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    • CommentAuthorjonah
    • CommentTimeDec 10th 2009
     (7381.1)
    The Rock, Paper, Shotgun articles were really interesting. I noticed that you replied to a few of the comments.

    How do you go about mentaly filtering what comments to even devote the time to reading? Many were rude/insane/trolls. Hopefully you have a good system set up to know when to stop reading sooner rather than later.

    Thanks.
  1.  (7381.2)
    fun story time:

    the guy who runs one of the two (maybe three? whateva) venues in town where bands of a Phonogrammic nature play came into the comic store last night. i have known him for years, he knows i read comics, and he somehow never mentioned it to me before. after some bantering, i told him "oh yeah, new PHONOGRAM is out today!" his response had me in stitches.

    "oh no, i cant read that fucking comic. im here for some bullshit escapism"

    my face evidently looked about as shocked as i felt, as he turned to me and said

    "nonono, its not bad-i just live that comic about 6 nights a week. i dont want to read it."

    i laughed so hard i nearly peed.
    • CommentAuthoricelandbob
    • CommentTimeDec 10th 2009
     (7381.3)
    ok a small secret

    before this week started.... I hadn´t actually ready any of the Phonogram comics!

    Normally this wouldn´t be such a big "Thing". Hell there a lot of comics i haven´t read. But i started feeling this small thing niggling at me (could have been guilt, could have been heartburn): And Following this thread through the week there was only one thing i could do...

    I went to my LCS on Tuesday, where they had Phonogram: Rue Britannia. I bought it....

    ..and i found it excellent reading. It was a perfect companion piece to the book i read several week ago by John Harris, "the last Party". Brung back all that Indie Britpop stuff that i wallowed in so much while at University. And anyone who comes up with the line "KWK has all the magic sensitivity of a Razorlight B-Side" is definitely all right in my book.

    So thank you Mr Gillen and WC for another brilliant recommendation. And remember

    "I...FUCKING...HATE...KULA...FUCKING..SHAKER!!" (never a truer word spoken)
  2.  (7381.4)
    hey kieron, i think you'd write an amazing Hellblazer.would you be up for it if they asked you?
    •  
      CommentAuthorSJD
    • CommentTimeDec 10th 2009
     (7381.5)
    Mr. Gillen, I love PHONOGRAM and have liked what you've brought to the Marvel U thus far, but I was wondering if all your future plans for comics include or if you have any other creator-owned works percolating.

    And just out of curiosity (because my friend and I are having a bit of an argument about it) what do you think of THE CURE?

    Cheers.

    -S
  3.  (7381.6)
    KarlRuben: Favourite music video questions...

    God, I'm rubbish at this sort of question. Fraction's the man you should hit this up with. I've got an old-skool indie-kid's odd suspicion of pop videos. In Phonogram's metaphor, there's something black magic about them. They're a corruption of music. A glorious, useful and moving corruption - but a corruption nevertheless.

    Oddly, the very-hypothetical third arc would be powered by me processing all that stuff. It'd be about image, and videos being a useful physical incarnation of that.

    I'll give this - my personal pet hate in a pop video is anything which does anything to the music which isn't on the record. Fucking uppity cunting music video directors getting ideas above their station. It's the actual most obvious symptom of what annoys me about pop videos. They're a parasite that thinks it's actually the important part of the endeavour - and what annoys most is that it's not entirely wrong.

    (Fraction was amazed when I gave this somewhat awkward take - which, of course, comes from the fact music videos were relatively exotic things in Britain until the late 90s, which you perhaps got to watch twice a week at best. Conversely, in the US, music television was a whole lot more available. Fraction looked on it very much more as "Radio with pictures".)

    That's a really great Knife video though.

    Favourite video: I could write about Ah-ha's video to Take on Me for the rest of my life, I suspect.

    Aled Davis: Who do we need to blackmailwrite to at Image to get this to happen ? ;) (and would the first series be recolored or as is ?)

    Well, it's as much us as Image. We just need to decide about it, really. And yeah - we're tempted to recolour it. We'll have to see what it looks like coloured. We were black and white for some pretty firm aesthetic reasons. We wanted to look a lot like the old music press. If we can actually work out a way for colouring it to add to that impression... well, yeah, it may be worth a shot.

