Traveling Podcast Party w/ Hope Nicholson + Kieron Gillen
In this episode Hope and Kieron sat with us to talk about Elfquest and other books they love.
Topics include reading the reading lists of our lives, 7-Eleven, Ralph’s, the beautiful Neil Morgan Auditorium at the San Diego Central Library, comics in Pathmark because where else would go for comics, OK Hope got them at flea markets so, Elfquest, elves as fascist, British Transformers, sobbing at comics, gasping audiences, works that pushed yourself to work inside of comics, Enigma, 1940s comics, bonkers panel setups, comics to finally recommend!
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Matt: We appreciate everyone coming out, the library for inviting us back. We have great turn out today. This is The Comixologist Traveling Podcast Party. We had it last year. Kara was here. She’s gracefully tagged Tia in for this trip. She’s doing fantastic work.
Tia: Thank you.
Matt: You had this genius idea for this podcast panel.
Tia: Yeah. Basically I was just thinking about how people have the soundtracks of their lives where they have certain songs that constantly, or, constantly, immediately remind them of a certain moment in their life, or, if they are going through something, there’s a song that they turn to that gets them through it or just is an appropriate song for what’s going on. I thought we probably have also reading lists of our lives, and it might be interesting to talk about that.
Matt: We only had two people in mind for this panel.
Tia: It’s true.
Matt: Two of our dear friends. We have Kieron Gillen. Welcome. You’re a favorite of this podcast. Welcome back.
Kieron: Thank you very much for having me.
Matt: And a dear friend Hope Nicholson, publisher to the stars, consulting editor of the huge Maragret Atwood book that’s coming out September. Welcome.
Matt: I wanted to break just for one second, because Hope and I had this amazing conversation yesterday about 7-11. Kieron, when was the last time you were at 7-11? Have you ever been to a 7-11?
Kieron: A 7-11? As in the shop open from 7 to 11?
Hope: It’s actually open 24/7 usually.
Hope: All mine are.
Kieron: I almost question whether they lie. Is that just like a branding thing? Last time I was in a 7-11, must have been, I was in Ralph’s earlier.
Matt: Really? How was it?
Kieron: It was a hell of a time.
Matt: What did you get?
Kieron: I bought an enormous two liter bottle of water for my room. I refused to pay the hotel water bills. Has success changed me? No, it’s made me increasingly mean.
Hope: Was one of the the fancy Ralph’s? Or was it one of the old ones?
Kieron: It’s the one across the road. I can actually have a sign outside entirely supported by Kieron Gillen. Good purchases.
Hope: They should give you free water now.
Kieron: They should. They should definitely. Me and my friends at Ralph’s, there other convenience stores that you could buy, but my choice is Ralph’s. Death to 7-11s, death to them.
Matt: Kieron does not speak for comiXology, or this library. We just want to put that out there.
Hope: The 7-11 people are going to call us.
Matt: Now, the gist for this panel, we, the podcast in general, we try to share our love of comics and try to pitch people what to read. I think the idea in general for this panel was similar in we had a few thematic ideas of what kind of comic books bring you back to where you were in high school. What comics do you think of immediately when you think of college? I think, for me, for high school, or even grade school, I remember, I don’t know about you guys, but I remember buying comics book at Pathmark which was like the local supermarket. They had it on the spinner racks. One of the first ones that I got was X-Men series called X-Cutioner’s Song, which is like the 12 part, it was polybagged, had the trading card in it.
Kieron: One of Nick Lowe’s, my X-Men editor’s favorite comics in passing.
Matt: It is an amazing comic book. I don’t know if it holds up to today’s standards, but essentially it’s the same storyline every time. Professor X gets near death and they’re out for revenge. The memory of those books, they were poly bagged and they had those trading cards inside of it. I feel like we should bring that back, trading cards, the inside of polybagged comics.
Hope: comiXology trading cards? On brand.
Matt: You are very on brand. What about you? What brings you back to your youth? What’s the first thing you think of maybe with like high school or grade school comic books?
Hope: For me? I mostly used to buy my comics at flea markets, actually. I didn’t really like comic book stores. They were always kind of weird. I was obsessed with Elfquest.
Hope: I had every single issue, every single trade spin off including the anthologies and the calendars, just every single thing. I thought I was the biggest Elfquest nerd that was possible until I met Renee Nault, who’s an artist, who’s doing the Margaret Atwood book, the Handmaid’s Tale adaptation. She was like, “No, I had every single one of those too.” I’m like, “Yeah, right, did you have the calendar?” She’s like, “I had two.” I’m like, “Oh, shit.” Pardon my French.
