June 22nd, 2008 | brainjuice
“Police in Macedonia have arrested a journalist on suspicion that he is behind three murders he reported on”
June 22nd, 2008 | microlog
June 21st, 2008 | people I know
Promo video for the new tv show by my friend John Rogers. (Who struggled so mightily with GLOBAL FREQUENCY.)
June 20th, 2008 | comics talk
One of my main gigs, these days, is as a contract writer to Marvel Comics. The job is two-fold — part of the time, I’ll lead out big projects for them, like the relaunch of IRON MAN and THUNDERBOLTS, or the second stage of ASTONISHING X-MEN. Part of the time I am, as one of my editors once affirmed, their mad scientist in the basement, performing experiments on moribund old properties.
This is actually an important part of the job, for them. Marvel Comics publishing stands or falls on their creative library being ambulatory enough to earn money or status.
So I spend part of each year doing research. Trawling through the net for information on old Marvel properties, getting the office to send out photocopies from the archive, researching backgrounds and the roots of concepts. Mining out the Marvel library.
So yesterday I jokingly gave my fellow writer Brian Reed some shit about his currently trying to do the same thing, finding a property with some legs on it. The worst part of the joke being that I wasn’t really lying about madness lying in wait for him.
Because the Marvel library has largely been mined out of the useful stuff. I think I snagged one of the last ones (it hasn’t been announced yet because it’s been in production for the last year by a very slow, meticulous and wonderful artist — we’ll call it out when all five issues are in).
This is actually good news for Marvel. They’ve gotten all their viable creative properties up on their feet and earning money. It’s bad news for me because I have to produce a certain number of comics to meet the provisions of the contract, and because I was hired to be the mad scientist, and there’s really not much to be done with, say, the BROTHER VOODOO villain who dressed as a giant occult chicken. Or, indeed, Brother Voodoo himself, whom I presume was intended as the black Dr Strange but whose appearances that I can find tend to cast him as the literal Magic Negro to a white lead.
This is, as I said to Brian, where the madness lies. You dig and dig and drill down into Wikipedia and MarvUnApp and exhume ever more obscure and justly-buried characters, and the constantly diminishing returns and increasing desperation bring you to a point where… well, I think there was a reason why Joe Straczynski pitched me on his idea about reviving The Spectacular Spider-Ham that year…
You find yourself thinking, yes, this character here who appeared once in 1981, attempting to trap Captain America in the radioactive pasta extruded from his eight nipples, that guy’s got some fucking MILEAGE there. Because you’ve spent six hours looking through all this monstrous shit and you’re just aching to latch on to something remotely useful to stop the pain.
And then Nick Lowe at Marvel phones up to see if you’ve got anything and you find yourself pitching a grim political post-BATTLESTAR GALACTICA take on Rocket Raccoon. And then he tells you that someone else is already doing Rocket Raccoon, because the situation is just that bloody awful.
This is what I was warning Brian of. I don’t want to see him end up like me. Because I’m sitting outside the pub with Wikipedia loaded on my phone, wondering if there’s a revisionist take in Monark Starstalker and his robot bird…
June 20th, 2008 | researchmaterial
Dice-size crumbs of bright material have vanished from inside a trench where they were photographed by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander four days ago, convincing scientists that the material was frozen water that vaporized after digging exposed it.
"It must be ice," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson. "These little clumps completely disappearing over the course of a few days, that is perfect evidence that it’s ice. There had been some question whether the bright material was salt. Salt can’t do that."
June 20th, 2008 | microlog
June 19th, 2008 | brainjuice
In less than a week, I’ll be in Chicago. In fact, a week from now, I’ll be at the convention’s evening opening, nailed to a desk by Avatar and signing books for two hours. The one thing I’m looking forward to is the travel.
I love travelling. I love travelling alone. It is a Zen process. Even in these days of airport bullshit. It’s a method to be followed, details to be absorbed in. I travel with hand luggage only. Loose clothes, shoes I can slip off easily, no metal, a shirt with a breast pocket for passport and boarding pass, keys and change zipped into the luggage along with all devices before I check in. I’m off the cane right now, which makes things a lot easier. I always buy two books in the airport bookstore. Always smoke two cigarettes before I enter the airport. Always say hello and thank you to security — maintain the concentration to see that they’re people who do a job rather than faceless extensions of The Man. Never roll over, but never be anything less than reasoned and kind. Remember: you’re going somewhere interesting and they’re not.
I’ve been doing longhaul flights for fifteen years now, I’ve flown from London to Australia and back again, and I always, always lose an hour to just staring out the window. Being ten miles up will never lose its magic for me.
I confess to having a special gift. I can sleep like a baby on a plane. Before now, I’ve passed out an hour out of San Francisco and woken up in London. Which is, in itself, a magic trick — travelling five thousand miles without noticing.
Travelling without luggage means I usually leave an airport very quickly (unless it’s one of those airports like Atlanta that should just be bulldozed and redesigned by an actual human instead of the underground aliens who actually built that unfunctional monstrosity). Meeting a car or grabbing a cab tends to put me in a hotel room within an hour of leaving the airport. At a window with coffee and cigarettes, the local BBC channel on the TV, just taking in wherever it is I’ve appeared in before I go out and get the city under my feet.
Nothing more peaceful.
June 19th, 2008 | microlog
June 18th, 2008 | microlog
June 18th, 2008 | researchmaterial
I’ve long been fond of American political campaign ephemera. This, however, is not something I’d want in the house.
As reported by the Dallas Morning News, this badge was found available for sale at a Republican state convention.
There were other pins that weren’t necessarily conveying the positive, inclusive, united front that has been portrayed during the convention. One said, "Press 1 for English. Press 2 for Deportation" and another, "I will hold my nose when I vote for McCain."
(thanks to towniebastard for the tip)
June 18th, 2008 | about warren ellis/contact
On Friday June 27, I’ll be doing an onstage appearance in conjunction with the Wizard World Chicago convention in Rosemont, Illinois, by arrangement of Avatar Press.
The thing is happening at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center — we don’t have a room number yet, because the Wizard World staff will be basically taking the walls off a series of rooms to create a 1500-seat hall. I imagine the event will be signposted in the lobby of the convention center. The hall will be furnished with two bars for your alcoholic poisoning. The doors will open at 9pm. I will be wheeled onstage around 9.30pm. I believe the plan is to have me gonged offstage around midnight.
The event is free. It is my understanding that you do not need a convention ticket to enter. So, whether you’re attending the convention or not, you can show up for this and get in with no problems.
Important point. I will be smoking onstage. You will not be smoking in the convention center. This event has been categorised, believe it or not, as performance art. As having access to nicotine is essential to my performance, I have been accorded the right to smoke. You will all have to suffer.
The format for this appearance is Q&A. This is where I take questions from the audience, and then ramble on at length about five other things without even getting within the same zipcode as your actual question. So, there’s no prepared talk this time, it’s just me cueing off questions from the floor, telling stories, and pretending to dispense The Starry Wisdom while actually telling you nothing of worth or relevance.
I dunno. I might read a bit from something.
I think that’s it. We’re handling further queries on Whitechapel right now.
June 17th, 2008 | brainjuice
MagCloud is in limited beta right now. It has problems to address — it’s too expensive, for a start — but, ultimately, the idea of being able to upload a PDF of a magazine and have MagCloud handle the printing, fulfilment and money is kind of irresistible, and I wish them and Derek well.
In the meantime, I have something to read which apparently features the phrase "cold death melted with hot steel over the testicles of a rabid bull." Which is unbeatable stuff, really.