May 2020: Banished From the Light

Hey everybody,

The Usual

What’s it like to go outdoors and feel the sun and wind on your face? I barely remember any more…

Joking aside (I’m responsible for walking my very good dog Tia once a day so I have been outdoors, albeit keeping a very safe distance from everyone), the world might be completely different to the start of the year but for me at least, it’s starting to feel like a new normal. At some point I’m sure it’ll get back to “business as usual” with people being able to go out and socialise, but I think it’ll take us all a while to get comfortable with hugging our friends.

Here is Tia, who is a very good girl.

I’m going to try and avoid getting on a soapbox on this topic (because nobody needs to hear from me on it) but I’ve been watching the protests in America over the last few days following the murder of George Floyd by police, and it’s been very hard to stomach the extent of the police brutality on show. Do what you can, amplify the voices of black people speaking out and try to educate yourself on your own innate prejudices – it’s not just in America, in Britain as well a staggering number of us (myself included) benefit from white privilege and we need to recognise and try to make up for that. #BlackLivesMatter

Anyway, here’s the record for this month:
*Begun rewrites on issue #1 of SPACE COWBOYS following editorial feedback – first 12 pages amended

Again, I’ve not done a huge amount of writing this month – I’ve been back to full-time working from home – but I’ve had some progress in other areas. At the time of writing, I’m just waiting on the last batch of BLACK RUBRIC rewards (t-shirts and patches) to arrive at my house so I can start posting out everybody’s stuff; I’ve been in touch with a potential (fantastic) artist for HOCKEYTOWN; and the aforementioned rewrites.

SPACE COWBOYS is (hopefully) going to be a very emotional sci-fi story, so I’m spending a lot more time on character backgrounds and how the cast relate to each other than I perhaps have done previously. It’s drawing from some of the HEAVY FEELS I’ve had in recent memory and marrying that with a hopeful sci-fi story, so hopefully that emotion will come through when it’s done. Claire (Napier) has given me some fantastic feedback on the first draft of issue #1, so I’m tightening that up (4 unnecessary pages chopped out already..!) and will then use it as a springboard to firm up and write the rest of the story.

One more bit of admin – I’ve finally set up a functional shop on my website, so every comic I currently have print copies of (Brigantia #1, Unusual Tales #1 and The Black Rubric) is now available at https://chrismole.bigcartel.com/. Please do go there and avail yourself of my wares if you’d like to/are able! We’ll be launching the Kickstarter for Brigantia #2 in a couple of months and there’ll be a catch-up tier for copies of #1 on there, but if patience isn’t your strong suit…

This month’s playlist doesn’t have a particular theme or goal, it’s just a collection of tunes I enjoy – I read an interesting article this morning ( https://pitchfork.com/features/article/listen-to-music/) about the struggles of listening to new music at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic, so it’s not too surprising that a lot of these songs are the aural equivalent of “comfort food”.

The first couple are in the J-rock/metal sphere – the Trigun theme tune is a classic banger and instantly recognisable, and track 2 is a studio recording of the song ‘Mikan no Uta‘ by one of my all-time favourite bands, the very cheesy Sex Machineguns – this track hasn’t been on Spotify previously, so I’m making the most of it! Le Matos are a great synthwave band who provide some tranquil bleeps and boops, then there’s an unpolished new recording of a CHVRCHES song which is absolutely one of their best. ‘Right Back Where We Started From‘ is an unofficial hockey anthem, due to it’s repeated use in the cult 70s movie Slapshot, and it’s just great fun. Ernesto Schnack provides a bit of a calm break, then we’re into the heavier back-end of the playlist – experimental BM from Secrets of the Moon, powerful and misandric BM from Feminazgul (recommended to me by Kieron Gillen, of all people), Sinistral King who embrace the more theatrical and imperious side of the genre and then a long and crushing funeral doom track from Ocean (a band I discovered at the age of around 16, when I would buy CDs at HMV based purely on the cover art) to close things out.

Enjoy the tunes, and take care of yourselves – we’ll get through this if we support each other.

All the best,

Chris

April 2020: Life in Lockdown

[This post was scheduled for March 31st, but website issues meant I couldn’t post it! Better late than never…]

Hey everybody,

It’s amazing how much can change in a month. Since last month’s update, the lockdown has grown to encompass every part of the country, and my free time (and creativity) has been swallowed up now that I’ve been sent all the equipment to work from home. I’ll be honest, it’s mentally draining being stuck inside the whole time – I’m finding it very hard to concentrate on most things.

Record for this month:
*Not a single, solitary page written

I’m trying to remind myself not to feel bad about that – I’ve been doing a lot of hustling and extra work around the Kickstarter campaign (more on that shortly) so it’s not as though I’ve been completely stagnant, but it really is a struggle to work up the motivation to write. The home-working setup has cannibalised the monitor/keyboard/mouse of my studio PC, and unplugging everything post-5pm (then plugging it all back in the following morning) seems like too much effort, so I’ve ended up saving project work for the weekends when I feel like I can muster the energy. It’s a weird and challenging time for all of us, so I’m trying not to be too negative (or dwell on the social media updates of friends and peers who seem to be thriving!)

