Tuesday, 1 October 2013

REDIRECTING TRAFFIC ----->

This blog is more-or-less out of service. I may pop back from time to time, but for now most of my day-to-day blogging can be found by making clicky below:

SIMON SPURRIER'S TUMBLR WORKBLOG.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

X-Men Legacy: COVERED

Folks. I've been disgustingly lucky with the covers previewed so far for the X-Men Legacy book, and I wanted to quickly showcase some of the genius pieces by our regular coverist Mike Del Mundo. The man is quite simply amazing.  Feast your eyes:








Monday, 12 November 2012

X-MEN LEGACY: Brainmakings


Ey-oop, folks.

Behold: a speedy note from beyond the Spursphere. I’d make the usual apologies for the sparseness of recent enbloggenation, but since it’s entirely down to a continent-slamming workload and assorted lifecrazies I don’t really have the time. I’d also say something clever about how the Amount Of Things One Possesses Which Are Worth Blogging About is inversely proportional to How Much Time One Therefore Has Left Over To Blog About Them, but… well, I’m too busy to do that either. So here’s the meat:

I’m the new writer on Marvel’s extreeeemely long-running ongoing mutantcentric book, X-Men Legacy. That’s pretty big. Bigger still is that we’re relaunching it with a brand new episode #1, a brand new central character, and a brand new - and deliciously weird - flavour.  The adventure begins on comics-store bookshelves and your usual digital outlets this Wednesday, the 14th of November 2012. Solicitation info is at the foot of this post.

Now, I’ve done a billion interviews about how excited I am by this opportunity elsewhere – you’ll find a few of them here, here and here, and here's a PREVIEW of the first episode – but I just wanted to use this space for a few quick thoughts about how I’ve oriented this book in my own mind.

I’ve waffled elsewhere about my ambivalent relationship with superhero comics. I’m a big fan of the genre at its best, but I’m not going to pretend I don’t think a decent chunk of it is depressingly dreary. Don't get me wrong: that's my own prejudices getting in the way as much as any true qualitative measurement. I often struggle to find anything worthwhile, plausible, morally justifiable or – frankly – interesting, in the conceit which lies behind the worst offenders of the form: namely, that the logical response to developing godlike superpowers is to become a champion of overly-simplistic boyscout moral “good” while somehow excusing one’s own endless bloody violence in pursuit of the same. It’s like this funny little blindspot readers are obliged to accept, and it makes me kinda itchy.

Now, some superhero comics – the good ones – rationalise the conventions of the genre in more cunning ways. The more elegant the rationalisation, generally speaking, the more that the important stuff – character, story, all that – gets to shine. For instance, the X-Men books have always worked for me because the explodo derring-do tends to revolve around matters of social, tribal and racial equality (or, more recently, survival) rather than anything more arbitrarily moralistic. In the mutant context you can play with politics, justice, car-chases, dragons, space-born monkeyslugs, etc… but it all comes down to “the us” and “the them”. Doesn’t get more elegant than that.

So. Given all that, I can’t tell you how enormously lucky I feel to’ve landed myself this gig – which not only operates deep in the lore and gurgling viscera of the X-verse, but sets itself even further apart by conspicuously thinking of itself as the Black Sheep of the mutant canon. I approached it with a manifesto very firmly in mind: one which applies not only to me and the readers, but to the character at the centre of it all too. Hence it’s the first thing he hears when he wakes-up at the start of the story. This is the sort of not-too-subtly-codified stuff superhero comics do so well, and I love that this is how we kick things off.



Over the coming months we’re going to encounter a guy made out of eyeballs, a dinosaur with a clock for a head, some creepy bird-fixated twins, and a scared manboy with impossible hair at the centre of it all. But it’s the topsy-turvy weirdness – that is, the chance to play with spandex conventions and hit all the expected beats, but to do it arse-backwards and upside-down – that keeps me gurgling at how lucky I am.

This is going to be awesome.



