In the wake of the tragic death of Robin Williams (at time of writing a suspected but unconfirmed suicide, reportedly related to the great man’s depression) I’ve seen a few comments - especially on Facebook - which have caused me to slightly break one of my own rules. To whit: this isn’t a subject I want to talk about much, at least for a decade or two.
But in a lurch of indignation about a particularly ugly word being bandied around, I couldn’t stop myself making a quick point. I chose Twitter to do so - which was either exceedingly silly, since the form doesn’t lend itself well to nuance, or exceedingly fortuitous, since it lends itself so well to brevity. Either way, it makes a sort of sense to put this little trickle of thought all into the same place.
One day I’ll write down some stuff I’ve learned about depression. Not now. But there’s one important thing to remember:
Depression is a disease which quite explicitly inures the sufferer to everything beyond their suffering.
This can look a lot like selfishness, but it’s not. A selfish person CHOOSES to put their needs above all else—
—whereas a depressive can struggle to even *perceive* realities beyond their pain, let alone to prioritise them.
Please remember this when characterising a depressive’s suicide as “selfish”. Don’t inflate tragedy with accusation.
Depression can be defeated, but the biggest battle is always inducing the patience and understanding of those around the sufferer.
The second battle is to lovingly persuade the sufferer to get help. You CANNOT win the second battle without winning the first.
Four years, 1152 pages. CROSSED: WISH YOU WERE HERE ends today.
Almost exactly four years ago I was asked to write a webcomic.
It would take place in a shared universe whose first iteration – created by one of my comicbook heroes and, nowadays, a good friend – was renowned at least as much for its unflinchingly brutal violence as for its convincingly human approach to horror, or indeed its sheer award-winning quality. It had been followed by a couple of spinoff miniseries by other writers – same world, different characters – which plumbed the depths of acceptability and transgression even deeper. It became a familiar refrain at conventions to hear fans praising the franchise as “the sickest thing in comics.”
That that is the primary takeaway so many readers have – the principal point of gratification – has always made me uncomfortable. (Though I concede there’s something abstractly pure about it. Why shouldn’t that be okay?)
I’ve since had long and in-depth conversations with readers and creators alike about the possibility of visceral horror having value, in whatever flimsy way we might choose to define that. Readers spoke about that first series with an almost awestruck sense of dissonance. The writer – Garth Ennis, of course – had not only constructed his story around a conceit which permitted almost infinite levels of gore and depravity, but also plumbed a lot of very deep – but very uncomfortable – human truths. The controlling idea of the series, Crossed, (to treat it with slightly unfair reductionism) is this: “imagine a world where sadism is highly contagious.”
That’s either an excuse to cover pages in red ink or an exquisitely clever staining-agent to make visible a huge amount of evolutionary, cultural and social darkness. Or both.
Crossed is the sort of franchise which will simply never appeal to everyone. I’ve heard Garth speaking about it with his characteristic articulacy when challenged about its extreme nature. He’ll often make the point that if you really think the scenes depicted in Crossed are “sick” then you’re not watching the news, because there’s worse going on in the real world every single day. At its core the substrate of Crossed is, simply “there’s nothing worse than what people do to people.”
On other occasions I’ve seen Garth simply shrug and say, “not everyone has to like it.”
So yeah, four years ago they asked me to write a webcomic set in this world. I was, you’ll appreciate, iffy. I was relatively new to American comics, fighting to divine my own path towards – well… I hadn’t worked out towards what just yet – and receiving conflicting advice about it.
(One early takeaway from this: if someone tries to tell you the only valid route to the top is the one they took, they’re a) wrong, b) self-aggrandizing and c) not at the top).
Undertaking a project that would last at least three years, which (I knew before I’d begun) would instantly turn-off whole sections of the readership before a word was even written, ticked an awful lot of ohshit boxes.
But I’m sure of it: Garth’s series had value. Yes, it also had genuine brutality, sexual violence and even flourishes of his signature black humour. But the verisimilitude with which Garth always endows his characters – for my money – rendered moot any accusation of gratuitousness. It was about them, not their world.
