Strange Animals 05oct2020: The Return (After Being Away)

It’s been a while. Well, as we’ve all been saying for the past six months – it’s a pandeeeeeemic. *waves at everything* I have my excuse.

At the end of last month, I decided to go off social media for a bit – couple of weeks, maybe a month. We’ll see. 30th September was four years since I quite smoking. I figured it was time to make another little change. For the next little duration, this will be my base of operations. I’ll probably pipe these updates to Twitter via auto-posting, but other than that, I won’t be on there, or on Facebook or Instagram.

I was reading something about weaning yourself off negative habits, and it made a point of how it’s easier to not do something if the option simply isn’t available than to have it available and then spend your willpower resisting the temptation. This is one of those things.

Notes (Part 1)

A lot happened in the last four months, work-wise, so I’d rather not try and enumerate everything. But in the interest of this place being my primary location for announcing things, here’s some of what’s new and coming up:

John Constantine: Hellblazer Vol. 1 – Marks of Woe was released recently, containing the Sandman Universe Presents: Hellblazer Special, along with John Constantine: Hellblazer #1-6, and Books of Magic #14. I lettered all of these, except for the Books of Magic issue, and it’s not too shabby sharing a book with Todd Klein. Hellblazer’s particularly dear to me, not only because of the character, but also because I got to develop an interesting style here, that I see as my homage to Tom Orzechowski.

The Department of Truth #1 dropped on 30th September, from James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds, myself, Dylan Todd and Steve Foxe, only a couple of days after the Previously Untitled Simmonds Project. The reception on both was ecstatic, it’s safe to say. Also announced was the fact that Elsa Charretier would be drawing our first guest issue – #6.

Coffin Bound #7 is out this Wednesday, from Dan Watters, Dani, Brad Simpson, Emma Price, and me. A 40-page formal experiment, this was a ton of fun to letter, and you’ll see why when you read it. 

The Legend of the Swamp Thing Halloween Spectacular is out tomorrow, and I have two stories in it, with Ram V, Mike Perkins and Andy Troy. AIPT Comics has a full credit list along with a preview of the first story. One of the reasons I like working with DC is getting to do title cards, and you can see I had fun with this one.

Blue in Green, with Ram V, Anand RK, John Pearson and Tom Muller, will be out at the end of this month – the 28th, to be exact. This is a book the whole team is incredibly proud of. I’ll probably write a process post about hand-lettering my second graphic novel in the upcoming weeks, maybe timed with its release.

Home Sick Pilots, with Dan Watters, Caspar Wijngaard, and Tom Muller, was also announced recently. I believe it’ll start serialisation in December. Dan’s a writer I always feel I’d be a huge fan of if I wasn’t working with him (I’m still a huge fan, but don’t tell him that – it’s unprofessional), and once again, this feels exactly the kind of book I’d want to be reading, especially paired with Caspar, his Limbo partner, and his amazing neon-soaked vision of the 90s.

Giga, with Alex Paknadel, John Le and Rosh will begin serialising this month after a long time in the works. So much work has gone into this book, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it. A meditation on our relationship with technology and civilisation, in the form of a giant mech story.

An upcoming project with Deniz Camp and Sinnerman just got a publisher. Hopefully we’ll be announcing it soon. This has also been in the works for a long time, and while the concept will sound like a twist on familiar territory, you haven’t read anything quite like this, I assure you.

Also announced was The Picture of Everything Else, with Dan Watters and Kishore Mohan, from Vault Comics. Dan’s writing a strange, dark sequel to The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Kishore’s painting the whole thing in watercolours. Cannot wait to get stuck in on this one.

Finally, Waning Publishing, the French publisher for a few of the books I’ve worked on, announced my participation as their stretch goal on reaching the €200,000 mark on their crowdfunding campaign for the upcoming graphic novel, Astra Mortem. I’ve never lettered in French (though I’ve lettered in German and a few Indian languages), and it should be an interesting experience.

Books

Before my break, I had a continuing thread on Twitter on the books I’ve been reading. Figured it makes sense to continue it here. Since the appeal there was to summarise an impression within 280 characters, I’ll try to keep my notes on each book as short as possible.

  • The Truth About Stories – Thomas King: Not a writing guide as the title might suggest, but a series of lectures by Thomas King about storytelling and about how stories help maintain systems and perceptions, all narrated from a Native American perspective. Wonderfully told, with sensitivity, humour, and stuffed with wisdom. Each lecture begins and ends the same way, but takes you to entirely different places in between.

  • Mud and Starlight: Interviews with Alan Moore by Pádraig Ó Méalóid. These are mostly all reprints of interviews you might have read online, but it’s handy having them in one place. These are all specifically about Moore’s writing, rather than his views on magic (which I often find more interesting), so they do sometimes feel a bit fannish, but they’re mostly smart and incisive, and Moore is his usual delightfully roguish and trenchant self (even though the “Last Interview” remains an uncomfortable read for various reasons).

  • Neonomicon – Alan Moore & Jacen Burrows: After wrapping up Providence, I felt like I should read the whole story from the beginning, so I read “The Courtyard” (the original prose short rather than the comics adaptation) which is an electric piece of writing, thrumming with the potential that led to this and Providence. This is a weird beast, though, because it’s definitely important in the context of Moore’s HPL writing, and it’s quite deliberately unpleasant, and it has Moore’s usual heft behind it, but one can’t help but feel some of it is gratuitous (the sexual violence, in the main). Moore speaking about The Killing Joke says that one can put the work in, but some characters simply don’t have the gravity to support that sort of seriousness. This comes close, but I personally still quite like it, and feel it lands on the right side.

Notes (Part 2)

I mentioned this on Twitter a few weeks ago, but it bears repeating. I’ve been getting a bit tired of the grind of lettering all the time. I love the work, but the deadlines can be brutal, and I find I don’t always get the time to recharge that I’d like.

In that spirit, I’m going to be cutting down on my lettering work, give myself more time to spend with family and friends, and also work on personal projects. One part of this is writing, of course, which I’ve been doing for a while now, and the other part is type design.

Not only do I want to work further on comic-book fonts, and launch a proper store at some point, so I can generate passive income which would enable me to continue working on fewer books and do better work, I also actually like type design, and want to gain a bit more knowledge in that arena. So far, everything I know about type is scattershot, learnt via practice and accident. I want to formalise that a bit, so I can both come to my work with a better understanding of the letters I work with, and expand my area of engagement with type.

Particularly with type design, I think it’d be fun to share the process of the fonts I’m working on here, so you can look forward to that.

I’ll hopefully be back next week with a more substantial edition, with a central essay like I usually have.

Have a good week!

From the Commonplace Book

I can’t remember where I found this one, but it’s from Liber Null, a book about chaos magic (that I haven’t yet read myself). In the spirit of Moore, seems like the analogy works for art as well:

The tendency of things to continue to exist, even when unobserved, is due to their having their being in Chaos. The magician can only change something if he can ‘match’ the Chaos which is upholding the normal event. This is the same as becoming one with the source of the event. His will becomes the will of the universe in some particular aspect. It is for this reason that people who witness real magical happenings at close range are sometimes overcome with nausea and may even die. The part of their Kia or life force which was upholding the normal reality is forcibly altered when the abnormal occurs. If this type of magic is attempted with a number of people working in perfect synchronisation, it works much better. Conversely, it is even more difficult to perform in front of many persons, all of whom are upholding the ordinary course of events.

Filed under #magic and #writing.