Good thing nothing else is going on the next couple weeks.

- matt fraction -


So this NOVEMBER V2 Commentary Edition I'm doing for Elsa is becoming quite A Thing.

So as my collaborator on NOVEMBER, Elsa Charretier, nears the finish line on her new Kickstarter, I've gotten to work on what my contribution is going to be -- namely, a Commentary Edition that will pair with Elsa's own from V1.

And what I'm doing is, at this point, nearing 12,000 words. It's as close to a text book as I'm ever going to write, and as much of a class in How I Do What I Do as can be put into a book.

To that end, to encourage, entice, or otherwise cajole you into backing the project, I wanted to share some of excerpts from the opening.

Writing doesn't seem like an act of magic to me, and I don’t buy the shamanistic notion of the Artiste-as-Tortured-Loner-Enslaved-to-the-Muse. I don’t even know that writing -- or at least writing comics -- requires any particular volume of natural talent.

What it demands includes an interest in the medium both as artform and industry; a fondness for and some proclivity with comics and its language; curiosity, creativity, and critical inquiry; maybe a soupçon of bibliomania and other carious habits, practices, and traits -- but that's not talent. That's dedication.

Dedication requires neither talent nor gifts but willpower. Writing comics represents a practical, improvable skill both teachable and learnable: a job.

A craft.

A dedicated writer can work their ass off to improve that craft, their work ethic compensating for a deficit of natural gifts, their dedication coming with an attendant hustle which talent historically orphans.

Sometimes, that kind of over-compensatory dedication renders any explanation process into a thing obscurant, internal, and real real... idiosyncratic.

In other words: when I talk what I do, why and how, I sound fucking nuts. Don't worry. I know.

My failures as a teacher spring from this interiority and not because I render aetheric starstuff into something gross and earthen, debasing a deified glossolalia not meant for mortal consumption or anything woo-hoo magic like that.

This is all just work. It can be taught.

Even better -- it can be learned.

I've heard it said that an author never learns how to write novels, they only learn how to write the novel they're writing. This notion speaks to something that fits me like a tailored straight jacket.

My process, over time, tears itself down and rebuilds from the inside out: I not only have to learn how to write the thing I'm writing each time, but every few years I have to learn to write all over again.

Reinventing the wheel that brought me here remains as difficult now as it was to invent for myself the first time, because it's that wheel helping me navigate the terrain beneath me right now. Through my work and through working, I may come to understand that terrain itself -- what life is, what I'm feeling and thinking and how I'm responding to it all. Or not responding to it all. Or ignoring or denying it, even.

It's a kind of art therapy -- and you don't need therapy if everything's working out okay, y'know? The way I tell the stories I tell and why are the same thing. They form a scaffolding between the white-hot heat of now to a time in the future when some part of me will need to remember how I survived my past.

For all my talk of writing comics being an array of tools, work habits and practices, there remains something frighteningly personal, confessional and emotionally exposing about the process. The tools, habits, and practices I use form in response to my life, as I live it.

And so: life defines the parameters of whatever cycle I'm in with the invisible ley-lines and magnetic fields of unpredictable events, acting as a kind of intention-setter that sorts the work into phases of real-time emotional processing.

Each thing made during one of those phases deals with the same thematic obsessions and interests in both of craft and story, regardless of what those stories are: the how is the why and the why is the how. I adhere to these rules, show fealty to these boundaries, with the passion of a zealot. No one will ever know or even care about these invisible intentions.

If I do my job right, each piece has its own pitch, tone, rhythms and timber, further obscuring their common origins and thematic preoccupations.

Eventually my tics, techniques, and habits bleed from one project into the next and all I see are gimmicks and stitches, my invisible intentions becoming as comfortable as a prison cell. Time for the process to repeat itself again. Everything gets torn apart.

Also understand I can become easily convinced that this process of writing comics is only difficult for me and kind of... well, I guess gaslight myself into thinking this is, in fact, the easiest job in the world and I'm just too fucking dumb to realize it, let alone do it, let alone do it well. This malignant, relentless, internal toxicity that passes at times for my internal monologue may, too, go a long way in explaining, uh, everything.

Anyway. Every now and again, I start all over.

What I'm saying is: I know only how to write what I'm writing right now. And right now is different than back then when I wrote NOVEMBER v2 for Elsa, Matt, and Kurt.

You've got three days left until Elsa's latest campaign wraps up.



If you want it but can't get it from a comic book store, Steve is selling trades with sketches on his Etsy store.

If you order it that way and you've heard about it here, make sure to enter the promocode HEYSTEVEITOLDTHEMILKFEDNEWSLETTERTHEREWASAPROMOCODETOORDERTHEJIMMYTRADE

at checkout and I'll sign it too before it gets dropped in the mail.

ASLO OUT OCT 28th is SEX CRIMINALS #69, our very last issue. A coda to the story that takes place three years and three months after issue 30, it's one last chance for all of us to come together before the end no wait no no not like that but hey in case you missed it

don't forget to ask for your special #69 XXX PHOTO COVER i mean what's the worst that can happen?

OK that's it that's the newsletter

Stay safe, stay sane, vote hard.