Kieron Gillen's workblog




"Fat daredevil is not a thing of inspiration" - Jamie.

I have to blog, but - I must stress - Fat Daredevil isn't the inspiration for any of it. You have to believe me, even if no-one else does.

Let's step back in time to Thursday. It's ten to four. I'm just finishing off the last two hundred lines in a feature I'm writing for Edge. I've had a days extension already, since I was waiting for Bioware and Valve to get back on me, but all is well. I'm pleased.

There is a popping noise. My PC turns off.

I look around. Hmm. Not good. I then unplug everything, take the front off my PC, and see if anything's smoking or obviously broken. No sign of anything really amiss. Shrugging, I proceed to plug everything back in and then, very carefully, press the two exposed wires that are required to start up my PC together.


I reel back on the floor, twisting my glasses a little more. I swear a little more. And then I do what any good games journalist does in this situation:

i) Phone a techie Friend, in this case Jim. I don't know anything about PCs.
ii) Phone my commissioning Editor, Mark Edge, and tell him that my copy's going to be late as - er - My PC's just blown up.

Using "I'm sorry my copy's late... the PC's just blown up. Sorry" excuse when my PC actually has blown up. I'll be thrown out of the league of lazy freelancers now.

Since then, I've been using my housemate Dan Griddle-Octopus's PC in the front room. The joys of living in a paradise of the lesser spotted geek. My PC should be fixed tomorrow, when the new power-source arrives - luckily, it was only that which blew - and Jim plugs it in. This will allow me to get back to work on the number of side-projects I want to be fiddling with and can't really do on Dan's machine - and not just continuing my childhood hobby of attempting to fill my room with semen. Not that I will immediately, as Bob has resurfaced and will be joining the lad Rossignol and myself for a beverage.

The Weekend was spent away from PC, over at Jane, and playing my usual game of pretending to hate the perpetual house-parties that happen in her shared abode. Pretend to hate, as they're always packed full of gothic-styled teenagers in voluminous trousers and prenaturally perky attitudes, so I have to play the crotchetty old fellow at least slightly. Bloody kids today - you can tell the Girls from the boys and all their music has Tunes. Not like in my day at all. It was all swamps around here, y'know, and I had fourteen girls pregnant by the age of twelve.

But mostly, I really enjoy them, as they're life, unleashed. I had a theory when I was a teeanger (What a beautiful typo - Ed) that Parties were some kind of social accelerator. They were the punctuated equilibria in existence, giving a short sharp push to things that were already in motion. People get together. People fall apart. People fall over in an alleyway and smear themselves in their own vomit. Life distilled. Sadly, House parties in my circle are generally tame things, more akin to an American sit-com where polished one-liners and glib. This is my fault for having writers for all my friends, as Writers are rubbish. They have their moments, but its a simulcra of the Baachus-lead fury of a real party.

So I go to Jane's house and play culture tourist. Mostly, I find myself chatting to a friend of a friend called Michelle about the Britpop era and nostalgia. Her experience was very different from mine, in Canada and twelve. She' s very much in the form of my traditional bugbears - see also Thomagotchi who ran one of the best Indie-based sites in the country when he was 11 - in that she started early, started fast and did everything. Fanzines. Late night Radio shows. BandsBandsBands.

Now, she's 21 and can't find any enthusiasm for anything. She keeps on thinking herself "Oh - remember when I was young" and then realising that she still is.

For the first time, I'm not bitterly jealous of Houghton, Thom and the assorted Glitterkids.

This feeds back into my thoughts about PHONOGRAM and what I want to do with it. I'm in the process of giving it a thourgh and deep thought. I originally concieved it as something which I thought, while with considerable merits, completely and utterly unpitchable to a comics publisher. Now I'm not so sure. It fits very well into what I consider the coming Zeitgeist, and with a slight tweak towards accessibility the central high concept is actually pop as fuck. Literally. A gentleman's asked if it's okay if he does some sketches of the characters, which I replied "LIKE FUCK YES!!!" but in phrasology more akin to the cool-kid standing at the edge of the dancefloor smoking and practicing his pretension. If he does some, I think I'll know what I want to do when I look them in the eyes.

It's easier to work out what you think about one of your creations when when it's staring straight back at you.

Had the same feeling throughout Cassandra - Charlotte only really became real when JD brought that first concept art with the too-short skirt on. Had it again when I saw her skinned, or she said her first lines in game, or when the opening pan down from the moon in the initial cut-scene to her open window first played or when the voices were plugged in or any number of a hundred or so other moments. When you see something of your characters, you know better who they are and what would be best for them. From the first time Charlotte glared back at me, I knew exactly what she was telling me.

She was telling me she was smart, clever and wanted a skirt which was more secret agent and less council-estate schoolgirl prostitute, thankyouverymuch.

And I didn't want to betray her.

With the feedback from the first set of proper Playtests, I don't think I have. Giant flaws, clearly, but the emotional punches we built into it appear to be hitting. My favourite two bits of feedback so far were the gentleman who claimed he couldn't meet the eyes of a certain other character after something happened and the gentleman who reached a certain point, and presumed it was some kind of odd graphical bug.

We'll see.

On a similar creative note, the first roughs for HOMO DEPRESSUS arrived over the weekend, which is a whole other sort of odd experience. It's my first comics work which I've been working as a collaborative process with an artist from a very early stage. Since its speculative satirical science-fiction starring a very-visually different human race, that side of it was immensely important and lead to a much more coherent worldview than would have otherwise been possible. It's also the artists first attempt at Comic work, so I've been writing scripts that play to both his strengths - which are considerable, given his untraditional-for-comics Fine-Art background - and avoid asking something that relies on a complicated application of certain western-comics storytelling tropes. I'm pleased with the results so far, certainly. It's very different from anything that I've done, and right now is - as I suspected - looking like something I'd like to offer to Opi8.

I think they'll probably bite.

Other highpoints of the weekend? I watched Secretary for the first time and Reservoir Dogs for the first time in forever. The former is an excellent light S&M romantic comedy. The second is better than I remembered, and I remembered it as one of my favourite films of the decade.




Kieron Gillen's Workblog, foo'.