Tia: We need to talk about Elfquest.
Tia: When I was in probably like elementary/middle school, I was also obsessed with Elfquest.
Hope: Oh, were you?
Tia: I just had like a little group of 3 friends, we were all really into it and everyone thought we were weird. Is this like a sort of young adolescent girl thing?
Hope: I think so. It was written by a woman, too and created and drawn by a woman. The male characters all had this like very authentic beauty to them that you didn’t see in most superhero books. I think that was very attractive and was very melodramatic and so epic. There was so much love affairs and death and big, big storylines that I think is very appealing to girls who like an excess of emotional stories.
Tia: Who is your favorite?
Hope: Oh, Wing? Weirdly enough. Who is like this little, one of the Sun Villagers, or he was a Wolf Rider and then he became a Sun Villager and then he like died off panel of old age. I was obsessed with him because he only appeared in like 5 or 6 issues. Yeah.
Tia: Those were precious moments?
Hope: Yeah, I’ve always been obsessed with like really, really, really weird random characters that only show up a few times.
Matt: Every time someone says Elfquest, I think of EverQuest, the game. I get those confused every time.
Hope: Did you know, and there’s actually, it’s confusing because there’s a Hero Quest spin off called Elf Quest, but with a space between Elf and Quest. It was …
Matt: Why would they do that?
Matt: Remember those PC games with those big boxes at like GameStop?
Kieron: You can live inside them. It’s basically you could play games and also have like a habitat. I’ve never read Elfquest. It’s one of those big holes in my reading, which I feel quite shameful. I mean, Jamie always mocks me because I’m quite mean on elves. He always tells the story when I was explaining to some cosplayers dressed exquisitely as Tolkien elves, why elves are kind of fascists. That’s kind of what elves are. They’re immortal. They’re perfect. If there was a master race, they mean elves, don’t they? I was always fundamentally aware, in Tolkien, I would be an orc. I’m explaining- One of my rants. It’s not a good rant to do to 3 people dressed as elves.
Hope: The neat thing about Elfquest is that if you look at it from an academic point of view, it’s actually a very biting commentary on colonialism.
Tia: Oh, yeah.
Kieron: I don’t even know the themes about it. It’s one of those books that it was- I came into comics late. It was such an American thing that I didn’t even really know what it’s about apart from both elves and quests I presume.
Tia: Yeah, there’s some quests and there some elves.
Hope: There’s also a lot of sex.
Tia: Oh, there’s so much sex. There’s that group sex scene that got it like banned from …
Hope: I know. I learned so much.
Kieron: Educational comics.
Hope: It was the first comic, I mean, especially since I started reading it young, where I got introduced to like the concept of polyamory and stuff. Like all the elves are in like multiple like marriages or they’re just like having relations with other elves. I guess like it seems from that that would be kind of dirty, but it was all presented kind of just in alternate kind of universe methods. It all seemed very normal and natural.
Tia: Yeah, I never felt like it was fetishizing it.
Hope: Yeah, exactly.
Matt: I wonder what I would have turned out like if I have read Elfquest at that Pathmark instead of X-Cutioner’s song. Instead of Professor X just getting blasted in Central Park.
Kieron: He would still get blasted in Central Park. I’m sorry.
Tia: Isn’t your mother in the audience??
Kieron: Yeah. Hi mom.
Matt: What about you Kieron? What makes you think of that era for yourself?
Kieron: It’s like- I didn’t read comics when I was like a teenager. It’s like, because there’s literally no comic shops in the town I grew up. It just wasn’t a common thing. I went, read all the kid’s comics and stopped because it wasn’t really anything available. Like my brother carried over in 2000AD and stuff, which I read of his. I never sort of drifted out of comics then came back in my 20s. You go back to my childhood, it’s kind of- This is- I’m kind of preempting what I know the next question is, but there was a British Transformers comics, this is the second time today I’ve been talking about them. The American Transformers comics were a bit clearly toy tie-ins, whilst the British ones mainly written by a guy called Simon Furman and they’re kind of weird. They were this big enormous sporting space epic thing. Clearly processing a lot of different kind of stuff. I think about that and I found that they were very powerful and they’re weirdly influential on a load of British comic readers my age.
