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"So, how's it going otherwise?" is now a regular greeting for a lot of the people I know. Because any of us who believe in science or facts or Climate Change have a tiny version of ourselves constantly screaming in our heads at this point. But we try to go on, to focus on what's good in our lives, and give support and love to our friends, and appreciate things while they're still here - like clean air and water. 

And so I try to use this newsletter primarily to offer a diversion, and hopefully a smile or two, and maybe some writing thoughts. So let's start with those diversions, because KILL OR BE KILLED #7 is out today, so here's a preview, this time in color: 

And since you already saw that stuff before in black and white, here's a page from later in the issue: 
So you can see the entire issue isn't all photo album pages. Heh. 

This is actually my favorite issue of the series so far (and our 7th issue in a row to ship monthly and on time), but I know some readers will miss seeing Dylan in action this issue, regardless. So here's a very quick preview of issue 8, in black and white: 
This is how the pages look when I see them the first time, because Sean doesn't really do "pencilling" - he does layouts/roughs, then goes right to the final drawing, and of course, he does all his own lettering. So, I get one of these just about every day in my email from him. 
I don't have a lot of close friends, but Matt Fraction is among them. And if there's any community in comics that I feel like I'm part of, it's a small group that includes both him and Chip Zdarsky, so I was... I'm not sure what the right word is... surprised? Honored? Humbled? I guess all of that, to see that the new issue of SEX CRIMINALS contains an homage to me and Sean's comics, and they even got Bettie to color it. And they kept it all a secret for something like 6 months, until Matt blabbed about it at a panel last week.

Anyway, SEX CRIMINALS is probably my favorite comic, so yeah... it's hard to put it into words how it felt. But I will say, I laughed a lot. Here's their splash page, to set the mood: 
The issue comes out today, so be sure to check it out. And if you haven't read Sex Criminals, then go get the trades or something. Correct that. It's one of the smartest and most inventive books on the shelves. 
Since the last newsletter, I got to go to the WGA Awards, which was a lot of fun, even though Westworld didn't win. It gave me an excuse to wear a tuxedo and bow tie and meet a lot of great writers. Such as Tanya Barfield, who wrote probably the best episode of THE AMERICANS ever. 

Which is a great excuse to remind you that the best least-talked about show on television is back. The first episode is all I've seen so far, but already I'm sucked back in. Please, I beg of you, even in these dark times, go watch The Americans. You won't regret it. 

I finally signed up for FILMSTRUCK and I'm really impressed with it so far. It feels very curated, like they're trying to entertain and educate you about the history of cinema at the same time. My wife loves it even more than I do already. I just found her baking cookies and watching The World of Henry Orient on her ipad yesterday. 

So, I'd recommend it. I got sucked in to several Joseph Losey films already that I'd never seen before. 
I've just got a couple questions this time out, because I've got to get out the door to a meeting across town, but please keep the questions coming (interesting ones, at least). Email them to: and if I answer them, you get a prize. 

So, our first question is from Saxon Davis: 

I recently finished volume one of Kill or Be Killed and I have a question regarding the demon. What was your inspiration for the demon's design? Did you kind of have his look in mind while writing this story or was it more of Sean's work to just kind of come up with something to fit the story? He has a Cheshire cat feel to him. I would say that you guys came up with an easy design for Sean to work with but since Sean and Betty's detail and background work is anything but easy, I know that can't be right. 

Good question. In the script, when I described the demon, what I mainly asked for was a big moving shadow, in the shape of a man-like demon. Where we only see the eyes and mouth out of the darkness. Sean decided to make it a more classic demon look, but still as a moving shadow, which actually helped give me some ideas moving forward after that, such as the last page of issue 4 - or book one, in your case since you read the trade first. 

That's one of the most fun parts of collaborations, when one person does something a bit different than you expect, but that opens up other avenues for your story. Because as you know, that demon is a big part of our story, even though he hasn't been seen too much so far.
Our other question is from Bruce Marsh: 

In KILL OR BE KILLED, I like the mixture of traditional comics page, which include speech balloons and narrative boxes as we’ve come to expect, and the more unusual wordless panels with separate dialogue and exposition on the left or right of the pictures. How did this change of storytelling style develop? Is this in your script to Sean or does Sean decide when to use this method?

Yes, it is in the script. I was looking for a way to do something that was new (to us, at least) and I'd seen things like this in other comics -- I think first maybe in Cerebus a long time ago, and in SIN CITY. So I tried to take that idea and use it as a way to add another layer to the story. So the pictures and the words could each tell different stories, that bounce off each other, or so they could each hold your attention in different ways. It feels immersive to me, when I do it right. Like you're getting a lot more story on those pages than you would otherwise. 

It's similar to something we did in THE FADE OUT, where we had several scenes with background images in greytones and foreground images in color, and they interacted in a way, to enhance those moments. 

But yeah, it's all about trying to use the elastic nature of comics as much as we can while telling these stories. 

Okay, that's it for this time, hopefully next time there'll be some news to report on the TV show and movie front, but until then... Stay safe and be kind. 
Copyright © 2017 Basement Gang Inc., All rights reserved.

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