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If All Else Fails, Read the Book
Some writing about things I wrote.
“After being alternately damned and praised for equally invalid reasons, I am content to trade fame for accuracy of interpretation.”
That’s a quote from my late cousin, the novelist Gustav Hasford. I think about those words from time to time, especially when a conversation begins to roiling and raging online that is ostensibly inspired by a book I wrote. And I use the word “conversation” here rather loosely, because it inevitably seems to me that the uproar mostly consists of the opinions of people who haven’t actually read the book in question. Instead, they’ve read somebody else’s thoughts on it in an article or maybe they’ve seen a few pages scanned onto Reddit. I realized long ago that I had absolutely zero level of interest in trying to engage with that sort of online discourse regarding something I’d written. So if anyone might find themselves wondering what my thoughts on the given subject might possibly be, well, there’s always an easy way to find out.
Read the book.
I think of that time-honored bit of wisdom every middle school teacher would drill into their students’ heads when we found ourselves fumbling through an assignment: “If all else fails, read the directions.”
Believe me, my thoughts on the Punisher are quite vast and rather complicated, but you will not solicit a single one of them by hooting and hollering on Twitter. Those many thoughts have all been successfully communicated to the best of my Alabama-born ability in the form of the 12 issue, 365 page PUNISHER comic book story I worked to write.
So, you know, read the book. Or don’t. As always, my greatest advice for a long and healthy life consists of you reading the things that make you happy. Just don’t expect me to give a shit when you tell me I’m a terrible cook yet you’ve never been to my restaurant to try the meatloaf.
Speaking of Books You Should Read…
ONCE UPON A TIME AT THE END OF THE WORLD #7 is waiting for you in comic stores today, like an old friend who’s dying to take you to Burning Man so you can dress like sexy DayGlo Road Warriors and dance all night on the playa.
This is the second chapter of our “Rise and Fall of Golgonooza” arc, where lovers Maceo and Mezzy have decided to try and forge a safe space in the wild and ruined heart of the wasteland where all the lost and wayward souls from the end of time might come together to discover the freedom to chart their own unique paths to love and fulfillment beyond their wildest fucking dreams.
There’s a lot of stuff that comes up in this one that I think we’ll talk more about as we go, but I continue to really just want people to discover the ins and outs of this story for themselves. I’ll just say that this issue was very challenging to write. Maybe THE most challenging script I’d written at the time (though since surpassed by OUATATEOTW #9). I sat down to write the first draft of issue #7 a couple weeks before Christmas 2022, and it ended up taking me the entire rest of the month to wrestle the story into some sort of exhausted submission, in part because at some point I completely threw out my first draft and started over. And then I rewrote much of it again after the New Year.
I think that all speaks to how there’s a lot of ideas represented here that I feel very strongly about, and it felt deeply important to try and portray those complicated things in the right sort of way. And this is really only the beginning of that exploration. After this, well, things start to get really fucking weird and surreal in all-new ways.
This issue features more incredible art from the arc two team extraordinaire of artist Leila del Duca and colorist Tamra Bonvillain. With this chapter, Leila and Tamra bring Golgonooza fully to life in all its wild, gorgeous, deeply-emotional glory.
And hey, don’t forget that the trade of our first arc is also in stores now and could totally use a ride to your house.
Speaking of that new trade edition, thanks so very much to all of the many librarians who came out last weekend to say hi at ALA in Chicago. I signed copies of ONCE UPON A TIME AT THE END OF THE WORLD until the BOOM booth ran dry, and after spending the whole time talking with people from all parts of the country who were there because of their passion for books and for reading, people fighting the fight on the front lines as we speak against the book-banning whims of the proudly narrow-minded, I left feeling like my heart and my grizzled-old soul had just been pumped full of much-needed nourishment. So thank you.
This has been Beard Missives, direct from the well-nourished face of Jason Aaron.
This week’s newsletter has been brought to you by Chicago hot dogs, Billy Goat Tavern cheeseburgers, and not a single goddamn drop of Malört.
Hope you had a fun firecracker day. Stay safe, stay loved.
KC, July 5, 2023
Toadvine took off his hat and put it on the bar and swept a clawed hand through his hair.
What have you got that a man could drink with just a minimum risk of blindness and death.
—Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
Malört, kick your mouth in the balls!
Malört, the Champagne of pain!
Malört, tonight's the night you fight your dad!
Malört, these pants aren’t going to shit themselves!
—The Internet, Unofficial Malört slogans
Things To Come
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE Trade Paperback — July 18, 2023
STAR WARS: DARTH VADER - BLACK, WHITE & RED #4 — July 26, 2023
AVENGERS BY JASON AARON Hardcover Vol. 4 — July 25, 2023
ONCE UPON A TIME AT THE END OF THE WORLD #8 — August 2, 2023
PUNISHER: KING OF KILLERS Book Two Trade Paperback — August 29, 2023
MARVEL AGE #1000 — August 30, 2023
ONCE UPON A TIME AT THE END OF THE WORLD #9 — September 6, 2023
THOR BY JASON AARON Omnibus Vol. 2 — October 24, 2023
Thought Bubble Comic Convention, Harrogate Convention Centre, England —November 11-12, 2023
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