The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Enemy was the fifteenth story in The Book of the Enemy. It expanded upon the narrative author Jay Eales had began in his previous Faction Paradox short stories Mightier Than the Sword and Born Among Briars.
Summary[edit | edit source]
Pre-Narrative Briefing[edit | edit source]
Story[edit | edit source]
- James Sheldrake is born, blind in his right eye and deaf in his left ear. In the maternity ward a couple in black clothes watch him before departing.
- Gideon Barrow is born, in later years claiming to have been able to recount the entire experience through drugs. A comic book writer, he used this material in his work. What he was unable to recall is a couple in black that seemed to fade into the background, present at his birth as well.
- Michelle Louise Montague was being brought home by her parents as a couple in black stood in their lounge, looking at the bookshelves, nodding in approval, and vanishing before the Montagues reach the lounge.
- The first memory Montague has is of her sister, Donna, being born. As Donna took up her parents time, Donna would push herself back into the spotlight in attempts to reclaim attention in increasingly bold ways.
- Bobbie Buchanan was born. Rumors of occult circumstances at this birth in later years were started by Buchanan. None were ever substantiated. There may or may not have been a couple in black present at his birth.
- Sheldrake is expelled from school for dealing psychedelics, and two parents wearing suits of all black depart the headmaster's office as he waits outside, propping the headmaster not only to expel him, but to contact all potential schools he might go to and would have a letter of reference for jobs discouraging them from accepting him. As such he takes a job in a tannery.
- That same year, at the age of five, Michelle Montague writes a story about a turtle. She asks her parents to get it published.
- Jim Sheldrake marries Edith Neville.
- Barrow reflected on his life as a cover story for his father, an anti-nuclear activist, who would sneak around nuclear bases and use his son as an excuse if caught, and how he hated this life but misses his father now that he's left.
- At school, Montague was an outcast for various reasons, but in part because of her writing. She had completed her first novel, which she showed to nobody.
- Sheldrake starts a new job at the Gas Board and his wife, Edith, announces that she's pregnant. Sheldrake, not able to be stuck at the job for another four years, quits it, though later says he quits the job prior to being told about his child. Sheldrake submits idea after idea to publishers, including comics based on the Mister E television series, stories he didn't even remember writing. He would describe himself as "dreaming in five page installments", which he would later go on to think of as another world, a world of ideas he called IdeaSpace.
- Barrow received a second-hand typewriter from his estranged father - which he then took and used to write his own comic book strip for the local paper.
- Barrow was gifted a pack of tarot cards from an uncle who encouraged him to investigate the occult. Around this time he decided to pursue music instead of comics.
- Del Rictus, one of Sheldrake's former editors from Amazing Comics, who has since left to start his own company calls him. He suggests that Sheldrake come work for him on The Man, which he's just acquired the rights for. Atom Comics then launched both with this title and The Secret, also written by Sheldrake, to critical acclaim, though not major sales.
- In the New York offices of Gumshoe Periodicals they're looking for someone to take over the Muck Monster line of comics, with Sheldrake's name coming up. The run is a commercial and critical success, readers and critics loving the work. In Scotland, Barrow felt a similarity to the author of this work, and gave up on music.
- After a series of fights with Del Rictus, Sheldrake left Atom Comics, and The Man and The Secret both had cliffhangers. Barrow was offered the job, but sent a letter to Sheldrake, asking for his blessing. Sheldrake sent a rude one back, telling him to back off, and as a fan of Sheldrake's work, Barrow declined the offer.
- Barrow begins a series, Apex at Spitfire Comics, a superhero, combining his dual loves of comics and music, as well as blending elements of his interest in chaos magic and Nazi Germany. It was a success.
- Sheldrake's Muck Monster was doing so well that everyone at Gumshoe wanted to work with him. So he and Steve Mandrill got together to create a deconstruction of the superhero genre, a look at those who would even put on the mask in the first place. Thanks to some behind the scenes machinations, Mandrill and Sheldrake ended up owning the rights to the characters after the first publication run. TickTockMen was a critical success, and even outside of the comic book world people began to look at Sheldrake.
- The success of TickTockMen led to a promotional tour, including a stop at a comic shop in Glasgow. The owner of the shop had them stay for a social gathering at his favorite local pub, with Barrow invited. The dinner went off without a hitch. In later years, Sheldrake says that he recalls Barrow saying that he was inspired to be a writer by him, and saw his work later in Spitfire, saw it as a bit of a tribute to Sheldrake, and thought it a nice phase, but something to grow out of. Barrow would dispute this, saying that as far back as 1978 he had been writing comics, and hadn't even heard of him until 1982.
- A few weeks later, Barrow gives a Q&A to a fanzine, headed by Buchanan, who was a fan, and much like Sheldrake, wishes him luck, and advises him that he can't do both drawing and writing, he needs to choose between the two, something Buchanan calls later the best advice he ever received.