    WordWill: So, Mr. Gillen, what are the important problems in comics right now?

    Well played.

    I'll be back to it at the end in its own post.

    Fod_XP: I have only read the issue previews, but Kieron's scripts guarantee I will be picking SWORD up as a collection.

    Thank you. Hope you dig it.

    Oddcult: IT WAS HOW SOON IS NOW NOT THE ONE YOU SAID IT WAS AND I CAN'T ACTUALLY BELIEVE *I* SPOTTED SOMETHING WRONG IN A FUCKING SMITHS REFERENCE SHOOT ME NOW OH GOOD THAT'S JUST WHAT A SMITHS FAN WOUDL SAY OH GOD NO REALLY I MEAN IT.

    Shush! We'll fix it in the trade.

    Oddcult: Oh, and if you want to get PG3 done, I think you should do a phonomantic equivalent of the letters page in issue 16 of the Invisibles (which still pretty much contains all anyone needs to know about chaos magic. It wouldn't be a rip[off, it would be a homage. Or a cover version.

    With Phonogram, we save the masturbation for the actual contents.

    Oddcult: Guys - this man paid for my wedding. srsly.

    Best 50 quid I ever spent.

    KG
  4.  (7381.7)
    MercerFinn: From yr blog, it looks like you read every review of your work you can find, which seems uncommon. A lot of writers insist they don't pay attention to criticism. Do you? How do you react to a negative review? Has yr writing changed/improved as a result of a particular review?

    Yeah. I'm still processing what I want to do it. I've worked as a pop-critic for a long time. Especially with Phonogram - which is a book about our own subjective response to art - I'm naturally interested in other people's subjective response to our art. And - y'know - we're terribly needy. And with Phonogram... well, there's a more evil marketing side of it. I want to get quotes which could show that other people actually think we're worth buying. Hell, especially early on, we do a lot to try and encourage people to write about us, just by basic politeness. We wrote a note to pretty much everyone who ever blogged about us at length, even people who didn't like it much. Not ever actually arguing against what they wrote - that way leads madness - but generally a nod and a thank.

    (The only people we didn't do, at least in the early days, were those who hid their e-mails or those who were openly psychotic and scared us a little.)

    With the WFH stuff i'm still trying to decide what I want to do with it. I suspect it'll be healthier if I step back from actually following the critical debate as closely as I do. It eats time and brain-cycles which I could probably use more productively.

    On the other hand, having been a critic, I'm not going to fall into any of the "Critics are just frustrated creatives and should be braver and do their own stuff and wahahahaha" stance.

    The thing is I'm pretty good at what I did in the days of critic-dom. I know what you can say about our book, both positive and negatively. I don't get a lot of new stuff from reviews, but It's useful to see exactly how much of what I was trying to do gets across. If something isn't getting across to a relatively intelligent reader, that's where I end up questioning the work and seeing how I could have perhaps been clearer. And, occasionally, you read a review and think "rumbled" where someone's absolutely honed in on the weakest aspect of the book (The one which comes to mind is Jog's review of the first issue of Rue Britannia, specifically...

    This book wants to impress you. Very badly. Oh, it flails - you’ll half expect droplets of sweat to abruptly bead upon the surface of any one of these 32 b&w pages and drift upward into your eyes via some queer gravitational inversion, perhaps somehow prompted by the time travel inherent to writing creative works and having them published, perspiration privately paused and only later resumed for public pooling. Phonogram screams for attention.


    Which made me think...
    1) It's a fair cop.
    2) Sweetie: you haven't even seen me try to impress you yet.

    (Because I knew almost all the stuff I would want to do with Singles Club even then. And the first issue of series 3, which is the one single thing which makes me saddest about the whole no-PG3 thing. It's ludicrouslily, wankily, fuck-you-all don't-hate-me-because-I'm-beautiful clever. Of course, as we always say with Phonogram, just because we know it's clever, doesn't mean it'll be any fucking good.)

    The thing being, I know how bad critics-turned-creatives can be. Some of the most bullying creatives to journos in other fields used to be journos themselves. I suspect that's at least partially because you know what it's like on the other side, and pretty accurately analyse what sort of person is writing it, why they're writing it, what forces pressed down on them, what larger aesthetic preferences their choices of argument mean and all that jazz. So when I - say - read a trade review and note that he hasn't actually said anything past the first part (freely available online) it's the closest I get to actually angry, because I can tell the reviewer is either being lazy, dishonest or both. In that case, I swallow that and just ignore them. In almost any other case, I'd thank people for spending their time with the book and sorry that it didn't work for them.

