jvdsteen jvdsteen at hotmail.com
Thu Jul 13 09:02:27 PDT 2006

Tom Russell wrote:
> Godling's back!
> I thought, for a moment, that Jochem Vandersteen had left us, that
> Godling's earth would remain forever imperiled by Captain Wrakk and his
> fantastic ship.  A quick google search will tell us that he hasn't been
> gone for nearly as long as it seems, just a matter of a few months.
> But it felt like a long time, and that's important: the _feeling_ is of
> primacy in the world of Godling.
> Forget, for a moment, the niceties of "good" fiction: forget elegant
> sentences, fresh dialogue, and three-dimensional characterisations.
> Forget, for just this one time, everything I've ever complained about
> in any of my reviews: forget structure, forget hard/soft sound rhythms,
> forget all that, forget everything except THE FEELING.
> With Godling, we're not operating in the world of literature, but
> rather the world of ur-literature: the world of Beowulf as opposed to
> Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the world of the morality play as
> opposed to that of Shakespeare.  The world of Bill Finger and Bob Kane,
> Siegel and Shuster, Simon and Kirby, as opposed to the world of Lee and
> Ditko, Lee and Kirby, Mort Weisenger and Curt Swan, John Broome and Gil
> Kane, O'Neal and Adams, Moench and Gulacy.  We're not in the Silver
> Age; we're in the Golden Age, the Godling Age, a world of rough edges
> and experimentation.
> Now, some people might look at my comments thus far and see them as
> backhanded: and they're not, not in the least!  I'm not saying that
> Godling isn't good; it is!  It is!
> It's just DIFFERENT!  And good lord, how nice it is to have something
> DIFFERENT in superhero fiction!
> When I wrote the third issue of the Green Knight, that's the
> flashback/Apes Month issue, there was a section in which I tried to
> channel a Golden Age vibe: lots of exclamation points, breakneck
> pacing, enthusiasm trumping logic at every turn.  Godling also channels
> a Golden Age vibe, but does it much better and in a completely
> different way.  While I used the outer trappings of the Golden Age
> (exclamation points, ellipses, short scenes, awkward dialogue), Jochem
> works from the inside out.  He writes _real_ Golden Age stories,
> instead of just pastiches like I did.  And to me, that's very noble.
> A lot of people look down on the Golden Age (hell! some look down on
> the Silver Age) and I used to be one of them and I understand that.
> The stories that came later were better stories from many points of
> view, but they lack that white-hot fire-under-your-ass
> you've-got-to-finish-reading-this-story your-life-depends-on-it
> feeling, a feeling that's novel and unique and to be cherished,
> especially in a world (and a newsgroup) dominated by the trappings of
> refined fiction.
> I think Godling is one of the best series on RACC.  I think it's also
> one of the most unique.  Its rough edges give it charm and energy and
> panache, and that bolt of white-hot Jochem Goodness leaves one feeling
> invigorated by the end of it.
> Now, there are some things I'd like to see more of, and some of these
> are those "refinements" that seem, at first, to be antithetical to
> Godling and its objectives.  But the last issue had a real melancholy
> vibe married to its primal Golden Age feeling, and I think taking a
> moment now and then to breathe and explore would make sure that the
> reader doesn't get tuckered out or suffer from burn out.  (I have a TPB
> of Golden Age Batman stories, and I can only read one or two at a time
> if I want to enjoy them fully.)
> Also, some of the sentences are exceptionally long: shorter, choppier
> sentences would be easier for the reader to follow and help make action
> sequences more exciting.
> I almost hesitate to offer this advice, because part of me thinks that
> it might ruin the special and unique charm of the series.  I hope
> that's not the case, and I look forward, eagerly and as ever, to the
> next installment.


Wow, it feels good to hear that someone's been eagerly awaiting the
return of Godling.
I've been unable to write for a while, being abroad for work.

It's good to see that writing the comic I would like to read is
received well. Because basically, that's what I'm doing. I used to
enjoy the darker tales of the Punisher, Ghost Rider and Wolverine when
I was a teenager. But now, past 30 I care most about the real heroes
like the Flash for instance. Now, I see how the heroism of the
seventies Spider-Man for instance shaped the kid into the man I am now.
I would like to create a character with the same influence.

The comics I've enjoyed most the last couple of years were the Grant
Morrisson JLA where anything could happen in every issue (and did)
while never getting to be overly corny. An even bigger influence was
his fantastic, very underrated Aztek the Ultimate Man that seemed to
flawlessly capture the excitement of the Silver Age and married it to
today's more adult comics. So there was another thing I wanted to reach
with Godling: amazement, excitement.

It took me a few false starts to define how I wanted to write Godling's
story, how I wanted his Universe to look like, how quick or how slow I
wanted to build his story...

I write short stories for different crime-zines and published a full
length novel featuring Noah Milano ("White Knight Syndrome" on sale
everywhere now, pardon me for plugging)which gives me the chance to
zoom in on the darker side of man. There I try to use choppy, short
sentences like Robert B. Parker or Ellroy do. Also, I must admit I
spent a lot more time before I've written a page then I do with
Godling. Noah Milano comes from my adult mind, Godling from my
childlike heart.

Having established the character and its Universe now (in broad
strokes) I can focus more on the character of Quentin Alexander. I will
use longer subplots to explore themes like loneliness, guilt and hate
but always with a glimmer of hope, optimism. Having those elements
exist next to the ultimate fantasy I want Godling to be will be tricky,
but I'm learning with every issue. Comics have been both therapy for me
as well as escapism. With the difficulties of a very ill mother I will
need large helpings of both, so I will be sure to try and find the time
to write.

Stick around for the ride!


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