Oh, and to double-down on the mega-osity, Be Ye Aware that I'm a guest at this year's THOUGHTBUBBLE festival in Leeds - generally regarded among comicky creator-circles as the Funnest of the various UKside conventions. It'll be my first public whatnot since X-Men Legacy begins, so it really is your first (and possibly only, as far as 2012 goes) chance to get ep#1 signed. Or anything else, I'm not picky. 

I'll be signing on the Saturday (17th Nov) and the Sunday (18th Nov) on TABLE B, 13.50-15.20. Come say hazizzle. 

I'll also be giving a talk as part of the "1000 Words" event, about my time spent working in TV/Movies and how those memories relate to the comics experience. That's in the Alea Cinema Room on Saturday 17th, between 11am and 12noon.







Solicitation info here:

X-Men Legacy #1
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: 
Tan Eng Huat

Main cover [above] - Mike Del Mundo
Variant cover [right] - Skottie Young

In Stores: 
November 14, 2012
Imprint: 
Marvel Universe 
Rating: 
Rated T+ 
Format: 
Comic 
UPC: 
75960607919300111
Price: 
$2.99
The Story: Marvel Now! spotlights Legion— the most unstable mutant in the world and Professor Charles Xavier’s son! Legion has reshaped the universe and killed gods – now, in the wake of AVX, he must conquer his demons and embrace his father’s legacy!


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

NYCC 2012: Where I'll Be When I'm Not In The Pub

New York Comic Con

Hello folks.

Usual excuses regarding poor blogttendance and whatnot. I promise to tune back in shortly with a Spursphere Update on various exciting projects in the works, not least my forthcoming stint as ongoing writer of X-Men Legacy. Check out these stunning covers for episodes One and Three by Mike Del Mundo (in my biased opinion, #3's got to be a contender for cover-of-the-year).

But more imminently I’m very excited to be once again attending the NEW YORK COMIC CON, between Thursday 11th and Sunday 14th October. To my mind it’s the most perfect mix of comicky congasmic craziness, hanging with a variety of debauched and dronkled pals, and exploratory pilgrimages among the food Meccas, elevated arboreal Edens and architectural Elysiums of the world’s second greatest city.

So. I’ve been made aware that some of you, apparently, weirdly, insanely, might like to come and say hello while I’m publically decloaked. I’ve been warned it’s customary for attendees at these events to steal slivers of creators’ souls through clicking magicboxes and whirry phonegizmos, and to rob them of their sympathetic name-runes at the point of a sharpie. Worst of all I’m alerted that visitors may try to pry-forth dark secrets about Who’d Win In A Fight Between Squirrel Girl and Stilt-Man.

 EVERYBODY WINS, my friends, that’s who.

 Anyway. Here’s a list of where I’ll be when I’m not at the pub. (When I’m at the pub, I’ll be at the pub. In which case you should go through the appropriate channels to totally find out which pub I’m in so you can come and buy me a drink.)

 I’ll add to this list as/when it changes, which it inevitably shall.

 -- GENERAL LURKING!

On Friday and Saturday I’ll be spending a good chunk of time hanging out with the guys at Avatar Press, Booth 812, signing copies of CROSSED: WISH YOU WERE HERE and giving sneak-peeks at forthcoming Crossedesque horribleness. If I’m not there when you are I’ll be heading back within an hour or two. I’ll try and firm-up times when I know more.

 --FRIDAY 12th OCTOBER

11am-12noon: Signing, 2000AD/Judge Dredd, Booth 813. (which, now I come to look at it on NYCC's fabulous interactive floorplan, is right next to the Avatar stall. So, y'know. Good times.)

12.15pm-1.15pm: Panel,Marvel Now! (All New X-Men), room 1E07. Wherein I shall speak of All Things Spandexweird.

--SATURDAY 13th OCTOBER

12pm-1pm: Singing, Marvel, Booth 1838. (Bring me your X-Clubs, your Ghost Riders, your Silver Surfers and your huddled spandexy masses. I WOULD SIGN THY HEROSTUFF.)