There’s a character called Impactor who was a new Transformer, not actually a real one. He dies twice. That’s the first time I remember crying over a comic. Impactor sacrifices himself to save Emirate Xxaron and gets blasted in parts. It’s a very horrific death. It’s amazing. I cry my little eyes out. Then he comes back a few stories later like a year on as a zombie and he breaks the zombie control then sacrifices himself again. Basically, Impactor was Jean Grey for my court of generation of British comic kids. I think about that kind of stuff.
Matt: I didn’t even know that they did British transformer comics. I guess those rights are in the ether right.
Kieron: They kind of, some of them have been worked into the IDW, they were a British comic originally. It all became because American comics are monthly and British comics are weekly. Bi-week publishing the American Comics meant they ran out of comics. They had stories which fitted in for the American comic, and eventually they just stopped doing the American comics and just kind of did the British ones, I believe, because I had stopped reading by then.
Matt: Would you ever want America to kind of adopt that weekly format? They do it a little bit with digital first stuff. Those are kind of weekly like DC Injustice is huge and that’s weekly. Outside of that, in print, it doesn’t really happen that much.
Kieron: I have a weird love of- I mean, there’s been times in my career when I’ve been doing a monthly book and it goes weekly, like the end of Journey into Mystery, that was weekly. There was like 4 issues in a month. That was fun, especially because the plot was really cooking. The fans were genuinely very interested and powerful. That was the kind of thing I would love to do a weekly book by myself. That’s on my kind of bucket list. It probably would kill me. If like when WicDiv is over, there’s part of me be like, “Yeah, monthly book. I’m sorry a weekly book, then, by myself. No one’s done that.” There’s probably a reason why no one’s done that.
Matt: I have the perfect property in mind.
Kieron: Which is?
Kieron: Hell yeah. There’s always like- I said, I’ve joked, like, so many women I know entirely influenced by Elfquest. It’s something I’ve taken very high regard, having know little about it. I know about how it’s impacted them, like the sort of conversations you guys have just been having.
Tia: I wonder if you might be too old for it now. Like, I feel like it was just such a like, not that it’s a child’s comic by any means, but it just, it’s …
Kieron: Of the period.
Tia: Yeah. You’re like already kind of formed as a person.
Kieron: I wouldn’t go that far.
Tia: You might analyze it with a more critical kind of viewpoint.
Kieron: Reading old 60s Marvel, the same, though, you know? You can’t take it straight storytelling. I would approach it as historical artifact. I still think that’s interesting.
Hope: You can go to Columbia University and they have the archives there. They have all of the- Have you been there?
Tia: No, I haven’t.
Hope: You should, I’ll come to New York. We’ll take a field trip. The librarian there, she is a friend of comiXology and she’s always offering to pull it all out for me when I’m there. Let me know. Field trip. They also have, back in the early days of, not the super early days of internet, but before digital comic platforms were a big thing, they actually scanned and made all of their comics online available for free to read.
Tia: They are such wonderful people.
Hope: Which was huge, like hundreds and hundreds of issues. Yeah.
Matt: Now, what about you, Hope. Did you ever have that Transformer’s moment, twice, where a character sacrificed himself? Did you weep?
Hope: I was going to say, one of my, in Elfquest, when he died, it was like a major character death. I kept reading being like, “Well, they’re going to bring him back. They’re going to bring him back. It’s comics. They bring dead characters back.” The whole arc of his was just like gradually accepting his death. Which, for his family. That was really intense. When a character dies in Elfquest, they’re just dead, like forever.
Matt: Do you remember at the end you were talking about like accepting death and it was very dark. Do you remember the end of Toy Story 3? All the characters accepted their own deaths.
Hope: When they’re going towards the fire.
Matt: I was watching it with my son.
Hope: It was horrifying.
Matt: It was a very dark movie.
Hope: Comics you should read after you’ve watched Toy Story 3 and you need to cheer up.
Matt: What about you Tia, do you have one at the top of your head that made you somber and maybe even crying while you were reading?
Tia: Is it weird if I just talk about some of Kieron’s comics?
Kieron: I’ll cover my ears.
Tia: I mean, Journey into Mystery is my go to ugly cry comic.
Kieron: I definitely think I broke a generation of readers with JiM. Kind of like, the end of JiM is so- I saw someone did a Tumblr post and that kind of, any fictional read now, I’m kind of quite mellow about because I know it cannot be as traumatic as the end of JiM, which is a badge of pride.
Tia: I feel like Al Ewing, he kind of, he fixed it. I mean, not that it was broken, but like he brought it to a place where you’re like, “Okay, well that happened and it was traumatizing, but like it’s fine now.” You could read Journey into Mystery and have your ugly cry and keep reading through Young Avengers and Loki: Agent of Asgard and you’ll feel better eventually.