Here, for the first time I could remember, was a comic whose depictions of The Truly Awful were not motivated solely by a desire to shock or offend, nor as some perverse attempt to make – yes – the sickest thing in comics. (Which, to be fair, I think some subsequent Crossed arcs, by other creative teams, have been.)
Garth’s serial taught me that there can be value in using fictional conceits – like the wretched, post-apoclyptic world that Crossed quickly engendered – to highlight the horrificness of those things which exist in our own lives. Things which we should be aware of, afraid of, and diligent about despising. Rape, intimidation, abuse, torture: a million and one forms of sadistic tribal powertrip which bubbles below the surface of our collective DNA.
Like he said: switch on the news.
In the end I said okay for those reasons alone. It felt like a make-or-break challenge. And since I could distil-down my aims in a fairly simple way – find some value in speculative violent horror – a series of trickledown decisions were basically made without thought.
For instance, I could only treat this abhorrent reality with any sense of truth (which, I hope, is another shield against gratuitousness) by imagining how it would feel to exist within it. I took that conclusion quite literally, and at the start of the story the central character is – unapologetically and manifestly – a version of myself. He’s sitting in a coffee-shop and writing comics when the world changes so radically. The same coffee-shop, in fact, where I was sitting to write that scene.
Other solutions automatically arose – or were at least suggested – by the form and function of the piece. It was to run for 2 years in 6-page chunks, for instance, free online, so I knew I’d struggle to maintain the readers’ interest without some form of episodic, elegiac conceit. Hence: a diary. Another window onto truth (or at least one version of it).
Equally, those moments of grotesque brutality in Garth’s serial – which he carefully deployed just once near the start, then with diminishing regularity and viscerality throughout the remainder – would have to be differently organised in a longform series. I decided I’d start with a spectacle both transgressive and perversely funny, to seize attention and broadcast the intent: here is a story where the way you respond is as important as what you see. That’s why there’s a man doing something unpleasant to a dolphin on Page 2.
But then acts of violence would need to be strung out with great care afterwards. A rare reminder, now and then, of how vicious this world could be. And the rest of the time? Tension. Suspense. The ticking clock on the mantel. Things which, I think, have come to typify the resultant series, and which I find far more interesting than those awful – necessary – reminders of chaotic violence.
Lastly, I wanted to write about a society. About ambition and usefulness, and what it feels like to be someone supposedly “creative” when there’s nobody left to validate you. I wanted to be cruel to this useless, lucky, venal little cipher of myself who I’d let loose into the story (and who, after all, brought it all on himself by agreeing to write the gig in the first place. Wheels within meta-wheels). It fit with the languid pace and the Lord of the Flies mentality to make the whole thing about community – a doomed group of survivors trying to get by; pretending to have hope. An island in a sea of horror. Hence: literally.
An island off the coast of Scotland because – a pub conversation staple – where would you go in a zombie apocalypse?
There. That’s where I’d go.
So I did.
And four years later Crossed: Wish You Were Here ends today. 1152 pages. It’s been online – for free – the whole time, and will stay there after it’s done. It’s gone in some fairly extraordinary directions, though it’s ended how it was always meant to and the only way it could. I like to think the central character has grown less and less like me as time has passed (or at least, as we’ve found out more about him). In the end his scheming transgressions – in my opinion – far outweigh the simpler, redder, more childlike deviancy of the bogeymen inhabiting his world, and I like to think that in these closing chapters his revelations and reactions about all that have dialled-up whatever value (that difficult word again) the series has held. In the penultimate episode (no spoilers) something happened to him which I’ve planned – in exactly this form – since the beginning. It seems like a little thing, perhaps, when surrounded by such big moments of violence and drama, but it’s also the most exquisitely apposite beat I could apply to the end of his story. The punishment fits the crime, as they say.
I’m proud of the work, at the end of it all. Complicatedly so. As predicted there are plenty of readers for whom that ineffable “value” will never outweigh the grotesquery and discomfort of the journey. Many can’t get past the first few episodes, some of my loved ones among them (mercifully, I sometimes think). Accusations of gratuitousness have arisen. I like to think I can articulate my counterargument in every case, though I’ve aborted more attempts to do so than I’ve published. “Not everyone has to like it” - thanks Garth. And yes, there are still those who’ll slap me on the back and proudly accuse me, at conventions, of writing the sickest thing in comics. I’ve become better at just saying thanks.