    (Which is, of course, a hugely different thing from apologising for anything I wrote)

    Bad reviews don't bother me - I've had a decade of being insulted, so it slides off. Bad reviews where someone actually agrees with me and has missed what the comic was trying to do... well, they're the ones which nag. Conversely, bad reviews which hate the comic for exactly the right reason - as in, they're rejecting it as it's diametrically opposed to their aesthetic preferences - please me.

    End of Page 5!

    KG
  5.  (7381.8)
    Jonah: How do you go about mentaly filtering what comments to even devote the time to reading? Many were rude/insane/trolls. Hopefully you have a good system set up to know when to stop reading sooner rather than later.

    I admit, I'm pretty loose with RPS. I keep an eye on my own comment threads and just delete people who are out of order. The problem with RPS is that we have 4 different people who are co-in-charge and there's trouble having a centralised policy. As in, we disagree about the hard limits and approach - which is at least partially to do with our experience with being called a dick.

    Really, you can tell if a post is out of order in seconds. Open insults directed at other people are easy to see, which is about the only thing we do automatically crack down on. We actually have a pretty decent community in terms of them seeming to know what the reasonable limits. And when you have a community, it self-enforces to some level. Everyone else is acting in a certain way in a comment thread, newcomers know what's expected.#

    I wish we had more moderation options, admitedly, but that's another question. Hell, I wish the site didn't go to the second page of comments when there is one and... oh, fuggetit. Long story.

    Joe.Distort: "nonono, its not bad-i just live that comic about 6 nights a week. i dont want to read it."

    Beautiful.

    IcelandBob: ..and i found it excellent reading. It was a perfect companion piece to the book i read several week ago by John Harris, "the last Party". Brung back all that Indie Britpop stuff that i wallowed in so much while at University. And anyone who comes up with the line "KWK has all the magic sensitivity of a Razorlight B-Side" is definitely all right in my book.

    Thanks for your sexymoney, sir. The Last Party was one of the influences on Phonogram actually - or rather, it being released was. In terms of watching the retro cycle starting to kick in, Harris' book was a fine piece of evidence it was totally true.

    (Neat book too, of course. Loved discovering that every single rumour throughout that whole period was actually true.)

    JimmyJungle: hey kieron, i think you'd write an amazing Hellblazer.would you be up for it if they asked you?

    Thank you.

    I suspect every British writer of a certain bent would say yes to that particularly one. Er... Squire.

    KG
  6.  (7381.9)
    SJD: Mr. Gillen, I love PHONOGRAM and have liked what you've brought to the Marvel U thus far, but I was wondering if all your future plans for comics include or if you have any other creator-owned works percolating.

    Thanks! I'm enjoying it a lot. There's always stuff percolating. When walking around Versailles Palace a couple of weekends back I had an enormous braindownload which I've started turning into... stuff. A few example scenes, that kind of thing. It feels big and useful and dumb and smart and necessary. It even, if I look at it in the right angle, feels commercial. Which would be a nice change.

    There's a couple of creator participation gigs I'm doing for Avatar, both of which should be around next year, hopefully. The second one has yet to be announced, but the first is THE HEAT. Someone earlier asked about the HEAT, so I'll say a bit more here.

    The idea is a science-fiction police action-drama, but with a curveball thrown by an unusual environment. You've read WHITE-OUT? In the same way a police-procedural was altered by the extreme environment, THE HEAT is warped by the insane conditions they find themselves forced to work in. The example I always give...

    Okay, Mercury is very small. As everyone knows, it's very hot. It's also very cold. On the day-side, it'll melt lead. On the night-side, it'll liquefy oxygen.

    However, Mercury also rotates very slowly. Its day is 88 earth-days long. Marry that to its tiny size, and it's rotating at just over 10km/h. That's just under running speed for most of us.

    On Mercury, you can outrun the dawn.

    Just not for long.

    That's how we start the book. A man, running across THE BELT, trying to stay ahead of that bone-melting heat.

