Half way through the first arc and we basically go all NONE MORE GOTH.
We didn’t release a lettered preview of this issue as we decided it got spoilery too quickly, and wanted to have everyone experience it in a single unit. That we get to decide this sort of thing does make me smile.
Hope you find it interesting.
Oh – also out today is the second and final volume of the JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY complete collection. If you haven’t read it, or if you fancy it in a fine and beautiful volume, it’s well worth picking the both of them up. I suspect overall it’s my strongest work for Marvel, and was written to be read as a single story.
THE PEOPLE INSIDE
By Ray Fawkes
It’s been an hour since I’ve finished this. I want to get something down. I’m not together enough to do a serious critical piece. I’m not even sure I can write a review.
So I’ll write a recommendation.
This killed me. I actually verbalised a “No” at a plot turn, in a direct and uncontrollable way. And then I did it again. I’m sitting there, saying NO at the book, in a mute protestation of this is not how I want life to be. I simultaneously recognise its truth. Truths. The plural matters.
THE PEOPLE INSIDE is Ray Fawkes’ spiritual sequel to his ONE SOUL. ONE SOUL followed 24 stories, simultaneously, each set across all human history, each story getting a single panel in the double-page spread grid. That’s pretty fancy.
THE PEOPLE INSIDE takes a lot of the formal brilliance of ONE SOUL and adds more heart, pain and more things to say about humanity, specifically the parts related to love, sex and death. Oh – and more formal brilliance. For a moment, you think he’s repeating the structure of ONE SOUL, but you rapidly realise he’s actually building on it. I finished ONE SOUL enormously impressed at the virtuosity of it and amazed that Ray had pulled it off. I finished THE PEOPLE INSIDE genuinely wondering “How!?!?”
Once again, this follows twenty-four characters, but they’re all working in the same time period. We see them fall in love, fall out of love, fall apart, fall together. With a cast so large, we juxtapose these stories and people to create the complex ironies that speaking about life in any meaningful way demands. Yes, this is true, but this is also true and this is also true and all this is true and we’re all stuck in the grid – and grids always look like cages to me – and WTF is it all about anyway?
It’s about love, sex and death.
The enormous cast allows that multiplicity. There is no normality here, but life in its many ways of being, all – thanks to the democracy of the grid – being treated with equal prominence. Gay or straight, sadists or saints, a myriad ways of loving (and failing to love) are explored. Each double-page spread implicitly says all these are the same, a fractured prism of life being lived (or not).
For being a more complicated book than ONE SOUL, it’s also a more accessible one. It breaks you in gently, starting the cast all in couples, all these kisses (or not) lined up. You get to know them, and see how they link together. When we’re familiar, the complexity grows, and the whole cast marches off together towards oblivion.
It does a lot of things. It unpicks the concept of happy endings, while not falling into straight nihilism. It shows joy with nuclear intensity, and undercuts it with loss. It shows life as complex, recognises its fundamental, final sadness, and then still basically gives it a positive review on amazon. Characters destroy one another without realising. Characters destroy each other with realising. All love is transformative here, and all loss of love equally an event of self-annihilation (“Hell is other people”). Characters become someone else, even when they seem exactly the same to the world around them. We touch each other even when we don’t mean to. We’re not alone even when are.
It’s a masterpiece of the form and form. You would want it for that alone, but I think with this one Ray has nailed something much bigger than that. I want to spend the whole day pulling out individual panels and posting them, knowing that doing so would be utterly deceptive. Yes, it’s a book of chosen moments, but it’s a book of juxtaposition between all those moments, a book of limitations and a book of change. You owe it to yourself to read it. If you’ve read a better comic this year, I want your reading list. For me, I can’t think of a comic that has me in the gut as hard since… I KILL GIANTS, maybe? It feels a strange comparison, because for all THE PEOPLE’S INSIDE’s emotional content, it’s not that big sad pop song of a book. This is post-punk, arty, complicated. It’s great. I’m bitterly jealous. I’m impossibly excited. The world is an amazing place. The world is doomed. It’s amazing. I love you all.
This was so good that I’ve only just realised I’ve forgotten to feed my cat.
