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    • CommentAuthorPhlebas
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2009 edited
    Do you still have an unused HIT idea rattling around?
  1.  (7381.2)
    Kieron --

    Thank you!

    That is a great song for Emma Frost, which I find amusing because I don't think she'd listen to it. My personal Emma Frost song is Anna Nalick's "Consider This." But I'm not sure she'd listen to that, either? Scott Summers listens to classic rock, and the BeeGees when no-one is around. Jean Grey likes Springsteen and other rockers who sing in a dirty way about love and in a pure way about sex. Kitty Pryde listens to intelligent female indy artists and a lot of folk rock.

    When the Dazzler story came out I lunged for the IM, shouting, "KIERON MADE ALI A PHONOMANCER!" Not that that's exactly what the story was, obviously. But I felt that there was some of that in the emotional heart of the story -- about her life as a musician and as a mutant, and how they feed each other.

    I love Metric -- I find the rhythm of "Help I'm Alive" to be hypnotic, which I think is the point. It's also one of the best songs about panic, along with Suzanne Vega's "Blood Makes Noise." I'll check out The Knife, thank you!

    And thanks for the Fantastic Fangirls shout-out! You should stop by the comments of the latest Q&A and contribute to the discussion of the Avengers' Tivo and Netflix queues. Or, what's on their iPods. :)

    I hope you feel better soon, and thanks again --
  2.  (7381.3)
    Here's a great "Help I'm Alive" remix, by the way:
  3.  (7381.4)
    Neftones: What's one band you and Jamie fight over including in Phonogram?

    I don't like maybe 50% of the bands featured in Phonogram. But that's not the point of it. While specific bands and specific songs all feature for story reasons (and so it really wouldn't make sense for me to say I don't want them in the comic, as it would affect Kieron's story), the ideas behind the comic are universal and so it doesn't MATTER that I don't like that particular band. The character does, the music means something to them, and THAT'S what is important.

    It's quite funny people thinking we have the same music tastes. We'd hoped that characters disagreeing over music within the comic in the second series might give people the idea that The Creators Are Not The Characters in this respect, but that's been missed by a few people.
  4.  (7381.5)
    Hi KG
    we've (internet) chatted about Kenickie before, as well as Ladyfest(s)
    Hi also to Jamie, who tweeted about me with Rich Stevens about my name, cosmically this all links in...somehow :p

    anyway, question is this:

    you can have either;
    a world where 100 indie games take of, get the kudos/devleopment/etc they deserve and it nigh on revolutionises the industry
    a world where 100 Kenickie-inspired bands become huge, give us the pop music we oh-so-richly-deserve and rid the charts of relaity tv stars albums

    there is plenty of tea in both these worlds :)
  5.  (7381.6)
    @Jamie McKelvie Hot damn, that is a great remix. Thank you!
    • CommentAuthordot_xom
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2009

    Thanks a lot for the reply. I know it's one of those obvious questions that people always ask, but I really do enjoy learning about my favourite writers' influences--especially since it usually leads me to other great writers I should check out.
  6.  (7381.8)
    I told Sanders this already, but I'd just like to say SWORD kicks fucking teeth.
  7.  (7381.9)
    Right - starting on Page 2, saving inevitably fisticuffs with Jamie for later.

    Kernowdrunk: Utterly unrelated to your art , but do you remember shouty Britpop-era agit punks the Flying Medallions ? I fear I may have imagined them.

    The internet remembers. I have thankfully forgotten.

    Kernowdrunk: Have you listened to Sam Sparro this year ?

    Not this year, but a little last. Black And Gold got into my Top 40, which is the sort of thing Warren mocks me for.

    joe.distort: whats up with this new book through AVATAR? i have been quite enamored with your stuff as you may or may not know and am pretty interested in a new creator owned thingie from you.

    Bigger answer here, so I'll come back to it. Much to say. To get going, here's the blog post I did about it when it turned up in an interview. Here's the relevant quote...

    William [Christensen, Avatar Editor-in-Chief] came to me, and basically wanted a female-led action comic, and apart from that, it was entirely open. That’s an incredibly open brief, so I sat back and started thinking. I was thinking about cyberpunk, and I was thinking about Riot Grrl, Judge Dredd, Tank Girl, Kill Yr Boyfriend… The most important thing, is that it’s a cop drama on Mercury. It’s the idea that, especially after Obama got in, people seemed to be thinking about the future again, the idea that we’re going to have a future. So a lot of the problems that we have today, are not problems in this particular world. Specifically, environmentalism becomes very important, as in Environmentalism is actually very close to what religion is now, but they still have this energy need. So what they’ve ended up doing is solar panels on Mercury. And Earth is kind of like a lived-in Utopia, but Mercury is a bit harsher, kind of the new Wild West. And the lead character is one of these cops, who goes to Mercury, and has to deal with crime there. Of course, The Heat. So the focus is both on Mercury, because it’s very, very hot, and the police.