    That's probably the easiest way into the book, in terms of the hook. Despite that noir-under-a-black-sky vibe, probably the easiest comics comparisons are things like the straighter, more serious side of Judge Dredd. LUIZA BORA is our lead, a new arrival on the tiny planet, looking to do her dream job in the only place that'll have someone like her do it...

    It's good to be writing something which is actually pretty straight, harder-edged Sci-fi. SWORD leans towards the space-opera side. This is heavy on the world building and relatively coherent. I wanted to write about the future, and a future which was both optistic and realistic. Many of our big problems have been dealt with. The world of THE HEAT is about living with it.

    SJD: And just out of curiosity (because my friend and I are having a bit of an argument about it) what do you think of THE CURE?

    Never one of "my" bands, but I do like them. A bit tied to certain girlfriends, but bittersweet. Which was always the Cures's strong point.

    KG
  7.  (7381.10)
    WordWill: So, Mr. Gillen, what are the important problems in comics right now?

    Right.

    The thing about the question is the implicit "In your field" from the original. As in, there's problems in comics - and they're simply out of my field. They're problems for publishers, editors, distributors and similar. I could talk all day about this stuff, but it wouldn't make a difference. I'm just a voice on the forum. Whether anyone agreed or disagreed with me wouldn't mean anything. Unless I was willing to go and do those areas - and, at the moment - I'm not, it's just wanking.

    A good example of me trying to do some of those tasks and it not doing any bloody good for *those* purposes would be the whole design of THE SINGLES' CLUB individual issues. We did it for commercial reasons. We were trying, in our minor way, to add value to the single purchase, in hope of increasing our audience. It didn't work. We may as well have just printed adverts. The problems there involved masses of other stuff, reliant on everyone else's good will (It's always worth remembering that we do pretty damn well in certain shops. If every shop in the world was like Page 45 in Nottingham, Jamie and I would be crazy rich. They're not, and I've no way of effecting that change).

    However, there's a flip to that. Commercially, it was a failure. On an artistic level, it was a total success and we're understandably totally proud of them.

    In other words, right now - and especially right now - the problems I'm working on artistic ones in the medium. At the moment, I'm in what you could call a transitional stage. In terms of being a commercial writer, I'm like I was at PC GAMER in the first year and a bit. As in, I'm passionate, aggressive, overconfident and want to see what I can actually do with this. The big sweeping larger-scale ideas only really solidified a little after, after I had a proper prod at the inside of the beast. I'm doing things to see what they feel like. They feel great, but that's not the main reason I'm doing it. I want to see how this works.

    Which isn't to say there's stuff I'm trying to do.

    My personal thing running through my marvel work, related to a big problem in the pop-side of the medium? Well, the false dichotomy which is running through the critical debate. The whole comics-decadence debate made me quietly fume, because it simplified it. Why can't superheroes be fun again? What does that even mean? "Fun". The thing with the people arguing against Superhero Decadence... well, they don't sound very fun at all. I'd call them FUNdamentalists, but that's actually too much of a giggle. They more sound like Superhero Puritans, which is just as stupefying, but inverted. If we only alternate between HAPPYHAPPYJOYJOYBOY and MRRAPEYSPANDEXADVENTURE, we're screwed. Those who can only see in cycles are doomed to repeat them.

    So I'm doing stuff which draws from both traditions to try and fight against that in the most casual way I can. Here's Ares drinking beer and firing a minigun. Here's towering sarcastic-killer-bot Death's Head. Here's Beta Ray Bill "Going Cosmic". I'm trying to do something with the sort of tropes of the 90s which tend to produce eye-rolling and flipping them. American comics still has a fear of the 90s icons of guns-and-shit. But I'm British, hence with the earlier 2000AD exposure we got all the similar iconography, but leavened and made beautiful with a nod and a wink. The ABC Warriors are joyous and hypermacho and very dumb and very smart, and I'm trying to get a bit of that into my Marvel work.

    Fundamentally, a chaingun is actually a whole lot of fun, and someone who tells you otherwise probably doesn't wear shoes.

    (As a side point, something which a lot of the Comics Decadence crowd haven't seemed to grasp. The 80s revisionist comics aren't actually revisionist for at least a chunk of this current generation of writers. If your first Batman was Dark Knight Returns then that's the original Batman to you. You weren't reading that as a deconstruction. You were reading that as an actual text which said nothing but its own awesomeness. You could say the same for Watchmen or any of that.)

