Notebook Processing

These are all turned around because I don’t want anyone to see the titles written on the fronts.

I started trying something new over the winter break, inspired by Jeff Lemire’s notebooking practise.

The brown one on the far right is a development notebook for a suite of ideas I want to locate and isolate. If it turns out that one of the ideas in that notebook looks like it has enough juice and heft to go somewhere, it gets broken out into its own notebook for further development.

For many many years, all my heavy development work has gone straight into txt files on the computer. Composing directly into the machine. Last autumn, I figured it was time to start challenging that practise. I’ve obviously been comfortable with my process for over a decade, if not longer. At some point I wondered if that comfort was an obstruction to getting to new places. So I decided to introduce some new friction into the method to see what happens. It’s always worth running tests on the way you work.


One of my smaller whiteboards is headed “PENDING” and it’s filling up fast.  Part of my job now is to ask people questions, track materials, keep tabs on deals and processes, and other organisational shit that I am historically Very Bad At.  Hence the PENDING board.  Write everything down on something that’s going to be in front of you all the damn time.  I dearly wish there was something like the old iOS Panic Status Board (which I still run on my ancient iPad 2 in the office) that was Windows-based or web browser accessible so I could throw it up on the external monitor. 

I remember being fascinated by the hacks on old Kindles that turned them into glanceable ambient information radiators.  (example)  They were mostly way too hard to implement but wonderful ideas nonetheless. It’s impossible to get the Echo Spot to display anything useful. Everything went backwards. So now I scrawl on whiteboards and scribble in notebooks and mark up a paper calendar.

(Kanban boards wotk for people I know, but they send me blind.)

My whole setup is extremely primitive.

That’s right.  Binder clips, a calendar printed off from the web, adhesive hooks. Nothing in here is fancy.  Just find what gets the job done.  You can fiddle about and make it pretty later if you want to.  Function first, detail later.  I can look up over the top of the monitor and see everything that’s on deck, and the time-sensitive stuff is in Google Calendar. (By “time sensitive” I mean things like “definitely start X today” or “you need to call X at 5pm on Monday.”)

I know someone who was working in a small space and did this with post-it notes on the wall next to their laptop.  It doesn’t take much.  Just having the idea and implementing it in minimum viable form.

Work, Jan 2020

I am writing HEAVEN’S FOREST for Netflix and producing season 3 of CASTLEVANIA for Netflix.  My offsite job on my friend’s show finished in the third week of December, just as my body was about to crumble from spending four to six hours in a car every day, and news on that will probably pop towards the middle of the year.

I have six issues of BATMAN’S GRAVE left to write – I learned mid-December that there’s gonna be a skip month after issue 6. THE BATMAN’S GRAVE 4 is out on Jan 15. I don’t think DC are completely aware they’re even publishing this book. So please do join us for more horrible extended beatings and more of Alfred being shitty.

Jason Howard has moved on from TREES to his own work, which I’ve been lucky enough to read and it’s really rather marvellous.  It’s big.  It was a joy to read the script and the art I’ve seen is just bursting with invention and energy.

TREES: THREE FATES 5 is out on Jan 8.  The final issue of TREES: THREE FATES. A small, miserable lie is about to get Klara killed. A huge, terrible lie is about to get everyone else killed. Sometimes we must forgive the dead. Sometimes the dead have to forgive us.

And here is a link to Jason explaining how this final cover came about.

I personally do not understand how Jason hasn’t won all the awards for his TREES covers.  At this link here, you can see them all.

INJECTION: Declan Shalvey, whose monograph from Marvel Comics is released soon – either Jan 8 or Jan 21, the internet cannot agree — is engaging with important new projects that will keep him away from INJECTION for a while longer, for he is a Large Important Boy in the comics game now and has no time for my whimsical yarns about haunted AI, but those projects so personally and professionally beneficient to him that all I could do is applaud and send best wishes. Jordie Bellaire now lives on a private island that is basically one giant shelf for all her awards while she writes new comics that are, frankly, better written than mine.

(also Declan’s new graphic novel as writer, BOG BODIES, is really strong, and they really have both left me in the dust)

You may divine from this that I have no further new comics work in the pipeline, and you would be right. I’m afraid that, after 25 years, all the good artists saw through my half-bright bullshit and don’t want to work with me, but luckily television has no idea and it’ll be 25 years before they realise hahahahahHAHAHAHAHAHcough

And I Am Done

I still can’t talk about what I’ve been doing or where I’ve been, really, so here’s a shot from the location the show was rehearsing at today. I’ve been a Consulting Producer to a tv show you’ll see in 2021 for the last seven weeks. This has been a very different kind of writing job for me, and later I will attempt to unpack and process the many things I’ve learned. For now, I am simply grateful to the friends old and new who asked me to come in and worked with me and put up with my bullshit for seven weeks. It was a really good time. Even though I complained constantly about having to get up in the mornings.

I will miss my friends, and, if any of you see this: thank you, again, for everything.


TREES: THREE FATES #3 Is Out Today, And We Finished The Serial

TREES: THREE FATES 3 is out today, but the above is a clip from the final part, issue 5, which we locked this week. All done. Jason is moving on to other things, but I’m sure we’ll revisit the world in the future. We both want to thank our fantastic letterer/designer, Steven Finch, for his tireless aid and excellence. And I want to thank Jason for bringing this thing of ours to life in such a marvellous, magical way. I was only ever writing it for you to read. Thank you for letting me do this.

