I just got the art for the cover of Book 5 of the Oceanus Procellarum series and I wanted to post it here to show it off. I also wanted to use it to point out that I am releasing Books 4 & 5 of the series concurrently, to pre-emptively answer the inevitable question “but you just put out Book 3 earlier this year, didn’t you?”
One of the things about comics as a format is that it designed to display a series of moments to the net effect of telling a story. These moments can be easily grouped at the frame level, the page level and the book level; there is as much significance and narrative power in the gutter break between books as there is between installments of a regular daily strip.
There is a scene at the very end of Book 4 that references the title of Book 5 in such a way that works better if the reader knows that Book 5 has, in fact, been published. One of the themes of the series is the idea of a character deliberately setting down a historical canonical record that does not mention everything. It’s a situation chock full of apocrypha – which happens to be a bit of a pet obsession. I’ve always wanted to write an apocryphal novel, so why not write a situation that generates the ability to include one in the story?
The best part about apocrypha is the very strict binary nature of the classification. If a work exists, it’s not properly apocryphal. This works fine for stuff that’s been physically destroyed, but it gets interesting around organizations that only recognize certain works – ie the Bible, when Church officials chose to pretend that certain books didn’t exist. It was information warfare at the most basic level and it required a serious amount of steely reserve and deep self-delusion (or a real knack for politics). But it also produced tangible examples of an apocryphal work that you can hold in your hand – a true paradox.
And that’s even before you get to Borges.
I accept that it’s probably self-indulgent to structure a series of graphic novels in such a way to enable myself to write an apocryphal novel that I can hand to you. But if you are reading Book 5 in a series about characters that remember that they’re characters when they encounter the truth in a story, this shouldn’t surprise you. After all, I’m writing a metafiction series. I figure that I might as well pack as many different kinds inside as I can.
Which reminds me – another bit of apocrypha I built into the series is the promise of Books 6, 7 & 8. Right now, they exist in an early draft and will need a lot of work before they’ll be ready for publication. I have no plans to address the first of them for at least a year – after all, Book 5 is out a year early. But I offer you the promise as a kind of apocrypha type two: the anticipated.
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