    One of the inspirations for it was… Whiteout! Not the film but the actual comic. Whiteout is fantastic because it takes a police procedural and then applies it to an unusual environment. And the environment becomes a character. I basically wanted to do the idea of ‘what would it be like to fight crime on Mercury?’. But Mercury’s incredible, one side melts lead, the other side freezes oxygen. These are incredible differences, how would you police it? In fact, how would the power plant work? How would the people live? How would the energy get back to earth? Mercury is very small, and it rotates very slowly. A Mercury day is about 88 Earth days long. It actually only rotates at around 10km/hr, in other words it rotates less than running speed. On Mercury, you can out-run the dawn. And that’s pretty much the opening scene, of somebody trying to out-run the dawn. And of course, you can out-run the dawn - just not for long. And that’s my noir-esque start of it. And the environment characterises and changes everything.

    I stress, done in an interview, so the science's numbers are a bit off. But you get the idea.

    WillinSpace: My least favorite kind of question that people ask writers of superhero comics are the ones that are like, "Who would win in a fight, Hawkman or Spider-Man?" I've decided on a better kind of question that involves comics creators themselves. Who would win in a bar fight, you or James McKelvie? How bout you versus other up-and-coming Marvel talent? You versus Fred Van Lente? Jason Aaron? Is there anyone at Marvel (writers, artists, editors, etc) who you are pretty confident you could beat up? Anyone you'd like to get in a fight with?

    I think it's safe to say that in any bar fight, as long as both Jamie and I got hurt, the universe would win.

    I've never met Mr Van Lente in the flesh, so can't really judge his potential for hurtage. But Jason Aaron has the slow, sure hands of a killer and eyes that have seen too much. Compare and contrast our two most definitive works: SCALPED: Reservation-set Crime story full of sex, humanity and acts of unspeakable violence. PHONOGRAM: Indie kids with fringes mope. HE WOULD EAT ME ALIVE.

    All my editors at Marvel could beat me up. And do.

    WillinSpace: Are there any Christmas/Holiday stories that you'd like to tell?

    The Singles Club is set at Christmas, oddly enough. One of the other working titles was CHRISTMAS SINGLE.

  8.  (7381.10)
    Anyways: When I first read Phonogram, I was rather startled to see Kenickie mentioned... Typically, I keep the music I listen to to myself because all my friends hate the things I listen to (this may or may not have something to do with living in a frozen hell north of the polar circle), and even on the internet I have yet to talk to a fellow Kenickie fan - so, seeing you here answering questions and everything, I can't resist asking, what's your favourite record by the band?

    Sorry, never heard of them.

    WordWill: Ariana beat me to the general games journalism question, so I'll try to be more specific: What do you think the goal of the games journalist should be? What makes good games journalism good? Is this different from, say, what makes good entertainment journalism good in general?

    My propensity for answering this sort of question has got me into all sorts of trouble over the years. Also, mild infamy, which suits me. "Mild" is about the most infamy a games journalist could aspire to, y'know?

    The goal of a good games journalist should be whatever you think it should be. That's not something that can - or should - be enforced from the outside. You seeing whatever you consider important is absolutely the heart of it. There's so many areas where people can push the form, it's a question of choosing your spot and starting to dig. To Quote Calvin, there's treasure everywhere.

    There's a thing about Nobel prizes that I forwarded to PC Gamer's (now) Editor late one night, which we often paraphrased at each other when asking what we should be writing next. The relevant bit...

    Over on the other side of the dining hall was a chemistry table. I had worked with one of the fellows, Dave McCall; furthermore he was courting our secretary at the time. I went over and said, ``Do you mind if I join you?'' They can't say no, so I started eating with them for a while. And I started asking, ``What are the important problems of your field?'' And after a week or so, ``What important problems are you working on?'' And after some more time I came in one day and said, ``If what you are doing is not important, and if you don't think it is going to lead to something important, why are you at Bell Labs working on it?'' I wasn't welcomed after that; I had to find somebody else to eat with! That was in the spring.

    Tim and me throwing "What are the important problems in your field?'' back and forth is our way of concentrating our attention.

    In other words: it's all up to you.