Matt: What about in WicDiv, I think it was issue 11 where everyone wanted to kill you.
Kieron: Everyone wants to kill me a lot. It’s like, um, it’s like, yeah, there was, the last panel we did at Emerald City was a WicDiv panel. They put the click just before Laura gets…
Tia: Yes, I remember that.
Kieron: The room gasped. It was a kind of an interest, a frightened yet excited noise. It’s one of those really interesting sort of crowd reactions in terms of it. You don’t really think about how powerful and weird it would be to see that panel the size of the wall behind you. No one had thought about it. Yeah, I mean, honestly. It’s what the book’s about. I mean, you don’t write it not to have an emotional reaction, I guess.
Matt: How does it feel for you now? You had that reaction as a reader, now you’re causing that for readers.
Kieron: It’s never been as bad as Journey into Mystery. I’ve done emotionally distressing stuff before, but that was hard. The internet cried again. I wrote this essay. Chrissy, my wife came in and said, “How’d you-” She was just reading some of the stuff people were saying and is like, “How do you feel?” I said, “I guess this must be how Joss Whedon feels all the time.” It didn’t feel good. I thought, “Why on earth would anyone want to do this to another human being?” It made me to really- I wrote this essay, you can sort of Google up. It’s like why do we think this is a good thing to do? Why is this what writing’s about? Why do people come to it? I still don’t have a good answer.
Hope: People need to have the ability to feel that strong, strong intense emotion but without it having an effect of losing someone that they actually know. I think it’s very cathartic.
Kieron: I think that it’s part, it’s like, you know, it’s a way to approach death. This is at least part of it that we dance with this time and time again and see where we’re left.
Hope: It’s almost like rehearsing something so that when it happens in your life you have a script for it that you can fall back because things that you can anticipate are somehow easier to process, I think? Maybe I don’t know.
Matt: What about, let’s change gears, instead of dark and depressing comics, what are some cheerful or books you read to laugh or feel good about yourself in general.
Hope: Definitely for me it’s like 60s to 70s Archie comics are like my go to of like whenever I’m just like very much in an anxious or nervous place, I read those. It’s just the adventures are so short and they’re so silly, they’re so pretty that it’s just very easy to just fall into them till you feel better at the end.
Matt: What about the current crop of Archie books? What do you think of those? Be honest with us, Hope.
Hope: They’re not for me. People enjoy them very much and that’s good. You should always be trying new things.
Kieron: I hate the ones by Chip Zdarsky. They’re really bad because he’s a bad person.
Tia: Okay, well, my favorite comic to read to make me laugh is Kaptara.
Kieron: That’s by Chip Zdarsky, who is a bad person.
Matt: What’s the pitch for Kaptara.
Hope: Kaptara has the best pitch.
Tia: Oh, my God. It’s just like weird sci-fi, bonkers, crazy. A new synonym for crazy, basically.
Hope: Isn’t it like gay He-man in space?
Tia: Kind of, yeah.
Matt: That’s a great pitch too.
Kieron: That’s just He-Man, surely.
Tia: Is He-Man in space? I always thought he was on a fantasy world?
Kieron: Eternia it’s in space, because She-Ra’s on a different planet. There must be …
Tia: I mean, technically aren’t we all in space.
Matt: It’s true.
Hope: Oh, yeah.
Kieron: It’s getting too deep.
Tia: There’s all sorts of weird creatures and like gross old guys in scary little creepy things and a lot of gay sex type stuff, it’s a lot of fun.
Matt: So far we’ve talked about a lot of Elfquest, polyamory..
Tia: There’s a note on the back of our name tags that says to be aware that the audience might be under 18. We can see the audience.
Hope: This is recorded for the podcast.
Matt: You both have been in comics for awhile and you do very different things in them, but was there a work that inspired you to become involved more deeply into comics?
Kieron: I’m not good on the concept of deep. The 2 big transformational works, one was Watchmen. I went to live in America for a year and this is the thing that got me into comics, really. I moved to America and I basically didn’t have a television. This is just the beginning of the internet, so there’s no internet at home. All I had was a load of existential texts and a copy of Watchmen. Basically, I was too depressed and down to read the existentialist texts so I read Watchmen like 7 times, probably more than that. I obsessed over it. It was like, oh yeah, this kind of fractured clockwork inspiring. The more you read it, the more there was. That lead me to a friend of mine, who I’m in America, lent me a bunch of stuff. That allowed me to read Invisibles and Preacher. I was reading 1 or 2 trades a month. Watchmen is, there’s a speech I did online that they recorded, it’s me doing an hour long breakdown of how it teaches people to read comics and how it’s just, as a structural device, how it works. Watchmen, I rip it off on a daily basis.
