August 3rd, 2009
So this is an interview in three stages. If it was an album it would be a prog album. One of Rick Wakeman’s later efforts involving Arthurian legend and horses on ice skates. Or perhaps it would be a three hour gabba techno set by Lenny D. Or maybe it would be Sandanista, the Clash album that never knew when to stop…
I’d wanted to meet up with Kieron as I knew he was a local London boy and would most likely be amenable to a few shandies whilst discussing his cult comic series Phonogram as well as his recent forays into the Marvel Universe. And any other shit we could think of. To my pleasure Mr Gillen was up for it.
So far so good. The location – a pub of Shaftesbury Ave. Busy but you could get a seat, and anyone familiar with the post work fury with which work-scarred Londoners attack public houses can attest, this is a blessing. Like a true pro I had no means to record said interview – I suppose I was hoping my keen Derren Brown-like memory would see me through. Fat fucking chance. but thankfully Kieron came through on that respect. What a gent.
The interview went well. Well maybe it did. Difficult to say as he put down a bottle of wine and I drank more lager than I care to remember. The conversation ranged freely from teenage reminiscences of Britpop to learning about mortality with the Transformers. Shit, we might have come close to the Infinite Truth for all I know, as I was fully quadra-spazzed by the time I stumbled out of there. We joined a number of extremely pleasant Brit comics luminaries, including Simon Furman and Dave Hine (who I drunkenly rambled about Strange Embrace to more than any normal person should…)
And when it came to transcribe the bastard – big surprise. Unlistenable. The bustle of a central pub packed full of dead-eyed, booze fuelled Londoners strangely enough wasn’t conducive to a clean audio experience. And when I tried playing it backwards, it played a Sleeper B-side. Fuck! We talked at length about the origins of Phonogram, but sadly that’s lost to the mists of time, like a scratchy but thrilling demo recording of a classic album. Or something.
So I slunk back, Coyote-like, to the drawing board.
Ding Ding! Round 2. Marvel comics and beyond. This time I arranged to meet Kieron at the slightly more genteel Candid Arts cafe in Angel, a throwback to the art collectives of the eighties. Tea, rather than beer and wine is the order of the day. So far so good. Except London conspired against me, and I was delayed getting there meaning a frantic subterranean dash to get there on time on the hottest bastard day of the year. I arrived, sweaty, shambolic and red-faced, not to mention 40 minutes late. Mr G was sat serenely reading, and barely raised an eyebrow at the dishevelled, frothing beast that turned up to interview him…
You’ve been writing some Marvel comics recently, which is obviously a different ball game. Do you want to talk about that a bit?
The way I normally describe it is, I write my Marvel books sober, whereas I tend to write Phonogram drunk. There’s an element of…I have to approach it with a certain clarity whereas Phonogram, it’s kind of about getting the stuff out of me. marvel stuff, it’s like analysing the problem, trying to work out the character and then how you feel about them. Cos I’m not somebody who’s got the complete comics background…Like I had a sketchy knowledge of Beta Ray Bill when I started doing it, so I went an read it, y’know and actually thought about what this guy was really about. I tend to go for the essential – look at a character and what’s fundamentally interesting about them, then do a story about that. Jamie tells me he worries about that!
What because you kind of write yourself into a cul-de-sac because you’ve done your Ultimate Story for a character each time?
Well the worry is that you might end up repeating yourself. But that’s fine cos the work I’m getting for Marvel is quintessentially random..
Yeah it seems quite random!
Well the Dazzler one was hilarious – it was a case of an editor phoning me on a Tuesday saying - got any ideas for Dazzler, me sending the idea back on Wednesday, on Thursday them saying yes…and on Friday it becomes a Craig David song! But yeah, in the case of Beta Ray Bill I’ll look at the guy and say yeah he’s an alien space horse. What does it really mean to be an alien space horse?
I mean it’s ‘alien’ as a fundamentally science fiction construct, or as a fundamentally mythological construct..we’re talking essentially religion versus science – that sort of culture clash where he’s torn between two…
So you got him fighting God. Well the God of the Marvel Universe?
