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In 1985, Swedish synth-pop band A-ha had a huge hit with their debut single "Take on Me". It reached #2 in the UK (kept off the top by Jennifer Rush's "The Power of Love", a song that is staggeringly inferior to its two mid-80s namesakes) and #1 in the US. This success was due in no small part (although not entirely - it is
a fantastic record) to its music video, directed by future Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
helmer Steve Barron. In case you've somehow never seen it, it portrays a young woman reading a comic in a cafe, who finds herself drawn into its pages by the handsome lead character (A-ha's singer Morten Harket, converted to pencil form by rotoscoped animation), before helping him escape from its confines.
It's filled with incredibly striking imagery - and although the soft pencil lines look like no actual comic ever published (I've often wondered if the woman was actually meant to be the artist herself, looking at a rough draft of her own work), it's sort of surprising that in the thirty years since it was made, there hasn't been a single comic that's gone "Hey, this is an iconic pop culture image that plays with our form, we should try and make use of it somehow!"
Ahead of the publication of Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl in August, I'm taking an unnecessarily personal look back at the two previous volumes of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's breakout work. In part one, I covered the first volume,
Rue Britannia. In this concluding chapter, unsurprisingly, I look at volume two:
The Singles Club.
"I believe that the best way to show how music affects the world is to take evidence directly from life to show how music has changed me and people around me. Not that it's a particularly truthful form of biography. There's a key line in the second issue: 'Sometimes the truth just gets in the way of what really happens.' That's absolutely key. The phrase I'm using is Automythology."
- Kieron Gillen
At least, that's what they tell us. But I think they mean it this time. They'd better.
You will be hearing from us a lot about this subject this year. Sorry.
So, then, to The Wicked + The Divine
. Unquestionably one of the major success stories of comics in 2014... and something that, if we're honest, it's difficult for us to talk about in any kind of objective or rational way, because it's by our mates.
Warning: Do not read this until you've read The Wicked and The Divine #4. Or, for that matter, issues #1-3. But mostly #4.
Earlier this year I said that I couldn't write about Young Avengers
because it was too personal, too close to me, that it would be too much like exposing myself. The Wicked + The Divine
is also too personal, but that's exactly why I need to write about it.
The Wicked + The Divine #2
is out today. Have you read it yet? If you haven't yet... well, there's nothing I would call a substantive spoiler in here, but I mention a bunch of god names that are not in #1, so read on at your peril...
Are Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie in their imperial phase
yet? It's debatable - the answer is probably "not quite yet", but either way, they've chosen to create a comic about a group of people who are very firmly in one. And by the time it's finished its first year, there's every reasonable chance its creators could be in their own.
It's only when I sit down to transcribe this interview with Young Avengers
, Journey into Mystery
scribe Kieron Gillen that I discover that my computer has inexplicably decided only to record his half of the conversation. Obviously, it's a good job it happened that way around and not the other - but it's also a good job it happened with someone like Kieron, who is perfectly capable of giving a lengthy, verbose and compelling interview with very little prompting. As it happens, my voice begins to reappear around ten minutes or so in anyway - but had I needed to, I suspect I could have inferred every one of my questions, or flat out made several up, purely from his essay-length responses.
I'm talking to Kieron - or, rather, he's talking to me - because he's got a new comic on the way: The Wicked + The Divine
, his latest co-conspiracy with Phonogram
artist Jamie McKelvie and their regular colourist Matt Wilson. A creator-owned ongoing at Image, it launches in the middle of June, and it's very likely that it'll be one of the most talked-about comics of the year. Maybe even by people who aren't Kieron.
GLAAD has just announced the winners of the 25th annual media awards
, and wouldn't you know it? Young Avengers
by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson has won the Outstanding Comic Book category, beating contenders Batwoman
, Fearless Defenders
and Life With Archie
into second place.