We have been big fans of Kieron Gillen’s work for a long time, dating back to “Phonogram.” We always relish a chance to chat with him, as he is one of the most thoughtful and interesting creators in all of comics. I had the opportunity to spend about an hour with Kieron at C2E2 a few weeks ago, and the conversation was wide-ranging and fascinating, as always.
I’ve heard you say that going into “The Wicked + the Divine,” you and Jamie McKelvie were super confident that it was going to be a hit. Why were you so confident?
Kieron Gillen: We were drinking a lot, the cocaine had gotten to us.
It’s quite strange, I look back and we’ve been doing “WicDiv” for three years and everything we did at the beginning seems quite distant now. Those first issues, I look at the person doing that, and they’re quite a stranger. At the same time, we’re following the map that person invented back then.
We were asked [at our panel] yesterday why we think this book has been more of a hit, and I have no idea. What I had then, I no longer have. I think… on some level it was because we had decided it would be? We realized that we were in a position where, if you look back at “Young Avengers,” there was an awareness that the market was close to what we were doing, and there’s also the idea that there’s nothing like it. Instead of the idea of being indie, self-defeating… let’s have a little swagger. That’s kind of the thing, let’s act like it’s going to be a hit, and people will believe us.
You came in with confidence and it sort of followed right along?
KG: OK, we’re launching a book, after [“Young Avengers”], a successful Marvel book with a lot of hype, so people are interested in us. If we do a book, we should be vaguely commercial, and it has every chance of being a hit.
With an indie comic, it’s always a roll of the dice, that was always the thing, but we wanted to maximize the change. So it’s like, our one chance to do a book which moves the needle, right? And we did a lot of hype, and reaching out to people, but even when I think about the book… if you listen to “Decompressed,” my podcast, it’s basically me interviewing my peers, and you can hear me thinking about how to do issue 1. That’s the subtext: how do I take all the craft that I have learned, these difficult concepts, and make it pop? Pop both commercially, and pop in sense of art. Some of it was that we were better able to express Jamie’s ideas now than we were [when we did “Phonogram”] in 2006.
Is that just because you’re more experienced? Or is it partially because you’re working with Image instead of a different publisher?
KG: Mainly because of experience, from doing 5 or 6 years of working for Marvel. They taught me how do moderate tone, and communicate in a variety of different ways. The flip of it is that at Image, we control everything. We get to use our whole craft set and have no other filter. It’s so much self-disciple, the learned discipline allowed us to express so much in the context of freedom better… It just felt pop! It’s like… gods all dying in two years! Stuff like in the first issue, we’ve got all this weird crap, but this is a murder mystery. Back in the day, I would’ve done, hmm. There’s an awareness that… “WicDiv” is cynical. It’s a bit pop. It’s got a narrative structure, especially early on, that’s meant to make people dance. Early on I was like, who’s interested in gods?
OK, the first issue does two things: set up the tone, as in here is the intro, here is our style, here’s what we’re doing, and here is the fucking plot. I read other books and I get the tone and style of it, but I don’t get the fucking plot, and if you’re working in a monthly sequential narrative, and you want to actually appeal to people in that way? You’ve got to have the attention there. And the thing about “WicDiv” is that the way the plot engine was designed… it’s a murder mystery, but then around issue 7 or 8 you realize, I’m not really interested in the murder mystery. It’s about something else. The murder mystery is basically a device to carry people in to what the story becomes. And of course, “WicDiv” completely reinvents itself every six issues anyway.Continued below
That’s also true with something like Game of Thrones. Where it starts off asking ‘who killed Jon Arryn?’- it’s a murder mystery.
KG: Or “Watchmen,” or “Fables” – there are a lot of books that have used the murder mystery for entry. And the best part of the murder mystery is that allows you to move around the cast and interview people. That’s a really good and useful narrative device. And of course, by issue 9, we just turn into an interview, the thing that was subtextual before, as in every issue you get the chance to prod a god and see what’s going on with them, issue 9 become literally Ananke and Cassandra having a chat. And Cassandra is interviewing Ananke and Ananke is interviewing Cassandra, you know what I mean? That’s what I mean by craft, I think as a one sentence thing, it’s a really pop idea. Gods as pop stars, pop stars as gods!