Yeah..it’s all about God hunting God! I mean I thought what would Bill do? if I was him I’d go and find Galactus. I turned him into an atheist..I was thinking a lot about survivor guilt, I was thinking about the idea of somebody losing faith after an enormous disaster. I mean despite being an atheist myself Bill’s obviously got a very different reason for being an atheist! And in the first issue I wanted to do something more generous towards the concept of faith…the idea that there’s a lot of very didactic, angry atheism around, and while I think it serves a purpose, it can whitewash on a very basic level the idea of what faith can allow people to do…It’s like the hardcore straight-edge guy at school who says ‘I don’t need drugs or alcohol as a support’, and it’s like ‘well I do!’
What’s wrong with needing support – you know, we are weak. And y’know like the abolition of slavery for example, the importance of religious groups in that…that kind of stuff. So you take that…
Add a Space horse with a giant hammer…
Yeah, I’m not exactly subtle with this stuff, I mean you see him punching a tidal wave! Sort of, what can you do to stop nature…?
Have you got anything more substantial coming up for Marvel?
I’ve got some stuff in the pipeline – I’ve got Ares coming up, that’s just been announced. I think that’s another example of an analytical one Ares is the idea of war across the ages, basically. The way I’d describe it is Generation Kill but with a Greek God thrown into the platoon rather than a journalist. The image was Ares as drill instructor, the idea of him doing the speech from Patton in front of the American Flag. I’m trying to avoid spoiling it though y’know?
In terms of other stuff…well there’s the Avatar stuff I’m doing, and that’s another case of someone seeing ‘can you do something’ and me agreeing and running with it, then producing stupid stuff like 30,000 word ‘bibles’ for it…!
I try not to pitch stuff until I’m asked to pitch.. a good example is the Dazzler pitch. That started as a joke. I was doing interviews for the first series (of Phonogram) and one of the questions we got asked was ‘have you got any superheroes you want to write?’, and we didn’t want to talk about that cos we were trying to sell our indie book. We’ve got no problem with superheroes it was just that we didn’t want to waste time answering that then. So we worked out a sort of pat answer do dodge the question, so we said ‘Dazzler’ – y’know ‘we’re born to do Dazzler’ kind of thing. Then I started to think about it, and came up with this ridiculous pitch that I sent off…which fell apart for a variety of reasons!
How much of it ended up in the 8-pager?
None of it.
While writing the new Bill mini, I got really into the idea of actually writing something into the Marvel Universe…Like leaving something there that other people can pick up and play with. So the idea of planning stuff beyond the one job – it’s the idea that you’re getting more confident…
Like you know S.W.O.R.D how their space station was blown up in Secret Invasion, and I wanted to set a scene on board their base. So I sad ‘can we re-build the peak’ and they were like ‘yeah!’ Which is really cool, cos I’ve kind of built a space station! It’s funny bringing things back into existence. And I gave Sabretooth a brother when he was a kid. I gave him a brother and I killed him in one page. I can see why people go mad! It’s weird.
Yeah, I was thinking about that today, like how there are these continuities that kind of outlive people and…actually break them. People wrestle with it for a while and get control, but it’s eventually just bigger than you…
Yes. I had a character who’d been sitting around for years,and I thought ‘fuck it’ I’ll just drop him into the Marvel universe…he wouldn’t work in any other context than superheroes and I’m never going to build a universe around him, so why not?
The alien race in Godhunter that I’ve made up, by the end of it I’m very fond of them, and now they’re going to be in the Marvel Universe, people can do what they want with them…
Someone’ll just obliterate them!
I’m more of DC boy at heart, but I loathe what’s been going on there recently, Morrison’s stuff excepted. It seems that at the moment Marvel are getting a lot of the younger, hipper writers working for them, people like Fraction, Aaron, yourself. The Brat Pack if you will. It seems like they’re courting them more than DC…
I honestly don’t know. I’m tremendously bad at industry watching, I just keep myself buried in my little corner. I have spoken to DC, so it’s not like I wouldn’t write for them, I’ve just had more interest from Marvel recently…
Tell me a DC character you’d like to write?
(Laughs) well, as I said my background isn’t really in superhero comics, I don’t have that encyclopedic knowledge, so my idea of the Marvel universe is kind of patchwork, made up of reprint comics I read…I never had anything like with DC. So the fundaments of the Universe, I never picked up. I think my proper introduction to DC was the post-modern stuff..Dark Knight Returns, actually Kingdom Come is the first thing I can remember which was really set in the DC Universe. You got this sense of things stretching back and I could sense that there was something they were riffing on even though I wasn’t exactly sure what it was.