2.45pm-3.45pm: Panel, 2000AD/Judge Dredd, room 1A07. The movie's great. Srsly.


 See you there!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

LONDON SUPER COMIC-CON: Panel Parity



I spent this last weekend attending the inaugural London Super ComicCon at the Excel Centre in London’s docklands. A great show by anyone’s standards, and despite the (requisite) doomsayers in the run-up I’m certain the event will be back in next year. As is Correct Protocol at these things – particularly in light of certain Real-World shenanigans I shan’t bore you with – I spent a goodly chunk of the time politely swozzled in the bar. Embarrassing flashbacks and associated photographs are already cropping-up. But amongst the slew of wonderful humans with whom I connected or reconnected, this convention was also notable for a slight controversy I happened to create. And I’d like to tell you about it, because it Matters.

Let’s start with fellow writer, spiky-haired awesomenaut and all-round good egg Paul Cornell. As you may have heard, Paul’s been doing a lot of thinking about one of the Big! Important! Issues! currently troubling the comics industry: to whit, that women are invariably underrepresented – and frequently absent entirely – from the Panels which form the core of most conventions. It may sound strange to those of you outside the comicsphere that so much importance is placed on these little 40-minute chunks of Q&A waffle, usually conducted before not-quite-packed audiences, often with abstruse names like “Getting The Foot In The Door”, “How To Draw The Kirby Way”, or “The Importance Of Sequential Flow”. But in an industry composed entirely of freelancers, without Shareholder-Meetings, Executive Boards or even Watercooler Moments, panels are very much the public face of our tribe. And – with a few notable exceptions – they’re almost always a massive sausagefest.

A lot of people don’t think that’s a problem. The argument is that there simply aren’t many women working in the industry, so why should you expect them to be represented on panels? Which is… well, it’s a bloody lazy argument – there are loads of women working in comics – but, sure, okay, fine, let’s be blunt: there are fewer women working in mainstream superhero comics than men. True fakt.

Paul’s contention is this: if we comics-people want our industry to become a genuinely gender-blind place – that is to say, a place in which a professional is judged on his, her or its merits rather than the shape of their junk – then we need to do something about the elephant in the corner: the Where-Are-All-The-Women question.

Maybe it’s unrealistic to expect genuine parity. Maybe – let’s play devil’s advocate for a minute – there really is something fundamental about the medium of “Juxtaposed Pictorial And Other Images In Deliberate Sequence” which attracts male creators and male readers more abundantly than females (bullshit – there isn’t). Or maybe you disagree that with better gender parity would come a maximisation of the perspectives, approaches and ideas entering the comics world and that an increase in quality would inevitably follow (it would). Maybe you’re just not interested in getting more women in the industry, let alone more women on panels. But at the very fucking least we should all want to protect the medium we love from cheap shots and lazy clich├ęs. At the moment it’s all too easy for the lip-curlers and sneermonkies of the world to dismiss Western Comics as the sole preserve of thirtysomething-plus men in teeshirts who never properly grew up because that’s the only face of comics they ever see.

Which is terrible. And I say that as a thirtysomething man in a teeshirt who never properly grew up.

Paul’s idea is that you can’t expect true gender parity in comics unless you create the conditions to facilitate it. Even if one has to dabble in positive discrimination, even if one must expect outraged cries of “tokenism!”, “political correctness gone mad!”, “patronising cockcentric condescension!”, it’s worth it. So Paul created a movement he called “Panel Parity” in which he planned to exercise the only real power he has – like any of us in the weird world of industry conventions – to make a difference. Paul pledged that whenever he’s invited onto a panel which doesn’t feature at least 50% women, he’ll surrender his own seat to a female speaker. Even if that means tracking down someone less “well-suited” to discussing the topic at hand than himself. Even if it means disappointing people in the crowd who travelled to the show specifically to see him talk. As long as Said SheGuest is able to contribute in some way to the conversation, Paul feels her presence on stage is more valuable than his own. Which is a brave and important and splendid thing to say.

