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  1.  (7381.1)
    Heya,

    No question, just wanted to pop in and say thanks for PHONOGRAM; it remains the only comic I've ever written fan mail to and zine fodder about. Neither of which made me look all that good, but if it's one thing I've learned, it's that ill-advised gushing about writing is...well, it's my dancing, if that makes any sense.

    ("Which is to say I'm usually drunk when I do it" would be the joke to make here, but seriously, thanks for writing PG.)
    • CommentAuthorgobo
    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2009
     (7381.2)
    Hey Kieron,

    One time on Twitter you and Jamie were arguing about the Ting Tings and other things (as you occasionally do) and I remember asking you or Jamie why you guys were so split on them. You said something along the lines of "Depends on what you think matters in pop music"... this is probably too vague but I'm curious what you think matters in good pop music and why the Ting Tings (who I unapologetically love) may or may not have it in your mind.

    Sorry for the scatterbrainedness of this post, hopefully you can decipher it.
  2.  (7381.3)
    Ah my God! Just finished reading 2.6 (twice). Just amazed at how SUBTLE the misreadings, the partial understandings, between the characters are. I mean, Laura sees into Lloyd, and she GETS a part of it. But then her own concerns colour her reading. She thinks it's a romantic advance, she realises how fucked up her Kate Jackson dream-self is, and she escapes. She is transformed, and yet Lloyd WASN'T making a romantic advance. His problem isn't really his attitude towards women (right?). He's got this whole OTHER thing going on.

    This is pretty much why I love the series. Tbh, people's subjective experience of music isn't that interesting for me. (Phonogram makes me worry about how little I think about it, how small a part music plays in my life). People's subjective experience of PEOPLE, however, is endlessly fascinating. This is what you and Jaime do so well, I think. And the fact that it's a comic is perfect -- you can zero in and focus on every word, shrug, smile...

    Sorry. Blabber over. Late nights, port and internet shouldn't mix.
    • CommentAuthorJohn Q.
    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2009 edited
     (7381.4)
    I'm only only just a couple of pages into this Q&A but i already have to skip forward and thank you for mentioning Iaian Banks (both with and without the M.). I started reading him when i was about 13 and my aunt moved to France - She unloaded a load of her books on relatives and i claimed the Iain Banks ones on the basis that i needed something to read at the time and the covers (the 'classic' black and white ones) grabbed my interest. There were a few of them in there, Complicity and The Bridge being the ones that grabbed my interest the most. I'm sure if my mum had any knowledge of him as a writer (the kinky sex, the drug references the occasional violence) she would never have let me take them at the time.

    So a minor question, what's the Banks book that caught your attention the most? What's your favorite?(I'm very aware that 'favorite' and 'best' are often two very different things).

    Anyway, love Phonogram, and I'll come up with a better, more relevant question later, cheers.
  3.  (7381.5)
    JoshHechinger: We're all about doing it whilst drunk. Much to the chargin of anyone who's ever had sex with us.

    Gobo: One time on Twitter you and Jamie were arguing about the Ting Tings and other things (as you occasionally do) and I remember asking you or Jamie why you guys were so split on them. You said something along the lines of "Depends on what you think matters in pop music"... this is probably too vague but I'm curious what you think matters in good pop music and why the Ting Tings (who I unapologetically love) may or may not have it in your mind.

    The Ting Tings versus the Foals is kind of emblematic of the difference between Jamie and I. He likes the Foals and despises the Ting Tings. I like the Ting Tings and despise the Foals.

    The problem with the Foals is that they mean nothing. They're nothing but a filigree of technique. There's was a line in a Plan B interview which sort of articulated my dislike, where they admit something along the lines of "We like writing lyrics which can be interpreted in 1000s of way". Translation: We have nothing to say and no desire to communicate full stop. They may as well be wallpaper. Conversely, the Ting Tings manage to get a whole song out of the specific annoyance - yet explored in pop music - of SOMEONE GETTING YOUR NAME WRONG ALL THE TIME. In other words, anything can be pop music - and in a song which starts as Betty Boo and ends as the Jesus and Mary Chain "That's Not My Name" is a great example of that. What matters is the commitment. The Foals are empty voids.

