I’ve spent the last week or so positively vibrating with rage at the wider world, and it’s a curious contrast to things actually going pretty well on a personal level – the joy of low-grade anxiety! Either way, I’ll try to keep myself fairly even-keeled for this month’s newsletter…
It’s been a quietly productive month, I think – I finally sat down and powered through the last of the bonus content pages for Brigantia Vol. 1, so the only thing left to do is plug in issue #3 once Harriet’s finished work on it, do some final proofreading and checking and then it should be good to go to print. There are only about 14 pages left and she’s keeping me updated on progress – so we’re definitely getting there, as long and stressful as the road has been. I’d been hoping for a little bit of a break from Brigantia before rolling into the second half of the story (with Alaire) later this year/into 2023 but that’s looking unlikely at this point – so I guess I’ll just stay on the train until we finally finish issue #6 and then have a breather! On that topic, here’s a coloured (but not lettered) teaser page from issue #3 I haven’t shared elsewhere:
In other project news, we sadly got our first rejection for the HOCKEYTOWN pitch – it was understandable (it’s a fairly niche sport and setting, and while one editor was enthusiastically on board with the hockey theme, others weren’t so keen) but definitely knocked me back for a weekend – coupled as it was with one of my bands losing out at a competitive show we played to try and win a slot at a massive UK festival called Bloodstock. Still, I’m choosing to take the positives from both experiences (we have some good feedback and can shop the pitch around some more, plus I’ve established a good professional contact with the editor; I got to play on the big main stage of my city’s most famous metal club) so I can get up and back at it! I’ve almost finished scripting SPACE COWBOYS, with just a few pages left of issue #5 to get through, so might be time to build that up into a solid pitch for this particular editor…
- 3 pages scripted (SPACE COWBOYS)
- 4 pages lettered (THE PHOENIX)
- Assorted other stuff (see above!)
While I was lettering the other day, I decided to sit down and listen back to the BLACK RUBRIC tracks I wrote/recorded for that comic. And you know what? I’m still genuinely very happy with them, there are some beefy riffs in there and their overall feel is a great match for the comic. I’d better push the graphic novella-length sequel to that comic up my to-do list…
Not a huge amount of metal on the list this month – I’m branching out! First up is a new track from Karl Sanders (the guitarist of Egyptian-themed tech death metal band Nile, a huge favourite of mine) – his solo stuff is dark ambient/atmospheric which maintains the Egyptian mythology/history theme, and I love it. Following that is another track from the new Florence + The Machine album, which may already be my album of the year – just rammed full of great tracks and I will not shut up about it! Wet Leg are apparently in the zeitgeist at the moment – I don’t know why, but this song popped up on Spotify and I enjoyed it enough to include it. The slightly mumbly vocals aren’t usually my thing, but they work here! I’m always up for new Rotting Christ, and this track is definitely a different feel to their usual stuff – more anthemic and with more of a focus on the clean vocals. I guess this month is a “solo artists” month, because here’s Kirk Hammett of Metallica with his new solo album – and again, it’s pretty different to his day job, with a lovely Ennio Morricone vibe that matches the cowboy movie title. Couple of synthwave/chiptune-type tracks up next – Dita Redrum, which caught my eye because I love the SNES isometric RPG game Shadowrun (and this evokes that!) and then chiptune hip-hop from the superlative Supercommuter, one of my favourite acts. Their first two albums are laden with bangers and the third is also very good! Taking a bit of a turn, we have the metal corner of this month’s playlist: first is Nechochwen, a folk/atmospheric black metal project made by an indigenous American musician and drawing on his cultural heritage. I love this kind of stuff! Next is Desolate Shrine, who are just filthy, heavy death metal with a sludgy, apocalyptic edge. And finally, to close things out: an obligatory Eurovision track, courtesy of France’s Alvan & Ahez. I didn’t manage to watch the event this year (I was playing a ceilidh for a friend’s birthday) but caught this one on the highlights and enjoyed it!
I’m going to change up the format here, and rather than give you a link, I want to expound a little bit about a movie I watched this month!
I picked up a blu-ray of Metropolis (1927), the German silent movie which is responsible for a lot of the science fiction we know and love today – the full movie was lost soon after it was shown, and it’s only in recent years that archivists discovered some reels of the full thing and have been able to restore it to (almost) it’s original form. I’ve never actually seen it before, and I’m glad I waited for the “full” version, because I was struck by how well a movie from 95 years ago worked. We’re immediately thrust into a strange world that nevertheless looks very familiar – a huge city, of impossible proportions, maintained by an army of nondescript workers who trudge down long corridors to their cramped, brutalist housing blocks beneath the earth. Above them are the wealthy, living in gorgeous art deco luxury. This movie is very, very clear on it’s politics, at least to begin with, and that message has only continued to be relevant in today’s brutally inequal world. By the point that Freder (the son of the city’s overlord, Joh Fredersen) has fantastic visions of the workers being marched into the gaping maw of the terrible machine demon Moloch, I was enthusiastically on board.
As the movie unfolds, we meet Maria (played incredibly by Brigitte Helm) who is inciting the workers to rebellion – interpreting the story of the Tower of Babel as a conflict between the wealthy intellectuals who conceived the tower and the workers tasked with building it. Maria is truly a fascinating role – Helm is tasked with being a religious symbol of inspiration and purity for the workers, a love interest for Freder and, in stunning fashion, the human face of a Machine Man crafted by the inventor Rotwang. In the last one, she’s an evil creature of wickedness, sin and temptation, inciting the wealthy to bloodshed over her and manipulating the workers into self-destruction. Helm is given the most varied role that I’ve seen in a long time, and she manages it with aplomb.
On top of the stunning (even by modern standards!) set design and staging, there are some huge set pieces in the movie, requiring hundreds of actors – it has the feel of a true cinematic epic. I’d highly recommend it!
Anyway, that’s all for this month – we have a long bank holiday coming up in the UK courtesy of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. I will (obviously) not be celebrating it, because I have absolutely no interest in flag-waving nationalism, but I intend to make the most of my time off work with a trip up to Scotland for Glasgow Comic Con! If you’re heading along, I’ll be on table H04 – come and say hello!
All the best,