I don't need anyone tweeting at me to remind me if I have books out. I need people tweeting at me to remind people of all the books I have out. N.B. I don't. I know them and I love them as my special magical children who will protect me from wolves in my old age and definitely not leave me to die in a snow-drift.

Stick with it. There's a book review at the end of this, honest.

Party Hard (God Edition)
All Roads Lead To Rome
What Do You Wear On Mercury In The 70s? Solar Flares.
They Named The Wookiee “Aphra?”
Chalk Definitely Not Bored



All good things come to an end, and also an end to utterly heartless awful things like Phonogram.

THE COMPLETE PHONOGRAM collects all the three main Phonogram stories, with Rue Britannia coloured for the first time (by EISNER DESTINED COLOURIST MATT WILSON) and includes the never-collected-before B-sides. It's 504 pages long, and it's almost entirely comics. There was more things we considered including, but if you go over 504 pages, you have to use the tight binding, which means the book can't open flat. For a book as spread-centric as Phonogram, that's simply impossible. As such, this is a all thriller, no filler rush of comics.

As a volume, it's strange to see us so comfortable in ourselves, so oddly confident, so little to prove. Extremely simple layout. The back cover with two quotes – one from Pitchfork (for better or worse, the obvious dominant music critical voice of the period Phonogram existed in) and the other from Alan Moore. Never mind the bollocks, here's the Phonogram.

Phonogram was never going to be big big, but was going to be big for some people. I'm amazed we got to do it, and this ludicrous tome seems to be both a monument and a tomb-stone.

I could thank people forever, but I'll thank one person here who I don't thank enough.

Thanks, Jamie. I owe you everything.

The Complete Phonogram is available both digitally (Comxiology/Image) and from all good comic and book shops. It costs $50, which sounds like a lot of money, until you realise you're buying what passed for my soul.


While I'm now in love with my long-gone collaborator on Phonogram, Jamie McKelvie, I'm still in a knife-fight-to-the-death with my collaborator on The Wicked + the Divine, Jamie McKelvie. Matt and Clayton just stare at us, scared and bemused when the blood starts flying.

Anyway – WicDiv 28 is out. The above cover is by the divine Elsa Charretier, though live enemy McKelvie and lovely Matt did one too. The end of IMPERIAL PHASE Part 1. We didn't do a preview, as we thought it didn't really serve the story. It's a quiet opening, and the issue is about the pAAAAARRRRTTTTTAAEEE. As always, a considerable change in the status quo, and hopefully enough to keep your brains ticking over until the main series returns in July. The collection of Imperial Phase Part 1 drops in June, so those trade folks can catch up there.

You can get 'em from your local comic shop or digitally (either from Comixology or Image)


Before that, we're doing the WicDiv 455 special, which we're pulling together this week. Clayton tweeted this earlier...

After 8 years of lettering, I've finally shouted "Holy FUCK" on the job at the job. Way to go, #WicDiv: 455 A.D.

Which I think counts as a good, suitably profane teaser for this week.

The Specials aren't collected in the next trade (they'll be in their own trade later in the run) so are worth considering in singles even if you're primarily a trade reader. They're also stand alone stories, so a fine thing to play with. Speak to your retailer.


Finally the last issue of Mercury Heat is out.

Sorry for the delay on this – as I understand, there was a series of cascading artist problems, which basically meant that Nahuel had to deal with them before returning to finish Mercury Heat. Which is obviously sub-ideal, but publishing occasionally is just about dealing. Basically, due to Mercury Heat's (er) marginal financial status it was a lower priority that Cinema Purgatorio.

I suspect down the line I may write more about the various reasons I don't think it found an audience, but there is some part of me wonders whether it was just born under a bad star. I've genuinely lost track of the number of artists who drew it at one point. The first two issues were drawn three times, with only the third one reaching you. There's a bizarre string of bad stuff around it. Maybe the fates just hated us?

But that part of me is very silly and needs to eye-rolled at.

Anyway – out now, and I suspect the fact I was watching Silicon Valley a lot when writing it may shine through. While the first arc of Mercury Heat was harder science fiction, the second arc was a little more meta-playful satire and it'll make a nice trade, I suspect, in the action-movie on paper mode.

There's no present plans for more, but you never know. You can get it from your shop or digitally.

By Luiza. Miss you!


Oh – the end of Doctor Aphra 6 too, which is also an action-movie-on-paper structure. I suspect historically speaking, anyone looking at my career will see Luiza from Mercury Heat as a dry run for writing Aphra as a monthly.

This is lots of fun, and I think delineates what the book's about. You'll hopefully hit the end and know exactly who Aphra is, which was always the point of this arc. Now, onwards to the Screaming Citadel.

Available from shops or digitally.


I finished a couple of books this week. Metronome by Lorant Deutsch was a conversational and witty history of Paris, told through its metro stations, but the one which really stuck with me is Chalk by Paul Cornell.

If I can speak in broad strokes about Paul's writing, it's tender, humane and has great faith and optimism in our abilities to better ourselves and build a better future. While there's the skills and empathy of that in Chalk, that's not really its lingering impression.

With Chalk, I mainly remember the times I was reading it with my hand strapped over my mouth in horror.

It's a horror story, but it's horrible before the supernatural leaks in. Its central theme is bullying, and that trauma. That should be read as a warning, if that theme is hard for you. It hits it hard. When it goes for your throat, it hits like Iain Banks. The singular protagonist, its unrelenting nature and even the formal playfulness brings to mind the Wasp Factory, but one where the mysticism coalesces into something that could pass for genre. That undersells the effect. Really, it feels like genre on fire.

Paul's been working on this since the early 90s, until it was right. I think it's right. It feels like major work, and it wouldn't surprise me if it picked up awards this year.

After that, I've moved onto Britain's War Machine by David Edgerton, which probably gives a clue of what I'm writing this week. I'm finding it provocative and challenging so far, and will inevitably end up writing about it in the back matter for Uber at some point.


And now to see if I can squeeeeeeze in some more Uber pages before I go off to celebrate the launch of SPLIT with Katie West. Byeeeeeeeeeee!

Kieron Gillen