    This is, of course, not the biggest problem in comics. But it's one of the biggest problem in the bit I'm working in at the moment, so I'm writing work which directly addresses it.

    Alternatively, the biggest problem in comics is Jamie McKelvie.

    KG
  8.  (7381.11)
    Fact.
    • CommentAuthorKarlRuben
    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2009
     (7381.12)
    Thanks for the answer on the music video thing, it was actually the answer to the question I wanted to ask but didn't have the good-at-writing-stuff-thingy to execute. My exposure to videos was probably much of the same as yours, limited to weekly doses on the terrestrial channels, but my opinion is diametrically opposite. There's nothing quite like the extra energy given to a song by a great video. I'm not going to say "Two Weeks" by Grizzly Bear wouldn't have made me laugh and cry the first time I heard it if that first time had been, say, on the radio (and not while watching Patrick Daughters' fantastic video) but there's a special magic in that bastard half-breed of a medium that affects me like few other things.

    Have you considered financing McKelvie's work on PG3 (and 4) through something like this?
  9.  (7381.13)
    That's how we start the book. A man, running across THE BELT, trying to stay ahead of that bone-melting heat.


    Sold!

    And if I may continue to ask music-based questions - have you read Luke Haines' Britpop memoir Bad Vibes?
    • CommentAuthorkarabair
    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2009
     (7381.14)
    Hi Kieron --

    I got a chance to read Phonogram 2.6 last night, and found it really moving, for reasons I can't quite articulate at this point. But it's really stuck with me -- like a song that gets stuck in your head while you try to figure it out, I guess, so thank you for that.

    You noted in the back matter that the issue was originally going to deal with Lloyd's sexual orientation, because (if I read you correctly), you felt like 'Phonogram' had dealt disproportionately with queer women but not men, but the story ended up going in a different direction. Can you say a little more about that -- as it pertains to Lloyd or to Phonogram in general -- or does that need to wait for the final issue to see where the story is going?

    And now for something completely different-- as an X-Men fan who is digging S.W.O.R.D, I'll ask an X-Men nerd appropriate question. Is the woman named Cecilia who is working with Gyrich supposed to be Cecilia Reyes? Or just a coincidence?
  10.  (7381.15)
    Hullo!

    Before I go any further - look! Interview at CBR about Thor. While I've done Thor interviews before, it's the first one where I've been able to actually talk about what I'm doing with it (Because I was working off some of the heavy-spoilers in Straczynski's final issues).

    KarlRuben: Thanks for the answer on the music video thing, it was actually the answer to the question I wanted to ask but didn't have the good-at-writing-stuff-thingy to execute. My exposure to videos was probably much of the same as yours, limited to weekly doses on the terrestrial channels, but my opinion is diametrically opposite. There's nothing quite like the extra energy given to a song by a great video.

    Oh, totally. I mean, I can see the energy and power. But it's also impure. Does impurity matter? Probably not. But it *is* impure.

    (Also, an inappropriate video can fuck up your internal imagery with a song. I always think of the Avalanches' video of Since I Left You in that. I mean... no. It's funny, but no.)

    KarlRuben: Have you considered financing McKelvie's work on PG3 (and 4) through something like this?

    Hmm. I suspect our dignity would prevent it. Not because we're too proud for charity. Us doing something like that and then getting four pence back would probably give us an untimely reminder of our lowly position in life.

    MagicSword: And if I may continue to ask music-based questions - have you read Luke Haines' Britpop memoir Bad Vibes?

    Yup. Reviewed it, in fact, before it came out. A lot of fun. Luke Haines is very comfortable in being Luke Haines.

    Got the new album yet? It's a strong one.

    karabair: You noted in the back matter that the issue was originally going to deal with Lloyd's sexual orientation, because (if I read you correctly), you felt like 'Phonogram' had dealt disproportionately with queer women but not men, but the story ended up going in a different direction. Can you say a little more about that -- as it pertains to Lloyd or to Phonogram in general -- or does that need to wait for the final issue to see where the story is going?

    No, I can talk about that. It's just... well, representation sort of bugs Jamie and me. It annoys us that we don't have - to choose an example - a black character. But we're caught on a verisimilitudial hook. Google up photos of the real club, and see if you can spot a black kid. Phonogram is needs to be real, so we're stuck with an all white cast, at least for The Singles Club.