Weirdly, the thing that actually got me into coming to comics weekly was I find myself reading The Authority, like Warren Ellis’s first trade. I just picked it up, and there’s a moment when in the first 2 pages, Bryan Hitch and Laura Martin’s colors just kind of, “Oh, this is how I always pictured superhero comics.” There was a moment of elegance and size. I came up the next week and got Planetary, came back the next week and got Transmet. Next week I’m on the Warren Ellis forum. 6 months from that I go to my first con. After the first con, I drunkenly write my first script at night. The next year, I go to con with a black and white zine from the comics I’ve done. I meet Jamie and that’s kind of, that was really like falling in love. I think about that circa-2000 Warren Ellis written comics and Watchmen. They’re the two things that kind of definitely changed my life.
Hope: I feel like for some people who are maybe of a younger generation, Watchmen is a little harder to get into, but I think that The Wicked + The Divine kind of does that for people. It’s one of those books that you have to like read and reread and you can get really obsessive about it.
Kieron: By design, it’s like we, like I say, I rip off Watchmen on a daily basis. Oh yeah, Watchmen was a book designed to be reread, so I tried to, I think it’s one of my weaknesses as a comic writer. I quite often read, like to be reread too much. The first read isn’t arguably as good as it could be. There’s definitely some people who hit hard on first read and are kind of not as good on the second read. I tried, a lot of my writing is trying to balance the two. We’ve WicDiv, I think we’ve done it as good as we can. That’s definitely what we’re trying to … I’m trying to do with WicDiv what Watchmen did to me. That’s kind of explicitly what we’re trying to do, I think.
Matt: Yeah, it’s interesting, the generational mixes of other younger friends of mine who’ve never touched Watchmen but are now into comics, probably won’t have the same reaction to something like Watchmen at this point in their lives or at this year. Other books from Image like Saga, getting new readers in, maybe years from now they’ll probably look back the same way at Saga.
Tia: I honestly think that it’s the art style.
Kieron: Watchmen’s a very cold and austere book. It’s so much of the time. It’s nuclear paranoia. There’s huge things, makes, and there’s big problematic stuff in it as well. You were talking earlier about reading like, Elfquest. I think it’s kind of worth reading like Watchmen historically as well. It’s one of those things that, there’s stuff you can rip off and use and stuff that’s a bit more modern, I think, as I’ve …
Hope: I just reread Watchmen recently, for this history book I’m writing. I’m like, “Well, I should really reread Watchmen because my opinions of it are probably just based on rereading it, reading it as like a 17 year old. It’s going to be different exposure. It was, definitely a lot of the negative opinions I had of it originally, when I read it now, I could really appreciate the craft that went into it, the depth of meaning and that. By no means would I ever recommend it as like a beginner comic book for people. I think that the formatting and the pacing is so unusual and so specific to that comic that it doesn’t really prepare you for reading comics as a whole. It’s so also text heavy and narration heavy and driven by that that is also in like most comics. I feel like it’s more like an intermediary type of comic book rather than a beginner’s. Does that make sense?
Kieron: Watchman got me into Watchmen, is what I normally say. Then Warren Ellis got me into comics. Or at least, Watchmen got me to Alan Moore to be more specific. You’re right, Watchmen is itself. That was one of the weird things, I think, about the 80s, that Watchmen was this big, enormous breakthrough book. There was not a lot like Watchmen to go to next. There weren’t very many big dense, structuralist works. There weren’t many of it very good works, but not good in the same way Watchmen is.
Hope: For me, I always particularly enjoy Enigma. Have you ever read that?
Kieron: I love Enigma.
Hope: It was so good. It’s so unusually plotted and so dense.
Matt: What’s it about?
Hope: It’s, oh, Enigma, it’s kind of hard to say what it’s about without spoiling it. It’s about a young man who …
Matt: Love it.
Hope: Yeah? Do you?
Matt: I love it already.
Hope: All comics about young men.
Matt: That’s all I need.
