Okay, first of all... further to the strand on this blog regarding Sek (“Name or Rank?”), I thought I’d import a little additional chat on the subject from my Facebook wall. I’m sure neither Xhalax nor Matt will mind (you don’t mind, do you guys?).
Anyway, Xhalax asked:
“In a vain effort to quell my raging curiosity the quickest (I posted this on your blog too for the others....namely Big since he's Mr. Blood Pact....despite the fact this technically has nothing to do with the Blood Pact)....I'm asking this question here too since it's bugging the hell out of me.
Is 'Sek' some sort of given title? Just with Anakwanar and Isidor both having it, and yet being two separate people, it made me wonder.
I'm starting to suspect 'Incarnate' has a very very LARGE part to play in this by being used as/instead of 'proxy'.”
To which I replied:
“I hadn’t quite thought it through like that. Isidor holds the rank 'Sek Incarnate' because he is Sek's man on Gereon, and there may be other holders of the rank. But is Sek itself a rank or a name? Hmmmmm...
Well, the other big dude like Sek is Urlock Gaur, of course, and his followers include people who hold ranks like 'etogaur' and 'demogaur', so I'm pretty sure Gaur is a rank.... ie Orlock Gaur means something like "Orlock who is the great warmaster". But Anakwaner Sek always felt like a name to me.... Sek is a gaur himself, or holds a rank just below gaur if gaur is the over all big bad warmaster.
Now, I'm not so sure. As a reader, which appeals more to you?”
Then she said:
“Personally, I think I like 'Sek' being just a name rather than any sort of rank. Reading Traitor General and having all manner of names and their meanings is making my head spin a little (Chaos never sits easy on my Imperial mindset, so to speak)
So in that respect the word 'Incarnate' is the one that becomes the word that denotes position (rather than rank since Isidor isn't an military man, and position seems to fit better than rank for non-military).....the name before it (ie. Sek i this case) just denotes pretty much who they belong to/who they save.
And on that basis, I'd imagine,maybe Urlock Gaur.....may a 'Urlock Incarnate' to denote anyone who may be 'ruling' in his name while he's out plundering the galaxy.
Oh, maybe 'Incarnate' is the equivalently of 'Governor'
I think I need to go play some computer games.......too over stimulated with wordage.”
Then she went on to mention the additional issues of “Anarch” and “Archon”. Meanwhile, Matt Farrer (always a pleasure to hear from him) chipped in all the way from the other side of the world with this:
“Hi Dan, hope you don't mind if I get in on this discussion. Like Xhalax, I rather like the idea that Sek is a name rather than a rank. Given that the growing tension between Urlock and Sek seems to be a developing story point in the series, it's an interesting way of driving home the differences between them. If "Gaur" is a rank title, then when Urlock's forces take it on they're behaving like a regular armed force, including the Imperial ones: they're accepting that they're part of an organisation that's bigger than themselves, subordinating themselves to its laws and structures. Even their supreme commander takes the title according to the system of titles, following the laws and traditions that all the Blood Pact obey.
I think I ran out of characters. Continuing in a moment.”
A brief pause later, he added:
“Right. If Sek is part of Anakwanar's name, then when his subordinates take names like the Sons of Sek or Sek Incarnate they're not pledging themselves to an army, they're declaring a highly personal loyalty to an individual commander, making themselves an extension of his person and his will. There's quite a profound difference between a military corps that even the leader makes himself a part of, and a personality cult exclusively defined by its leader's quirks and desires, and it hints at what sorts of equally profound differences there might be between Sek and Gaur as people, and how those differences might shape their leadership and their rivalry.
I hope this is making sense, I'm doing my internetting in the small hours again.”
I thought it made a lot of sense. I also thought that reproducing these bits and bobs here might be interesting to other readers. I’d add that some of these subjects get further explored in the pages of Blood Pact.
What’s next? Rob’s very funny story about Barnes and Noble reminded me that there is a fairly broad range to the work I do. Indeed, I find that I often meet fans of a particular thing I do who have no idea at all that I also do something else. The best example of this that I can think of was at a convention recently, where I found myself having a simultaneous and very friendly chat with three ‘fans’. One was a major Warhammer reader, the second was a 2000AD regular, and the third was a major Marvel US fanboy. None of them had any real interest in, or knowledge of, the subjects of the others’ enthusiasms. To them, I was three different people, and I essentially found myself speaking three different ‘languages’, and translating certain comments so that the 2K guy picked up the Marvel Universe reference, and the 40K guy understood the SinDex comment etc etc. It was, on the whole, a pretty peculiar experience.