Um…who would I write for DC? I don’t write crime so that’s Batman out..
You should write GI Robot. GI Robot and the Creature Commandos.
Yeeess..Frankenstein! I’d write Morrison’s Frankenstein. I liked Bulleteer but no-one seems to mention it. I liked it a lot. That’s very my kind of thing, sort of weird sex fetishization but in a really kind of horrible way. I thought it was a really interesting analysis of the concept of cheesecake. Really depressing.
Yeah it’s really dirgey. That secret origin of Sally Sonic is…deeply upsetting.
Yep. I thought it was great stuff. Exactly my sort of thing.
Anarky! I’d write Anarky!
What the Alan Grant thing? (Laughs) That is a left thing choice, I’ll give you that…
No-one would be using him! I’ve never read a comic with him in so…
I wondered with your background in computer game journalism, whether you thought there were any links between games and comics. Are they sympathetic artforms?
Well they’re both very good at stopping artists from working! Actually I wrote an article for Ninth Art, on the influence of comics on computer games. The influence of 2000ad on the British video game industry in the 80′s cannot be understated. The sense of design, the sense of comedy…I was chatting to some designers the other day, and they were saying when 2000ad came into the office on Saturday they’d be responding to it in the visuals they produced. Between 2000ad and the Games Workshop 40K stuff..i mean that stuff is just Nemesis the Warlock with the edges taken off.
Yeah I think visually it’s enormously affected it. In terms of vice versa, I don’t think comics are as influenced by games yet. I know the Marvel guys play a lot of video games when they’re plotting, like Matt (Fraction) and Ed (Brubaker) on Iron Fist. Y’know people say gaming is the new golf…
I think we’re beginning to see people who’ve metabolised video games coming through. It’s like the way that Brian O’Malley has metabolised manga with Scott Pilgrim. It’s definitely not manga but it’s informed by it. The same with computer games.
What I love about Scott Pilgrim is that it’s a very specific gaming aesthetic he’s riffing on – that platform game, 8-bit style…which I personally love. I think it’s really clever.
My favourite thing about Scott Pilgrim, and it’s my favourite comic of the millennium, is that it’s about how humans process culture. The idea that how we perceive art is how we reimagine ourselves. The bit that I find transcendentally beautiful in Scott 4 is the bit where he gets the Power of Love.. the way it makes perfect, perfect sense that the sword comes out of his chest, obviously that’s where he’s gonna get the sword from. And that only makes sense if you’ve processed that many video games…
That internal logic…
I knew Scott Pilgrim had found it’s audience totally when I walked into a club and the girl I based Silent Girl on was reading Scott Pilgrim 2 behind the decks…
The conversation drifts off into discussion of how Simon Bisley looks like Lobo, downloading comics through Longbox, the future of the floppy, the return of errant Britpop kings Blur, and the Phonogram fanzine that has recently been produced, in a perfect moment of art recreating life…
The lateness of the eponymous interview, and a previous engagement for Kieron meant that we had to call it a day. However I was slightly unsatisfied at the lack of Phonogrammism. We’d covered all that in the 1st abortive piss up/interview. Judging by how good the last two issues had been I felt it was a crime not to let Mr Gillen wax a little bit more lyrical over his firstborn..
Round 3. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and give in to pragmatism. Kieron and I had found every conceivable way to talk around every topic… I wanted to get his thoughts on the latest Phonogram issues, and for safety’s sake I sent him these questions by regular old email. IRL is overrated…
Well I have to say on a personal level the last two issues have been absolute corkers. The Singles Club has gone from a series I had mixed feelings about to one I love. I really think the Rashomon style storytelling has come into it’s own now. What inspired you to take that approach after concentrating on the World of Kohl so solidly in the first series?
Because concentrating on the World of Kohl was muddying the issue for one. As much as it’s explicitly the whole point of Rue Britannia – your loves and hatreds are your own loves and hatreds and precious in so much that they’re your own – the fact that Kohl wasn’t shy about his made some people feel their own being undermined or challenged or insulted or whatever. I’ve said it before, but you could do Rue Britannia from the perspective of a Kula Shaker fan, and it’d hold together. Music is primarily case studies to illustrate a wider point.
That we’ve got this array of opinions, with the same selection of music being hailed or insulted depending on which character is speaking at any moment, we make it clearer that it’s the character speaking rather than the creator. When subjectivity is one of our constant themes, having a structure which brings this right to the fore is a major boon.