As mentioned above, The Black Rubric Kickstarter has been running this month, and it’s honestly been a runaway success – the campaign just finished and we raised a stunning 270% of the goal for a total of £1802. I’m blown away by the number of people who are into the idea, and now we get to the fun part of the campaign (sending out comics and other rewards!) Since we made it through all of our stretch goals, we’re also doing band t-shirts and patches, and I’ll be sending out download codes for a 4-track demo of songs by the band – I’m looking forward to seeing what people think!

This month’s playlist starts off with an appropriately-titled track by one of my favourite bands, Ayreon (the brainchild of Dutch multi-instrumentalist and prog songwriter extraordinaire) – this was the first song of theirs I heard and it’s an all-time fave! From there, we’ve a couple of instrumental tracks by Astral Bodies and Sidewalks and Skeletons, then some heavy (heavy) metal courtesy of Ignea and Knight of the Round (I’ve been playing the Final Fantasy VII Remake a lot this month!) A couple of more avant-garde black metal tracks from Secrets of the Moon and Liturgy are a nod to the Black Rubric campaign, then the playlist closes out with some Canadian rock from The Tragically Hip, an obscure acoustic Agalloch track and the tranquil Vinter from Myrkur’s beautiful album Folkesange.

Hope you enjoy the tunes! See you next month – we’ll get through this together (as long as we stay indoors and continue to flatten the curve…)

March 2020: A New World

Howdy all,

Well, things have certainly changed a lot in a month..! Since my last post (as you’re almost certainly aware) the world has been gripped by COVID-19 (or ‘coronavirus’) and the UK has now gone into full lockdown to try and slow/stop the spread of the disease. From a purely selfish perspective, it’s been pretty good for my creativity – I’ve had a lot more time to work on projects while quarantined/locked up at home!

Here’s the record for March 2020:
*22 pages fully scripted (16 for PROF ELEMENTAL: NEMESIS; 6 for Gail Simone’s COMICS SCHOOL)
*Two sets of interview questions answered (THE BLACK RUBRIC press coverage)
*Lettering pass completed on BRIGANTIA #2

Not a huge number of pages scripted, but two separate projects started and finished! For NEMESIS, I wrote the entire 16-page first draft in a day – it’s been a while since I’ve been hit with the inspiration bug that strongly! This story is intended to delve into the backstory of the villain for the next Prof Elemental album, Nemesis – it’s the Secret Origin of the character and will explain quite why he despises the Professor so much. It needs to both be a compelling story and also provide a springboard for the Prof and his collaborator Mos Prob to bear in mind when they’re writing the lyrics for the album – hopefully I’ve managed to achieve that.

COMICS SCHOOL is a very fun thing that writer Gail Simone did on Twitter this month – she ran a 5-day course over Twitter with the goal of teaching anybody who was interested how to write a comic script. Part of the course involved coming up with a springboard/outline for a short comic in either one or two of a list of genres and then writing the script over the 5 days. I rolled crime and fantasy, and my 6-page script (entitled ‘THE HELLFIRE DIVISION’) is available to read below if you’re interested. I might try and find an artist for it at some point..!

Script link: click here!

THE BLACK RUBRIC Kickstarter is launching today (March 31st), so we’re full steam ahead with trying to promote that and hopefully reach our goal. Given the current state of the world, I was very unsure about whether to go ahead with the campaign – there are obviously other things that people will be concerned about – but since our goal isn’t massively high I decided to launch it as planned and hope that people back it because they’d like something to look forward to. All the pages are now completely done and they’ve gone to Hass for him to work his lettering magic – please check out the campaign (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrismole/the-black-rubric-the-comic) and pledge if you’d like a copy!

I probably need to retire the phrase ‘this month’s playlist is a mixed bag’, because at this point all my playlists are going to be a little eclectic… nevertheless, here’s the selection for this month! There are a couple of heavy tunes, notably Forgotten Paths by Saor (an excellent folkish black metal band), Tere Muur by Fluisteraars (a Dutch atmospheric black metal band recently recommended to me) and the aptly named Virus Bomb by Anaal Nathrakh (one of my favourite bands – nihilistic, brutal, uncompromising extreme metal that sounds like the world ending). On the slightly lighter side of the spectrum, some post-metal from Red Sparowes (this album, Every Red Heart Shines Toward the Red Sun, is an absolute masterpiece) and The Ocean (again, fantastic album, fantastic tune). Lighter still is Go! from the incredible Public Service Broadcasting; we watched the Apollo 11 documentary on Netflix this month which was riveting viewing, made entirely with archival footage captured during the mission, and this song makes fantastic use of sampled audio from mission control. Plus it has a straight-up groove! Finally, there’s some jazz (the Overture from Whiplash, an incredible movie that has stuck with me), an instrumental from the tranquil underwater videogame Abzu, some equally relaxed folk from the incredible Myrkur (whose Folkesange album is already my album of 2020) and a fresh country bop from an acquaintance of mine, Country Legend Roky Moon!

