I could list the killer paisley shirt, or the beard oil with gold flecks in it, or the EBERRON D&D source book, or the dragon/d20 short. All winners, but ultimately it came down to this pair of socks my sister-in-law got me.
And now I want to put this character into a D&D adventure. Definitely has washed up barbarian written all over him,
Going away for a break is fun, sure, seeing family, hitting the pool/beach, relaxing.
But organising to pack your bag to go away is the real jewel of the adventure. As such, here’s a quick breakdown of my Go Bag for this end of year family quest.
I’d be cool and tell you what kind of bag it is, like Warren Ellis, but I honestly have no idea. A tag has CYBER on it, and I know it has zips and I think was labelled as a ‘laptop bag.’
My laptop is a Chromebook, because everything I do is online and I don’t game, so it’s being worked on tonight and in the morning will go inside the bag with its charging cord. Never forget charging cords.
On the table, I have my Bullet Journals. One for the first half of 2019, one for the second half of 2019, and one I’ll set up for the first half of 2020. I like starting the year with some clear goals and plans and lists to check off, so I aim to do that by night after days of craft beer, D&D, banter, and kicking the ball with my brother and our kids. These Bullet Journals are A5 Marvel notebooks I got from Target, in 3 packs for maybe $5, perfect size to just scrap lists into, and then tuck away with little fanfare or bulk.
Inside the bag, this is where the real prep goes, but first let’s talk about what’s not in there:
I have no novel or comics for this trip. My plan is to read my brother’s new novel, THE ELDER TRIALS by Marc and James Lindsay, so I’ll take that into possession as soon as I arrive, and then it shall be absorbed into this paper monstrosity. And there are no comics because I’m all digital on holidays, so the iPad has been loaded up with some of Jason Aaron’s THOR, and some more trades of THE IMMORTAL HULK.
Also not pictures are the two D&D books, the PLAYER’S HANDBOOK and XANATHAR’S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING which I’ve subbed into the suitcase as those are crazy quality paperstock of a few hundred KGs each, and I won’t need them in transit, just while we are there.
So, actually in the bag, top to bottom:
My D&D journal, a notebook I bought in Nantes, FRance in their mechanical animal festival. It catalogues the D&D adventures I’m writing.
A BAFFLING MYSTERIES notebook, part of a set of 3 notebooks with old EC-style covers on them, this one specifically has been chosen for its grid paper, perfect for drawing D&D dungeons. A quality mindfulness pasttime if ever there was one.
A composition notebook, cheap in bulk from Target, and this one’s for notes for [THE LONG ROAD PROJECT], which is currently unannounced, and I will be writing the script for issue #2 while away.
A notebook with a tiger’s head on the front, a gift from my sister-in-law she got from the National Zoo. It’s being used to track the insane changes I make in each D&D adventure as I take my kids through the ESSENTIALS KIT adventure book, DRAGON OF ICESPIRE PEAK, which is also found below.
D&D paper miscellania: character sheets [for my kids, and spares in case my brother or nephews want to play], a DM screen [the one in the Essential Kit is really light and thin], the map from the Kit, and some plain A4 white paper.
A plain pink notebook my wife found…somewhere, and it has my pitch and story for [THE MIDNIGHT MARS PROJECT], which I’m pitching, but think I might start scripting in 2020, so I want to break it down in more specificity so I’m ready to roll.
And then a ziplock bag with 5 copies of my latest comic, SKYSCRAPER, in it for family.
Not pictures, in the front pocket, is my pencil case with pencils, erasers, and D&D dice. Also a 7 pen felt tip set I got as a Xmas gift from a parent in my class last year which I use for the dungeon inking.
Chargers [iPads/iPhones, etc] go in the front pocket, maybe some Butter Menthols, and I’ll throw in a water bottle. It’s not too heavy, and I’m rarely walking with it full for long.
Once I pack the bag, I commit to what I’m allowing my brain to look at and focus on for the duration of the trip. I’ve marked what files I need as available for offline, and I know I want to focus, not crazy multitask, so this is the bag to see me through maximum relaxation, and minimum work flow as I glie into 2020.
It’s been a wild ride, and I like to commemorate events with comics. I can remember the night before my wedding I read THE ESCAPISTS by Brian K Vaughan, Jason Shawn Alexander, Steve Rolston, Philip Bond, and Eduardo Barreto. I’d bought it a few months before and saved it, and thankfully I loved this comic, but it also now always reminds me of my wedding day.
There are other comics that remind me of locations: GREEN WAKE #2 is walking from my hotel in Sydney to go find coffee to survive being in another town with my first child as a baby; Jason Aaron’s THOR run has only ever been read in trade, and seemingly only when on holidays; THE WALKING DEAD Vol. 1 takes me back to a house I shared with a mate when I first started teaching and my brother bought me that trade and got me back into comics; SLEEPER Vol. 1 is on a holiday to Brisbane, and Vols. 2-4 are back home to the first house I almost bought and reading them all on my bed in the sun.