    In the case of male gay leads, there's no excuse. The scene in Bristol is very gay friendly. And having two female characters who have bisexual leanings is something I'm not totally comfortable with. Comics audiences are generally male. Putting gay women in front of them carries certain connotations which I don't like at all. Yeah, we've done things to salve that a bit - for example, issue 5's cover in the first series (Though that was, of course, about narcissim rather than homosexuality, though people's initial response wasn't that. Also, it's a shudder reaction - which is telling, innit? You drop two women kissing on the cover of your comic, you're wankfodder for boys. You drop two men kissing on the cover and it's for disturbing people. That's wrong.)

    It really doesn't go much deeper than wanting to have a gay male lead and not being able to find a way to do so. There's some male (and female) extras in the club, however. One reason Jamie puts all the page son the wall is so he can work out who's around in any given scene, and work out the flow and flirtation of extras in the background across all the episodes.

    karabair: And now for something completely different-- as an X-Men fan who is digging S.W.O.R.D, I'll ask an X-Men nerd appropriate question. Is the woman named Cecilia who is working with Gyrich supposed to be Cecilia Reyes? Or just a coincidence?

    Coincidence. I wasn't actually aware of Miss Reyes until a google just now. My Cecilia's a new character and a whole lot meaner.

    KG
    • CommentAuthorkarabair
    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2009
     (7381.16)
    Thanks!

    To follow up, does that mean you decided as you were writing it that Lloyd isn't gay, or that whether he is or not wasn't the right thing to explore in that story?
  11.  (7381.17)
    karabair: I fear Lloyd is pretty painfully straight.

    KG
  12.  (7381.18)
    Thanks for the answers, man.

    Since I'm always curious about this sort of thing (and nosey), what's your working process like? Outline to script? Handfuls of Quaaludes and a keyboard?
    • CommentAuthorAnanzitusq
    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2009
     (7381.19)
    On the lack of a gay lead in PHONOGRAM: I wasn't too bothered by it mainly because of a message that I saw in the subtext of the series, music lets you be anything you want, including yourself and as a closeted bi-sexual male, it's a wonderfully understanding message, whether intentional or not.
  13.  (7381.20)
    Justin: Since I'm always curious about this sort of thing (and nosey), what's your working process like? Outline to script? Handfuls of Quaaludes and a keyboard?

    Honestly depends.

    With my Marvel work, I've normally got a pretty tight outline before starting to write. Hell, with some of the minis, I've had close to a useable synopsis in the original pitches. I take the issue breakdown and work out how on earth I'm going to actually get the scenes and information into the issue, normally noting a number of pages at the side of each paragraph. And then... well, it varies. If I'm talking a script a week, it's something like...

    Monday) Break down the issue into the pages thing (Which takes far less than a day).
    Tuesday) Dialogue. Hammer out all the dialogue in the thing. More dialogue than I'll actually use, probably. When I say Dialogue, I'm really talking about sort of scene structure stuff. This includes like fights with the timings and all that.
    Wednesday) Turn into actual script - which means both going into full script and actually making the dialogue vaguely workable.
    Thursday) Finish turning into actual script.
    Friday) Polish.

    And then a glance over on Monday before I hand it again (Which is one reason why Monday is a deliberately slow day)

    It doesn't always work like that, due to a lot of other things in my life going on. Occasionally I make no progress on a day. Occasionally I write the whole 22 pages in a day. Occasionally your brain isn't working, so you mix it up a bit - I'm doing issue 5 of SWORD right now and a lot of the dialogue wasn't coming out for the first half of the issue. So to make progress, I scripted some of the back half, then just dived into the full script, concentrating on the big action effects and then improvising the characters response to them.

    With Phonogram, I've usually been obsessing over the idea of a comic for months. I open a bottle of wine and write a shit load of "dialogue:. Masses and masses and masses. And then I take what's relevant and turn it into a comic. With PG I normally have a pretty "pure" idea of what I want to do, so I choose what best supports it.

    B-sides I often just throw the idea on the page. They're smaller ideas, so happily improvisational.

    Ananzitusq: Well, that's the idea. But I wouldn't mind making it explicit, y'know?

    KG