    WordWill: I cite your article on the Cradle level in Thief: Deadly Shadows with some regularity as a great example of thoughtful analysis in games criticism. How has your opinion changed since then?

    Thanks. That was from the period I was talking about with Tim actually, and an example of me going for the big swing and not totally fluffing it.

    (The PDF's here, if people are interested.)

    I think it's certainly something that could work well. The only problem with the Cradle article is that it relies on having something Cradle-level to actually dissect. There's very, very few game levels in this decade which wouldn't buckle under this level of attention. I never got around to doing a follow-up when I was still working closely with PCG, but something like the Milkman level in Psychonauts could have been very interesting.

    At the moment with RPS my main aims are trying to fight against tedious old wanky snark cynicism without becoming a book-tome, trying to give worthwhile games with no public-profile as much exposure as I can and trying to foster the idea that games are best thought of on a wider, inclusive scale rather than rejecting everything. Facebook stuff is as much a PC game as Doom, etc.

    zoombini: Thanks! I don't know William IRL - though we're forum acquaintences over at Quarter To Three - but I've met Whitta a couple of times.

    JefUK: I'm fairly obsessed with combining original music and comics to provide broader, more intricate narratives ( see my ). Anyway, I've started following your work recently, and I was wondering what you had to say about the relationship between music and comics, and do you plan (or have you already made) music developed specifically to your comics (as opposed to referencing existing work)? Thanks for the great comics, Kieron!

    Wow. That one doesn't really require an essay, but a monograph.

    Keeping it short - they're two forms which are in some ways absolutely opposite. They have control of time and sound, the two things which are absent in comics. At least part of Phonogram is powered by trying to transform something which can't be done in a 1 for 1 conversion. Culturally there's a fair few interesting cross overs and... oh, by trying to keep it short it's ending banal. I occasionally think of the two separate elements of comics - words and pictures - as similar to the interaction between lyrics and music. Or, as I put it, the specific emotional resonance (Words - i.e. THEY PRIMAIRLY MEAN SOMETHING DIRECTLY) and the non-specific emotional resonance (Sound/Pictures - THEY PRIMARILY MEAN SOMETHING BY IMPLICATION). To make that more specific - because clearly, it's nonsense if taken in the widest sense - think of that bit in Understanding comics where we show how a panel is made psychotic via words and how it's made psychotic via spiral. The words are psychotic directly - he's mental. The spiral is psychotic because it indirectly creates that sense of unease. Its' why we refer to Jamie and my separate jobs as Lyrics/Music in Phonogram anyway.

    (Well, that and it's funny. Plus trying to work out names to call everyone else who helps constantly makes us giggle)

    Regarding making music... no. My ability to create music, as evidenced by any dodgy band I've been in, is pretty fucking minimal. I suspect any music I did would just tarnish the comic... well, probably, anyway. Of course, it's not a bad idea at all. You're aware of RED ROCKET 7, yeah?

  9.  (7381.11)
    afterannabel: In an interview about Rue Britannia you said that you made a lot of dumb decisions while creating the comic, some of which were necessary. I got the impression you were talking about alienating possible readers, but which decisions are you referring to?

    Do you have context for it? I said that at several times, and meant different things at different times. When talking about RUE BRITANNIA now, I tend to actually just highlight actual mistakes - mainly conceptual mistakes. But some of the necessary stupid things... well, they're the conceptual stuff which is absolutely required for the comic to mean what it means. A lot of things would be more obviously interesting or dramatic or (most likely) Commercial if we made our magic work slightly differently... but if it worked slightly differently, it wouldn't be music. IT HAS TO WORK LIKE MUSIC. Without that, Phonogram isn't Phonogram. It's that sort of anti-commercial decision is stupid. It's also necessary.

    There's other stuff too. I mean, Britpop? That was a stupid decision, and probably not necessary. But, just like the Four Tops and Orange Juice, we can't help ourselves.

    Other stuff is... well, we didn't try to hide what we were. The first page of Rue Britannia is absolutely a fuck you. You could be turned off by the first caption box: "I LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND I LIKE WHAT I SEE. YEAH, IMAGE IS THE FIRST DOGMA OF THE FAUSTIAN PROCESS, etc, etc". The whole first page is abrasive, anti-seductive. And we felt we had to do that, because why waste time trying to play all coy? Some people would hate Phonogram. We felt that we should turn them off as quickly as possible to avoid wasting any of their and our time.

    Oddly - we occasionally get accused of being elitist, but it's not actually for stuff like that (Which especially with RUE I may have to say is fair) but for stuff that isn't (e.g. The name-dropping. I mean, if we were trying to be cool, do you think we'd do a mini about Britpop, y'know?).