- Barrow examines his flat and considers his tarot cards when he hears a thump outside, a book, Liber Nyx, decorated in occult symbols and talking about chaos magic. He thinks it must be from his uncle. It wasn't. Barrow begins to read and perform magic from the book.
- Montague, staying at a friend's house over the holidays from university, ends up watching an interview with Sheldrake on a children's program with their younger sister. Seeing how odd he looks with his hair and beard, she begins to pretend that he's the headmaster of the school where wizards go to train, named Standish Lopsiday.
- Barrow writes a comic for Gumshoe, Madhouse: Mister Grin is a Very Naughty Boy, off the back of the Knight Errant movie that year, turning the Knight's villains into fully fleshed out psychologically complicated characters. It was a stunning success, and made Barrow into a celebrity in the comics world. He started a column in a comics magazine where he would comment on industry trends, sometimes talk about his friends, like Buchanan, and frequently comment on Sheldrake, as a high profile creator. Sheldrake would later comment that as far as he could tell, Barrow made his career by trashing his own.
- At this time, Buchanan begins his career with the comic Son of God, about a superhero who's actually the antichrist, also basing it off of TV star Simon Rose, becoming the template for his later work, focusing on celebrity and spectacle.
- After writing for 36 hours, working towards a deadline, Barrow collapses from exhaustion. When he awakes, he comes to find a completed script. He does not recall writing it. Moreover, it involves him inserting himself as a character into the work, talking to the main character about what he's had to do to please the readers. He looks back at prior work and sees that there have been hints this entire time, hints he doesn't remember writing, but looking at the scripts they are there. He then resolved to attempt a variety of intoxicants and hallucinogens in a controlled fashion to see how they effected him.
- While traveling to London, Montague's train was delayed, and she found herself with an idea for a book, but without a pen. A couple across the way had a spare though, and handed it to her, and so she began to write, Finn Foster – Boy Warlock. By the time the train arrived, the couple had vanished. As she left the train, she noticed a red headed boy in a school uniform with a cat behind him, a perfect match for what she had written down.
- The original deal for TickTockMen was the rights reverted to Sheldrake when it went out of print, which was expected to happen - everything went out of print at some point at that time. But due to the success of the book, Gumshoe periodical just kept putting out copies, again and again, leading to a breakdown in their relationship with Sheldrake. Sheldrake left Gumshoe and vowed never to work with them again.
- Living in Portugal, teaching English, Montague married a journalist, Ricardo do Nascimento, who had a suspicion of fiction and a bit of a drinking problem. He was laid off as Montague became pregnant, angry that Montague was supporting their family he turned to violence. Isolated from friends and family and scared by her husband, Montague decided to redouble her efforts towards writing.
- Barrow was asked to reinvigorate the old '50s science fiction hero Lex Christian: Space Chaplain into an anti Thatcher political comic called Lex, which was a massive success.
- For his 40th birthday, Sheldrake gathered his friends and family and declared himself to be a ceremonial magician. This surprised nobody.
- After one fight too many, Montague left her husband and the country, with help from the Portuguese police. She took her daughter and three chapters of Finn Foster to her sister Donna.
- Sheldrake performs a ritual to contact an entity which might serve as his personal deity. In the end he was contacted by an entity that called itself Glycon, a Roman snake deity that was identified as a hand puppet. Sheldrake was enthused.
- Barrow and Buchanan team up to write the continuation of Muck Monster, with the two cowriting the first few issues, and Barrow plotting the series and being an uncredited editor/mentor for Buchanan as he wrote the rest. However, working together took its toll on the two's relationship, and Barrow decided to take a plane to Kathmandu to get away from the environment for a while.
- Barrow claims to have been abducted by aliens in dark robes and skull masks while in Kathmandu, and they explained to him the secrets of the universe. From this experience, Karma Knights was born, about terrorist heroes fighting against secret societies that run the world.
- Montague continued writing as a single mother, getting rejection letters back, dealing with depression, and eventually hearing back from an agency who was interested in representing her. Curiously, the secretary for the agency was out that week, and a temp was in, who pushed Montague's manuscript at the agent. As soon as it was accepted, she didn't come into work the next day.
- Rejected by twelve publishers before being accepted, Finn Foster and the Diamond Gondola had ML Montague as the authors name on the cover, so as to not scare off boys reading a book written by a girl. The book wasn't promoted that much at first, but it got around quickly by word of mouth, and slowly the depression effecting Montague began to lift, though she wrote in scenes with various personifications of it to show that others too could overcome it. In particular she wrote herself as something of a self insert, Finn Foster's best friend, Gillian Griffin, who had a lot of scenes with these personifications of depression.
