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Road to STGCC 2011: Kieron Gillen

We’re about to hit Day 1 of Singapore Toy Game and Comic Convention, and what better time to shine the spotlight on Marvel’s guest of honour: Kieron Gillen! If you’re still up and want to find out a bit more about Kieron Gillen, here’s some light reading for you.

Kieron’s been doing comics for quite some time, but he’s only really hit the spotlight when him and his partner in crime Jamie McKelvie got together to do one of the best comics in recent years: Phonogram. The first season of Phonogram is already 5 years old, and while the second only just ended last year, a lot of it is still fresh in people’s minds. And like many others, Phonogram is how I caught on to Gillen’s work. It was wildly inventive, bringing together music and comics in a way that’s only recently been done by Charles Soule’s 27, which under scrutiny can’t actually be filed under the same genre (it’s music AND magic vs music AS magic). What attracted me to it wasn’t just the online buzz – but how he took my listening habits, dragged it out of my mind, then proceeded to craft a story about someone trying to forcefully bring Britpop back to life. That actually also made volume 1 pretty inaccessible for anyone who wasn’t into music or Britpop, and that is why issue 2 is pure magic in it’s execution and accessibility, at times distilling music into the purest form of what it does to people. Sometimes I do wonder if Phonogram would have done better if volume 2 came out first.

Looking back on his career, moving from games journalism to comics, his career has been quite the storied one. From winning awards in games journalism to pioneering a new approach to gaming reviews, Gillen’s work on Rock, Paper, Shotgun has always been a joy to read. While he’s no longer with them on a full-time basis, he still writes for them for special occasions, like when interviewing Irrational’s creative director, Ken Levine. He’s also won an award for his journalistic work – and now, he’s writing comics.

Which is not much of a surprise, considering how long he’s been doing them. Starting off with VERY independent work such as the comic anthology Hit (featuring stories all titled Hit), that was where he met Jamie McKelvie, setting them on the path to be the next Ennis and Dillon, or the next Morrison and Quitely (that’s both of them up there in my worst photograph ever, sob). Starting with Save Poiint on Playstation Magazine UK, this collaboration finally hit gold upon the creation of Phonogram – except it wasn’t quite gold. Real jobs, crushing deadlines and having to eat ensured that Phonogram volume 1 would not have lasted more than 6 issues, and even then, while critical acclaim flowed endlessly, and whatever small order of issues were sold, it just was not enough, placing the sequel to Phonogram volume 1 almost 2 years away as their finances recovered. No longer willing to have McKelvie (nor himself) starving on the streets, it has been repeated, many times, that volume 2 was to be the last of Phonogram, ending the series on a high.

That’s not the end of our story as Kieron Gillen has suddenly become last year’s Matt Fraction. Starting on smaller characters and titles like Beta Ray Bill and Batroc, the keys to the X-universe have been thrust upon him, and he gets to work on the retitled Thor – returning it to the original Journey into Mystery. This coming from a guy who just one year ago didn’t even have a name plate nor a chair when he appeared on the X-Men panel at San Diego Comic-Con (he’s not Rick Remender) – Kieron Gillen has come a long way to crafting critically acclaimed titles, of which Generation Hope #9 stands out as the standard bearer of what he and McKelvie can do together. The anthology he wrote 1 of 2 stories in, CBGB, has been nominated for a Harvey, of which the results will be out this weekend during Baltimore Comic-Con.

Us geeks would like to wish a merry welcome to Kieron Gillen – to what looks like his second tropical country this year, after his honeymoon in Mexico! He’s going to be on the panel in about 12 hours, so stay tuned!


The technological backbone of, Alvin’s machinist-nature also ensures that this blog remains alive when the unpredictable Murphy’s Law comes into effect.

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