Apart from a brief burst of sunny weather a couple of weeks ago, we seem to have been stuck in winter’s grip all through April and I’m beginning to get entirely sick of it – give me sunshine and warm temperatures! I want to wear shorts, feel self-conscious about my knees and complain about the heat (because I am British, after all..!)
It’s been a quietly productive month on the scriptwriting front – the first draft of the first chapter of CYBERCLIMBERS (which I’m working on with the delightful Rosie Packwood) is written and met with her approval, so hopefully our editors will like it too. We also got a sneaky peek at the anthology our first collaboration is appearing in, and I can say with certainty that we’re in fantastic company – some excellent artwork in there!
The next thing on my list is to finish polishing up the scripts for Brigantia #4-#6 so Alaire can start on those later in the year. Progress is slow but steady on issue #3 – at this point I’m absolutely wracked with guilt about the wait our KS backers have endured on an almost daily basis, even though it’s largely out of my hands… I’m doing my best not to let it sour my feelings towards getting the second half of the story done!
I should also probably take the plunge and try to find an artist for the sci-fi story, but given the low ebb my self-confidence is at for this stuff, it’s difficult to think about. The Kieron Gillen joke about writers being parasites was obviously meant in good humour, but I’ve definitely internalised it – I rarely feel like artists would be excited to work with me, and it makes it very hard to try and pitch stories to people. I need to suck it up and get over myself, basically!! 😤
-11 pages written (for CYBERCLIMBERS)
-12 pages lettered (for The Phoenix)
Please enjoy this message I sent to Rosie about CYBERCLIMBERS, which encapsulates just how on the nose we intend to be:
What’s the point of a fun cyberpunk manga story about climbing if you can’t also make it about class warfare, huh??
It’s a big ol’ mishmash of new and old this month – some of my perennial classics that have come back into rotation for various reasons along with some new stuff. Let’s crack in:
First up is a band that I struggle to categorise, Wolfhand – essentially “Wild West doom”? This album is fantastic though, definitely worth a listen if you like BIG ATMOSPHERES. Next up is a cut from the new Carpenter Brut album, which oozes a different (more synthetic) kind of atmosphere and has some great collab appearances – like Norwegian post-BM titans Ulver on this track. After that we’re going more lo-fi with Japanese riot grrl punk from Otoboke Beaver – my punk-loving friend Helen recommended this band to me and I’m very glad she did! After that we have band who are impossible to do a Google search for, ΛΔΛΜ – this was a Spotify discovery and it’s great, but I can’t find anything else out about them. Nice, chilled track though! That leads us into a couple of oldies – Lower Norfair by my favourite videogame metal covers band Metroid Metal, which was part of my playlist for a 10K I ran last weekend (and therefore partly responsible for me managing an impressive 50:33 personal best!), followed by Amon Amarth. I came out of the Northman with this song blasting in my head so I had to include it! A trio of new tracks from old faves up next – the new Ghost album isn’t as good as their previous release for me, but it has some catchy ones, and the chorus of this track has been running around my head recently. Nick (my fellow guitarist in Ba’al) was the one who mentioned that the new Korn album is actually surprisingly enjoyable, so I gave it a go, and… he’s right, it’s decent (and nowhere near as embarrassingly painful as that new Limp Bizkit album…) I’m a fairly casual Meshuggah fan, in that I like some of their stuff but don’t think they’re messianic beings like some people seem to, but I enjoyed this track off their newest release. I have no intention of trying to understand how complex the riffs are – I’ll just nod along and enjoy the vibe! Lastly, some atmospheric black metal from Sylvaine to close us out – an easy way to make me like your band is to name a song Mono no Aware, after the Japanese concept of impermanence and transience of life. It helps that they also know how to craft big atmospheres!
Just the one link for you this month, but I want to talk about it a little bit. Have a read: https://www.inverse.com/entertainment/the-northman-explained-valhalla-valkyries-viking-lore
Some mild spoilers for The Northman abound below (although tbh, if you’ve read Hamlet you’ll know the story already..!)
I really enjoyed The Northman when I went to see it earlier this month – I’m a big fan of Robert Eggers’ previous work (The Witch and The Lighthouse are both fantastic movies) and while this movie is less overtly weird, it’s got plenty of visual stylishness and a muscular, powerful feeling that suits the “roaring rampage of revenge” narrative. The article above was an interesting read for me because of the way that Eggers, Sjón and their collaborators like Neil Price approached the idea of authenticity – there are some things that we can draw from the historical and archaeological record (Viking longships, brooches, etc) and some things that we can really only guess at (the thoughts and feelings of a Viking living in a world suffused with divinity and magic). What’s important is to take what we do know and weave it together with educated guesswork to serve the story you’re trying to tell – like the Tree of Kings in the movie, which is drawn from a real tapestry. The meaning of the tapestry is unknown, but as a symbol of fate it’s a throughline for the whole story.
I’ve also seen some commentary around how the white supremacists love The Northman (unsurprising, given the number of brainless right-wing morons who latch onto Viking runes and imagery), and criticism of Eggers for not doing more to dissuade them. My starting point for that debate is: neo-Nazis latched onto My Little Pony, seemingly the most innocent cartoon anyone could possibly make. They desperately try to claim any kind of cultural property and poison it for others. Eggers could certainly have tried to cast more diversely (it’s a myth that the Viking world was entirely white, after all) but I’ve no doubt that even if he had, the Nazis would have found a way to lay claim to it regardless – they spent most of the 20th century perverting ancient symbols which had existed for a thousand years before modern fascism cropped up. Maybe we should just… stop letting them do that?
That aside, anyone who watches the movie and thinks “hell yeah, so badass” is drastically missing the point – it’s a tragedy wherein the protagonist loses his entire family to murderous treachery, spends his life miserable and thirsting for revenge, is poised to start a new life then throws that away for the sake of vengeance. It’s not supposed to be aspirational!
That’s all for this month- take care, everyone!
All the best,