But there have also been awards. And letters. And long conversations. And reluctant advocates. And people who say I normally hate horror, but—
“But.” That’s always good.
I’m proud of the work, but.
I’m ashamed of the work, but.
It has value, but.
In the end it’s a story. It is what it is. I don’t get to editorialise or re-contextualise once it’s done. I wish I hadn’t opened with dolphin-violation. I wish I’d foreshadowed some things a bit better. I wish I’d been more stringent about avoiding anything with a whiff of titillation. I wish I’d researched the phonetics Scottish language sooner.
I wish I could keep writing it. I’m glad it’s done.
Humble Bundle, Six-Gun Gorilla, God Is Dead And ALL THE THINGS.
Quite a lot of Big Comicky stuff happening in the Spursphere today. There’s one thing in particular I want to say something about – the Last Ever Episode of Crossed: Wish You Were Here – so I’ll probably do that in a separate post in a moment. Let’s rattle through the other bits and pieces first:
1. The splendid (human) people at Boom! Studios have conspired with Delightful-Phenomenon-Enablers “Humble Bundle” to create the Humble Boom Bundle.
In which you basically get to choose how much money you want to pay for… well… a massive crapload of really really really good comics. And then half of the money you spend goes to a worthy charity (in this case the CBLDF).
I’d be shouting about this even if I weren’t personally involved. The entire run of (*cough* Harvey Award Nominated) Six-Gun Gorilla is included in the bundle. Go. Go go go go go!
2. This week also saw the release of “God Is Dead: Book Of Acts Alpha”. There are two ways of describing this. The first way – the long way – is that Jonathan Hickman wrote a fantastic six-part miniseries a few years ago about a world in which all the old, forgotten, no-longer-worshipped deities suddenly came back to Earth. Mike Costa then continued the series in a hugely successfully way. And now the publisher, Avatar, has invited a bunch of other writers – m’self included – to tell creator-owned oneshots of our own.
Abstractly these are set in the same world, but really the only connective tissue you need to know about is “the gods have come back.” Our stories, which cover as wide a breadth of genre as you’d expect from such a wide-open starting point, are collected in two volumes: Alpha (out this week) and Omega (out next month).
The second, shorter way of explaining this is that Alan-Actual-Moore wrote a short story about his famed Personal Snake-God Glycon in the same collection, and I’m a bit squeexhausted from seeing my name next to his. I wrote about this a while back right here.
Jeez. That book. That weird, metafictional, supremely personal, absurdly titled little book about a heartbroken librarian and an ape with a gun. It just keeps on going.
We heard this week that - in one form or another - Six-Gun Gorilla pops up three times in the final ballot of the Harveys: the awards nominated and selected solely by professionals working in the comics industry. Notably:
1. Best New Series
2. Best Artist
3. Best newcomer
I’m not going to ask you to go vote for us (for Jeff, really) because that’s not remotely cool, but I am going to make a big song and dance about how abso-fucking-lutely delighted we are that our genre-busting headsploding weird-western efforts have gone down so well. It means more than you’ll ever know.
And, yes, obviously, I’m going to drop you a link to the final ballot - RIGHT HERE - with a request that if you’re an industry pro, or know of any who haven’t yet registered their ballot, do please make sure opinions are appropriately and earnestly directed.
It has been observed – chiefly by my wife – that the Booker List was notable this year for not having me on it.
I write books in which otherwise-sensible people do things like save the world from ontological armageddon, or put on surplus combat gear in the name of fatherhood and try to make a difference to a tiny community under the shitheel of the geopolitical boot, so I have to acknowledge (when I am not moodily stalking the dim and dusty corridors of Harkaway Towers dressed in my underwear and the top half of a Godzilla suit, stamping on origami models of the judges made from pages of Anna Karenina) that I may not be dead in the centre of the Booker’s institutional target area.
However, dear reader: here is your opportunity to redress this wrong…
It’s US PUBLICATION DAY!