    Conversely, Jamie likes the Foals because they sound good and hates the Ting Tings because the sound shit.

    It's pretty much a running joke now.

    Mercer Finn: Ah my God! Just finished reading 2.6 (twice). Just amazed at how SUBTLE the misreadings, the partial understandings, between the characters are. I mean, Laura sees into Lloyd, and she GETS a part of it. But then her own concerns colour her reading. She thinks it's a romantic advance, she realises how fucked up her Kate Jackson dream-self is, and she escapes. She is transformed, and yet Lloyd WASN'T making a romantic advance. His problem isn't really his attitude towards women (right?). He's got this whole OTHER thing going on.

    Thankyou. Of course, it all depends how much you take what Lloyd puts in the Grimoire on face value. Is he being totally honest? There's certainly a few things which makes me think he's not.

    John Q: So a minor question, what's the Banks book that caught your attention the most? What's your favorite?(I'm very aware that 'favorite' and 'best' are often two very different things).

    When I was in my 20s and starting to play that semi-paternal catamite-breeding games-journo Obi-Wan role, one of the books I tended to give to younger journalists would be Complicity. Cam's the closest there is to an evil gonzo-games journalist role model in fiction. It's the sort of job that can do with a little automythologisation, so I toss it out to Those Sort Of Young Men who only need the slightest prod to go and be crazy for a few years. Also, I like the Complicity point of it all too.

    (Player of Games is similar in some ways, but not as doomed-gonzo-sex-journalist, so less use for corrupting young men.)

    I think Use of Weapons which hit me hardest when I read it though. I was... 14? 15? But the twist killed me.

    KG
  4.  (7381.6)
    It's pretty much a running joke now.


    It's like the Pipettes. I don't care if you've got a manifesto when you just sound like a knock-off of something Phil Spector perfected 40 years ago.

    But again, that's part of the point of Phonogram. I disagree with Kieron on the Foals, partly because I think he's extrapolating out of one statement a whole (lack of ) intent I don't think is there (the sort of overthinking that leads to Phonogram, heh) and partly because they sound good and they mean something to ME.

    You take what you want from music. I take what I do, he takes what he does, neither of us is wrong and neither of us is right.

    Except I'm right, obv.

    I think Use of Weapons which hit me hardest


    There's no "think" about it. It's still the one you mention 20 years on (christ we're so old).
  5.  (7381.7)
    I don't go on about the Use of Weapons that much, do I? Totally wasn't aware. I liked the bit with the thing.

    The Foals thing... well, that quote crystalised something I was feeling about the music. It didn't *do* anything. It didn't seem to be interested in making me feel anything. Unlike the Ting Tings, who are very interested in communicating how important it is SOMEONE HAS JUST CALLED THEM THE WRONG NAME.

    KG
    •  
      CommentAuthorSt.Wanger
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2009 edited
     (7381.8)
    Just wanted to say, that I really can find parts of myself in that comic, although it's not really about that music, that is important to me. I'm more from the corner of Metal and "Alternative, as in Kyuss, Faith No More, Nine Inach Nails and Helmet" but the way this fine comic book i dealing with music is so appealing to me, that I'm actually able to fully dive into it and "get it", without really loving the music it deals with (although I may know and lpartly ike some of the mentioned bands). Seems to prove, that music indeed is the one universal language we can agree on, even if we're talking different dialects ...
  6.  (7381.9)
    Unlike the Ting Tings, who are very interested in communicating how important it is SOMEONE HAS JUST CALLED THEM THE WRONG NAME.