Hope: Who discovers that the comic books that he grew up reading and the heroes that he grew up worshiping and the villains he grew up kind of like enjoying seeing fight are real. That’s what it’s about on the surface, but that’s not what it’s about at all. It’s about issues of identity, of figuring out who you are and about the nature of the medium of comics and imagination itself. It’s very interesting.
Kieron: Written by Pete Milligan, drawn by Duncan Fegredo.
Kieron: It’s the number one influence on Young Avengers, which no one ever spots. It’s like really low. It’s enormously powerful and sentence by sentence Pete Milligan is the best writer in comics in terms of his prose structure.
Hope: Oh, absolutely.
Kieron: There’s a strange girl panel progression. I always want to do a blog post about, a series of blog posts about my favorite panel progressions, like 2 moments. He’s falling in love with the Enigma, the lead character. It’s written so sensitively.
Hope: When you handed us a list of questions of like what comic books, when I think about love and affection and that, I often think of Enigma and that one scene, that large scene where it’s like, and it didn’t feel like falling at all or something like that. It was beautiful, you read it and it just felt so authentic and so real and powerful. Then also I think of Love and Rockets for a different reason, but yeah.
Kieron: Reading Butcher Pete’s prose, but it’s like, "I’m standing here. I feel like- I find myself thinking about the first time I stood naked in front of a strange girl. That’s what I feel like now, a strange girl.”
Hope: A strange girl, yep.
Matt: Profound. Let’s go get it right now.
Kieron: I’ve only ever bought 2 pages of comic art, one from Enigma and one from Kill your Boyfriend.
Hope: Oh, yeah.
Kieron: That’s my highest praise, really.
Matt: You mentioned Enigma, is that, that’s probably not the one that inspired you to work more deeply in comics?
Hope: No. I mean, I guess the 1940s comics inspired me to work more deeply in comics because I like them so much, but I was tired of having to explain to everyone what they were every single time I did it. It’d be, I thought, “Well, maybe if more attention was brought to them, if the comics were reprinted, if there was a documentary done about them, things like that, I wouldn’t have to explain so much.” People in Canada would just know our cultural history. I don’t think I succeeded fully, but I think more people are aware of the comic history of Canada than they were before my efforts.
Matt: You also told me, I think, Winnipeg is the 7-11 capital of Canada.
Hope: No, it’s the slurpee capital of the world. Yeah.
Matt: Who knew? These are the kinds of things you learn when meet with Hope.
Hope: It’s funny, even in the winter when it’s -40 out people are still eating slurpees.
Tia: Canadians, they are hardcore people.
Matt: They know what they love. What they love is slurpees. God bless them. What other moments did we have, we were looking back at our list.
Tia: I’m actually kind of curious. We just talked about books that kind of got you started. What are books now that you would read if you just sort of are feeling disillusioned with the state of comics and need to be reinspired?
Hope: Since we were just talking about Peter Milligan, there’s a comic I recently discovered of his and was actually chatting to him on email about it called Cindy Shade that premiered in the 1980s as part of Johnny Nemo Magazine. It was just a backup feature, lasted 4 issues and it ended on like an enormous cliffhanger that he insists was intentional. I don’t believe him in the slightest. Sorry. It’s amazing. It’s so weird that it was never picked up as a larger thing. When I read it and I read it for the first time just a month ago, I had that feeling of when you read an influential comic book like when you were young, like that same feeling of kind of awe and just like, “What’s happening? This is beautiful. This is crazy. I want to find out more about these characters, about this world, about everything like that.” It was this amazing dystopia. It was so bizarre. It was a world run by robots, but they were also librarians and they were powered by urine. It made no sense. The lead character’s just amazing 80s rock goddess. It just made me feel so happy with the comics medium for a brief moment.
Kieron: I haven’t read like Nemo in the single issues. Who drew that? Was it like McCarthy or …
Hope: It was a fellow who passed away. I’m trying to remember his name.
Kieron: I know Brett Ewins did the main..
Hope: Yes, it was Brett Ewins. Yeah, absolutely.
Kieron: He was an enormous loss. I mean Screamer. I mean, a weirdly influential book. It’s not one I go back to. I believe the idea inspired me. Like when me and Fraction were coming into comics. Strange Days, which is of course where Nemo first appeared, it was a freak wave and I’ve quite forgot the other books. Basically, Strange Days, only about 3 issues, and it was Milligan, McCarthy, Ewins and they kind of basically 2 kind of writer-y artists, one very artist-y writer. They did this anthology. Did 3 issues of it and they are Phantasmagorical things that are just like, hope to subscribe to like that and that’s very much Strange Days. The idea that velocity of ideas and expressionists. Instead of like the common form isthmus like Watchmen, this is deliberately taken from music. This is taken from drugs. This is much more taken from the visual side of art. They’re amazing. The idea of doing that was one of the big things that turned me and Fraction on, and Jamie. There was definitely some plans we had lying around to do something a bit weird in an anthology format like that.