    It's a lot different with THE SINGLES CLUB, of course. It doesn't have the same sort of arrogance, I think. Of course, it's probably appropriate a comic based-on Britpop could feel a little like talking to a ludicrous cokehead.

    Er... I tend to be hypercritical about what I do, by the way. And you did ask about "stupid" stuff. I'm still very proud of RUE BRITANNIA.

    SilentObjector: In short, I would like to be a Kieron Gillen when I grow up.

    I would like to grow up.

    And thanks. I should get Matt Sheret in here to talk about Titus Andronicus too.

    Ales Kot: What's your dream project?

    Phonogram, obv.

    Which of course makes the unlikeliness of series 3 pretty crushing. On the other hand, I know pros who've been working in the industry for decades and they've never actually managed to do a personal project like that. Yes, it's sad. But I'm very lucky, and terribly aware of it.

    Right - end of the second page of questions. Stop now for diet coke and chocolate.

      CommentAuthorJef UK
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2009 edited
    Man, Thor was great! A pretty seamless transition.

    Checking out Red Rocket 7....

    Edit: Oh yeah! I've seen that, but never read.
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2009
    Hey! Just saw a snippet about you (Kieron) and other comics authors (with the conspicuous absence of Mr. Ellis, unfortunately) in the pages of a recent Decibel magazine...
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2009 edited
    Me specifically? Yes, you. :) Well, anyone who invents some manner of time-machine to allow me to find time to write another story gets one for free. I could use such a device. It's really a case that outside of Phonogram, I've got no time to do something even with artists I've had a relationship with. I mean, I've done quite a few short stories with the lovely Andy Bloor over the years for the Accent UK anthologies (, but I haven't time for it. Which is heartbreaking, but at least Andy did a story with me in the last issue of Phonogram.

    there's this thing called googlewave: I've sent you an invite to play with the beta it until it breaks, maybe it could come in handy. ;)

    i.e. Best thing to do is just carry on doing work and offer to do if we ever cross paths.
    I shall rely on my serendipitous eye for trouble and opportunity to invite you to a dance, incidentally I happen to like the quickstep, what's your dance faux-pas?

    You find someone who you think is brilliant and isn't too busy, and ask if they want to do something together some times.

    Speaking of brilliance in a definition; what would you like to say to Milo Manara (who recently worked on an x-title) and do you think you could (or maybe you already have) write a story for him?

    Thanks for your reply, Kieron. :)

    and sorry for the weird posting earlier, it's in it's proper home now over at spit.
    • CommentAuthorAnyways
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2009
    The disappointment is palpable in Norway tonight. Oh well.
  10.  (7381.16)
    The context would be this interview at Noise to Signal, in which you said:
    It was a bit like, y'know, we knew what we were doing, but we made a lot of really dumb decisions. And some decisions were just dumb, but some decisions were dumb but necessary, which I think was quite important.'s a weird comic which deliberately does stuff which is a bit stupid and that frankly makes us not sell, but if you compromise on that, the integrity of the entire project would fall apart. So yeah, we did everything, some of it was right, some of it was wrong.

    Regarding The Singles Club, you've mentioned that each issue corresponds to a particular band: #1-The Pipettes, #2-Cansei de ser Sexy, #3-The Knife, #4-Robyn, #5-The Long Blondes, #6-Camera Obscura, and #7-TV on the Radio. Please correct me if I'm wrong on any of these. Were these connections deliberate? Did they come about organically? You've said that the ways in which they connect differ, some are more obvious than others. Would you mind going into more detail? As each single issue comes together to form one single, complex story, is there one artist you'd connect to The Singles Club as a whole?
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2009
    Not really any questions to ask myself, but I'd like to thank you for being very nice about Fable2. I was kind of expecting people not to be, so it was a pleasant surprise. Loved the Darkfall review, that was a deeply unpleasant hole for Eurogamer to drop you into and you handled it far better than I would've done...


    One of my deeply geeky 'history of the industry before you were born when it was populated by people even geekier than you are' books claims it was added by Nolan Bushnell, but he claims credit for practically everything that was going on back then so who knows.

    Maybe one question: What do you think of Molyneux? I've only ever known him from this side of the journalist / developer divide.
  11.  (7381.18)
    The disappointment is palpable in Norway tonight. Oh well.

    Aww come on, his answers aren't that bad.
  12.  (7381.19)
    Have you read The Vinyl Underground and do you think it's awesome?
  13.  (7381.20)
    From your work it seems fairly clear you love music. What is your preferred way of listening to music?