I just thought we could make it a hit [Laughs]… and we did! [More Laughs] I’m sorry, I remember reading like, “Trees”, Warren [Ellis]’s book, [that came out] shortly after us, and I felt so guilty. I’m like, there’s no cliffhanger here, it’s so much more mature than us!
Well, Warren has also been at it longer!
KG: Oh yeah, and Warren… he’s in this position where he’s writing serialized novels and he won’t make any pretense to the Brian K. Vaughan-ist model.
As in, the cliffhanger at the end of every issue.
KG: Yeah, and there’s many ways to do it. I’m very aware when I say this, I’m talking about certain structures that work, but they’re not the only structures that work.
Yeah, “Trees” is doing well enough.
KG: Exactly! And there’s a lot of stuff, like we did a lot of… when we designed the world, we did a lot to make it memetically sticky. OK: how long do the gods live for? Five years is too long, one year is both too short, and everyone is like ‘you have one year to live’ and that’s a standard plot. Two years to live? If someone says ‘oh, what’s that story where you’ve got two years to live?’ It’s “WicDiv!”
I hadn’t thought of that!
KG: The cycle happens every hundred years? How many books have used that? Now every ninety years… We did a lot of things like the icons, and even the fact that we shortened it to “WicDiv,” we did a lot of things to make it memetically sticky.
I remember when people were arguing about that acronym.
KG: We thought of that early, because obviously “TWatD” would be a very bad acronym for the book.
That’s too bad, I thought that was hilarious when when I first heard someone call it that!
KG: Hmm… probably “TWatD,” it’s very funny-
That joke seemed like your style honestly.
KG: It… mis-sells the attribute of the book. If we were doing “Sex Criminals?” There’s a bit of an arrogant grandeur to the book. As fall-over stupid as we often are, “WicDiv” is… there’s a hauteur to it, to use the word. If I said the word “WicDiv,” it sounds very different from “TWatD.”
So that was all part of the same conversation? When you were thinking about the icons, and the length of the years, and the acronym?
KG: Yeah. There’s a lot more, like the fact that I conceived of the book when I turned 38, and it’s about turning 40. Any reason I give, and there’s dozens of reasons, how do we make a universe that’s entirely of a moment, and distinctively it’s own?
The thing I’m doing for the moment, a new book, I’ve got different aims there, but there’s always ‘how can we make this fantasy world distinct?’ How can we make it ours? We did everything we could to- what was that quote? It was Doug Wolk on Comics Alliance, writing about “WicDiv” #1, [he said] it’s like the Beatles. “We sat down and wrote a swimming pool,” that Beatles quote? They got to that level of success and power and they’re like ‘OK, we’re just going to write a song, and it’s going to pay for a swimming pool.’ He described “WicDiv” a bit like that… The zeitgeist was on our side, and if we did something with a tune, we thought it would do well.Continued below
…OK, we’ve [been talking for] 15 minutes, and that last sentence is all you need. Sorry, back to your actual question! [Laughs]
Well now I’ve got a couple of questions. I wanted to go back to you talking about-
KG: Can I just throw out something else interesting? All of this, me talking about the fundamental cynicism of pop music, it’s the Woden bit of you, you know? At least part of ‘Imperial Phase’ is about me processing my mixed feelings about the book’s success. We wanted to make it a hit, it was a hit. And there’s part of my artistic soul that gets angry with that, and hates myself for it, especially the emotional drain… the idea of taking some of the worst things that have happened to me and turning it into a successful pop book? That makes me quite angry with myself.
I think that’s what lots of people end up doing for their most successful books, yeah?
KG: I always had the plan that ‘Imperial Phase’ was the third part, and it’s the idea of the post-successful cocaine binge stuff. You fall into yourself. You become a mess.
Well, something I’ve noticed with “WicDiv” more so than in your previous collaborations with Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson, is a focus on the efficiency of how you present your narrative. You see that reflected in your writers notes a lot. Is that something that developed with time, or is that something you’re doing more deliberately with “WicDiv?”
KG: It’s a machine, it’s quite tricky. There’s definitely times in “WicDiv” where, we have a cast of 14 major characters and a set of sub characters. I’ve got material [for a lot more] and sometimes it’s like I need to [jump forward] in the arc… … I wouldn’t say it’s about efficiency, occasionally it’s about necessity… And of course, ‘necessity’ is a very loaded word when it comes to “WicDiv.” [Laughs]
Yeah, I was about to say!