And what better way to celebrate, if you’ve already read the book or if you’re reading and loving it now, than to vote for Tigerman at Not The Booker 2014!
Reading Tigerman right now, actually. A wonderful love-letter to doomed Edens all over the world. It is entirely as splendid as you’d expect, and not just because it namechecks a bunch of your favourite comics writers. Also me.
So I just bought and read in one sitting the 4th trade for X-Men: Legacy. I haven't had a mainstream comic tug on my heart strings as well as this series did in a long time. Just wanted you to know that you're amazing and this story you told was amazing. Any hope of you writing an ongoing for Blindfold now?
Thank you! Means a great deal.
No plans for Blindfold, no. Maybe some day, but… well. It’s that fundamental thing about stories, you know? The story I wanted to tell ended, and for those reasons it’s immortal, immutable, resonant. If by chance I felt the need to tell a second story, which happened to include some of the same characters, then: fine. But there’d be no point finding a contrivance just to allow me to keep revisiting characters whose role in a tale has ended. I’d rather let them enjoy their endings for a change.
"Out of curiosity, was Fantomex kissing Nemesis commentary on his sexual preference or an outburst of happiness due to the fact that his expertise was recognized?"
The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, of course. Though in this case: more the latter than the former.
I’m not about to make any grand proclamations about characters’ sexuality on tumblr, but - hell - we all know Fanto. I don’t imagine “nature of junk” is the first criteria that goes through his mind when making sexytime decisions. That’s not an official position, and if I were intending to make something of it I certainly wouldn’t be saying so here, but still.
Is X-Force the other X-book X-Factor is crossing over with later this year? Cuz i would cum buckets if you and David teamed up!!!!
Wait, so… You’d actually come buckets? Like, actual plastic pails would, what, spurt forth from your grossly distended, probably somewhat torn, definitely traumatised glans like a 17-pound cannon on the deck of a warship blasting out cylindrical rounds, probably while shrieking in horror for a doctor? Because that sounds, y’know, terrible. Why would you WANT that? You’re weird.
Hi, just wanted to let you know that I'm really enjoying your run on X-force. Issue six was really amazing and a great pay-off. In particular, I'm really enjoying how distinct each character's voice is, and the way you're writing a really interesting plot that's very character driven. I'm also very happy about the focus given to the father-daughter relationship between Cable and Hope, one of my favourite comic relationships of all time. Thank you, I look forward to reading what happens next.
Aaaand thank you! Lots of juicy stuff on the way, and Pete Wisdom doing British swears.
I really enjoy your writing, especially Wish You Were Here. I was very excited when I heard you were writing X-Force since it includes some of my favorite Marvel characters. Thank you for writing this series and #6 was a gift. Fantomex and Nemesis? Never thought of it before, but that was very cute.
Well thank you! And - with apologies for What You’re About To Receive - remember that the Wish You Were Here webcomic begins its final four episodes this Thursday. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, etc.
Hi! I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the latest X-Force (Nemesis and Fantomex were perfect <3), and thank you so much for your work! I hope you have a great day!
Thank you! It’s taken me so long to get round to answering this I can’t actually remember whether I had a great day that day or not. I tend to err on the side of caution, so: no. No, it was awful. A really really really shitty day. But I appreciate your sentiment, and - IF I’d known about it at the time, in the depths of that shitty, dreadful, dreary, muddy, dog’s-arsehole of a day - I’m sure it would have been just a little bit more bearable.
I loved Legacy. unabashedly. I started reading it because I thought the cover art was amazing (issue 06) and that was it; I hunted every issue down and I'm pretty sure it was one of the main reasons I got into comix. thank you for that and thank you for your amazing work.
Aw, that means so much you have no idea - thanks so much. If you’re looking for more material I’d suggest you check out Six Gun Gorilla. It sounds like a ridiculous sort of book, I know, but it’s actually an extremely personal story which sits - thematically - as a companion piece to Legacy. Also: gorilla.
(The covers are indeed incredible. Mike Del Mundo’s up for a very well deserved Eisner award because of ‘em.)
Great fan of your new X-Force here! I love how you've reinterpreted every character on the team. I have one question: why doesn't Psylocke have TK in every X-Force book we've had up to now while she has in other books? Do you guys prefer TP since it's more suitable to her killer status while she's on the team? Or is just because you don't like TK?
I wouldn’t say she doesn’t have TK when I write her, per se - just that I haven’t written many scenes in which she uses it. (There are a few traces of it, like when she knocks out all her team mates in episode 3 even though some of them are TP-proof — presumably she just tightened their airways or massaged their brains or whatever: she’s a resourceful lass).
I guess, intuitively, TP feels like the more useful fit to her role in the team. It’s mysterious, intangible, infiltrative, manipulative, and all sorts of other spindly and creepy adjectives which work quite nicely to describe Betsy herself. I think I just naturally lean towards her using her powers in the most elegant and least crude way possible.
But hey, I mean, it’s super-easy to get ssssooOoo hung-up on the specifics of how a character’s power-set works, when we’re all obligated to accept that if you look too closely at any of this stuff the whole house of cards tumbles down. (Domino’s powers are really, really, really problematic in the wrong hands, for instance.) They serve the story, or the characterisation, or the theme - never an official rulebook. Ultimately the contract between reader and writer requires all of us to share a sense of cheerful verisimilitude and not poke too hard.
Having said all that, we’ll see a few rather brash displays of Ms. Braddock’s telekinetic skills in the not-too-distant future, oh yes.
Hi Si! Your X-Force run has been amaaaazing so far. AMAZING. And emotional. My question is; how many issues will you have Molina for? Rock He-Kim's art is beautiful in its own right but Molina's style REALLY fit and rocked my socks! Moar Moar Moar!
I AM SLOW-ANSWER-MAN, HEAR ME SLITHER.
As you now know: Jorge was with us for three episodes, then back to the delightful Rock-He. Not quite sure about the breakdowns moving forwards (I know I’ve got a very very cool guest artist coming-up for a one-parter, who’s squee-bait for longer-term readers of my work) but Jorge’s undeniably magnificent. Hope I get to do more with him.
Hi. Thanks for answering my question re: muses/inspiration over at X-Position, and doubly so for taking the time to fit a more standard reply to that sort of thing along in with the lengthier answer. I wouldn't have been bummed if you hadn't, though. It just seemed the easiest jumping off point to get you talking about your creative process, and you certainly didn't disappoint there either. Best.
I know you can't give too much away but I wanted to ask about Domino making her appearance in X-Force soon. The last time she and Psylocke were on the same time we saw a lot of friction between the two and I was wondering if we should expect that to continue? They can both be headstrong and their clashing seemed very natural to me. Plus, it seems to be that Betsy can't really get along with any teammate that isn't Cable. Which I kind of love, to be honest.
Heh, this is a wait-and-see type thing, I’m afraid. As you may now know, Domino’s first appearance wasn’t exactly in the predictable bloody NEW! MEMBER! OF! THE! TEAM! mould. Not saying that’s not on the cards - might be, might not be - but I’m not giving owt away just now.
Betsy’s… well, Betsy’s complicated, isn’t she? She’s weirdly like an actual real normal human in that respect, just with added swords ‘n stuff. My guess - and when I say “my guess” it’s polite code for “THIS IS HOW I’VE WRITTEN IT AND I’M THE WRITER SO I GET TO SAY WHAT’S RIGHT HAHAHAHA EAT MY AUTHORITY” - my guess is that she’s actually very very good at being diplomatic and friendly and interested in other people. It’s just that she’s ridiculously good at judging what other people are like, and can’t be arsed to be friendly when it’s not worth it.
Note, by the way, that just because she doesn’t get along with someone doesn’t mean she doesn’t like them. As discussed elsewhere, she’s a wonderfully compelling bundle of contradictions. She’s weirdly like an actual real etc etc etc etc in that respect too.
Please pitch a story for Blink and bring her to X-Force. When that movie comes out people are gonna want her. Im loving your run so far on X-force.Obviously you have a lot going on already any chance of Psylocke interaction with Meggan and Brian? Also will this team be affected by Logan's death? Will it be felt in the title? Please have Sage cameo. I know DK dislikes her but just a cameo :)
So! Many! Things!
Blink: would love to, but can’t/shan’t. For real actual reasons, which I can’t remember right now. Because whisky. But it was discussed.
Meggan: stay tuned! Eps 8 and 9 were written solely and uniquely for you. Nobody else gets to read ‘em. IT’S A LAW.
Sage - again, I thought about it, but just didn’t quite sit right with my plans. Maybe someday down the line, but not right now.
Señor Simón, dos preguntas: Is X-Force always gonna be illustrated by art wizards that do all the inking and colouring themselves as it seams to be the case so far? Is this some sort of plan of yours that Marvel bigfish couldn' opposed to because they can't afford to lose your sinister talent? Segunda pregunta: Is Hope gonna appear in the book? Not a fan, but she isn' in any book right now, and around Cable sounds like the only place (in Universe) she could be.
Heh, lo siento - I’ve taken so long so answer this that I think both your questions have been answered already. Jorge had some colouring-help with Ep 6, if I remember correctly, and Hope - as we now know (though Cable does not) - has secretly been an active member of the team from the getgo. I AM SPURRIER HEAR ME TWIST.
What are your thoughts on Multiple Man; have you ever considered writing him? The combination of your talent and Madrox's concept could give birth to something beautifully radical.
Yeah, considered it. I think one of my very earliest iterations of the X-Force team used Madrox. Can’t remember why we didn’t go that way, in the end - I think I had too many characters with too much story, something had to give… that or he was already bagsied by someone else; that happens a whole lot. Can’t remember.
But, yeah, love love love that character, and in particular love the potential stories you could use him for.
No plans right now, sadly, but would definitely love to swing round to him sometime.
Hey Si loved what you and Jorge did with Eva in issue 4. This is by far my favorite version of her. Also since you seem to be switching perspectives from issue to issue will we ever get one from Nemesis's POV?
Oooh, good question. Honest answer: I don’t know. I think I’d have a ball writing a Nemcentric episode, but I suspect it would be functionally unreadable, or at the very least profoundly wearying. Like, my approach with Nemesis is that he laughs in the face of brevity and reader-friendliness. He scoffs haughtily at speech balloons with 24 or fewer words, and thinks panels with three or fewer balloons/captions aren’t trying hard enough. He’s not happy unless he’s used at least three words in every sentence which nobody else in the room understands except him.
Actually, what am I saying, this would be gold.
No, no, seriously. My beloved Nemesis only works because we are manifestly not in his head. It’s tough to advance a plot or maintain a pacey adventure when 99% of your story is about your narrator picking holes in the other 1% and occasionally shouting SCIENCE. (The starfish thing in X-Club worked precisely because his internal monologue was so unexpectedly human, but that wouldn’t work for long periods, and it wouldn’t fit with a narrative voice.)
Basically: the Cleverest Guy In The Room only gets to be the Cleverest Guy In The Room because you don’t know what he’s thinking.*
*This is a very important thing to know on your journey through life, and explains why a lot of very stupid people think that they can masquerade as The Cleverest Guy In The Room by wearing a perpetually smartassed smile and answering every comment with a laconic fucking question like: “Really? Are you… sure?”
Hello Mr. Spurrier, I am working on a paper on the craft of writing in which I need testimonial quotes by writers about writing and I was wondering if you'd be willing to answer some questions for me? 1. Why do you write? Why did you decide to become a writer? 2. Who do you write for? 3. Do you have any habits when you write? Rituals, words per session, locations? 4. How would/do you address fear of writing? 5. How do you approach the first and last sentences? 6. How does writing make you feel?
1. BECAUSE I CAN’T STOP AND IT’S THE ONLY THING I’M GOOD AT FOR INSTANCE RIGHT NOW I’M SUPPOSED TO BE ANSWERING THE OTHER FIVE QUESTIONS BUT OH GOD OH GOD I JUST CAN’T STOP I’M STUCK I HAVEN’T EVEN USED ANY PUNCTUATION YET EXCEPT FOR A FEW BLOODY APOSTROPHES AND FFFFUCK MY KEYBOARD’S STUCK ON CAPSLOCK I ONLY JUST NOTICED I NEED TO type slower there that’s better anyway what were we talking about?
Question 2 is googleable. Question 3’s kinda needy. Makes me want whisky. 4, hm, I address the fear of writing “Mister Fear Of Writing”, because I feel the honorific takes the sting out of the inevitable fisticuffs.
Ooh, I like question 5. The answer is: walking in a straight line, maintaining eye contact, and making no sudden movements.
6. Writing makes me feel: IMPATIENT AT STEALTH AMBUSH IDENTIKIT MAILMERGE RESEARCH INTERVIEWS.
Hello Mr. Spurrier, hope you are having a good day. Question, given that i only own your books digitally, and im looking to buy the trades for Six Gun Gorilla and Legacy, do you know if theres a way where i could get any of those signed by you? Or buy them already signed by you? Id really like that, since actually getting you to sign them in a con is pretty much impossible, living in Ecuador and such.
Oof, tricky one. Might be worth you getting in touch with Forbidden Planet in the UK - I’ve signed a bunch of copies of stuff for them; they might do a mail-order thing? I’ll also be at NYCC, so if you know anyone going to that get ‘em to bring some signables along.
Other than that the only sensible, plausible and cheap option I can think of would be to buy me a first-class return ticket to Ecuador, and a fully-paid reservation in a five-star hotel (fourteen nights, I’m not greedy), and I’ll happily sign all the books you like.
Well. Ten books maximum, let’s say. But still.
What do you think? Shall I start packing my mankini suits? I HAVE SEVEN.
So, X-Force is my favorite current X-Book and I know it'll just get better with time. I wondered if you had any plans for (or even if you had ever heard of) Fahd Alireza aka Djinn ? He's a Saudi magically powered assassin formerly associated with the Hand with a tragic past and a connection to Psylocke. He also only appeared once :( Do you think he's the kind of character you'd have an interest in ?? I'm sure he is ;););)
Thanks for the kind words. No plans to use Djinn, alas, but I’m always a big geek for the under-used characters, and “magically powered assassin” is basically all the food groups. SO I COMMEND THY CHARACTER-FU.
You made E.V.A look like a mechanic in fanto-X head... What gave u that idea. Omg I adore Mechanic looking E.V.A
MECHANIC LOOKING EVA IS SPLENDID, yes. Why make her look like that…? Dunno. Just… felt right. I mean, she’s kind of Fantomex’s version of that super-annoying little paperclip prick Microsoft used to use to screw up your day, so that was one option. The other was to make her literally the Anti-Fanto, that is: rational, all-american, shabby, cute, well-adjusted. Throw in the whole “diagnostic/repair” tool bit and this was the obvious result. I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing Mechanic Looking EVA again, before too long.
MANY COMICS TASTIES. Today's offerings from the Spursphere.
TRADE PAPERBACK of SIX-GUN GORILLA:
About which, lots of information, reviews and celebrity praisings right HERE.
Next! TRADE PAPERBACK and HARDBACK of DISENCHANTED:
DISENCHANTED(Avatar Press) is a fairytale unlike any other. It runs as a free weekly webcomic at www.disenchanted.com – there are new pages every Monday, check it out – but trust me when I say this melting-pot of family interactions, folkloric magic and twisty crime reads at its best in the longform of this beautifully put-together OGN.
The blurb goes like this:
Once they were the mainstay of folklore: goblins, leprechauns, pixies and fey. But now? Dispossessed, forgotten, doubting even their own traditions, they’ve trickled into Vermintown: a vast and vile city of a million inch-tall malcontents. Sprawling through an abandoned subway station deep beneath London, here myth has given way to sleaze, drugs, gangland violence and interracial hatred. Vermintown is where magic went to die.
You’ll find more on Disenchanted, including some mind-breakingly beautiful world-expanding resources (maps, wikis, etc) right here:
Aaaaaand finally X-FORCE #6. Which concludes the first arc of my run on this series. And is kind of a big deal. (More about this a little later.)
X-Force #6 Writer: Simon Spurrier Art & Cover by: Jorge Molina • The explosive conclusion of the first arc of X-FORCE! • The unthinkable has occurred! One of the team is dead and the others are held captive by their newest foe: the swaggering oligarch VOLGA. • Struggling to save their own lives, X-Force’s secrets come to light as they use everything in their arsenal to survive. • But when the dust settles, will these revealed truths ultimately tear them apart?
Related: I’ve spent some considerable time in serious discussion with peers, all in the name of science, about the Ultimate Conversational Weapon. This would be a word, phrase or action which is the single best solution for stopping an argument in its tracks. It can’t be anything too clever or specific, partly because we’re after something truly universal, mostly because ripostes will only ever propagate a dispute. It can’t be anything personal or directly insulting, because that shifts the nature of the disagreement from The Thing to simply Two People Trading Insults And Possibly Fists. Sure, maybe it’s too late to prevent violence anyway, maybe it’s not, but we definitely don’t want to encourage it and we definitely don’t want people to think we deserve it. So no “your mum” jokes.
After much debate, we arrived at something of a disappointing conclusion. The Ultimate Conversational Weapon, far from being some exotic verbal stinger, is a thickset stalwart of the swear world. A bruiser, a slugger, a phrase which has survived the test of time not by being the most lithe or supple of terms, but by outlasting and out-simpling the rest. It’s this:
The long “fffffff” is important. Use those “ffff”s to almost but not quite empty your lungs, so the UCKOFF is delivered in a gassy rasp of loathing. You may now consider your conversation or argument medically dead. What happens next is up in the air.
I talk about swearing, religion and technology. HERE.
The argument about the relative merits of literary and genre fiction just keeps running and running. There’ll be periods of decorous silence, and then it will break out again, usually in the form of some egregious statement in a broadsheet or magazin…
Bless Mike for doing this, as anyone arguing this to me just gets the eye-roll.
Yeah, this is a thoroughly excellent article about something which shouldn’t - but really really does - need to be said.
Mike’s absolutely right about the fatuousness of there being any culturally-held associations of “important vs unimportant”, or even “better vs worse”, when it comes to Genre Fiction vs. Literary Fiction. For me the even bigger insanity is that these distinction exist in the first place.
FWIW, my “If I Controlled The World” approach to this would be to encourage (force) all readers, writers, listeners, viewers and makers to closely examine and - as a perfectly predictable outcome - to utterly fucking annihilate any spurious belief that “genre” as a taxonomical tool is or has ever been fit for purpose. For god’s sake, different genre labels describe totally different things: some a setting, some a narrative formula, some a recurring trope, some a time-period. How is that in any way a useful system for organising stories? Why do we fucking need to organise stories? And yet we cleave to all this schizophrenic reductionist wank as if it somehow improves the experience of being a consumer or creator.
The concept of genre is a tool for those who wish to administrate, and usually to monetise, and often to ghettoise, “types” of art, along lines of their own choosing. Lines which are often so fabulously arbitrary as to be hilarious.
My utopian view is that either everything is “genre fiction” or nothing is - probably the latter - and if it turns out we as humans do desperately need to divide art along descriptive lines (though I’ve no fucking idea why we would) we can certainly come up with better than, say, “science fiction”, “fantasy”, “crime”, “period drama”, “romance”, “horror”, “thriller”. Show me a single person’s life which doesn’t touch upon all those things at one time or another and I’ll show you a liar. The fact that the Enablers Of Choice have generated this ludicrous get-out term - “Literary Fiction” - to essentially describe anything they don’t want to be reductive about,even when it manifestly accords with their own terms of what it means to be a “sci-fi”, or a “Western”, or a “thriller”, or a “romance”, or what-the-piss-ever, or more commonly a combination of them all, should tell you everything you need to know about the ingenuousness of Genre. Kill it. Kill it with fire and words.
If you’re reading a book whose totality of uniqueness, gratification and quality can be entirely summed-up by a single word, well… a) you’re wrong, there’s no such thing, but let’s pretend, b) throw it away now.
Make and read fiction for its species, folks, not for its fucking genus.