(Though I think it’s interesting the people who most hate seeing any form of art judged in the comic are the ones who are the most hateful about the actual comic itself. The characters are you.)
But really, I’ve been wanting to do something like The Singles Club since I was 19 and a girlfriend – one of the many crammed inside Britannia in Rue Britannia – challenged me to write her some fiction, and I started on a Rashomon-esque story set in a local pub. One chapter done and abandoned, girl and story both. Glad to finally get it finished.
It’s a fun structure. Much like using magic to heighten the effect of music, it allows us to creep up on some observations which risk appearing crass if taken head on. Momentary or passing truths can be examined in a wider context. Despite being about individuals, the further we go should show that it’s really a book of pairs. The characters actions are meant to be considered in comparison to other characters. Some pairings are pretty obvious (Emily/Laura) and other less so. In one situation, this character acts this way. In a similar situation, this character acts another. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Are they both wrong or right? Are neither? And more importantly, why? Acts and lines are meant to resonate. It’s a harmonic structure, so appropriate for Phonogram’s musical bent.
Today, Matthew, I’m going to be 100% wanker.
Emily Aster. Her story seemed to be particularly…I don’t know, well realised? It really felt like you had a grasp of what you wanted to do with her in issue 3. Why do you think this might be?
She’s a bigger character. Her full story can’t really be told in a single issue – as I’ve said, if we do a series 3, she’ll be the lead. If we ever look over the whole Phonogram, it’s possible she may even be seen as the lead character full stop. She’s a novel lead rather than a short-story lead.
I mean, Penny has learned a lesson about dancing for herself rather than an audience, but she’s basically fine – and with her temperament, you suspect she will always be fine. Marc main problem is situational, but eventually he’ll get over her. Conversely, Emily is broken, has been broken for a long time and is going to fight to stay broken. Her life is nothing but a choice between different kinds of broken.
(As Beth once paraphrased the Manics: It’s My Nothing)
Put it another way – I suspect Marc and Penny will move out of active phonomancery relatively quickly. I suspect Laura and Lloyd won’t. Kohl didn’t when Rue Britannia gave him the chance. Emily won’t – and her stakes are so high that you suspect she’ll fight harder Kohl did. As we said in the first series, Emily is a much better Phonomancer than Kohl. She’s a better Phonomancer than Kohl, because she needs it more. Indie Dave’s the same.
There’s something wrong with them. Why does music matter so much? Is it as simple as everything else not mattering enough? Our highest, most committed phonomancers – Emily, Indie – are pathologies of musical love. They’re addicts. They have a fundamental lack they’re filling by sacrificing everything else to this musical game and the older they get the more demands that places on them. It gives them everything and gives them nothing.
The difference between phonomancery and being a phonomancer is paramount, which is something this series is slowly exploring. Because Phonomancers aren’t higher than everyone else. They’re lower. They’re living in an underworld. They’re on the corner, buying dime-bags. And, in the same way that pathologies and mutations are studied by scientists to grasp how an underlying normal mechanism operates, they make the best case-studies for us to show how music effects people who aren’t as extreme.
That was a long answer. I suspect it may even be the answer to a different question.
I think you achieved some real poignancy with Emily’s issue – something that I felt was missing slightly from the previous issue. I certainly felt more affinity with her than the two nippers of the previous issues. Is that because I’m a jaded old indie cunt like Kohl, do you think?
Maybe a bit. But – hey – aren’t we all?
I suspect how much someone loves issue 2 is inversely proportional to the length of time since their last break-up. Which is fine. Love songs are for lovers, break-up songs are for the heartbroken. PG2.2 was the latter. And the first issue was sure pop-rush and… well, you either wince when you see a puppy getting kicked or you don’t, and any of issue 1′s poignancy was based on that. Penny’s very much a cute puppy.
Emily’s not a puppy at all, in any way. As I said earlier, there’s a suspicion that Penny and Marc will be fine and Emily won’t. Emily’s story is tragic. Can you work out a happy ending for her? She’s the sort of character which reminds you that cool and cold are synonyms. The fact that she’s clearly all very-practiced glossy-black-ice front does make that half second when she lets her defences slip mean something. I think that’s poignant. The reward and cost of being Emily Aster are the same thing.