- Billy Nguyen came to Sheldrake's house to talk to him about coming back to the comic industry, wanting a whole range of comics from Sheldrake, not just a single comic, and as Thunderhead Comics wasn't affiliated with any of the groups Sheldrake had previously turned his back on, he could have greater creative control.
- Sheldrake published the first work under the new imprint, Imaginary Friends, a comic about combining the greatest figures of literature and obscure gothic horror stories into a single continuity, a single sandbox to play in. As was his standard at this time, when Hollywood came calling for a movie deal, Sheldrake took their money, not thinking that the movie would ever be made, that it was just free money. He simply went back to work on a new story of how all literary versions of Venus were the same character.
- Finn Foster and the Black Sun is published, to record breaking sales. When asked where her ideas come from, Montague would say that they grew on trees in the Greatwood. She simply plucked them down and listened to them when she needed to write. The villain of the piece was rumored to be based on a former acquaintance who would lie to make himself more interesting. Montague would make no comment when asked.
- Barrow received an email telling him to be on the lookout for a movie called Cyberia, it was very similar to Karma Knights, people on set were carrying copies of the work, costumes, scraps of dialogue, and themes were all lifted. Barrow reflected back to his original time doing chaos magic, to make his work popular, and reflected that he didn't specifically ask that his work be adapted directly.
- Buchanan begins work on his most shocking comic yet, in The Management.
- Barrow examined the readership numbers of Karma Knights and grew worried that they were approaching cancellation numbers. It was his most personal project to date, both in the sense that it was meant to be a magic ritual to encourage humanity to progress, and the main character was a self insert. He grew worried that the ritual would fail, and that if the character in the story would cease to exist, something would happen to him as well. So he encourages his readers to perform a magic ritual to save the comic, drawing a sigil and activating it through an emotional event, like singing or bungee jumping. He suggests masturbation. Whether through this ritual or the reconfiguration of the series into a less arcane storyline for its second volume along with the media coverage for this stunt, the sales increased and the book continued.
- At the film premiere of Finn Foster and the Diamond Gondola Montague showed off her new husband, and the popularity of the movie and the money made from it made her a multi-millionaire, much of which she donated to charity.
- Sheldrake despairs to find that one of his comics has actually been made into a movie. He thinks they have made large changes to his work, but in examining his original comic, he finds that the comic he has written is not as he remembers. This troubles him.
- Barrow returned from Nepal, ill, and with a large number of alerts from a friend talking about how someone has betrayed him. He thought about calling them, but collapsed before being able to.
- Thunderhead Comics was purchased by Gumshoe Comics. Sheldrake became livid, that the company he refused to work for now owned his work yet again. Billy Nguyen managed to convince him that he would act as a barrier between Gumshoe and Sheldrake, keeping Sheldrake away from the bits he detested, and since Sheldrake had brought in friends to work with him, he agreed.
- In Karma Knights, Barrow's self insert faced a plot point where at the very last minute before he needed to hit a button his arm was cut off. A fun little plot point, nothing to write home about. But when Barrow showed up at a comic convention in San Diego not that long after, his own arm was missing, something he swears was just a coincidence.
- As the second Finn Foster movie was released, the third book came out, both synergistically bolstering the sales of each other, becoming the template for all future releases.
- Buchanan created a series called Public Enemy, about a super assassin who looked like a prominent celebrity.
- Sheldrake had sold the rights to Imaginary Friends before changing his mind about adaptations, so couldn't stop the movie from moving forward. The movie was nothing like the comic and a box office disaster. Sheldrake decided to remove all the comics he had licensed to others from his shelf, they were no longer his in his mind. When he got checks from Gumshoe, he requested that they instead distribute the money among the artists and his coworkers instead. He felt purified, reborn.
- Barrow held a press conference for Karma Knights volume three, and the first few pages of the comic were shown, where his self insert regrew his hand through alien technology. After this occurred, Barrow pulled out his second arm, good as new. He refused to take questions about what happened, being glib whenever asked, though in the coming months the media supposedly uncovered that a friend of his was a Hollywood prosthetics artist who was known for faking lost arms. Everybody was disappointed with the truth.
- Buchanan is poached from Gumshoe by Amazing Comics to write The Absolutes, and off his success creates an imprint, Planet Buchanan, where he can keep all his creator owned series.
- Finn Foster and the Somnambulist is published at a charity gala, and the next night the movie for the previous book is released.
- Against Sheldrake's wishes, a movie for The Secret is released, a variety of interviews all ask the usual questions, about how he's not going to see the movie, and he no longer owns a copy of the work.
- Barrow, having finished Karma Knights, bounces between Gumshoe and Amazing for his next projects, taking on a variety of tame, more mainstream work.
- Inspired by the terrorist hero of The Secret, a collection of hackers and anarchy activists called "Anonymous" used the titular character's question mark mask to hide their identity while taking action. Sheldrake had mixed feelings, in that every mask sold was profit for Gumshoe, but he enjoyed others protesting against authority.
