July 26, 2017

034: he should beat me up with his fists


Wednesday's child is full of woe. Wednesday's newsletter is full of typos. Wednesday's writer is full of tea and cornflake cluster bites, oh god, he's meant to be watching what he's eating, but I suppose he is, as he carefully observes the tasty chocolate coated cereal as it approaches his ever-ravenous maw.

In A Solicits Quite, Quite Near In The Future...
X-Ray Spex Reference
Spangly New Things Updates
Con Stuff
The Craft Except With Comics Not Witches Though I Did GM Monsterhearts This Week



News broke last night that I'm taking over from Jason writing the main Star Wars title. Salvador Larroca, is staying on the book, meaning it's the team which did Darth Vader, back together. Which makes me smile, in terms of getting the gang back together again. As well as his frankly uncannily impressive technical and design skills, Salva is one of the rare artists who can work at a more-than-monthly rate, which means that we can have a book which has an artistic consistency across its entire run. When you're working in the novelistic mode, that's always a huge advantage. Basically, Darth Vader went incredibly well, and the aim is to do... oh, here's the quote I gave the press release...

My aim’s simple – to do what Salva and I did with Darth Vader, but for Leia, Luke and Han. As in, chart the rise and fall of the Rebellion between A New Hope and the Empire Strikes Back, how it changes them all and how it changes the universe,” said Gillen. “So a simple aim, but as nightmarishly tricky to pull off as dropping a proton torpedo down a thermal exhaust port. But hopefully as thrilling if we pull it off. I can’t wait till you see it up. First up: the post-apocalyptic hell that remains of Jedha after the Death Star punched a hole through its mantle.”

Which is basically enough right now, and I will cover my face with the repeat of “pull off” in there, which is what happens when you have to hammer out a quote before tea. Comics! We'll have more interviews down the line where we expand, but that's what we're shooting for, given my own close reading of the movies, the canon and the emotional core of it all.

First up is Jedha, exploring the husk of a world left over after the Death Star whacked a huge hole in the side, and probably speaks to our aims. Rogue One and A New Hope, and rubbing them up against each other.

It's also a clean place for anyone who wants to jump aboard. I build on what Jason has done, but this is as accessible a place to join as Darth Vader 1 was for its run.

Covers by David Marquez, who is always an inspiration.

On a similar note, also out today is Doctor Aphra 10. I imagine there's some people wondering what's happening there, but our plans for year 2 continue as before. I was aware I was doing Star Wars before I said yes to the plans for year 2. More of that soon enough too. Cover for 10?

Lovely. Out now.


I actually popped along to the Star Wars Identities exhibit last week, which I justified doing during the work day as it was research. As it totally was. It's very much a family event, but there's lots of fun props to meditate over. Also, I became a cute doomed Mon Calamari musician, which is definitely my kind of thing.

This early concept where they played with Luke being a girl was one particularly striking bit...

Though early Yoda...

...and Chewbacca...

...are a fascinating example of iteration in the design process.


Iteration is on my mind, as we're still in the design process for Spangly New Thing. I finished off an initial draft of the first script on Friday, and after I do some tweaks just now (from feedback from C) I'm going to lob it over to the artist.

It's not for drawing. This is explicitly an example of what the characters are like, what they do, and how they feel. It's mainly so the artist can design the world and characters with an understanding who they are. The script will be pretty similar – the beats are all correct, and it's only one section towards the end I plan to burn down and start again. In that case, it's worth showing, as it's material that will be in the second issue, and displays key physical aspects of the leads which the artist will need to be thinking about.

Never quite done something like this before – the closest would be the Demo Script for Phonogram I wrote back in 2003. That's a one off Phonogram issue which basically consisted of the Beth subplot from Rue Britannia, but done in a single issue. I wrote it to see whether this conceptual mass I had in my head could actually support something that operated as a functional story. It's also the thing I gave Jamie to sell the project to him, and he based his initial thinking and sketches of the characters on.

But Spangly New Thing is a different sort of thing entirely. Like Ludocrats with David, I'm interested in creating explicit places for collaboration in world building right now.

In terms of creator owned updates, Jamie should be lobbing over the pencils for WicDiv 30 any minute now, David will have layouts for the first issue of Ludocrats early next week and I've got the second trade of Mercury Heat's PDF to have a final nose at.

