July 2021: What is Time?

Howdy, folks!

Somehow, 7 months have passed and we’re staring at the back end of 2021 – I don’t quite know how, but here we are, I guess!

The Usual

For once, I actually have something I want to cover in this space before I dive into the usual newsletter shenanigans. As many of you may be aware, this last week has been… somewhat fraught on UK Comics Twitter, but not for the usual artist vs. writer/other recurring discourse reasons. Basically, a storm kicked up around Thought Bubble (unquestionably my favourite convention) due to them inviting Frank Miller along as a guest for this year’s con – here’s a good summary of the chain of events: https://www.comicsbeat.com/thought-bubble-drops-frank-miller-in-wake-of-social-media-backlash/

I was surprised that Miller was announced as a guest in the first place – it’s hard to argue that he isn’t an important figure in comics history, but that’s the key word – history. His work hasn’t been relevant in years, and Holy Terror (released in 2011) scraped the absolute bottom of a horrifically racist barrel. It seemed like an odd choice, one that I suspect was driven by necessity (attempting to bring in a larger number of more mainstream/casual comics fans) after the impact of the pandemic, but it gave the impression that Thought Bubble value the past (Miller) over the future of comics (represented by Zainab Akhtar), an impression that is very much at odds with the brand they’ve built over the years.

I don’t think there was any deliberate malice in the decision to book Miller, but honestly, that doesn’t matter – if they weren’t aware of his retrograde, Islamophobic views then they should have done their research rather than glossing over them and it should have been immediately apparent that inviting him was a mistake when Zainab and others first raised their concerns. The fact that the CG crowd have latched onto this as an example of “cancel culture” and “woke SJWs” (yawn) is entirely predictable but that doesn’t stop it from being very distressing for those targeted by them. I’m disappointed in Thought Bubble, and it’s absolutely going to overshadow this year’s event, so I sincerely hope they can take concrete steps to make up for this over the next few months (but that said, Chuck Palahniuk who has a lot of dodgy right-wing associations is currently still on the guest list, so…)

In less distressing news, the Kickstarter for Brigantia Vol. 1 closed earlier this month and we somehow raised a staggering £5k! It’s the highest number of backers I’ve ever personally had for a Kickstarter campaign, and the second-highest total funding amount, so I was bowled over by the outpouring of support. Now we get to the fun part – actually making the dang thing!

The Record

• Finished off the last few pages of my Big Hype Vol. 2 short (CRYSTAL DESERT BLUES) with Rosie Packwood
• 3 pages of STEEL KNIGHTS scripted, tons of worldbuilding done

Wrote some actual pages this month! It’s a lot easier when you force yourself to think of them as first drafts where the dialogue/etc will be tightened up later – my biggest challenge is that I’m a perfectionist, so I hate the idea of leaving a page half-done and moving onto the next one. The dialogue has to at least feel right – I struggle to just slap in a [placeholder dialogue] and move on.

Anyway, Rosie’s been hard at work on character concepts for our Big Hype story and they’re shaping up nicely – it’s a fun one where I think the influences are pretty visible on it’s sleeve, so it’ll be nice to see that take shape. I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned STEEL KNIGHTS here before, but my annoyance at being unable to watch the new Gawain and the Green Knight movie (starring Dev Patel) which I’ve been anticipating for well over a year spurred me into doing some work on my own Arthurian mash-up. The pitch is, very basically, A Knight’s Tale X Gundam – it’s a kind of manga story in which the Arthurian knights pilot huge suits of armour in battle, built around a tournament arc. I’ve been slotting in tons of Arthurian Easter eggs and there are giants, fae magic – it’s a lot of OTT fun, and it’ll be great to try and pull the pitch together for it!

The Tunes

This month’s playlist starts off a lot mellower before gradually building into the heavy stuff. Chvrches are consistently one of the best synthy pop bands out there, with a great ear for a catchy vocal hook, and this new track has me excited for their new album – I’ve booked tickets to see them for the first time in March next year, so that’ll be great. This month I discovered that Lola Kirke, the actress who played Hayley in the excellent show Mozart in the Jungle (and who I have a MASSIVE crush on) is also apparently a folk/pop singer, and has put out some very good stuff – here’s my favourite of her songs! My partner is our household’s huge Frank Turner fan – I’m less into him, but this track is undeniably excellent (and I appreciate his ideas on how his ashes should be scattered at the end!) Next up is Doris Wilson – those who’ve watched the wild/chaotic/polarising sketch show I Think You Should Leave will recognise it. It’s a very catchy tune that breaks up some of the funniest sketches I’ve ever seen – I’ve watched both seasons through about 4 times now, which is rare for me, and they keep getting funnier. Watch Coffin Flop! Metallica have been doing something pretty wild recently – they’ve recruited dozens of other bands/artists to do their own versions of songs from The Black Album across a variety of genres. A lot of them are… well, bad, but this Biffy Clyro cover is actually genuinely good to my ears. It’s still recognisably Holier than Thou, but different enough to make it stand out as their own. Here’s where we start to get into the heavier stuff with The Algorithm (chiptuney tech-death), Unter Massif (a sludgey, atmospherey, droney band I discovered this month) and The Odious (interesting prog metal, another Spotify discovery). Next up is one of my very favourite bands, Anaal Nathrakh, beloved for their ability to combine absolute hyperspeed blasting and aggression with huge, singable choruses and an overwhelming sense of armageddon. After that mushroom cloud has cleared, we finish things off with the haunting piano and vocals of Lingua Ignota, from her new album.

The Links

I greatly enjoyed this dive into the development of gunslinger Jonah Hex (one of my favourite characters, mostly because I feel like there’s a lot you could say/do with him) by Tom Shapira over at the Comics Journal: http://www.tcj.com/asshole-in-a-hat-the-early-days-of-jonah-hex/


That’s all for this month, I’ve waffled on a lot more than usual! Thanks for reading, and have a great August.

All the best,
Chris

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