Let me tell you about Stormwatch.
Stormwatch was a comic published by Image, and it was a fairly generic superhero team book. I bought it, I collected it, I read it, and I suppose I enjoyed it. Not as much as WildCATS, not as much as Spawn or Gen-13, but probably more than CyberForce, which featured a guy with three arms called Stryker. Now THAT was dumb.
This was all during a time in the 90's when Image were seriously challenging Marvel and DC in comic sales. They challenged them by pretty much copying them. Spawn was kinda like Batman. WildCATS were kinda like X-Men. Glory was Wonder Woman, Supreme was Superman, and Youngblood was rubbish. Every superteam even had their own Wolverine- the tough-talking cool guy who used blades (and, this being the 90's, a ridiculous ponytail).
Ellis took the book and improved it. But he didn't just make it better. He made it GREAT. He brought Big Ideas to the table, he brought wit and horror and pure science fiction, and he made it one of my favourites. As Stormwatch went on, it would introduce Apollo and the Midnighter- basically Superman and Batman- as a gay couple who just happened to be the toughest heroes around.
Stormwatch would later mutate into The Authority, and just get even better and better. If any of you like comics, I advise you to pick up the collected editions. You will NOT regret it.
But why am I telling you all this?
Because of one single issue. A special, actually. A crossover. WildCATS/Aliens.
When I saw this issue advertised, I didn't think much of it. Aliens, from the Ridley Scott/James Cameron movies, were always being used in comic crossovers. They'd gone up against Superman and Batman and Judge Dredd. None of these comics were particularly good. You knew nothing big was going to happen. If something major was going to occur in a comic, it would occur in the monthly version, not in some stupid crossover thing.
So WildCATS/Aliens came out, and I bought it, and I read it. The WildCATS go up into a space station to fight the Aliens. Big deal, right? But along the way they realise that Stormwatch had been here before them. And as they search this huge, scarily empty station, they come across their remains.
Ellis had killed most of the Stormwatch team— and what's more, he did off-panel. We didn't even get to see them die. That's like Captain America stumbling upon Spider-Man's dead body in the middle of a story. It was THAT shocking. To kill them in a silly crossover? To kill them without even showing us how they died?
Warren Ellis took what everyone expected to be a silly little issue, and he made it HUGE.
And that's the approach I took to The Maleficent Seven.
I didn't shake things up quite as violently as Ellis did, but I was determined to shock you. This was just a spin-off, after all. It didn't even take place within the main series. Your guard was down. You went in expecting fun and frolics and adventure, but nothing more. Nothing more devastating than that.
But of course, you should know by now to never, EVER trust me. I will make you care for a character, and then I will snatch that character away from you.
I just want to prepare you, that's all. We have two more books to go, and we have GALLONS of blood to be spilled.
Okay then, so what have I been up to lately?
Well, on March 30th I did signings in Blanchardstown and Dundrum here in Dublin. They both went REALLY well, and I started the Dundrum signing a tad early because of the insane Minions at the front of the queue. So many of them I knew from here in Blogland and also from Twitter, and dear GOD they would not stop talking. I could feel my brain sizzling in my head just sitting there. Joining them, and at the very front of the queue, was Val, from this very blog, who had come over with Amanda and her mom, all the way from Seattle JUST TO MEET ME.
Because I'm worth it.
Of course, I couldn't just sign their books and send them back to America, so the following Monday I picked them up from their hotel, gave them a tour of my AWESOME ROOM OF AWESOMENESS, introduced them to Sherlock the dog, and took them out for lunch. At no stage during those four and a half hours did Val or Amanda even pause for breath. It was SCARY.
From the 5th to the 7th of April I was over in the UK doing signings. It was really weird, to be honest. We were slap-bang in the middle of the Easter break, and London was SO quiet. We still got some pretty decent queues, but the lovely thing about shorter lines is that I can spend even more time chatting to each person.
The biggest turnout was at Norwich, and it was here that I got to hang out once again with Becky and Howlett, the two legendary Uber-Minions. Amazingly, every time I see them they have more stuff for me to sign. I'm not sure where they get this stuff from, or how many of each book they own, and I'm really not sure that I WANT to know. I just console myself with the fact that their obsession with Skulduggery is probably distracting them from another, more damaging obsession, like serial-killing or something.
Now I'm back at home, and I'm back writing, and I'd really like to get this book finished sometime over the next week or so. That'd be nice.