Cartoon Gravity 22

Bless me, for I have sinned. It has been nearly two months since my last newsletter.

But really, not a lot has been happening - it's summer, everyone's away, there are multiple strikes in the entertainment industry that have pretty much halted all development and production. We're beavering away getting Haunter of the Dark ready for October and I've been noodling on a few spec projects while it's quiet out there.

The Development Hell substack is working pretty well. I'm loosening it up a bit, so that it's not just a writing course any more. And I'm being a little more disciplined about writing that on the regular.

Likewise, the Pleasant Green Blog is slowly growing. There was a new Saltmarsh instalment on there a couple of weeks ago, and I'm putting another one together now. I want to loosen that site up a bit too, so it can be even more fragmented and freeform than it already is.

This is all part of a determined move away from traditional social media. A lot has already been written and said about what a binfire that is turning into, and it is, but it's also just all kind of boring and I feel like I'm done with it. If I want to update people on what I'm doing, there are better outlets. And a lot of the people whose activities I'm interested in following have already moved over to the republic of newsletters or are, at least, on stuff like Substack Notes and BlueSky, which are better forums right now. If you're on Bluesky, I'm there as

This also all links into a piece I wrote yesterday for Substack called On Fluidity, which was about the need for screenwriters, especially, to embrace other media and to become fluid, and fluent, in other forms of storytelling. This is becoming a necessity, I believe, for the survival of creators in an increasingly unpredictable environment. The more places we're comfortable creating things, the better off we'll be. Not just financially, but psychologically. That's why I like newsletters and the weird fiction experiment of the Pleasant Green blog. It's also why I'm SLOWLY writing a novel, talking to some comics guys about doing a thing, and also working up a potential Pleasant Green supplement for Trail of Cthulhu (this isn't QUITE an announcement, but it does look like it's going to happen).

Collating all the Pleasant Green stuff together for a supplement is a big job, but it's also a great opportunity to expand the world even further and go deeper on the connections between people, places and things. Work like this can only make me better at what is still, supposedly, my day job.

I also think I'm done (never say never!) with the productivity stuff for a while. The deeper you go into that world, the more you realise it's just a bunch of ruthlessly unproductive people finding new ways to procrastinate. I have found my one-app-to-rule-them-all for the moment, and that is Tana. I'm very happy with it, despite various shortcomings, and I feel like I can now move on to getting some actual work done...

The world of fiction podcasts seems to be slowly withering on the vine (if a world were on a vine). I'm not sure what can be done about this. The audience is clearly there, and it's a big audience worldwide. I've been talking to other creators, here and in the US, and everyone has great ideas, wants to put great work out there, but everyone is struggling to find the money to make shows. This is partly because of the difficulty in monetising fiction shows. Non-fiction can do ads much more easily, and it lends itself well to host-read commercials, which are the big earners in that world. Fiction is a lot harder to integrate ads into. No one really wants to sit through a commercial break, and no creators really want to do product placement and answer to advertisers creatively. Sponsorship could become a thing, like the old Campbell's Soup dramas in the US in the 30s and 40s, but the genre needs to be on a more solid footing before sponsorship is a viable option.

I personally think the creators need to band together (most of them are up for this) and find an outlet that would be kind of like the audio equivalent of Netflix (but not a money-fire run by assholes) that people could hit up for new shows and old library material. I reckon this would work very well but, again, it's a money issue.

I wonder if we can crowdfund something like this? I have never crowdfunded before, so that would be a new experience. Equally, if you're reading this, are a fan of audio fiction, and happen to be some kind of gajillionaire, please do get in touch!

I stumbled upon Derek Sivers this week (not literally). I'm sure many of you already know him, but in case you don't or you haven't seen it, this talk is GREAT.

My big recommendation, for deep work and a generally amazing sense of wellbeing, is the Portal app - incredible high-res videos and immersive sound that transport you from your desk to the shores of Iceland or the Slovenian Alps. I'm using it all the time at the moment, running in the background while I work.

I haven't been mining the links as much as usual the past few weeks, but I'm going to get back to it. Not least because I want to make the Cartoon Gravity site into much more of a journal/scrapbook with regular daily entries. You guys mostly interact via this newsletter, but there's a lot more stuff on the site itself. Check it out:

I did see one thing this morning that made me drool, though, there a Huguenot house for sale in Spitalfields. I filmed in one of these a few years ago, and they are AMAZING.

Also, the new French version of The Three Musketeers is well worth a look:

And, obviously, if you haven't watched The Bear yet, we can't be friends any more.

Fuck it, send.