Late in doing this, but been a hell of a week. It’s been a “not replying to people trying to give me free money” kind of week. However, if you’re passing comic shops…
I contributed a story to the GOD IS DEAD comics. It’s a short story – 11 pages, I believe – about ALASTOR: HELL’S EXECUTIONER, who’s a character I’ve had kicking around for a while who I wanted to take out for a spin. In short: utterly horrible James Bond in hell, who is about as sex positive as he is murder positive. It’s very silly, and very NSFW.
If you want some more, including some (NSFW!) preview art, have a nose down the Alastor tag on my tumblr.
My story is a stand alone which doesn’t even really rest in anything other than GOD IS DEAD’s high concept.
Two books out this week. Firstly…
Where I say goodbye to Iron Man. It’s been a fascinating exercise in co-writing this one, and Mark and I have wrestled with it at least as much as Tony and Bruce have. The last one… well, as far as goodbyes go, I quite like this one. Of all my Marvel work, it reminds me most of the second issue of AvX Consequences. See what you think.
Wherein we see the effect of the Blitzmensch on the shape of the war. Naval Warfare, more Battleship candidates and lots more. Daniel does some wonderful things with the shippping.
I’ll be at the Nine Worlds con this weekend, where I’ll be being aggressively myself for 72 hours straight. Stay clear.
If you decide to disobey that clear guideline, you can find me at any of these. And the bar, obv.
I’m hoping I haven’t forgotten anything. That is very unlikely to happen, obv.
With some trepidation, I agreed to go on this…
Fourth Wall Fandom: creator/fan interaction, gently crumbling the fourth wall
Creators of canon are increasingly likely to interact with their fanbase, whether by referencing fannish tropes in the TV show / film / book, or by interacting with fans on social media platforms. This doesn’t always work out well … The panel discuss how creators can learn to love fandom, how fans can engage with creators, and whether creators (fan or pro) should engage with transformations of their work.
Panel: Emma England, Kieron Gillen, Roz Kaveney, Melissa Taylor, Zalia
…which obviously will be interesting depending how
honest diplomatic I decide to be. There’s a panel about sex and violence on at the same time, which would have been much more fun. Man! I just don’t have a tiny drop of sense in my amusingly potato shaped head.
Later, quoting from Paul’s blog…
8.30pm: Only A Moment (Room 38). This is a well known game involving speaking for a minute without hesitation, deviation or repetition, renamed because the BBC got in touch. (No, seriously!) I’ll be running it, and Elizabeth Bear, Kieron Gillen, Liz Myles and Laurie Penny will be my guests.
Clearly, I’ll be crap at all of this, so this would be ideal for anyone who likes seeing me being humiliated in public.
1.30pm – 2.45pm
Dis/Continuity: long-running characters, change, evolution and disruption
The challenges, joys, disappointments and outright confusion of writing, following and redesigning characters with 60+ years of sometimes-not-entirely-straightforward back story.
Paul Cornell, Kieron Gillen, Nat Wilkinson, Misha Sumra
…where Paul and I will have a good whine about our Iron Man and Wolverine runs, I suspect, because we are big ol’ whiners.
Then probably the one I’m worrying about most…
5.00pm – 6.45pm
Creators on Comics
Kieron Gillen (Phonogram, Uncanny X-Men, The Wicked & The Divine) dismantles WATCHMEN to demonstrate everything everyone should have ripped off instead of just tediously having superdudes break other dude’s fingers. Si Spurrier (Six-Gun Gorilla, X-Force, Disenchanted) talks about the eternal sexual war between WORDS and PICTURES! Then they answer questions! And chat! And hold one another!
Si Spurrier, Kieron Gillen, Hazel Robinson
…Where you probably sense a little Gillen-has-written-this about the above text.
Anyway – I’m doing a formalist examination of Watchmen, basically in response to Jon Browne asking what was so special about Watchmen anyway. I’m still writing this, so I’m wrestling with all manner of stuff, not least that ejecting lots of more standard literary analysis to concentrate on formalism does miss so much of what makes Watchmen work. And then fitting it in 40 minutes tops.
I may just throw it all out and just spend my time reciting bits of WE3.
Writing Historical Fiction and Fanfic: is RPF okay when the person is dead?
How do we write about historical characters? Is historical fiction a form of Real Person Fiction if it features people who appear in the historical record? A panel of authors and fans discuss techniques of writing historical fiction and how writing about the dead differs from writing about the living.
Panel: Alex Dally MacFarlane, Tanya Brown, Elizabeth Bear, Aliette de Bodard, Kieron Gillen.