Figuring Shit Out

A big part of retiring from the world, and, additionally, taking a long winter hiatus to go Full Hermit, is that the job gets bigger and more complex and I need more time to, basically, stare into the distance and Figure Shit Out. The figuring out of the shit is a big part of this writer’s work. Always be ready to turn everything off and let your mind wander into the future.

It does, of course, look to everyone else like you’re not doing a damn thing. And, often, you don’t have anything to physically present for the hours you’ve burned staring at the wall or whatever.

It’s stressy, having to turn all the pieces of your career and vocation around in time and space and plot out as many of the paths forward in as many versions as your mind can carry. I am essentially just stress.

But. I’ve tried a lot of iterations on “being a writer” over the years, and, really, just being a writer and creator of things is the only thing that gives me pleasure. It’s all I like, it’s all I trust, and it never lies to me. So it’s all I’m going to do.

Find what gives you pleasure. Just do that. Turn everything else off. Live with the stress. Learn to love figuring the shit out.

JAMES BOND 007: The Complete Warren Ellis Omnibus

My two JAMES BOND graphic novels with the brilliant artist Jason Masters, VARGR and EIDOLON, are being republished in a single volume by Dynamite Comics in partnership with the Ian Fleming Estate. Feb 2020,

Ellis shared, “It was my honour to become the first Official Continuation graphic novelist for the Ian Fleming Estate, and my pleasure to see my wonderful partners at Dynamite Comics collect Jason Masters’ world-class work in this new edition.”

Full details in the press release.

Jason is, of course, currently killing it on CAPTAIN AMERICA with Ta-Nehisi Coates. Covers and credits are outside my control, and often, as in this instance, outside my awareness, but I assume the above is a simple mock-up to be corrected later.

LOT 2046 Document Holder

I’ve been on the LOT 2046 subscription pack for ages now. It’s always a surprise, which I love, and I’ve been able to watch the service evolve, which has been fascinating, especially as they move into sustainable/recyclable packaging and tilt towards usefulness.

This little thing described as a document holder arrived today, and I opened it when I got home, as I was resolving to switch to the Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack from the larger Maxpedition Attache because I haven’t been needing to use my laptop at the remote site where I’m consulting Mondays and Tuesdays.

Turns out this little thing perfectly fits three Field Notes notebooks. And it’s fabric and rubber, so it’s stiff enough to stop them bending without being an inflexible hard case. It’s ideal for me right now, weirdly, and will continue to be useful for years into the future. It turns out — and they don’t gather enough data on me to know — that it was just what I needed.

Good job, LOT 2046. The Good Death wins again.

Remote Work Bag, Nov/Dec 2019

Yes, everything has gone horribly wrong in my life, and for the first time in thirty years I have a day job. Two days a week as a consultant on a thing that has a hefty NDA.

It’s a gear post. And a work in progress.

My newish X1 Carbon Thinkpad doesn’t fit in my usual go-bag, the Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack. I am very annoyed about this. (The X1 Carbon is replacing a Dell XPS 13 that was wonderfully small and slim and fit in the back sleeve of the Versipack perfectly but had an average keyboard and lousy wifi.)

SO I’m having to bust out the most ludricrously named piece of luggage I own. The Maxpedition Aggressor Attache.

I swear to god I used to have a laptop bag. Maybe my kid filched it like she filched my FREAKANGELS-branded canvas field bags.

Anyway, the bag is, as you can see, a little more beastly than is really required. But I’ve had it for seven and a half years and it’s still as good as new. It just has an insane name.

Three of the most recent Field Notes subscription editions. SanDisk Extreme CZ80 64GB flash drive. Victorinox Forester knife in black. Pilot Frixion pen, Sharpie marker, Pigma Micron Pen 03 in 0.35mm. And an EE wifi hotspot device. Just in case.

Beard oil from Salix Moon. Unpictured, a Tom Ford deodorant stick because I think I left it in the other bag. I don’t want to stink evertyone else out of the room, after all. A Maxpedition small wallet, a small Anker battery, a Kindle Paperwhite, a large Anker battery, and a protein shaker. I use Vivo powders, which is only available in the UK. If you too are in the UK, I recommend the raw cacao protein and BCAA powder, and the blueberry & lucuma multinutrient superfood powder. Also unpictured, a water bottle, because I’m going to be spending a lot of time in the backs of cars.

I have The Fear — of early-for-me mornings and of missing the one tool I need that will be more than two hours’ drive away.

All set. I think. I hope.

My New TV Show HEAVEN’S FOREST Announced

This is the project previously codenamed PROJECT KATRA here and in the newsletter. DEADLINE has the full piece.

I can’t get into details right now, because I can’t jump the PR process, but I think I can say that Adi Shankar came with Kevin Kolde to me to ask me to create the kind of treatment of the material that Adi and his friends all wanted to see as teenagers in India. Netflix International and Netflix India came on board to get it done. I’ve been working with an Indian consultant who specialises in the underlying material. And it will obviously be made with an Indian cast. Now I have to run before the Netflix snipers get me (THEY’RE REAL) (WE’RE NOT JOKING ABOUT THOSE)