So... I’ve always imagined that the majority of people who read this blog, and who post their comments, are Warhammer oriented. I’ve always assumed that they account for the bulk of the traffic here, so I thought I’d widen things out a little (and blow my own trumpet into the bargain). Here’s what I do when I’m not in Black Library mode:
First off, other novels. There’s a Torchwood (“Border Princes”), a Doctor Who (“The Story of Martha”) and a Primeval (“Extinction Event”) out there already, not to mention various original audio books, including Torchwood: Everyone Says Hello (read by Burn Gorman) and Doctor Who: The Forever Trap (read by Catherine Tate). As Rob mentioned, there’s also a fine body of Wallace and Gromit work. Then there’s 2000AD. I’ve written for Tharg for over fifteen years now, on all sorts of strips, but the big one would be Sinister Dexter, which I created and which I’ve written every episode of. There are a number of trade paperback collections available to help get you up to speed, and a new one (“Eurocrash”) is going to be published soon. Sinister Dexter is probably my favourite thing. I am immensely fond of it.
If you check out the Judge Dredd Megazine at the moment, you can read Insurrection, which is me staging an all out space war in the Dredd universe with the help of the great Colin MacNeil. Read it for the art alone. I wrote the VCs for 2000AD for quite a while, and the entire run is also about to be collected in a trade. There’s also Kingdom, the strip I created with the very talented Richard Elson. The first two stories are collected in a trade, and we’re just starting work on the third. Kingdom is... well, I don’t know. It’s got a particular quality. Every time I read it, I go ‘wow, did we do that?’ I’m very very proud of it, and Richard’s art’s gorgeous. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go and get the trade.
Speaking of trades, I hear the first nine or so issues of the Knights of Pendragon, an eco-superhero-Arthurian comic from the early nineties, is also about to be collected. Co-created with John Tomlinson, Steve White and Gary Erskine, and co-written by me and John, it remains a high water mark in my output, and is one of the first major things I did. People still ask me about the series.
Then there’s the US. Working as DnA with Andy Lanning, I write The Authority for DC/Wildstorm, which is their heavyweight super hero team book. We’ve been writing it since it relaunched about ten issues ago, and is worth reading because of the interesting setting: this is post-apocalypse superheroes. Wildstorm took the very bold step of destroying their Universe a little while ago... properly, not temporarily. It’s an interesting place to work.
Finally, Marvel. Andy and I are the cosmic boys at Marvel. We write the regular monthly books Nova (a solo space cop superhero title) and Guardians of the Galaxy (a cosmic super team), which are interrelated. To read either or both regularly, you need to get them from your friendly neighbourhood comic shop, but there are lots of trade collections to get you up to speed (Nova’s been running longer), and you can buy those in a high street bookshop. I saw the Guardians hardback trade in my local Waterstones the other day. Andy and I have been writing for Marvel for a long time, but we’ve never had critical acclaim like we’ve had on these books. I love working on both. Nova’s an old school superhero series. Guardians... well, I think Guardians is one of my all time favourite things too. Given that a lot of you Warhammer readers seem to particularly dig my character-driven stuff, I can’t believe you wouldn’t like these books. I can’t believe, for instance, that Xhalax wouldn’t love Guardians.
Anyway, Nova and Guardians lead us into the War of Kings, the next big ‘event’, which Andy and I are in charge of: a six issue mini series that crosses over with both books and showcases a stupendous interstellar war between the Inhumans and the Shi’Ar Empire. This starts in about a month (though there’s a one shot prologue out there already) and it’s going to be huge. Andy and I firmly believe that stuff should happen in event books. You don’t just play and then put all the toys back in the box. And this event also links the Marvel Cosmos up: The Shi’Ar are very much X-Men continuity, and the X-Office is letting us play with them. Though the Marvel Universe is one big fictional space, it’s a rare privilege to get to connect up the various editorial fiefdoms.
As a post script... and I said I was going to blow my own trumpet... BL informs me that Legion got to the number eight spot on the top 5000 Science Fiction and Fantasy books for 2008. There are several of my books on the list, but number eight? That’s amazing, especially for a tie-in. The top of the list goes Pratchett, Tolkien, Rowling, Iain M Banks, and I’m down below them between Raymond Feist and another Pratchett. I mean, come on!
Okay, my trumpet’s blown. I’ll shut up now.