Yeah, you think about stuff like that and it really inspires you. Yeah, I mean, Milligan is the, as a writer, he’s like my probably biggest influence no one ever mentions, I think. It’s like, because he’s one of the people of that period who didn’t really get talked about much, as much. It’s true. It’s like people would say you’re ripping off Morrison. It’s like, “No, I’m ripping off Milligan, you fools.”
Matt: Now, Tia, what about you? What do you seek out or even recommend for those who are disenchanted and want to reverse that? You can’t say WicDiv.
Tia: I won’t. I do tend to go for books that are really visually just beautiful. Maybe Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier or ODY-C. Just kind of swirling, gorgeous books where I can lose myself in gorgeous colors and not be confined by all the little boxes of the panels.
Kieron: Can I talk about one more? It’s gone almost the other way. We’ve gone to visually inspiring books. The thing that most blew me away formally recently, was Ray Fawkes, The People Inside.
Tia: Oh, yeah.
Hope: Yes, the format and storytelling in that was, is- I actually had to message him after I read, because I cried at parts.
Kieron: I cried. I cried. That’s literally. I cried on that one as well.
Matt: What’s that about?
Kieron: Should I do it? Or you?
Hope: You, you.
Kieron: Okay. It’s kind of the sequel to a book called One Soul which had a similar kind of structure. One Soul is really good, but People Inside takes it better. The People Inside is basically, imagine a double page spread. Imagine, let’s say it starts as a 6 panel grid on each page. Each of the panels in the grid is a different relationship happening. Page 1, panel 1 is one couple. Page 1, panel 2 is a second couple. There was this 12 couples on the page. You turn the page and you get another panel in their story. It juxtaposes these 12 relationships happening simultaneously and how they rise and fall and split up. I’ll give one minor spoiler, but that, basically it starts like 6 panels a page, whenever people split up the panel splits in half. You get like 13 panels, 14 panels a page or whatever. Sorry, 13.
Hope: Sometimes they merge with other panels.
Kieron: Then they die..
Hope: Then the panel goes black. That’s when I kind of usually.
Kieron: Yeah. There’s like, and it’s such an astounding piece of like poetry as visual. I think the visuals are quite simple, but it’s very clear and the main thing is it’s not confusing. I think One Soul, a bit to probably get your head around, People Inside really takes you through and learns how to read it and then devastates you with it. It’s an incredible piece of work.
Hope: It’s nice because people don’t often play with the varied medium and format of comics I guess. To do that was very experimental, but it worked. It wasn’t any harder to read than any other comics, even though it hasn’t been done in that format before as far as I know.
Matt: When did that come out?
Kieron: Like last year? No, the year before last year.
Hope: Yeah, like 2 years ago.
Hope: Intersect’s a fun one too in terms of kind of so much of the storytelling is happening in these layouts that take a lot of visual analysis to understand and figure out how they are doing a lot of the work because the dialog doesn’t give you the story, necessarily. If you are the kind of person who like flips through a comic and just reads the dialog and kind of glances through the artwork you’ll be so confused when you read Intersect. You have to really take your time with the art. I love books like that.
Matt: Do we have any other thematic questions we want to cover, Tia before we see if the audience has any questions? Then maybe we close out with recommendations overall with what you guys are reading to close out the show.
Tia: Don’t we have some things to give away, too?
Matt: We do. We do have a giveaway. I think everyone here can come to the front after the panel for the cards, the All Star trading cards that we’re giving away. Do we want to open up to audience? I don’t know if I see someone with, someone’s raising their hand over there. Do you, would you be able to come to the microphone sir, if you have a question? I also see someone wearing a Paperkeg t-shirt. I wonder if they have any questions..
Audience: Kieron, you spoke about Peter Milligan and Watchmen being a seminal work, both UK writers. I just wanted to know what your thoughts were on Brian Talbot’s Luther Arkwright? Which I always felt was really sort of the prototype for Watchmen and a lot of the more epic adult narratives, fantasy narratives in the 80s.
Kieron: Brian was doing it before anybody. I think this is kind of the accepted sort of history, I guess. When did he start Luther Arkwright? It was which year in the 70s?