…will probably involve me saying “Of course. Lighten up. And write about the living too, FFS. Just know why you’re fucking doing it. Same as all art ever, etc.”
Anyway! I’ll be having a nice lie down until it’s time for…
Once again, we’ll be rounding out the convention in front of Cara’s fireplace for a relaxed evening chat about life, video games, and whatever catches her and her guest’s interest.
Cara Ellison, Kieron Gillen
No idea what we’re going to be talking about, but Cara and I basically are very mean to each other professionally, so it should be a giggle.
And then I’ll be sleeping and never doing this ever again.
As I was leaving my Brother’s wedding, the news broke at SDCC that I’d be writing the ongoing DARTH VADER book. Salvador Larroca draws, Adi Granov on the lovely cover above. In Canon, set between A NEW HOPE and EMPIRE.
(We did talk about maybe doing a live link up from the Wedding for the panel, but clearly midnight at a wedding in Scotland does involve the risk of a lot of men in kilts displaying their wares live to a horrified audience across the Pacific.)
Anyway – I got in last night, and tried to work out what to tweet about it. I ended up saying “So. As announced at SDCC, I’m doing a DARTH VADER book. What can I say? I fear it’s the mainstream comic book I was born to write.” Which still suspect sounds about right, y’know? I’ve been basically writing Villain books on the sly since I’ve been at Marvel. Time to really go for it.
Let’s pull a relatively restrained quote from the CBR interview which basically explains how the book operates…
So at the end of the first “Star Wars” film he’s the sole survivor of the greatest military disaster of all time. And more importantly he let the Rebels escape with the plans! He chose to let them escape with the plans. There are lots of people to blame for the Death Star. It’s not like it’s just Darth’s fault, but he certainly foots some of the blame.
Then the next time we see him in “Empire” he’s more powerful than ever. He treats people in “Empire” with more contempt than he treats them in “A New Hope.” So something happens between those two films. There is the question of what the destruction of the Death Star actually created. So this story is basically the fall and rise of Darth Vader and all the things that happen along the way. That’s why it interests me.
When I talk about this I tend to use the film “The Godfather” as a reference in terms of how it worked and that it featured a villain protagonist who we’re still interested in. The second reference I use is “House of Cards.” This is a man who is an incredibly powerful member of an organization and he feels he is being slighted. This is him choosing and being forced to do things he maybe wouldn’t have done originally and to rebuild and change his power situation.
Anyway – lots more interviews, and out next February.
And, yes, this is the one I left Iron Man to do. I think you’ll like it.
ANGELA: ASGARDIAN ASSASSIN has been announced. Details here.
I’m on holiday for a few days, guys. Sorrrry, etc.
As I mentioned this in the back of the issue, I probably better do this, eh?
In short – here’s a bunch of commentary on the issue.
My life basically goes out of its way to confuse me.
The first issue of the four-part story Mark Waid and myself worked on together. This issue is Mark scripting, the next is me, but the whole thing involved the pair of us
banging our head against the wall until a story emerged magnificently from the blood smears co-writing.
Was a fascinating experience all around, really, and probably the most co-writery co-writing thing I’ve been involved with, even above EVERYTHING BURNS.
Let’s do this thing.
We have several retailer specific variants, of which details can be found here.
If you’re unaware of the book, here’s the preview.
Here’s three quickly pulled quotes from the first bunch of reviews.
“This is pop comics. It’s that song that comes on the radio that you’ll have stuck in your head for days.” – Newsarama
“Image’s 2014 line-up is the envy of every other publisher; but The Wicked + The Divine is going to be the jewel in Image’s crown.” - Comicosity
“It is the definition of must read comics.” - Comics Bulletin
They’re all 10/10s, btw. Or 5/5 in the case of Comics Bulletin, but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.
Here’s the quotes we compiled from clever people before the book came out. More have happened since, which is getting Overkill. Hey – Gerard Way was nice about it this morning, which was very lovely.
If you want to see us talk about the project, a really good interview is about to go up over at Comics Alliance. I’ll edit in when it does.
We’ll be signing from 6-7 today at Forbidden Planet, so if you’re in London, come along and say hello.
Thanks for paying attention to this. We can’t believe it’s finally going to be in your hands. We’re feeling rather sappy, so we’ll shut up.
Once again, we return.