KG: I’d say all the characters are me and Ananke is certainly one of the characters. I’m aware of who some of these characters are, I always need to push forward… it’s like Dionysus’s asexuality. That was like ‘okay, I just need to get a fucking move on with this, and I think people need to know this.’ There’s so much stuff that’s in the story, and I know all the material. It’s a question of how I want to use all the material. The fact that I have so much stuff that I want to dovetail together means that I often go for very efficient choices. There’s not a lot of fucking around. Even if you’ve read and quote-unquote ‘not a lot happens,’ there’s a lot going on.
It takes as much work to write an issue where “not a lot happens.”
KG: Yeah, it’s not ‘now you know this, and now you know this, and this character feels this…’ It’s always like, what’s going to happen next and what do they need to know? That to me is so much. When I finish “WicDiv,” I’ll never do a book like this again. Partially because I’ve done it, and partially because… …
It’s a lot of work!
KG: A lot of work, and emotionally draining, and anxiety producing in a way which makes me lose sleep. It’s really hard. I’ll be so glad when “WicDiv” is over now. Me and Jamie. Simultaneously, part of me wants to do it forever, and the other part of me is like, [sigh] I just want everyone to know the story. [Laughs] And we’re quite near the end! This is the fifth trade, there are three more trades to the main story, and the specials trade. So like, there’s three more trades left! We’ve gone over the hump. That’s scary.
I think you might be selling yourself short, because I see the same deliberation with your run on the X-Men and some of your other Marvel books. But this is that dialed up to 11?
KG: Yeah, “WicDiv” has gone so far in that direction, I’ll be able to talk more about this in a year’s time or so. And I’ll be able to put more meat on what I’m doing with the next book and what sorts of storytelling I’m more interested in next… “WicDiv” is a final statement to all that we’ve ever done. That includes my plot structures… the way we structure stories, and how we believe art should be. A lot of it is ‘let’s do this one last time and let’s do this as well as we can.’ The thing I said earlier about the craft? So much craft in “WicDiv.” And that sounds wanky, but whatever we think comics is gonna be, this is it – I guess!Continued below
So does that mean… well, are you and Jamie getting sick of each other yet?
KG: No. Hmm. Jamie. Jamie is waiting for this to be over, because he’s planning on what he wants to do next too. Jamie wants to [go on and do his] own stuff… When I originally planned “WicDiv,” it was that every second arc there’d be a different artist. Because I wanted Jamie to be able to write and draw his own issues too. Then we got to, after ‘Commercial Suicide’ Jamie was like, “actually no, I want to draw the rest of it.” Because I think Jamie realized it was such a big thing, and-
At this point in our interview, a woman cosplaying an elaborate Brainiac tripped, and fell, and broke a piece of her costume. Kieron immediately leaped to her rescue. He looked visibly distraught afterwards, so we took a breather. Kieron took off his signature skull blazer and took a little walk to catch his breath. He said his heart was going “a mile a minute.” Once we were sure the woman was OK, and we had calmed down a little bit, we resumed our conversation
OK, we were talking about Jamie.
KG: Oh yeah, it was originally going to be someone else but after ‘Commercial Suicide,’ Jamie was like, “actually no, I want to draw the rest.” It was really kind of touching because when I was going into the structure, I didn’t want to keep Jamie nailed down. But in actual practice no, Jamie actually wanted to do it! Which is amazing because- oh yeah! Jamie likes my writing! It’s amazing, I don’t think of that kind of stuff. Creative insecurity. Hell of a drug.
You mentioned it briefly before, but can you say anything about your new book? I haven’t heard much about it.
KG: I call it the ‘Spangly New Thing.’ Hmm, what have I said in public? It’s going to be a medium length ongoing, not as long as “WicDiv.”
Not one of these giant Vertigo-style-
KG: No, no, no, I would reckon like, four trades? A medium length ongoing. It’s about… it’s a fantasy book, and I want it to be a little bit more mature. When I say mature I mean, it’s not necessarily as pop as WicDiv. It’s weird, in a different way. The characters are older than me. That’s my main thing.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen you write something like that actually.
KG: I mean like- there are a lot of books which have older characters, than me? Like, “Uber” has really quite old people, or whatever, “Three” has some of them, but this is yeah, my age and older. That was part of my desire.
Get out of the writing about teenagers box?
KG: Hmm, that’s probably the best way of putting it. And it’s a bit more complicated than that because when I’m writing about teenagers, I’m not really writing about teenagers, like… [have you seen the Black Mirror episode,] “San Junipero?”
No, but I know of it.
KG: It’s kind of like that. Hmm, it’s about teenagers and young people and spoilers, really old people. It’s not about either really, it’s about people my age and slightly older. It’s about the 80s youth and realizing ‘one day I’m gonna die.’ That show is kind of about- it’s about other stuff as well, but it’s very clearly someone slightly older than me processing… THAT.
Well, whenever I see you writing teenagers I always notice that older people get a lot more out of it than teenagers, and I think a lot of it is because it’s about look back at being a teenager than looking at the experience from the perspective of being a teenager.
KG: Well, I’d hate to say who gets more of it, I’d hate to negate the experiences of teenage “WicDiv” fans, or teenage “Young Avengers” fans but it’s true, our readership skews older as well.
There’s a quote from, the lead singer of the Hold Steady, there was an interview back in 2006, and the question was ‘you’re a 36 year old dude, why do you write about these teenage emotions?’ And he said ‘I think I understand how I felt while I was a teenager better now than I did then, because there’s a degree of distance,’ and I was like, I kind of recognize that. I think… if you actually look at my work, especially that thread of the work, it’s not about youth. It’s not about youth! It’s about aging. All through “Phonogram,” it’s about transitional states, and it’s about losing it. It’s about… that. There’s very little about the glory of youth.Continued below
The shallow reading of “Young Avengers” was always kids vs adults. And it’s not. It’s a book about kids, about teenagers, being fucking idiots. [Laughs]
All the problems caused by the Young Avengers themselves. It’s their fault. It’s all their fault. And in the end, all of them own it. And that’s kind of- that’s what the book… you know? People tend to… this is a standard joke, we called in ‘Style > Substance’ because we were trolling the critics. It’s what a certain strand of critic would describe the book as.
Not just critics. I was working in a comic shop at the time, and customers and even the other people at the store were saying that, “It’s style over substance!”
KG: One of things is, why on Earth would anyone think you would call a book ‘Style > Substance’ and mean it!? It’s like, this is the lowest critical hurdle. It’s like doing a book called ‘Nazis Are Great.’
That example might be a little bit more prescient than you meant.
KG: Oh- you understand what I mean! You’ve got a problem if you call the book that. But um, that’s not what you mean. Wait no, I’m sorry! [Laughs]
I know you didn’t mean it that way!
KG: It’s a problem, with everything else happening in comics you… if you call a book like, ‘I Don’t Think People Should Eat Food,’ you presume that the person who chose that title didn’t mean that title. So you call the book ‘Style > Substance,’ or if you call the book ‘This Is Shit’ I wouldn’t really mean that this book is shit, I’m using that to troll or to provoke. Same with ‘Style > Substance,’ if you had a very serious reading of “Young Avengers,” it’s a style over substance book. Honestly, try to look at this a bit closer! But you know, extreme irony and sarcasm only goes so far.
So here’s a question I’ve been sitting on: I feel like another thread I see throughout your work is the relationship between creators and fans. At least to me, and correct me if I’m being presumptuous and reading your books wrong-
KG: [Laughs] You’re not reading it wrong!
It seems to me, especially with “Phonogram,” it seems to be pretty autobiographical, especially the fandom aspects. More recently, and I just witnessed it firsthand a bunch of times, so if you want to be modest I think you’re going to have a hard time standing on that leg… you’ve amassed a fandom like the musicians in your comics! You’ve had the whole transition, you went from being the fan in the crowd, to being a starting-out artist, to being the person who’s hand gets tired from signing autographs for hours and hours and hours. And I know how you like to overthink![Laughs]
Was there ever a moment you reflected on that whole transition? What was that like?
KG: It’s weird. “Phonogram” is a book about the ten years before 2005 which we created in the ten years after 2005. It basically me being this kind of fan, and a critic as a fan with a dictionary and a thesaurus. “Phonogram” is especially about that. It’s pretty much autobiographical in that way. But, “Phonogram” is autobiographical in a way that’s really fucking messy. There’s definitely some stuff in “Phonogram” I wish… I wouldn’t have done now.
KG: Personal in a crass way.
Sure, and more recently, that’s pretty much the arc of Laura Wilson.
KG: “Phonogram” is about the ten years before 2005 created in the ten years afterwards. Basically, “WicDiv” is everything that’s happened after 2005. It hops back a bit, and Laura Wilson at 17 is me at 17. And yet, there’s an acceleration of that experience?
Well, she’s gotta die in two years, so she’s gotta get a lot of those experiences in.
KG: When I was coming up as a creator, the sort of people I met along the way, I thought, ‘what a bunch of beautiful, inspiring fuckwits.’ Those creators? And that small, slow segway from one into the other. That’s what “WicDiv” is about. It’s about oh, I once was a fan, now I’m on the other side of the table. And a lot of our books are about that magic, the weird self-imposed duty, because I take that quiet seriously as religion. And there’s a loaded word for “WicDiv.”Continued below
We’ve used a lot of really great loaded words for “WicDiv” today.
KG: So yes would be the answer. When you were listening right now, I was weirdly tearing up. It’s a bit close to the truth. WicDiv was- it’s funny because you get the fandom, the level of meta in the “WicDiv” fandom by itself. Like, with the T-shirts we do and all that.
And the fandom itself seems pretty self aware too.
KG: There’s a lot of that internal dialogue, which we encourage. I think I’m stepping back a little from the fandom, because we’re getting to that point in the arc where people need to start making their own kind of decisions. At least part of “WicDiv” is a course people are meant to graduate from. The idea that I’m going to teach you everything I’ve ever learned about art and fandom and how we integrate and how we fail, across five years, and then you go off on your own. Just don’t make my mistakes. [Laughs] And we get to that point where, if we’re like a four year degree course, it’s time to do your final year projects. That’s kind of where we’re heading.
Well, Laura meeting Baal is a little bit a music fan meeting Kanye, but it’s also a little bit you meeting Alan Moore. Do you ever take a step back and wow, you were reading Alan Moore comics when they were coming out, and now you are like, “I just had dinner with Alan Moore!”
KG: Yeah, absolutely!
Is that still surreal?
KG: Yeah it’s very… people who were once your idols are now your peers and friends. That’s creepy!
It sounds creepy!
KG: Hmm. The way you kind of get through this kind of stuff is – it’s just humans. You have a moment like that, and then we don’t talk about that stuff. You make a friendship by sidestepping that. You sidestep the god.
Another very loaded word for “WicDiv.”
KG: Yeah! Exactly! That completed the metaphor. And then you forget that they’re human. That’s the god thing. When I was a games critic, I was obsessed with games criticism in a way that I don’t think people could possibly understand. I don’t think I’ve ever loved anything like a loved [the gaming magazine] Amiga Power back in the day. And I became really good friends with my favorite critics.
It’s weird! And then you realize this person who managed to express how you feel about an art form before you could express it yourself. I could quote enormous lengths of Stuart Campbell reviews. You know that kind of thing? So yeah, I’ve gotten used to that, so I’ve had a long kind of experience, but yeah, it’s weird.
I realized recently that the very first thing I read of yours was your Deus Ex review in PC Gamer.
KG: Wow! There we go!
I didn’t make the connection until you reposted it on some Tumblr post.
KG: People come back to that review. Someone poured me a drink at the pub a couple of weeks ago in London for that! It’s so weird. I love that game! But I had just split up with a girl… so I was righting that review to be like ‘fuck you! I’ll show you how good a writer I am!’ So I went to write a really good review and show off… It’s funny, because it’s written in this kind of, spiteful anger, and I channeled it into a very positive review. And people still talk about it now! [Laughs] That’s such a bullshit Kieron Gillen thing. Wrote a games review as an “I Will Survive.”
But, you’ll be amazed what art and criticism can do! Like, obviously some people really despise what I’ve done. Some people will never forgive me because of things I have written. It wasn’t my intent, but then, intent doesn’t matter. Most of my interactions with fans is generally quite good, but occasionally something has gone quite wrong, and you’re aware that you’re holding a lot of emotions in your hands. It’s not irregular for us to have people come to the table and cry.
