THE "SNIKT" THAT CHANGED MY LIFE
Jason Aaron's Beard Missives Newsletter #7. Notes on an important X-anniversary. And a special GODDAMNED sale.
Sometime last week was the 20th anniversary of the first X-MEN film. That means it’s also been twenty years since the day I left the only place I’d ever known and went in search of another life.
I goddamn well found it.
I grew up in Alabama. Born in Jasper, hometown of the Toughman brawler “Butterbean” and the guy who played “Goober” on the Andy Griffith Show. I’d lived in Alabama my whole life, amidst the sumptuous honeysuckle and kudzu-covered woods, seedy strip mall comic book shops, South Side Birmingham bars and barbecue joints and the hallowed, grassy gridiron of Tuscaloosa. At least up until that first X-MEN film came out. I saw it on its Friday opening night with some friends, then packed my shit into my car the next day and drove to Kansas City.
After taking a rather circuitous path through college before finally graduating with my English degree, and still struggling to figure out exactly who I was and who I wanted to be, I decided I needed some kind of change. I wanted to go… somewhere. Some place other than the land I’d always known. New York? Chicago maybe? I didn’t know anybody in either of those big, intimidating cities. But I had a sister in Kansas City who said I could live in her basement. So Kansas City it was.
(Pictured above: only known early photo of the third most famous man from Jasper, Alabama. Fuck, no, fourth, I forgot about Michael Rooker.)
Most every great song Bruce Springsteen has written is about the thrill that comes from being young and leaving the only place you’ve ever known. I definitely felt that. Along with a healthy dose of fear. And also the desire to start fresh and decide for myself who I was going to be in life, in a situation where pretty much nobody knew who the fuck I was. That feeling is profoundly liberating. And for me proved quite transformative.
I got my first paid writing gigs in KC. Became friends with other local comic folk. Won the Marvel Comics talent search contest. Started writing X-MEN comics. Got married, had kids, became a full-time professional writer. Grew a big long beard. Had my mind opened and my perspectives expanded in ways I don’t think would’ve ever happened for me in the woods of Jasper.
In some ways I’m a very different person than the one who sat in that theater 20 years ago watching Hugh Jackman pop his Wolverine claws for the first time. “Snikt!”
But I also brought lots of shit along with me on that drive from Alabama. And I don’t mean what few books and Rage Against the Machine CDs I could fit inside my little Geo Metro. I mean all the weird shit bouncing around inside my head.
THE GODDAMNED was definitely something that made the trip.
I was raised Southern Baptist, growing up with the stories of the Bible. The faith part of the equation started to erode for me in college, and I’ve considered myself a full-fledged Atheist for a very long time now. But I’ve never lost my fascination with those stories.
I first pitched what would ultimately become THE GODDAMNED in 2005, as GOD DAMNS, in a group of pitches I sent to Vertigo, along with SCALPED. A pitch that included some no doubt super enticing lines, like “GOD DAMNS is a unique take on subject matter rich enough to last at least as long as it takes everyone involved to be struck dead by lightning” and “It’s the book I was born to write, whether or not it damns me to hell.”
The pitch didn’t get traction at the time (Vertigo actually already had a Bible series about to start. What are the goddamn odds of that?). But the idea kept simmering away on the stove inside my head. And when r.m.Guéra and I finished our sixty issue run of SCALPED, a new series about the Bible seemed like the perfect next step for us. From the dudes who brought you SCALPED comes the Book of goddamn Genesis.
With THE GODDAMNED Volume One, “Before the Flood,” Guéra and I gave you the story of Cain, the inventor of murder, and his run-in with Noah, of Ark fame, set within a world on the eve of the Great Flood, a world so brutal and out-of-control that its creator is about to say “fuck it” and pull the fucking plug. It's the story of the very first end of the world, all wrapped up in a caveman action tale featuring loads of sharpened rocks and pointy sticks and hatchets made of dinosaur jawbones.
Our long-awaited Volume Two, "The Virgin Brides," is set within the same pre-flood world, but features a completely different cast of characters. It's a story centered around a secret nunnery hidden amidst the lush gardens at the foot of a mysterious mountain and a couple of young would-be brides who finally realize the dark truth of the place and decide they want nothing whatso-fucking-ever to do with it.
The first issue of “The Virgin Brides” came out a couple weeks ago (I probably should’ve told you about it then, but you know, life sometimes gets in the way of newslettering, especially these days). That first issue is now sold out at the distributor level, but don’t worry, your local comic shop may very well still have copies sitting on their shelves. We’ll also be releasing a second printing very soon, while issue #2 will be out August 5. Click here for a preview of the grand and grisly gorgeousness that is “The Virgin Brides” issue #1.
It’s been a long time coming, I know, but I truly do think this is the most stunning work Guéra has ever done, and I’m wildly excited for it to finally be out in the world.
SPECIAL GODDAMNED SALE!
I’m so excited I’m actually going to offer a special sale in my online store, while supplies last. If you purchase a signed copy of either THE GODDAMNED Volume One trade paperback (for a measly 10 bucks) or the oversized hardcover (for an only slightly less measly 20 bucks), I’ll throw in a signed copy of the first issue of “The Virgin Brides” for free. Because I’m such a sweet dude. And maybe because I don’t wanna wind up drinking all by myself down in the devil’s hot tub.
In Other Less Blasphemous News
“The Age of Khonshu” arc of AVENGERS continues to roll along. Issue #34 came out last week, with more of Moon Knight kicking the living shit out of the Avengers. Javier Garrón is doing absolutely killer work on art. I’m really quite super thrilled with this arc. And the best is indeed yet to come.
The pandemic-delayed issue #10 of VALKYRIE: JANE FOSTER that I co-wrote with the amazingly talented Torunn Grønbekk is available digitally and a print version will be coming to stores on August 19. With more Valkyrie news soon to follow.
The second arc of SEA OF STARS will also be kicking off in August. More info on that next time we congregate here.
If you’d like to listen to me talk about things and stuff for hours on end, because, I don’t know, you’d like your current existence to be even more trying and difficult than it already fucking is, then congratulations, you’re in luck. As part of the Creators4Comics auctions that took place a while back, to raise money for comic shops, I auctioned myself off for a podcast appearance. And the winners were exactly the sort of nerds you’d expect: a religious studies professor and a Lutheran pastor who together host a theological podcast. Okay, so maybe not exactly who you’d expect. But I think it made for one of the best interviews I’ve ever done. Thank you again to Tripp and Will for the splendid chat. You can listen to the podcast right here. I think I even managed to not curse too much.
This has been Beard Missives, direct from the face of Jason goddamn Aaron.
This week’s newsletter has been brought to you by Tropicana Pineapple Mango juice (which goes super great with rum), Empress 1908 gin (the prettiest, purplest gin you’ll ever see), WheatFields bakery baguettes, the delicious bottled cocktails from Tiki Huna in KC’s Iron District and me watching my son play Ghost of Tsushima.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for wearing your mask. Be safe. Be loved.
KC, July 2020