    Yeah, that's very much the way you process music (as opposed to the way I do). Distilling (or reducing, if I was feeling negative) it down to the narrative. Which, again, demonstrates the point of PG. Hurrah!
  7.  (7381.10)
    That narrative distillation, of course, is why you can write Phonogram.
  8.  (7381.11)
    Of course, it all depends how much you take what Lloyd puts in the Grimoire on face value. Is he being totally honest? There's certainly a few things which makes me think he's not.


    I've been thinking about that today, particularly Lloyd's lusting after Penny. I think Laura's probably right about him. But I do love the way the following issue doesn't just explore how sexually dysfunctional (in every sense) he is, but pushes much further.

    On the Ting Tings vs. Foals. Foals put on an amazing live show, but I'm with Kieron in thinking they are a little empty (I remember Chris Martin saying something similar about the lyrics he writes). The Ting Tings, on the other hand, are just lovely. In my more smarmy moments, I have described them as a chirpy, chavvy, English Crystal Castles. But AWESOME. (Reading PG 2.6, I don't like Crystal Castles so much anymore...)
    •  
      CommentAuthorcelan
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2009
     (7381.12)
    Late to the party on this, but I wanted to add that the best song skewering the whole music video thing is "The Purple Bear" by Polvo, off their masterpiece "Exploded Drawing"...
    • CommentAuthorDarkest
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2009
     (7381.13)
    When was the first moment that phonogram "clicked"? That you could make it without having to iduce synesthesia in to the reader.

    Also is there an online shop you could reccoment do buy phonogram from. At present I only own the first issue of Singles Club and I'd rather not use E-bay as anything but a last resort. I want those B-sides.
    • CommentAuthorfod_xp
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2009
     (7381.14)
    @ Gillian, I spent this last Wednesday reading SWORD #1 and #2.

    I had an absolute blast reading it. Definitely getting the collections. I love that this book doesn't take itself seriously, SWORD= Epic win!!
    • CommentAuthorKarlRuben
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2009
     (7381.15)
    Criticism question: How do you approach writing a review of something (a genre, an artist, an aesthetic) you have a limited knowledge of, don't have a taste for, or actively dislike?
  9.  (7381.16)
    MercerFinn: But I do love the way the following issue doesn't just explore how sexually dysfunctional (in every sense) he is, but pushes much further.

    As I said, when I was writing it, it just seemed that Lloyd had far bigger problems.

    And I still like CC a lot. I mean, part of the appeal of them were that they were clearly a little inhuman. The sound is a nasty crazed cocaine-glacial sneer.

    Darkest: When was the first moment that phonogram "clicked"? That you could make it without having to iduce synesthesia in to the reader.

    Good question. I mean, everyone asks me about when I got the idea - the answer being, I really don't know. It just kind of grew from all my obsessions and you can see traces of it all the way through all my writing, even to my late teens - but in terms of it clicking...

    Okay, when I had the idea, I wrote a demo script. As in, a 22 page stand alone episode to see if it was actually possible to turn something conceptual like that into an actual story. It was basically the Beth subplot from Rue Britannia, but done as a stand alone episode, and there's a script fragment of it in the Phonogram Zine Sheret Curated. That was what I showed to Jamie, and it was enough to make he want to do it with me. So that could be where it clicked. There was certainly bits where I felt it clicked.

    But a more core THIS COULD ACTUALLY WORK was when Jamie finished the first B-side. As in, this one...


    It wasn't the first page of PG he ever drew. I think it was the second. The first was page 5 of the first issue which was the only one in the actual pitch to Image, which he re-drew for the final issue. But the B-side... well, it worked. Just as its own little thing. There was a mood and an energy and a sort of arrogance/confidence. It looked like it knew what it was doing. Fundamentally, I thought: I'd buy this comic.

    So yeah. That was the click. A glorified advert.

    Darkest: Also is there an online shop you could reccoment do buy phonogram from. At present I only own the first issue of Singles Club and I'd rather not use E-bay as anything but a last resort. I want those B-sides.