I’ve seen that happen.Continued below
KG: It’s like oh wow, I could fuck someone up really hard right now.
And you take that responsibility really seriously.
KG: Yeah, it scares the shit out of me! That’s power.
Yeah! Well, I want to talk to you a little bit about “Star Wars,” because we haven’t touched that yet. Is that still fun to write? That seems like it must be really fun to write.
KG: Yeah. “Star Wars” is like… I almost feel ashamed at how fun it is.[Laughs]
I REALLY get that.
KG: I’m similar like, ‘it’s gonna be hard, I’m a serious writer, I gotta go to the gym and run marathons,’ but the writing always comes very easily. The characters are joyful, and I think part of it is like- the metaphor I normally use is that it’s like playing the blues… As in, there’s a structure. When I was writing “Darth Vader,” I was like, alright, Darth Vader has to do something really cool this issue – every issue! He’s got to kill someone in an imaginative way every issue. Because, that’s why people pick up a “Darth Vader” book!
The thing with “Star Wars” is [that] you know… does this feel like Star Wars? That’s always got to be the question. You can change timbre, you can change tone, you can change what they are doing, but the idea of what is Star Wars, what is the fundamental Star Wars-ian experience, you can’t gravitate away from it, because if you do gravitate away from it, why the hell are you writing “Star Wars?” And that keep me grounded, you know? It’s not like I’m going to do a Dionysus issue.
Are you sure? That would be really interesting. I’d read that!
KG: Me too! But I don’t think that’s what I’m being paid for. It’s like, you’ve come to the Star Wars bar, you want to hear someone play Star Wars music. And I’m very aware that I’m playing Star Wars music, and I’m loving it. There’s a limitation to the job, but it’s a necessary and fun limitation.
Were you big into Star Wars back in the day, reading Extended Universe novels and stuff like that?
KG: I wasn’t that deep into it. Sweet Chrissy, the editor of “WicDiv,” she read them all bless her.
Really? I didn’t know she rolled deep in the Star Wars!
KG: Chrissy read everything, she’s an enormous geek, bless her. [Laughs]
The Empire Strikes Back was one of the first movies I saw in the cinema, that I remember.
So “Vader” is me writing the prequel to my own entry into geek culture. And that’s interesting, that’s an interesting headfuck. But it’s always been there. One of my mates, my next door neighbor [growing up] actually, he’s been reading [the “Star Wars” comics.] He was the really big Star Wars head, and he had an AT-AT and we were very jealous of him.
The word I use is primal. Being a Star Wars fan can be many things, but it’s such a primal thing in pop culture, and to get to play with that, that’s the appeal, rather than the encyclopedic knowledge about everything. Not that any way of loving Star Wars is wrong, but my way is very specifically, when I’m writingStar Wars, it’s about the fundamental Star Wars-i-ness of it. You’ve got to appeal to someone who knows all the EU stuff, and my mum. There’s this idea that Star Wars is for everyone, this is pop music. So that at least is part of my intent. So even if I was going deep dive into stuff, I wouldn’t want to go too deep dive stuff. With “Darth Vader” it was both for people who loved the prequels and people who hated the prequels, and I had to satisfy both those people. And also maybe people who have never seen the prequels!
Does that feel… is the word momentous? Do you feel that responsibility in a very different way than writing “WicDiv” or “Uncanny X-Men” or something?
KG: Good question! Hmm. I. Don’t. Know! I think I feel more responsibility on “WicDiv,” and I think that’s just because it’s ours. It’s an incredibly intense experience. With “Star Wars” its more… … I feel safer with “Star Wars.” The fact that I know what Star Wars feels like, it means I’m not going to break it. Those boundaries keep me from kicking through a wall. With “WicDiv” I’m aware that I could just kick through a wall. There’s always a fear of genuinely fucking up in a way… so yeah, responsibility. I think, I mean, people ask how it feels to write Vader. I’ve probably written more in canon Vader than anyone.Continued below
I wrote the prequel to my own entry into geek culture! That’s some real Grant Morrison shit! [Laughs]
I think, I don’t know if I’ve emotionally processed that. If I did I think my brain would just spa-dang! And I wouldn’t be able to write anymore. But it comes gracefully and easily for me, and it’s scary because logically, my mind should break and it should be true that- no! It’s just playing the blues. It’s something that’s very pliable and cool to me, and I’m just expressing that.
