"Oh Eng­land, my love, you made me look a fool."– ‘All My Life’, Blur the pitch

Want to know how to pitch your story to a pub­lisher? Here, Kieron Gilen kindly pro­vides us with his pitch to Im­age for his and artist Jamie McKelvie's se­ries Phono­gram...

Comic Heroes - - Feature - PHONO­GRAM RUE BRI­TAN­NIA Gillen/McKelvie

Mu­sic is Magic. You know this al­ready. You’ve known this from the first time a record sent a di­vine shiver down your spine or when a band changed the way you dressed for­ever. How does some­thing that’s just noises ar­ranged in se­quence do that? No-one knows. It’s just… magic.

Every­one knows that. It’s just that some re­alise that it’s more than metaphor. These peo­ple, called Phono­mancers, use the mag­i­cal en­ergy of pop mu­sic to at­tempt to sat­isfy their de­sires. Phono­gram de­scribes the drama, con­flict and in­trigue when these de­sires di­a­met­ri­cally op­pose. Rue Bri­tan­nia charts the bat­tle to de­fine the com­mu­nal mem­ory of the early-nineties gui­tar­mu­sic re­nais­sance known as Brit­pop. It’s fought be­tween a group of Retro­mancers, who wish to gain eter­nal youth through en­ter­ing a stream­lined his­tory into nos­tal­gia cul­ture, and a Phono­mancer called David Kohl, who needs to keep it true to what re­ally hap­pened to keep his very iden­tity. Phono­gram: Rue Bri­tan­nia is a dark ur­ban-fan­tasy comic. For a movie style high-con­cept, in terms of ap­proach, imag­ine Hell­blazer meets Blue Mon­day. FOR­MAT : Six 22-page black-and-white chap­ters or ‘sin­gles’. Each is de­signed to mimic one of the records cited in the plot. Ide­ally, we’d also like two pages of sup­ple­men­tary ma­te­rial. One is an editorial page, in­clud­ing com­mu­niqes from the cre­ators, bonus ma­te­rial about the pe­riod and let­ters. The sec­ond is a one‑page ‘B-side’ comic, which hits an­other part of the Phono­gram mythos.


DAVID KO HL: A tall, thin shadow with emo glasses. He be­came a Phono­mancer a decade ago, bap­tised dur­ing the gui­tar­band re­vival known as Brit­pop. His abil­i­ties are still rooted there, but he moves in less pop­ulist cir­cles as a mem­ber of an un­der­ground coven of mages. If you asked him about Brit­pop now, he’d dis­miss it with a sneer be­fore abus­ing his pow­ers to try and se­duce your younger sis­ter. He’s a bit­ter, cyn­i­cal, dis­agree­able fig­ure with only a lit­tle charisma to hold even resid­ual af­fec­tion. Rue Bri­tan­nia is the story of him re­al­is­ing the im­por­tance of his his­tory, mak­ing peace with it and re­al­is­ing what he has to do to make amends. Favourite mu­sic: What­ever you haven’t heard. Mostly, what he hasn’t heard ei­ther. EMILY ASTER Phono­mancer, Kohl’s long-time con­fi­dant and the­o­ret­i­cal coven su­pe­rior. In Scooby-Doo terms, ten years ago she was a self-mu­ti­lat­ing Thelma. Now, through an act of will, she’s more like Daphne. She dresses in a club-style with dyed hair in an asym­met­ri­cal cut. She’s bitchy, play­ful and pierc­ingly in­tel­li­gent. Favourite mu­sic: Miss Kit­tin, Dizzee Ras­cal, Shystie, MIA. KID-WITH-KNIFE: David Kohl’s friend. Ut­terly non-mag­i­cal and only vaguely aware of what David does. Tall and ath­letic, he moves like a sol­dier but dresses in street‑style hood­ies. Not as mer­cu­ri­ally bril­liant as the rest of the cast, but painfully loyal. Called on by Kohl when more phys­i­cal abil­i­ties are re­quired. Favourite mu­sic: Old-skool hip-hop or jun­gle. Fail­ing that, any­thing dance­able. BETH: Then: Ob­ses­sive fan of pre­ten­tious punk-pop band Manic Street Preach­ers. Now: Mid-twen­ties house­wife who has dis­owned her past and has long since lost her dreams. One of Kohl’s sorta-exes, in that they had a will-they-won’t-they af­fair which was never con­sum­mated. How­ever, Kid-With-Knife had a one night stand. Favourite mu­sic: Then: THE MANICS!!!! Now: Noth­ing. IN­DIE DAVE Imag­ine Gol­lum go­ing to a Belle and Se­bas­tian gig. That’s In­die Dave. A pal­lid, chest-sunken man with lank hair and bul­bous eyes, dressed only in a pair of jeans. He lives the life of a recluse in a North York­shire bed­sit. An ex­pert in magic based on mem­ory and a mem­ber of the same coven as Kohl. Favourite mu­sic: No favourite mu­sic, just stuff that lessens the pain. Mo­men­tar­ily. THE MYTH: An enor­mous bear‑like man with sad eyes, this leg­endary Phono­mancer is the head of Kohl’s coven and has been a mage since punk’s year-zero. Was a mem­ber of the largest Phono­mancer ca­bal (‘The Adversary’), but left to form his own out of dis­gust at its di­rec­tion. Favourite mu­sic: Un­der­ground in­die, Pas­tels, Sonic Youth, Dexys, riot grrl. Bri­tan­nia: As­pect of the Fem­i­nine Prin­ci­ple, first ac­tive in the 1960s. As proph­e­sied, re­turned tri­umphant as Brit­pop started, be­fore dy­ing at its close. RETRO­MANCERS: Term used to de­scribe any mage who gains en­ergy through tapping ap­pre­ci­a­tion of old mu­sic. The events of Rue Bri­tan­nia are caused by a group of Retro­mancers who are at­tempt­ing to gain con­trol of the Brit­pop pe­riod by steal­ing Bri­tan­nia’s corpse and us­ing it to re­de­fine every­one’s com­mu­nal mem­ory.

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