Plus finally I'm into a new area of research I'm loving it, loving it, loving it.

(Tuuuuuunnneeee, etc.)


It feels like I've spent two months in a hole, successfully avoiding SDCC and everything else. However, we now inch towards some public places where humans are and I'll have to remember how to fake human efficiently.

Firstly, London Film & Comic Con at the end of the month. Only there on Sunday 30th, where I'll be on the Death's Head Panel and doing a signing (and maybe some creator feedback). And then I will be at the pub.

Secondly, is Nine Worlds (August 4th-6th). I'm probably there on and off for the whole weekend, but my main day (and one signing) will probably be on Saturday. Nine Worlds is always me in a more relaxed, less public fronting mode. I just like it. For small-press comic creators, assuming anyone's interested, I'm doing something a little unusual. Basically, contact Nine Worlds with the work, and I'd be selecting people to talk 1:1 with over the craft decisions. Not scripts, but finished comics. Basically trying to give as much help as I can in the time, aligned to whatever your aims are.

Thirdly is London Super Comic Con where... I will be doing things? I don't think it's been sorted exactly yet, but I believe I'm only there on Saturday August 26th.

Finally, I'm interviewing Chip Zdarsky at GOSH on October 16th.

So yes.


I was part of a conversation earlier the week, in terms of the relationship of control and dictation between artist and writer in a comic script. The truth is, it varies and all relationships are different. A huge chunk of being a working comic writer is being able to work out how this artist is going to work with you, and negotiating that.

However, there's situations where you're working blind – as in, you don't know who's going to be drawing a given script. That means you're probably going to write heavier than you normally would, just to try to cover for any possibility. The problem with that is while some artists are fine with that, others view any dictation above the story as an infringement on their job. Pissing an artist off before they've even had to draw the first ill-advised crowd-scene is never a good idea, as an unhappy artist generally creates bad work.

Anyway – in those situations (and normally when I work with someone for the first time) I write a caveat about my style at the start of the script. Here's one of the current versions...

Okay – as always, this is tricky to write when I'm not sure who's actually the artist (or even artists). As such, some generalised notes on the perils of my scripts.
I tend to write heavy and even occasionally call panel composition/angles. To stress, I do this not to dictate. I do it to make sure there's at least one solution to any given problem and to give an idea of the emotional effect I'm looking for in the panel. I don't care about the specifics, just the story. Everything serves that. As long as the story is being forwarded, I'm pro all changes. Do reach out and talk if there's anything you want to chew over.
(I generally try to write to the minimum number of panels that I think will work – I especially encourage adding panels if you think it'll sell a moment better. That depends so much on your style.)

That tends to cover it. Occasionally I add a “Okay – I know many writers say something like this, but I want to stress that I actually mean it.” There's a few key things in there, but not least that I'm actually making why I do what I do clear. There are people who write comics who are pure storytellers. They want to write stories. I'm not that. I'm a comic writer. I want to write comics, so that means writing for comics and that means thinking intensely about the visual aspects of the book. I don't mind if the artist doesn't follow it, but I need to do it.

Oddly, I tend to find that it's actually the quieter scenes where you need to call more, just to deal with problems that don't always show until lettering. The opening scene of Spangly New Thing involves a bunch of people sitting in a circle. I've had to arrange the circle in a set way, and then call every shot, because if I don't do that, the speaking order breaks, and we get crossed dialogue tails and a fucking ugly comic.

That said, remember those sort of scenes are also horrible and artists will kill you if you write too many of them. I'm still giving Jamie scripts with black backgrounds to make up for having to do issue 26's horrible Gods Around A Round Table summit. And that was 9 panel grid too. Man, that Jamie. He should beat me up with his fists.

Talking of which, he showed this inked panel from issue 30...

Which is lovely, but also another good reason to whack me on the nose.


Matt Wilson Has Eisner.

And another reason why he has an Eisner. Once of my favourite covers Jamie and him have done. 

Matt's a constant astonishment, and I'm so happy for him. Matt Wilson For Eisner campaign is over. Next up: STATUE FOR MATT WILSON.


Back to Spangly New Thing, I think.

Byeeee, etc.

Kieron Gillen