As a result of the campaign Paul’s inevitably going to find it difficult to get invited onto panels at all. Being a nice chap he’ll invariably inform convention organisers of his intentions ahead of time, and they – if they feel unable or unwilling to shuffle things around in accordance with his 50/50 request – may feel it easier to simply UnInvite him. To its great credit the London SuperCon did its best to compromise on his behalf: gently removing him from a talk about DC comics, but placing him instead on an equally-divided m/f panel judging attendees’ cosplay outfits. A good start.

I’m not much of a Conventioneer, to be honest. The most I get out of the majority of these shows is the chance to meet some readers, promote a gig or two, catch-up with the industry zeitgeist then spend whatever quality-time remains with my industry friends in the pub. I don’t expect much – I guess I don’t ask much either – and all-in-all I’m a pretty terrible candidate for flag-waving do-gooding firebrandery.

But at the show this weekend I happened to find myself in a rather liberating position. I had nothing to promote and no material to sell, and had been invited to appear on a panel titled “How To Write A Comics Script” alongside a bunch of guys – men – whose reputations and claims-to-fame were all significantly greater than mine. It was vanishingly unlikely anyone attending that panel had paid to enter the show simply to hear me waffle about Panel Progression and Gutter Efficiency, and so I was to all intents and purposes disposable.

So I did Panel Parity. I spent some time before the session visiting as many booths as I could, looking for a woman who (for whatever my opinion’s worth) would provide the attendees of the panel with a valuable contribution. I didn’t want to hijack the event with a big flashy statement and no value-for-money, nor piss-off my fellow panellists, nor make the audience feel gypped – so believe me when I say I totally lucked-out by finding the exceedingly excellent and enormously talented Tammy Taylor. When I shyly told her what I was planning she jumped at the chance to appear, and promised to be waiting in the front row of the audience.

I warned the panel organisers what I wanted to do before just going onto stage. I felt like a shithead for being disruptive – particularly to the wonderful David Montieth of Geek Syndicate, who’s genuinely one of the Nicest Men In Comics and didn’t deserve the headache I might’ve caused him. But I was impressed at every step by how understanding these guys were – wishing nothing more than that I’d given them a little more notice (which, frankly, was the one thing I couldn't easily do – as Paul’s situation demonstrated). In the end I was allowed to open the panel with a little speech about what I was about to do and why, an apology for being disruptive and a promise I’d make myself available in the pub if anyone wanted to discuss “How To Write A Comics Script”. And then I invited Tammy onto stage, grinned like an idiot while the audience triumphantly welcomed her, and slunk into the Naughty Seat at the back to wait for my cheeks to stop burning.

The panel was a joy. If I’d had any fears about reactions from any quarter they were extinguished instantly. Tammy was articulate, insightful and brilliant. The other panellists – who had every right to be pissed-off at the interruption – instinctively and naturally included her in the requisite banter without weirdness or condescension, bounced questions back and forth, and were entirely Cool. I couldn’t have been happier with the way it turned out. The response, so far, has been overwhelmingly positive.

Would I do it again? Honestly, I don’t know. As I told Paul when we discussed it later, the idea might not even have occurred to me if I’d been appearing at the show under different circumstances, with a more clearly-defined agenda or more to lose. I’m basically a coward, and it’s easy to make a stand when there’s nothing at stake. What I will say is this: I made an instinctive little calculation that – to me, at that time, under those conditions – it was more valuable to surrender the seat than to occupy it. And given the cascade of support, and more importantly the slew of interest and exposure Tammy’s received, I’m not ashamed to admit I’m feeling pretty bloody great about the whole thing.

I would gently encourage other male comics professionals to give it a little thought before next stepping onto stage. Do you really need to be up there?

