January 2022: Once More Round The Sun

Howdy, folks!

It’s the start of a Brand New Year, and once again, it feels like we’ve already had enough bullshit to last a full 12 months. The more things change, the more they stay the same..!

The Usual

Barely a January goes by that I don’t fall into a bit of a seasonal depression, largely linked to the tedium and dissatisfaction of my day job. On the one hand, I have a steady, boring job that doesn’t ask much of me (allowing me time outside of work to do the things I love, namely comics and music). On the other hand, we live in a society where you need money to live, and when every single headline is screaming at me about PRICE RISES and ENERGY CRISES and a host of other things that will make life much more difficult… it’s extremely difficult not to conflate my sense of self-worth with my (not especially large) salary. Couple that with the financial challenges of making comics (a thing I love to do!) and it’s a recipe for very stressful times indeed.

I’ll get through it (somehow), and I’m doing my best to focus on things that make me happy, but it gets harder with every passing year. Part of that is because the people in charge of my country seem to be taking every single opportunity to brutalise people in my earnings bracket and below because if you’re not rich, they don’t care whether you live or die – but that’s a political rant for another time!

The Record

Continuing my hot streak from last month, I’ve made a pretty strong start on the ol’ project list and actually done some writing (!!) this month:

  • Outline for Space Cowboys tweaked
  • 22 pages of Space Cowboys issue #4 written
  • 14 pages of Space Cowboys issue #5 written
  • 2 pages of Hadopelagic prologue written
  • 4 pages lettered for The Phoenix
  • 5 pages lettered for Big Hype Comics
  • Hockeytown pitch finalised

Couple of items of note in there – #5 is the last issue of Space Cowboys, so we’re getting to the point where all the emotional chickens come home to roost. It’s definitely something I haven’t tried before, as a sci-fi story built less around spaceships and aliens (although both do feature) and more around gut-wrenching emotional trauma and Big Questions. The back half of issue #5 is basically going to be me throwing everything into the mix and dreaming up chaotic page layouts that the eventual artist will absolutely despise me for…

The Hadopelagic prologue is a nice little wrinkle – Neil McClements and I did it as a three-part story (https://www.chrismole.co.uk/comics/hadopelagic/) for Aces Weekly some years back, and a brief DM conversation with Alfie Gallagher encouraged me to go back to my plans for the series. It’s a story that I’m still proud of, and given the ecological elements of the plot it remains pretty relevant! Neil and I have plans to add on a brief prologue and an epilogue, conjure up some bonus content and do a little “prestige” print edition. Where we’ll raise the money for the printing remains to be seen, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there!

The story with Rosie Packwood for Big Hype Comics is close to done – all Rosie’s art is finished and now it’s just on me to slap letters on it. She’s absolutely crushed the pages for this – they look wonderful, and I’m very excited to share it with people. In fact, here’s a very sneaky exclusive peek at one page of the story, hot off the lettering press:

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On top of that, we’re already hatching plans for our next collaboration which will take things up a few notches, so watch this space..!

Then there’s the Hockeytown pitch, which is now in a fit state (IMO) to start wafting it in front of publishers. I’ve sent the PDF document out to a couple of friends to gauge their reactions (because peer review is always good), so assuming nobody picks up on any massive, glaring issues with it we might be able to get things moving on that! I’m genuinely extremely proud of this story – it’s probably the most mature thing I’ve ever written (not just because of all the swearing) and Russ Olson (art), Dearbhla Kelly (colours) and Kerrie Smith (letters) are an absolute dream team who’ve made the pitch pages look stunning. I appreciate that I’m not an expert, but it looks like something Image would publish to me! (P.S if you’re reading this and would like a look at the pitch, my DMs are open..!)

Lastly, we’re getting ever closer to done with issue #3 of Brigantia – Harriet is soldiering through the pages and getting them inked up and coloured to perfection. We’ve set the end of February as her hard deadline for getting the pages done so we can press on with getting the book printed and out to our extraordinarily patient and wonderful backers. On top of that, the lovely Claire Napier has sent me some notes back on issue #4 and will be casting her eyes over issues #5 and #6 as well – so the next few months are likely to be quite busy on the Brigantia train!

The Tunes

“Comfort listening” is the theme for this month’s playlist; even though it starts right off the bat with the heavy stuff, a lot of these are songs I’ve listened to and loved many times before. First up is a newbie from Show Me A Dinosaur (who might as well be called “We loved the Deafheaven album New Bermuda so we tried to sound just like that”!) which hits my sweet spot of colourful riffs and nasal shrieking. Next up is progressive, atmospheric, antifascist Dutch black metal from Fluisteraars who are v. good, and they’re followed by some classic Chthonic from the excellent album Mirror of Retribution. It’s Taiwanese black/death metal about the Buddhist underworld! What’s not to love?? With The Dead (fronted by the mighty Lee Dorian of Cathedral and Napalm Death) are staggeringly heavy, and I’m amazed that my ears still function at all after seeing them live back in 2016 – this song is on my writing soundtrack for Space Cowboys for reasons known only to me! Ibaraki is a new project from Matt Kiichi Heafy (guitarist/vocalist of Trivium, who I absolutely idolised in my sixth form days) and Ihsahn of black metal titans Emperor – atmospheric BM about Japanese mythology, something that Heafy has an ancestral connection to, is once again firmly in my wheelhouse and this track is a very promising start. Next we’re into cheesy power/folk metal territory, with Sabaton (I’ve been watching some very good/interesting WW2 documentaries recently, and this track always pops into my head whenever I think about D-Day) and Turisas (a recent podcast episode I listened to about the collapse of the Byzantine Empire discussed the Varangian Guard and reminded me of how good this album is!) Hail Spirit Noir are up next because the absurdly catchy hooks of this song kept creeping into my brain this month, and we close things out with a much lighter one-two punch of Japanese Breakfast (from the soundtrack of the game Sable, which I distressingly haven’t been able to play since it’s Xbox/PC only) and Taylor Swift‘s version of Wildest Dreams from the album 1989. When she releases her version of the full album, you will need to prepare for me listening to/talking about nothing else for a solid month – 1989 was the first T-Swift album I heard and it remains an absolute classic.


This has already gotten somewhat longer than I anticipated, so we’ll close it off there! Thanks for reading, and I hope 2022 treats us all better than 2021 did…

All the best,

Chris

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