Or maybe she just reminded you of Emma Frost. Emily Aster is totally my White Queen audition tape.
I’m joking. My White Queen audition tape was Geraldine in Busted Wonder.
I felt like Emily might be someone I might have known from the Britpop era. I got a strong Holy Bible/Live Through This vibe from her. Or at least the old her. How important is the shedding and shifting of identity to you?
It’s important. I’ve never been very good at it – whenever I’ve tried, there’s still too much of a core I can’t really shift – but it’s important. I’ve gone through at least half-a-dozen writing pseudonyms in my time. Hell – when I started working full time as a journalist, deciding to write under my own name felt like going under a pseudonym. And there’s still people who call me Brem or C-Monster or whatever. More generally, I find it interesting. When I see people who’ve done it in a major way I find myself fascinated.
And, yeah, Emily is drawn from knowing Those Kind Of Girls.
So are you a fucking poptimist or what – cos it don’t get more poptimistic than issue 1! Seth’s agenda in three seems like a direct reaction to the morbidity of the Indie Dave’s of the world.
I have my moments. But I also have my moments of Indie Dave. It’s worth noting that Seth, who is a total poptimist, actually acts like the worst rockist swine in terms of how he judges everyone else. I don’t think the ultimate truth lies in any of the characters, but do think that certain actions make sense in certain places. In other words, I can see times when acting like Penny or acting like Indie Dave is exactly the right thing to do.
That was a total non-answer, yeah?
After pretty explicitly stating that there are huge chunks of you in Kohl, what do you think about the assorted cast this time around? How much Emily is in you. What about Seth Bingo and Silent Girl?
I generally say that Kohl’s my music-writing voice of the early 00s given legs. As such, it’s not entirely me, even though he shares a mass of my history. A mixture of automythology and necessary distance.
(Eddie Campbell being one of the heavy PG influences which is never brought up.)
All my characters are at least partially me. They’re normally inspired by someone – or several someone’s merged into one – but they’re always tweaked by my interests. Indie Dave is my idea of another writer, but it’s telling that there’s two characters in the comic called “David”. Emily is inspired by another writer – both then and now – but the contradictions are something I feel deeply (though I think I handle them better than Emily). Seth and The Silent Girl are a real, delightful pairing, but their interplay is something very familiar to me. My girlfriends are always cooler than I am, and I gibber. I’m comfortable with writing that sort of relationship dynamic.
No. 4 is very, very funny. It’s a nice touch after the emotional rawness of Emily’s spotlight issue. I love the simple technique of having a dialogue between the two DJ’s occupy the whole comic – it’s like the Two Ronnies! It really allows you to cut loose with the dialogue and as such I think it’s easily the most snappy, punchy comic I’ve read by you. Did you have fun writing it?
Thank you. I’m glad you liked it. I’m paranoid about every issue and how it’ll be received. With this one, I was wondering whether we’d get slaughtered for those fourteen six-panel grids. Also, whether or not it’s actually funny. It seems that most people think it was. Phew.
I did enjoy writing it. Seth and Silent are just great to sit down and get talking to one another. The biggest problem was actually technical. I started by trying to have it in the Phonogram’s relatively regular eight-panel grid, but the jokes were dying. Switched to the six, and it all just fell into place. Fundamentally, the issue is basically just a string of one-page gag strips, like a newspaper talking head comic. Jamie and my darkest hour was doing an oft-iffy monthly strip for Official Playstation mag which also worked on a regular six-panel beat. I like to think those 49-issues were sort of a dry run for this. I’d like to think there was a point.
The other influence, bar gag strips, was Statler and Waldorf. Because they are heroes.
It also indulges your music journalese skills to the absolute max, whilst fully taking the piss out of the inherent pointlessness and didacticism of someone like Seth. Do you think you were in any way addressing the criticisms Phonogram has received here?Or perhaps indulging in the worst excesses…?
Do I have to choose between the two? Can’t I have my cake and eat it?
But totally. We’re aware of how ludicrous we are. But we’re also aware that ludicrousness is a necessity. Phonogram’s about realising something is simultaneously incredibly pointless and is the most important thing in your life. We try to embody that on every level we can.