Go check out Tammy's WEBSITE, and find her on DEVIANTART.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A SERPENT UNCOILED -- Mass Market Paperback Edition

My latest crime novel, A Serpent Uncoiled, is now available as a mass-market paperback and a Kindle-based e-book (for UK and US readers alike). Relevant links below.

“With gargantuan literary flourishes, Spurrier evidently likes to roll his words around his mouth to test if they taste right before spitting them out onto the page. What you get are flashes of brilliance sodden by great gobs of wry humour.” -- The Truth About Books

“An elaborately tooled razor of a book.” – Warren Ellis.


UK purchasers:

Mass Market Paperback:



Kindle Edition:




US purchasers:

The KINDLE VERSION should now be available. There have been some problems activating the link, so if you have any grief – let me know.

And your best bet for the Paperback is the Bookdepository.co.uk, which will dispatch anywhere in the world without shipping fees.

ON SUCCESS

They say a thin-skinned writer is a doomed writer. I’d say you can cut-out the “doomed” bit and it still makes sense.

Listen. Like the rest of you, I’ve watched with mouth agape as X-Factor hopefuls and talent-show noddies are shredded by the collective ire of that most modern social-arbitration MustHave: The Expert Panel. Countless times I’ve wondered how it is that Johnny Crapvoice or Jenny Mankfoot could have arrived at this point – this needle-tipped moment of unimaginable ridicule – wherein it’s explained to them, live, that despite all their protestations to the contrary they in fact cannot sing, cannot dance, and in all likeliness will never again trouble a camera-lens with their likeness. That they are in fact worthless, talentless nuggets of gristle and fear, and that should the door Hit Their Ass on the way out, they will thereafter be invoiced for sweat-clearance. That the dreams of validation and idolisation they’ve been culturing since adolescence are so much bumsoup and that – thanks to the ritual humiliation they’ve just undergone – their return to vanilla mediocrity will in all likelihood be a shitload harder than it was before.

…And I’ve guffawed at these peoples’ subsequent denials or dejections or defeats, same as you, because, really, we’re all completely horrible. How, we’ve all wondered, do these poor sods get to be so delusional?

The fact is, they’re not. The fact is that we live in a world horrendously deprived of perspective. It’s a world in which no opinion can be said to be certain, and no quality proven, until it’s been hardbaked by the nuclear attentions and vitriolic judgements of a million people – or more. Increasingly, I feel that if someone has the balls – the rippling enormogonads – to test themselves against that compound-eye of consumer attention, then (sorry) they can be forgiven for overcompensating on the confidence front. For appearing to be so damn sure they’ve got the goods. These suckers’ve spent a lifetime being uplifted by the misguided love-compliments of friends and family, but… secretly? They don’t really know. They’ve simply figured out that in the game of Risking Everything, you might as well step into the light with a swagger.

Here the is unpleasant truth. Nobody truly knows if they’re Good or Shit until someone they’ve never met – ideally lots of someones they’ve never met - says so. Be they singer, dancer, painter, elephant-tamer, stage magician, wombat-tickler or, yes, yes, yes, writer.

Nobody wants to hear this: Reviews are almost everything.

Of course, reviews can’t always be trusted. That’s particularly true in this, our frothing Internet digirealm, wherein the stakes for reviewers aren’t quite as simple as “express opinion; feel satisfied at same.” It can’t be ignored that in the anonymity of certain online communities, a vitriolic savaging of the source-material accomplishes at double-speed what no amount of carefully-considered praise ever could: entertaining one’s fellow Internauts and endearing oneself to their collective.

In my other life as a comics scriptwriter – particularly with the bigger super-hero stuff – my fellow creators will often recite a simple brain-preserving Commandment (usually over the froth of a melancholy beer): Do Not Read Online Reviews. Even editors have given me this instruction: as if swaddling me from a toxic cloud of schedule-disrupting hatred which, counter-intuitively, doesn’t seem to colour the editors’ own opinions. Theirs, maybe, is the thickest skin of all.

