Gutsville is an Image comic by Si Spurrier and Frazer Irving about a religious 18th century world within the belly of an unknown beast. The Book of Job crossed with Luddites and a community that survives. But it’s been on hiatus for quite a while. Writer Si Spurrier offered to explain, live, on Twitter.
Si Spurrier: Urg. That’s a really Big Answer, which probably needs breaking-down a bit, and comes complete with a couple of caveats.
Bleeding Cool: Caveat away!
Si Spurrier: First is that it’s a question which – in a perfect world – would be being answered by someone else, the artist… so whatever I say is going to be skewed by my own POV. I won’t try to second-guess him, but I’ll tell you what I know || Second caveat is that Frazer and I remain friends. I don’t want to get into shit-slinging, because for all the || disappointments and irritations along the way, he remains a Top Bloke and a truly astonishing artist || Fwoof. Okay. Now that’s out the way, an answer: What happened? Short version: A massive lack of art, basically.
Bleeding Cool: Did you try tickling his tummy? That usually worked for me..
Si Spurrier: Tried it. Also softly licking his heels and singing King Crimson outside his window. It has now been 1 year since || the last episode of Gutsville shipped. It would be fair to say Nothing I’ve Tried has worked.
Bleeding Cool: So what happens now? In a Marvelman style do you bring Alan Davis on board?
Si Spurrier: Heh. That would be nice… I dunno: it’s fucking tricky. I mean… You go riiiight back to the beginning and || the setup was gloriously efficient. Fraze had had a run of good work and was flush enough to be able to take || 6 months out to do something which paid fuck-all along the way. He loved the Gutsville pitch and that was that. || …and to start with it worked perfectly. He’s super-quick at top speed. The first ep took 20 days, and looks amazing. || So do I want to finish it with someone else? Not really, because I’ve had a taste of how amazing it *could* be || For whatever reason Fraze slowed down then stopped. I don’t want to farm it out to anyone else if there’s the slightest || chance he can get going again.
Bleeding Cool: I’m just writing a piece on the Great Lost Comic Projects – should I add Gutsville to it just yet? Cos I was a fan.
Si Spurrier: Lost? By the holy anal beard of Jesus Christ, I hope not. A little while ago – in a spasm of frustration – I asked || Fraze to be honest, and let me know if he’d ever get back round to it. I just wanted to know, one way or the other. || He assured me (and continues to do so, whenever I pester him), that “it’s next on the list”. Frankly, the list always || seems to be getting longer from the other end, but there you go. I want to believe him. The problem is that the || longer it draws out the harder it becomes to resurrect in any meaningful way. It is, frankly, A Big Flaming Fuckup.
Bleeding Cool: It reminded me of John Wyndham, great Brit scifi high concept man. It could have been the new Chew… so are you moving on?
Si Spurrier: Yes and no. “Yes” in that I’m working on new stuff and not doing Too Badly with that. “No” in that Gutsville …|| was always intended to be my “Hey, America, I’m here!” piece. The eye-opening tpb I could send to anyone || safe in the knowledge they’d read it, love it, and look at new proposals. Instead I’ve had to scrabble about for || with no shining Calling Card. That all sounds very self-pitying, but it’s more a case of seething frustration: we || were so close to getting it done (and I was so fucking close to actually making some money from it), and instead: nada
Si Spurrier Oh yes – several shiny and wonderful new calling cards to be announced very soon. But it’s a wrench. Feels a bit like || taking a cherished pet to the vet, y’know? There’s a chance it’ll all be fine – it’ll be back to playing merrily, || shitting on the rugs and sniffing inappropriately at your crotch before you know it – but there’s that lingering || …dread that the Vet’s gonna do his shaky-head I’m-so-sorry here’s-a-lolly skit, and you feel guilty about instantly || demanding a new puppy to help your forget. FUCK. This metaphor is out of control. Someone fetch a leash.
Bleeding Cool: So you said you didn’t make money on the book. Sales looked okay – what’s the deal here? I mean I made $700 on Watchmensch.
Si Spourrier: Ha, money. Imagine. No, you’re right: sales were pretty good. It’s just that I made an agreement with Fraze, when we || began, that he’d pay himself his minimum pagerate out of any income before I took my slice up to 50%. It seemed (and || still does seem) fair, because the artist is going to spend much longer on any story than the writer. Buuut the || upshot is that I haven’t earned a penny. And don’t expect to until the tpb comes out. IF we ever get that far. You || begin to understand the depth of my frustration at this baby having stalled. || In fact, money’s exactly why we’re nnnow in this position. Frazer left it so long between episodes 3 and 4 || (one year and counting) that he couldn’t afford to keep going for free. He’s had to get other work – thus “the list”.
Bleeding Cool: No chance of movie option cash then? I notice someone got a wodge for the rights to a facebook post the other day.
Si Spurrier: same deal. We’ve had SO MUCH interest, from some really big scary people, but they ALL want to see || the ending, in print — in a nice tpb form they can show investors – before we talk money. Seriously, it’s like || standing two feet away from a Gold-plated Chocolate Cake with your name on it, but nobody’s got a fork. || Or maybe the oven’s stopped working. Or something. I need to work on these fucking metaphors.
Bleeding Cool: To be fair, Gutsville is just a ripoff of Fraggle Rock isn’t it?
Si Spurrier: Heh heh. No. But if I’ve successfully infused Gutsville with one iota of the sorts of freakydark ultra-sophisticated || symbiotic social weirdness enjoyed by Goober & Co, I’ll be a supremely proud human.
Bleeding Cool: Is there any way the book could be resurrected at another publisher with a different payment system? Say, page rates?
Si Spurrier: Maybe, I dunno. I’ve started looking into it. The downside is that as soon as you start earning pagerates you || inevitably have to sacrifice something else: a cut of the rights, a slice of the net receipts, whatever. If it’d || go some way to getting the thing done, I’d jump at the chance. But there’s also the fact that Image have been really || go some way to getting the thing done, I’d jump at the chance. But there’s also the fact that Image have been || really patient, and seem to believe me when I tell them It Ain’t My Fault, so it seems churlish to go elsewhere. || That said, the cancellation in previews suggests they’re not expecting it to ever re-emerge anyway, so who knows? ||
Si Spurrier: Um… Yeah: couple of things. I’ve just been sitting here going back through some of this interview (Twinterviewing || is, for the record, much weirder and harder than I expected) and it occurs to me this all looks a lot like I’m airing || dirty laundry in public. I just want to clarify: Frazer remains a fucking fantastic artist, and I would happilly || gnaw off my own nipples if it compels him to finish Gustville any quicker. I’ve just gotten a bit fed-up with the || assumption that the delays are my fault, and more than a little fucked-off at the effect they’ve had on my || bank account and my career. If this helps as a Rumour Control Here Are The Facts device: brilliant. If it also || .gives Fraze the kick up the arse he needs to get it done: doublebrilliant. || And lastly, with a sickly-sweet smile that nobody fucking believes for a minute, I want to thank people for being so || overwhelming positive about Gutsville, and for being so patient, and to assure them that one day their copies of || the first three issues will be worth slightly more than a platinum pachyderm. Chiz!
Bleeding Cool: Kick up the arse? But then he won’t be able to sit down to draw for ages. You didn’t think this through did you?
Si Spurrier: He doesn’t sit, anyway. He hovers on a shimmering field of gauss-lightning generated by the monkeygheist in his brain
Si Spurrier writes for BleedingCool on Thursdays. The first three copies of Gutsville are available from Image comics, they rest will be published… one day.
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