So… I didn’t write a blog post last week. Did you notice? Probably not, but doesn’t matter either way, because I’m usually pretty good about keeping to the steady regularity of these posts… but this time I have a really good reason for missing one..
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I’d noticed one was “due” last week of course, but as of my last post I’d been seriously neck deep into that Yule Lads comics writing project that’d recently been green-lit… and which at that point was only in the most basic “elevator pitch” form, and I needed to take it all the way to final draft as quickly as possible.
The publisher wanted my story for the December/Holiday issue of their periodical, and it already being late September I immediately felt the hands of the clock ticking. Every moment I spent writing the script was one less moment the artist which they’d assigned to draw the story would have to actually work on the thing, and so it didn’t make sense to spend a minute of time writing anything over the past two weeks that wasn’t this… blog posts included.
Additionally, when they’d first asked for a story pitch from me back in July they’d only wanted something in the 6-10 pages range, but the editor managing this issue ended up offering me 16. Filling pages is never my problem, and I could have easily turned my three initial pitch idea into one full 24 page story, but I was determined to find a way to make 16 work…
So today (and it being a New Moon and all) I sent out to my editor the finished first draft script for my story “Iceland’s Last Yule/First Christmas”… which ended up taking the Yule Lad folklore, and using it as a vehicle to be one big love letter to Viking culture, Icelandic history and sagas, Norse mythology, comparative religion, dark fantasy, and of course all things magick.
Writing sixteen pages worth of sequential art (averaging 5 panels per page) for this (admittedly fairly dense) story clocked in at well over 15,000 words, which I guess isn’t too bad considering from the initial green light I spent only a handful of days doing some pretty intense planning and research (including devouring the entirety of Stephen Flower’s Icelandic Magic), and really only started actually writing the actual story sometime last week. December grew closer every minute, and I found I simply wasn’t even going to be able to consider relaxing about it until I had it wrapped up.
I also owe a great deal to the YouTube lectures given by the heathen studies group Hurstwic. They are clearly the types of folks who take both the historical and the religious aspects of these same topics seriously, and so had just the right attitude for me when I was mining their talks for every useful kernel of info I could to use for the story.
And of course, while the story is full of some truly fantastical elements (and hopefully at least a few laughs) I couldn’t resist slotting in a magickal element to the tale as well. This is beyond actually having magician characters in the story or having us show some actual authentic Icelandic staves in some of the panels… but I’ve actually created a little planetary and zodiacal homage in the big six-page battle scene that occurs towards the end of the story.
Given… it’s nowhere near what I’d planned to do with this idea over the six issues of the Black Knight story, but I did try a microcosm of it over the six pages of battle in the Last Yule script. I’m really not interested in “sharing my formula” for this, but the basic premise is that each of the seven principle characters in the story each has a planetary correspondence, while each of the 13 Yule Lads has a zodiacal one (1 and 13 are both Aries). And so, as each planet “moves through the zodiac” they experience their “appropriate” highs and lows… withing the context of the story that is.
I used that framework as a guide anyway, there were plenty of other factors to consider, no the least of which was it still needed to be entertaining. But hopefully it’ll also feel like a bit of an education too… though I’m also pretty proud of some of the things I invented to connect a lot of this history/religion/folklore/fantasy together into something that’s as fun as it is a bit messed up…
However, right now those six pages of battle are “silent” (no dialogue) but I had been kicking around the idea of writing some kind of Eddic/Skaldic/T’was the Night Before Christmas-y kinda poem to go along with the beats of the action and the individual reveal of each of the Yule Lads. An original poem would make it one more level of of a magickal operation, especially given how much Odin plays a part in it… and double especially if I attempt something in galdralag (Nordic magick verse). The more I think about it, the more I want to try to do it that way, but I didn’t want the artist to essentially be waiting on me to wrap that up before getting the script. So since it wouldn’t matter to her either way, I sent it off “silent” so all she needs to concern herself with is the art in the panels.
I wasn’t actually familiar with the artist they’d paired me with before now, though I must say I feel like I’ve born witness to another bolt of synchronicity in all this already. For I just so happen to notice on her Instagram page today she’d just posted a sketch of a character that when I saw it I immediately thought looked just how I’d imagined the principle narrator of the story…
However, there’s absolutely no way she could have known to even start designing him, as I’d only sent the script off today… and she’d actually posted her sketch yesterday.