Enjoy the tunes, and thank you for reading! See you next month (when the world will certainly have changed even more…)

February 2020: Admin Stuff

Howdy folks,

Month 2 of the recap posts, and this one will probably be a little shorter than last month’s since I didn’t have a Christmas break in which to write this month!

Here’s the (writing) record for February 2020:
*3 pages fully scripted (SPACE COWBOYS #1)
*Lettering pass on THE BLACK RUBRIC
*HOCKEYTOWN re-drafting (issues #3 and #4)
*Edits and redrafts on a comics-related article

It’s not as long a list this month because a lot of my creative energy has been spent on other things – most notably gearing up for the final stages of getting THE BLACK RUBRIC ready for the Kickstarter campaign and printing. Katie’s been churning out pages with incredible efficiency, the campaign page has been approved and we’re close to launch. Our goal was to have all the pages (inks, tones and any revisions or corrections we want to do) finished by the end of February, so we could get some pages to Hassan for a preview/potential press coverage and then he can aim to finish the rest of the lettering while the campaign is running. Katie’s now done all of her linework and is powering through the tonals/revisions part – hopefully we’ll have everything done today on February 29th, the unholiest of days! 💀

Harriet’s also been powering through pages for BRIGANTIA #2 – all her linework is finished and she’s moved onto backgrounds, flatting and colouring. There’s some big action sequences in the issue and she’s absolutely nailing the character action in those, so I’m excited for people to see the pages – it’s been a long road to get this second issue out but we’re getting there.


The most enjoyable thing I did this month was to shoot and edit a Kickstarter video for THE BLACK RUBRIC campaign (as mentioned above). I had a really strong concept in mind – a loving parody of Immortal’s seminal, self-aware and extremely low-budget music video “Call of the Wintermoon”, in which the band (in full corpse-paint) frolic around in a forest trying to look kvlt. I recruited three good friends to get dressed up and we headed for my favourite spot in the Peak District. Thanks to how committed to the joke the actors were, it only took a few hours to get some excellent (and hilarious) footage on my phone of them running around wearing capes and gesturing at things. The following day, I spent all morning holed up in the studio editing the footage together into a short video, and a chunk of the afternoon recording some frostbitten black metal music and vocals as a soundtrack – considering how quickly it came together, I’m extremely happy with it, and I think it perfectly captures the ridiculous but loving tone I was going for. I’m also hoping it’ll be distinctive enough to draw people’s attention to the campaign..!

Here’s the (<2 minute) video, for the curious:

You can also sign up to be notified when the Kickstarter campaign goes live at this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrismole/the-black-rubric-the-comic


Right at the beginning of February, I took a rare weekday excursion down to London for the purpose of attending Kieron Gillen’s Comics Writing Masterclass session. It was an excellent evening – the room was packed and I made a lot of notes, which is generally a good sign of an engaging talk. Afterwards, some of us headed to a nearby pub with Kieron to have a few drinks and natter about comics, which was a lot of fun. I also got a sneaky pub peek at the first issue of Kieron’s forthcoming new series (with Jim Rossignol, Jeff Stokely, Tamra Bonvillain and Clayton Cowles), Ludocrats, and it’s an absolutely beautiful, bonkers piece of work – definitely worth your time when it drops on April 1st!


This month’s playlist is a real mixed bag – Borknagar (and specifically this song, Colossus) were a huge favourite of mine years ago, and I was reminded of them on the way back from the video shoot. PIST were a recommendation from a very dear and long-term friend – Manchester locals whose new album mixes in black metal elements with their sludge sound. Audioslave are a band that I’ve always enjoyed, and the refrain of this track stuck with me during some of my more maudlin moments this month. Le Menhir is a one-man doom project by a good friend of mine – I’ll actually be joining him on stage with some other musicians for the first ever “full-band” gig he does with the project on March 7th, so I’ve been listening to this song a lot to memorise it. Anthrax are probably the greatest thrash band of all time, so this one needs no introduction! Ihsahn is black metal royalty, having written one of the most important albums in the genre (Emperor’s ‘In The Nightside Eclipse’) back in the ’90s – I wasn’t expecting to hear an Iron Maiden cover on his newest solo album, but it’s a solid one! There’s another new Myrkur track on here because everything she drops from the forthcoming album is utterly perfect (and it will be my album of 2020, I already know this), and the playlist finishes up with the indisputable best Elvis song – I watched Blade Runner 2049 (which features this song) for the first time a few weekends ago and again, feeling maudlin at the moment, it stuck with me.


Thanks for reading – next month will almost certainly be a busier one!