That must feel very cool, you just turn around and see action figures made of characters you’ve created.
KG: That’s weird! It’s funny, that kind of stuff is funny. That kind of stuff is cool to see. They’ve just done Triple Zero and Beetee dolls, and seeing them in the Star Wars Assault game from Fantasy Flight. There’s miniatures of them…
They’re an add-on for the new [game]. I haven’t bought it yet, but me being a big war gaming guy… Me actually painting up a Triple Zero and Beetee, that does have appeal.
That’s when you’ve made it right? When you’re painting miniatures of characters you’ve created?
KG: When I’ve made it, I pay people to paint my own miniatures. [Laughs] That would be the ultimate ‘Imperial Phase!’
I wanted to go back for a second. You mentioned your love of wargaming, and we talked a little bit about the Deus Ex review. I still read Rock Paper Shotgun sometimes… is that totally out of your life right now or are you still a part of that?
KG: [Laughs] Yeah, like I said, you can’t quite escape games journalism! You’ll always get pulled back in! At the moment, I own 20% of Rock Paper Shotgun, so I turn up to occasional board meetings, but I’ve stepped back from any editorial decision four or five years ago. [Note: As of publication of this interview, Rock Paper Shotgun has been sold to Gamer Network.] It’s those guys site, I can give advice at times, but I’m very happy out of the game. It’s quite exciting just how out of the game. You know “Losing Your Edge” by the LCD Soundsystem? I’m very aware that I’ve lost my games journalism edge, I haven’t played many games in the last three or four years.
And sorry, this gets fucking grim, this gets quite “WicDiv,” I haven’t played a longform video game properly since my dad died. And it’s very easy to psychoanalyze that one…why I might not go to video games now. Ever since I’ve gotten more into board games, I’ve gotten more into physical games… I think the real reason is, especially the games I like, are normally one player, are normally huge. And I just don’t have the fucking time. And I like… I’d rather do something I could share with people in the real world. So in other words, I can invite [my mates] around, play a game with them, and maybe have a drink! So that’s three things, I’m socializing, I’m tickling the games itch, and I’m alcoholic. And these three things come together. [The only video game] I’m playing right now is Blood Bowl 2.
That’s a video game based on a board game based on Warhammer, right?
KG: Yeah, yeah, yeah, inspired by Warhammer. I think Blood Bowl happened before there were any [Warhammer] novels. The first Blood Bowl was in… ’85 or ’86? And the first novel came out a few years after that.
I’ve been researching the entire history of role playing games recently, so I know some of this shit.
You know, that may been a subtextual hint about what my next book is going to be about. And that’s the best you’re going to get on that one. [Evil laugh]
Well, I’ve been reading your comics for a couple of years, I can do subtext. But you know, I was intending for that to be the light question to end on.
KG: [Laughs] it always comes back to death with Kieron Gillen!
But what else? I’m co-writing “Ludocrats” with Jim Rossignol, and “Ludocrats” – if everything happens right – David should start drawing it on May the 1st. I need to make some phone calls when I get home to make sure that’s going to happen, but that’s going to be back on, something me and Jim originally cooked up back in the day, and it’s obviously transported completely now… It’s a giggle. It’s completely different from anything we have done. It’s a weird sex comedy. “Asterix” and “Obelisk” meets “The Meta-Barons.” That will be a joy. I’m not sure if it will come out before the next… before my other Image book, but I’ve got to start working on that quite shortly as well. Yeah, exciting times!Continued below
Anything else you want to add before we wrap it up?
KG: Hmm, you can sort of tell that I haven’t done interviews for a while, so I am slightly rusty. I just got a lot of shit I want to say. I’m in a blessed position as a creator and I’m enormously grateful for where I am. One of the things about “WicDiv” is that by the end of “WicDiv,” I will have worked out what I want to do next… I’m really excited to see what me and Jaime are doing, coming out the other side. I’ll be moving from one stage of life to another. And that’s scary! Ugh.