Maybe somebody (definitely not me) told her generally what her next project would be about, but even if that’s the case something about it still doesn’t add up… but who knows? It’s interesting and cool, no matter what prompted her to start that sketch. I’d love to share that eventually, but at this point everything is way to premature… nothing’s been announced and I honestly don’t know when it’ll even be okay to mention the publisher/publication or any of that stuff. Right now I’d honestly be fine with saying nothing more at all until the periodical actually hits the shelves (scheduled for 12/18/19), but we’ll see what comes down the pipe before then…
I daresay, it was cool though to pick a recent copy of that publication at Amazing Spiral a local comic shop when Jenny and I swung by for lunch at nearby Atwater’s to grab some sandwiches. We also popped into a new slightly esoterically minded store over in Belvedere Square called Love That and there Jenny and I picked up some (almost) matching braclets made of I-Ching coins, which I thought was very cool (and something I need to get in tune with when I get back into the swing of things with Blackspire).
Anyway, I did still manage to do a few things over the past two weeks that wasn’t writing and eating. One was Aaron and I recorded what will become the Halloween episode of Adventure Hook. It’s my turn to edit this one, but with everything else, plus it’s a month off, plus I don’t even have somebody’s track yet… I’ve not started on that, or the promo art to go along with it (but I’ve got some ideas of where to start, maybe).
Regardless, Episode 33: The Historian from the Future went live this week, and was another pretty good one I’d say.
We’d also planned to knock out the recordings of episodes 36 and 37 this week, though with Hellblazer on Aaron’s plate, he had us reschedule those (which is sort of the larger theme of the past month or so)… but with the Yule Lads on my plate as well it’s not like I was complaining…
The 11th Season 2 Blackspire Teaser also came out this week, and so now I’ve only got one left before I have to start making more again.
However, after giving it due consideration (and after double checking with Mattiaz) I’ve decided to go ahead and release the seven-part To Baator and Back series we collaborated with Red Moon Roleplaying on the Blackspire iTunes and Patreon feeds. The Red Moon guys have just started their Wizards of the Coast endorsed Decent Into Avernus podcast series, which has a natural tie-in to the Baator story (Avernus being the plane of Hell the characters found themselves taken to) so the timing seems right.
Plus, it’ll buy me seven more weeks of releases, which is the reason I even thought to do it, as since our last few sessions did end up with not great recordings and as of right now I’m out of new material to release as of October 6th. So, this will buy me a month an a half to work with what I do have, and to record (and possibly RE-record) some more Blackspire sessions. However, I do think I have those technical problems covered, and we have the loan of some new computer equipment for us to record with, so we shouldn’t have a repeat of last time.
Also, there’s still talk going on with members of a certain dice company to possibly team up/partner/sponsor the Blackspire podcast at some point, and Jenny and I need to set up a sit down with them to have a serious discussion and see if it could go somewhere. Hopefully more on that at some point. We did see some of their dice at the comic store… again a cool little reminder.
Also, I was actually quite surprised to have been paid in advance for some commissions painting at least three more of those religious statues, and the possibility of even more after that to come (so I may not be wrapping up those Claerydia and Akihoshi miniatures anytime soon). Those commissions definitely help, as will any more freelance checks future writing gigs might bring, which fingers crossed the Yule Lads story will be just the fist of many stories I eventually write for that publication.
And on the other end of the esoteric front, with all the negativity manifesting lately, something larger is always at work. Which is why I was glad there was yet another mass meditation of the 144K group over the weekend which I probably only had “one foot in” given I had day job work to wrap up then too, but was still glad to even contribute partially to the operation.
And my relationship with my father has even been improving lately! Things really seem to be going my way this month, despite what seems to be a constant litany of setbacks and pushed dates for myself and everyone else I know it seems….
And then there’s the fact the Autumnal Equinox was this week! I feel like this year just started and it’s almost over already. October’s just around the corner and I’ll be turning a boring 41. This is usually my favorite time of year, and I’ve got a feeling there’s going to be some excitement in store this autumn.
Moon: Libra (New)
If you’d like to start from the “beginning” of all this… you can read from my first blog post.
For my disclosure on this or any of my posts or pages… please visit my Disclosure page.
Art & Magick, Comics & Gaming & how they all tie together. Creator/GM of the #BlackspireRPG Actual-Play & co-host of #AdventureHook podcasts.