I read the reviews anyway, of course. Some days I feel slightly as thought it’s a transaction of judgement: the reader has the right to express an opinion on the mewling literary baby I’ve left dangling and vulnerable before his face; just as I have the right to decide that his ill-use of grammar, obsession with exclamation-marks and evident lack of actually-having-read-the-bloody-work allows me to confidently ignore his opinion.

As long as you’re not shutting your eyes to everyone, the gestalt opinion is probably roughly accurate.

Let’s narrow this down a bit.

As frequent readers will know, my latest book - A Serpent Uncoiled - was released in largescale and kindle formats last year. And it received – honestly – some astonishing reviews.

“This is the most original book of the year, and it will take a work of staggering outlandishness to wrest that title from Spurrier’s claws.” -- BookGeeks

“A Serpent Uncoiled is a great book, but not for the faint of heart. Grim, gritty and atmospheric, it is certainly for those who like their stories with verve. With great prose and dialogue, Spurrier had created a novel that will I hope become a classic.” -- Shotsmag

“An elaborately tooled razor of a book.” -- Warren Ellis

“A unique protagonist, a unique voice, and a plot that sucks you in from the first page. Spurrier's sharp, brilliant prose is addictive.” -- Mike Carey

Thin skinned? I’m so thin-skinned I’ve never needed an X-ray in my life – the doctor just stands near a candle. Happily, it turns out that a crippling inability to insulate oneself from the judgement of others works in both directions. Upon reading all these lovely reviews I started to get excited. Here, I felt, was the tipping point to my career. A tsunami of hyperbolic praise and acclaim awaited me. Simon Cowell had waggled his eyebrows, pursed his lips… and raised his thumb.

That’s an amazing moment, for a fragile-ego’d wordmonkey. At long last one allows oneself a little confidence. You’ve sat and watched as the careers of your cherished peers have matured and tumesced all around you. You’ve secretly feared all along that you’re the mediocritite, the runt, the also-ran; doomed to be humoured and condescended by the giants of your circle. And now here, finally: validation! Not quite enough to become a monster – you’re not a dick, are you? – but ohhh that quiet warmth.

They say I’m good. They say I’m good. Oh god, this is really happening…



And then the book doesn’t go up onto any shelves. And the newspaper critics have got too many “big” authors to get through and not enough space. And the UK’s biggest literary retailer is in the middle of a crisis and isn’t buying anything – especially not creepy problematic Grime Novels by silly-named comicbook geeks. Oh, and Jordan’s got a new frilly-arsed gold-embossed wordcrime out, and Jeremy Clarkson just wiped his arse and published it, and there are at least four hundred soppy middle-class village-based mystery novels to be stocked before we come to the weirdo drug-taking brainfreak Private Eye stuff, and, and, and…

I said “reviews are almost everything, right?” The remainder is purely this: Attention.

When the trade-format edition of A Serpent Uncoiled was released, it staggered onto the X-Factor stage, nervous like a nun in her knickers. It puffed out its chest and gave its most confident smile. It prayed for glory and prepared itself for humiliation. And yes, oh gorgeousness and gorgeosity, Simon Cowell raised his thumb.

But there was nobody in the bloody audience, and all the cameras were watching for Cheryl Cole’s cleavage.

I’m not bitter, really. Everything’s a learning curve, in the end. So to all the readers out there I offer Perspective, and to all the writers I offer a freebie LEVEL-UP-lesson to save you a few disappointments:

The dream of becoming a writer is a fine and noble thing. The hoops one must jump to achieve it are fiery, vertiginous and smell like fart. There is no safety mat. No trainer. No chalk-pot to help you grip. And once the routine’s over and you’ve landed -- ohhh the relief!

But it’s all bollocks. The hoops never stop. They just change their shape from time to time. Quality, my loves, Isn’t Enough.

The paperback edition of A Serpent Uncoiled is out this week.

And if I want to sell my book – and you’d imagine I probably do – I’ve got to take responsibility for that. And, possibly, to get a little crazy. Behold: