Neil Gaiman, that’s who.
So, I’m thinking about Phonogram Series 3 (Working and probably final title: THE WORD “GIRL”). I mean, I’ve known what it’s going to be for ages – hell, even considered making it the second series – but I’m thinking about it in a more “actually, how am I going to do this thing way”. Its main theme is the the nature of identity, specifically divided into the use of Image in pop music (mainly, in pop videos) and alternative the specific issue of feminine idenity (More than a little influenced by the final third of Reynolds/Press’ Sex Revolts).
Despite the fact Emily is the lead, it still needs grounding in the detail though. In the same way I grounded Phonogram 1 with the Ladyfest, I look for events I can use to create detail. So my various trips to the club which THE SINGLES CLUB is kinda-set have lead to various bits and pieces in the comic. That’s the stuff I’m looking for now for series 3, I was considering this week to be a possible setting. It started at a videoshoot – Alex De Campi’s Manda Rin one – and ends with an Amanda Palmer gig. Since Alex has done Amanda’s latest video it kind of ties the two main themes together in a possibly useful way – and I was already to use GIRL ANACHRONISM for one of the dual first chapters’ titles.
(And, no, I’m not going to explain that sentence yet)
Anyway, I’m there and picking up bits and pieces. I enjoyed the gig enormously, but still had a mass of reservations (I think the theatricality managed to alternate between being fun and actually undermining the work, for example). And… well, something happens at the gig which means that I can’t really use it as a straight setting.
It happened before, of course. Debbie Ex-Echobelly was at the Ladyfest gig I used in Rue Britannia, which is detail if I reproduced would seem completely artificial. The truth is too good. Similarly, in the single night I decided I’d take most stuff for The The Singles Club from I bumped into and hit it off with a band member of one of the bands who are used heavily which… well, you can’t use that, y’know? Secondly, the club gets a mass of people in Batman cosplay. If I write that in, no matter how, it’s going to be taken as metacommentary on superhero comics and the industry rather than just realistic detail of what a night in a club that gets off. And the last thing I’d like is to provoke a blog essay discussing why Kid With Knife is trying to cop it off with Poison Ivy. Because she was hot.
(Conversely, the Superman T-shirt in issue 1 of Rue Britannia actually served the opposite effect. It’s one of the things we used to kind of deliberately turn off a chunk of the people who read it – if all they’re used to seeing is comics-as-analysis-of-comics they’re going to close the book, and probably just as well as if they bought it they’d probably hate it. The entire use of the T-shirt was as a non-comic thing – we may as well have used a T-shirt with a Crucifix on. For our purposes – in fact, for 98% of purposes in the real world – Superman’s no more a comic book character than Jesus Christ is a literary one.
Of course, it was a terribly cunty move, but we knew that and thought it probably for the best. It was a comic which you need a certain mindset to get into, and it’d frustrate and annoy people without it. Making that clear as soon as possible was worth doing, at least in Rue Britannia. But, yeah, there’s a joy to being hated by the people you want to hate you. When people accuse us of Elitism, it’s always for the wrong things – the music references, whose entire point – and the point of Rue – is that subjective love is pretty much all that matters. It doesn’t mean we’re not bastards about many other things.
Randomly, we’ve turned 180 with THE SINGLES CLUB which is, I think, a far less oft-alienating book – because it’s trying to say different things. But more on that another time, yeah?)
Anyway – at the gig and who walks on stage but Neil Gaiman. He reads prose. He actually performs a song. He’s actually quite a key part of the evening, and you can’t really set something there without him. But writing Neil Gaiman wandering into the comic is… well, it’s the sort of thing which makes the whole thing come crashing down messily. Bastard!
But, much like Amanda Palmer, after a little thinking, I don’t believe it kills the evening, if I wanted to use it. After all, Emily or (er) the other primary character wouldn’t have any idea of who Neil Gaiman is. Some old guy in a leather jacket wanders on stage? Is he from the Velvet Underground or something? That’ll serve him right for wandering into my Magical Fiction-Writing exercises. Stay out, you git.