    Are you in the UK or the US? Any of the US shops which stock the singles are good - Midtown,I believe, still have them all in stock. Khepri doesn't stock the singles, but do stock the sexy phonogram T-shirt. In the UK, we normally recommend Page45.com, who are lovely.

    fod_xp: The first five issues will make a really cute trade, I think. It motors.

    KarlRuben: Criticism question: How do you approach writing a review of something (a genre, an artist, an aesthetic) you have a limited knowledge of, don't have a taste for, or actively dislike?

    I always say that the only thing you need to review is an honest understanding of your own emotional response. Don't hide your ignorance, but simultaneously don't apologise it for it. "This is art. This is what it makes me feel". Then, by looking for *why* it makes you feel like you do - either positively or negatively - write about that. If you do that, no matter how little you know about what you're writing about, you're automatically in the top 5% of critics.

    I actually think the naive but intelligent eye can lead to some interesting places. It questions assumptions in a way which an expert in the topic doesn't always. And, at least with some criticism, at least part of the point is transferring the experience of The New to someone who hasn't had it yet. I know several of my music-editors loved dropping me into genres I knew jack about just for that response.

    That's just writing about it though. Talking about working commercially - as in, for a magazine, then slating a whole genre is usually a bad idea, at least in a review. You can't just dismiss the genre you're reviewing (Well... you may get away with it a music mag if you're funny enough. People will complain still, but they're committing the fatal sin of being a bit tedious. In games, however, you'll be screwed, because commercial games criticism doesn't you warp the review format towards comedy as much as a music writing does. You're actually stuck with a functional purpose as a games writer, the pretence of objectivity).

    [I write a bit more about this sort of thing here.]

    In which case, you're sort of forced into actually covering your tracks a little. You do despise the game, but you highlight the bits of the genre you adore - as in, as long as you can say A is a great game, you can slag off BCDEFGHIJKetcetc as much as you like. With games it's particularly bad, because genres are a work in progress. Circa 2002 there were things which were clearly 100% wrong with the genre. It was broken. However, because no-one had done it any better, you couldn't just slag it off for them - because these sins were "Genre conventions". You're sat there, drumming your fingers, waiting for someone to do it differently - in MMOs cases World of Warcraft, City of Heroes and Guild Wars - and then you can beat the shit out of everyone else who carry on in their own stupid path.

    You may note these two pieces of advice are contradictory - one is saying just write what you feel and the other involves mitigating your hatred according to a host of other factors. Because I'm talking about two different things. The first is about just writing good criticism. The second is about working for magazines. At times like this, they're not the same thing.

    Which is annoying, but c'est la vie.

    Right - the end of my seven days approaches. ANY MORE BEFORE I HEAD INTO THAT DARK NIGHT.

    KG
    • CommentAuthorScottS
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2009
     (7381.17)
    Just wanted to say thanks for you taking the time to answer all the questions.
    • CommentAuthorSolario
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2009
     (7381.18)
    "[...]if it was purely for the love, we wouldn't be doing a lot of the stuff we do. [...]"

    You'd "do it for love, if it were not for the money"? ;)

    And I just want to say thanks to you, Jamie and the rest of Team Phonogram for not only expanding my music tastes and knowledge, introducing me to my now favorite band, but also for indirectly introducing me to my ex-girlfriend and just for creating a great comic. Terribly sad to hear that we'll probably not get a third series.
  10.  (7381.19)
    Popping over from RPS, nice work. Also, I now get The Ting Tings. Thanks.

    On that topic then:

    Of all the pop you've championed, music or whatever, what would be the most beneficial for the unbelievers to re-access?

    And you can take beneficial in whichever way you choose.

    Ta.
    •  
      CommentAuthorWordWill
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2009
     (7381.20)
    Well answered, sir. Thank you for taking the time.

    Cheers,
    Will