I mean, it’s one of the key reasons that we’re a demi-mainstream fantasy comic. The most interesting pop music is trying to imbue a commercial form with the ideas of the counterculture. The contradiction gives it power, and we try to mirror it. Doing Phonogram as a more deliberate literary comic would remove that. By making it easier to take seriously you neuter it. It’s a leap of faith. You have to do both or it fails to work. It’s anti-brow, with equal loathing for low and high culture, in the same way as pop music.
I love that Silent Girl is so much cooler than Seth. There’s a zen calm to her that acts as a perfect riposte to his overbearing boy-ness. This series of Phonogram is packed full of interesting and well-realised female characters. Is this deliberate. And do you find it a challenge?
Write what you know. I’ve been lucky to know a lot of inspiring, interesting women.
And after sucking up to every woman in my life, I admit, I worry a little about my female characters. Obviously, I worry about doing them right, but even more perversely, I wonder if the fact they’re often better realised than the men is some kind of literary version of the comic artist who clearly spends much more effort drawing his female figures than their male ones.
More evidence on me worrying about anything and everything, if you were looking for it.
I’ll admit interesting female characters is something of a “thing” for McKelvie and me, both inside comics and out of it. Our side of 90s culture screwed us in a load of ways, but it at least imbued us with some naturally feminist instincts. We like our comics to represent reality as best as we can.
Which screws us in a different way – I’m more than a little embarrassed that all the leads in the Singles Club are white, but when you’re set in an indie club in Bristol, there’s nothing I can do about that without breaking verisimilitude. I wish we had a gay male lead too. Part of my earliest thinking on Lloyd was going to be about him coming to terms with being gay, but the more I thought about him the more I realised that his sexuality is the least of Lloyd’s problems. That said, the club which inspired Never On A Sunday has quite a lot of gay-clientèle, so there should be some bloke’s kissing in the background eventually. Which is our fig-leaf, I guess.
So, Kid-with-Knife’s back up from issue 3 was possibly my favourite Phonogram-thing ever. Is there going to be a KwK-centred issue? And why do you enjoy the back up features so much?
It’s probably telling that our self-referential piss take is probably the best single PG strip, innit? I was really pleased with it myself. When I wrote it, it felt terribly slight, but when the art came back from Leigh, I found myself embarrassingly laughing at my own gags. Which is terrible. I did wonder why on earth I spent six issues telling this story when it works far better in four pages.
Generally, the B-sides are a lot of fun. Not all Phonogram ideas would support a full story, and having a venue for a fragment makes a lot of sense. I can play with different approaches to see how they work on the page. They can act as counter-points to the main story – with issue 3, since I was aware that the lead story was pretty grim, I selected back-up stories which were a lot lighter. Having a chance to elaborate on things which I’d never do in a lead story – like Indie Dave’s rough arc which shows what he’s been up to during this season – makes a lot of sense. And most of all, I get a chance to work with a load of our friends. Our own micro-Deadline. That’s just amazing.
Kid-with-knife is issue seven. To quote the ever-hastily-written solicit text: “Because you demanded it! No, not you. To the left… no, not you either. One more. There you go. You! This issue is for you! It’s the long awaited Kid-with-knife solo vehicle. He likes going out. Go with him! You’ll like it! Exclamation mark!”
Final issue. End with a song.
The musical palette of this series is more Nu-pop than Britpop. How much does the music in Phonogram reflect your own taste?
A lot. More accurately, it’s less about my musical taste and more about the music which impacts my consciousness. I certainly love all the bands which provide the issue titles, and the fact that I was obsessing over them during 2006 lead to the germination of the story in question. Laura Heaven’s issue is the vapour which rose from the seething cauldron that was the Long Blondes, for example.
That a band is just insulted isn’t a good way to judge my taste though. Some of my favourite bands – The Smiths, for example – receive nothing but barbed digs. Equally, being club-set, The Singles Club doesn’t do much to actually highlight what I like away from a dancefloor. And an indie-club dancefloor at that. Well, indie-dancefloor with a pro-pop stance, anyway.
Actually, this is fun. Stuck Records forwarded me a Spottify playlists from the club which Never On A Sunday was based on.
How much exactly do you believe in the redemptive power of Blondie?
Enough to spend two pages hailing about 20 seconds of Atomic. That has to count for something.
Many thanks to Kieron for the time and effort he gave to my hopeless amateurism. The excellent Phonogram issue 4 is out now, as is Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter issue 2. Check them out, and stay away from Rick Wakeman!