"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...
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.