Kieron: Thank you very much. Like in the mid 70s he’s doing this very informed by the British new wave of science fiction. He is doing incredibly rigorous formality. If you’re going to see Brian’s Covenant work, which I like a lot, the kind of approach he was doing there was so detail orientated. I always describe, since I got into comics light, and I started writing comics almost immediately, I was going for the canon and I never knew anything and I just devoured this stuff. The comics are as writing we’re clearly informed by what I’d read the week before. This is the week Kieron discovered Cerebus. I just described misogyny. No. I discovered how multiple panels and breaking panels, and Luther Arkwright was, “Here’s Kieron Gillen doing 12 panel grids with ultra slow motion and moving stuff around there.” It’s like I think a lot- I don’t think you’ll have the impact now, in terms of it was definitely there first. I think, there was kind of stuff that was slightly later, probably holds up slightly better. It’s still incredibly powerful work, I think, and visually beautiful. You sort of read when you think when it was and then you think who read that? You sort of like draw a line through history entirely. Luther Arkwright’s a seminal, seminal work.
Tia: Can we do our bonus round autobiographical comic book collection organization?
Matt: You mean what would be the first if you were sorting that way would you put first in your shelf?
Tia: Would you guys ever try something like that?
Hope: I like to put people are friends together, next to each other on the shelf.
Tia: Oh, I love that.
Kieron: I love that. If I was going to try to arrange a book doing it in an autobiographical way …
Tia: Like, your whole comic collection.
Kieron: My current system is do they fit on the shelves. The ideal way to actually format my comics to kind of make it represent my life would be a big messy pile. Basically, my life being a big messy pile of like just confusing books. That’s kind of how I would do it, ideally. In fact, often do.
Matt: Sounds troubling.
Matt: It sounds very troubling. To close out, what would you recommend to the listeners to seek out that maybe they’re not reading now, but they should.
Hope: If anyone has not ever read Moonshadow, I highly recommend it.
Matt: What’s Moonshadow?
Hope: Moonshadow is this very epic comic book that was published by Epic, appropriately enough. It was about a young boy who goes on a mission in space. He’s born in this inter-dimensional zoo to like this hippie mother. It has amazing characters. They’re funny. It’s very sad. The art is all painted. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I don’t understand. That’s also along with Enigma, one of those comics I don’t understand why it isn’t considered essential reading for comics. It’s just absolutely beautiful.
Kieron: Moonshadow’s one of those weird ones I actually never got around to reading either. I should, you’re right.
Hope: My book is being shot, different one.
Kieron: I’m genuinely, my brain is freezing. I Kill Giants, the book that always makes me cry. I normally always say I Kill Giants to anything like this because it’s not one that people are aware. I think more people should read the bloody thing. A couple of books that I just read which I quite liked… I think Ringside is the thing that Image is doing which everyone overlooks.
Matt: A lot of people overlook pro wrestling.
Kieron: I have no interest in wrestling.
Matt: Get out..
Kieron: Wrestling, but it’s just not something I’m interested in. This is such a beautiful crime novel. It’s basically a crime story set in the world of wrestling is a way to describe it. It’s smart. You can see the story the way the story you think is about to go and it doesn’t do that. It takes a trope, twists it, goes a different way, as in it’s read from the guts and the heart and it’s really from the world. I love it so much.
Limbo, which is another Image mini that just finished, which is a noir set in New Orleans. It’s got heavy voodoo influence. That sounds like the worst comic ever. People write voodoo terribly in comics. There’s so much bad voodoo. This didn’t feel like that. It’s got contemporary and new and it’s like visually, it’s astounding, like Tia, you’d be all over this in terms of like all these interesting experimental storytelling and people falling through TV sets and stuff like this. It’s astoundingly good. It’s one of those inner jealousies, but it’s normally my best response to something, is I read something, “Oh yeah, I really wish I could never have done that.” That can go a long way, I think.
Matt: I think another successful traveling podcast party in the books, the library. Thank you to Hope, thank you to the Library.
Kieron: Oh, 4 Kids Rob A Bank, that’s astounding. Read that.
Matt: Oh, yeah, yeah. That’s a podcast favorite. Kieron, thanks for coming on. Tia, Hope, thank you. Everyone come by to the front to get your cards if we have enough for everyone. We’ll see. Come by our booth for signings. I think Kieron, you have a signing I think on Sunday, maybe?
Kieron: I think so. I have things on the WicDiv site.
Matt: Check that out and thanks to everyone for stopping by!