As such, I like to plan ahead, and I’m wondering what comic i want to read as this decade closes, and as the new one opens.
Makes sense I should reread something to close out the decade, and then open the new decade with something new, something vibrant, something that’s a risk. Though, it also makes sense to do the opposite…
I’m thinking of rereading KILL OR BE KILLED #1 to close the decade because I *love* that comic, so it would be a fitting send off.
And to open 2020…I don’t know. Maybe I’ll get something for Xmas? I definitely feel like it should not be a Big Two book, it should be something more personal, something more specifically tailored to my tastes, perhaps.
RANDOM THOUGHT: if someone reads one of my comics to close/open a decade, well, that would be amazing.
I should really be taking season photos of my reading piles.
Different from the reading shelf, where many things with pages go to sit and politely wait and watch everything else get read before them, the reading pile is for stuff being somewhat actively engaged with at the particular moment the photo is taken.
The reading pile is something special.
I recently had my end of 2017 reading pile turn up in my feed and t was interesting to see what I had been reading, and that all of that did indeed get read. Here it is:
This made me consider my current reading pile. Right now, it is:
Fascinating to stack up all of the things you’ve got going into your head at any one time.
I see I’m prepping a D&D adventure, I’m into a novel, I have two comics on the go, I printed off the PanelXPanel with my essay in it about NOVEMBER, and I’m chipping away at the PKD book.
If you’re currently writing something, or the New Years Fog will lift long enough for a few script pages, then I’m here for you. Pledge by the end of December and any time during January, drop me a line, show me some script, and I’ll let you know how that opening page looks.
I love the Page One madness, that opening contract with the reader, so I look forward to helping a few people out with this one.
The latest issue of the comics magazine PanelXPanel is live and it’s all about NOVEMBER, the OGN from Elsa Charretier and Matt Fraction. I was honoured to be brought aboard to write about NOVEMBER, and I looked at a recurring visual which was a chainlink fence and how it represents the many lives that exist in a city and how people constantly affect others, and we get some agency, and sometimes life just happens to us.
The comic is great, so to get to write about it was a joy. There was so much to chew on, and everyone should go check out this issue, and then buy every PXP there is. It’s great brain fuel.
This is a comic worth buying. Then reading. Then thinking about for a while. Then studying and pulling it apart to see how it works.
The story from Dennis Culver is a cracker. The cold open on our leading lady in battle, in her prime, and showing how epic she is. It’s perfect in how it sets up character, a threat, a world, and the tone all at once in just a handful of pages.
Then we cut to the title double page spread, shown above, and it’s so beautiful. All that negative space, on the left side of the page, so Bloody Bliss [as she was known] is looking back over it, a showcase of an empty past. There were battles, and people, and heroism, and adventure, but at the end of her life, looking back on it all, there’s not much that’s stayed with her. Certainly not much of good worth remembering. It’s a genius element of the layout from the team, and Justin Greenwood absolutely nails the emptiness in which we find our character.
From there, the story takes us into a hero’s journey, with a great ending to this issue that has me very excited to dive straight into #2 as soon as I can get my hands on it.
If you’re looking for something new at your comic shop this week, lay your heart and soul down on this one, I really enjoyed the balancing act of a huge D&D style world with this aged Red Sonya type, set against the amazing art and captivating story.
Hyped to annonuce I have a new book with ComixTribe.
SHE is written by me, illustrated by Chris Panda, and edited by Dan Hill.
It lands in 2020, but if you are at NYCC this weekend, you can score a completely exclusive and limited print run of a preview ashcan – including pages from the book, some other back matter type shenanigans, and it all looks gorgeous together.
SHE is coming, so the questioni is: are you available?
HEADSPACE Pitch – I shared the pdf of this pitch, a first huge step in my career leaping forward
ULLOMUR the Half-Orc – a Random D&D Character history [always fun to write]
$3 Patrons have seen:
Two 300 Flash Fic posts – one titled ‘GREEN DAWN’ that I liked, and one titled ‘GARDENING’ which I really dug [I thought I stuck a neat landing for something so short].
Script Leak: CHUM #1 – I shared the pdf of this script, a comic I enjoy looking back on because little aspects always surprise me.
$1 Patrons have seen:
DAREDEVIL #9 – my thoughts on a page from that issue
Real Talk – a post that went into what’s really on my plate in a way that’s more specific than I should really talk about in public.
If anything sounds good and you aren’t on that level, you can always bump up your pledge to scope things out for a month. Thanks for being here, getting support to make words and worlds is always hugely appreciated!