- Finn Foster and the Empty Grave, the final book of the series was released, but the premier of the preceding movie was marred by it being leaked on torrent sites previously. Almost magically, the torrent sites vanished, under attack by Grumblings, one of Montague's creations that ate technology.
- Buchanan released Ass-Kicker, his perspective on teenage vigilantes. It immediately got a media deal.
- A movie of TickTockMen is made. Sheldrake agrees to be quietly compliant as a friend of his is in dire financial need and said friend is getting the novelization of the movie. However, when he asked for his name to be removed from the credits from the film, the novelization is canceled. He then criticizes the movie when it's released. He then goes on to symbolically cut off ties with the mainstream comics industry in a magic ritual.
- A letter comes through the door for Sheldrake, marked with the royal crest. Upon reading it, he laughs and throws it out.
- After the proscribed period of time on the letter, a phone call is made. In the dark of night, they came for Sheldrake, kidnapping him, telling him he should have just taken the medal.
- Montague, in attending her book signings, would occasionally see people cosplaying as characters in ways that were even more true to what she imagined them to be than the actors on screen. It would surprise her, but she would never guess that they were the real characters come to life. Children were disappearing, as if in one of her books, specifically those around Finn Foster's age in the first book. Eventually, after time and consideration were given, and sightings of Foster's nemesis, the Nameless Dread began to rise, Montague decided that even though the last book was published, Foster had to die.
- Camp Gulliver was a prison who people would forget about as soon as they left. Sheldrake somehow managed to write more work on Imaginary Friends while locked up in it and get it smuggled out. The Governor imposed harsher security, taking away any writing tools found on prisoners and putting them in solitary confinement. When even that didn't prove to be enough, Sheldrake was moved to a special wing with sensory deprivation screens for walls and special guards. With no distractions, Sheldrake just focused on his ideas.
- Buchanan, in the meantime, was focusing on making movies.
- In his cell Sheldrake accessed IdeaSpace, though heavily medicated, it was difficult to reach out, to remember a letter he fake responded to once in a magazine, of Douglas, age 8. Sheldrake realized that subconsciously he brought back Douglas in the background time and time again in his work. He thought maybe there was more work for Douglas yet, as he jerked out of IdeaSpace. But back in IdeaSpace, where he was left, a young man with a scar in prison greys stood. The Sceneshifters appeared behind him. The man and woman in black placed a hand each on him. "Seed planted", she said, and they vanished.
- A cleaner came to Sheldrake's cell, another prisoner. Through a series of circumstances, a magical link is made between the two, and as the man leaves the prison not long after, Sheldrake can write through him. Namely, the man's skin becomes as parchment for Sheldrake. What Sheldrake writes on his own skin shows up on the man's as well.
- Through this new link with Story, what he called his new proxy, he continued on writing Imaginary Friends, even putting in Finn Foster as the series approached the modern day - the antichrist, how literature has fallen. Needless to say, Montague was not amused, even as she had killed the character that had born his face previously.
- Buchanan finished The Civil Service, streetwise thug into gentleman spy, a director was signed off of an elevator pitch.
- A crime novel, Counting Down to Zero was published to middling success by Jamie Dalwhinnie. A short while after its release it was leaked that Jamie Dalwhinnie was a pen name for Montague, who was disappointed that her attempt to escape, to try a new genre, was exposed too quickly, as sales skyrocketed. The official story involved intern gossip. The truth was that the sceneshifters did it.
- Buchanan has another great year, Civil Servant, the movie adaptation of The Civil Service is released, and he's asked to consult for Amazing Studios, including The Curious Quartet. He, as well as the studio, went on to erase that particular consulting gig from the public record.
- At long last Sheldrake completed a novel he's been working on for years, Babel. And even while in prison he demanded a book launch in his home town with a variety of arcane conditions. On the day of the launch, Story was present, and storm clouds had gathered over Camp Gulliver. Sheldrake had just returned from IdeaSpace, surveying the bookstore and saw that all was ready. He remembered the magic word, and so he spoke it, and the heavens shook.
- Meanwhile, at the launch, Story would answer questions in place of Sheldrake, laughing about how the works being written were getting more insular and yet longwinded. At the end of the night, Story whispers a word written on his skin, and for all to see, books tumble off their shelves and dissolve, melding together into the form of a man. Sheldrake emerges from the pile of pulp.
- Montague decided on a new pastime, trolling the 45th president of the United States, Daniel Strunk, on twitter. The British government, embarrassed by this, attempted to bribe Montague, which she accepted, and then didn't change whatsoever.
- The shutdown of Camp Gulliver was reported in the papers, but since nobody knew what happened there, it was reported as a waste of taxpayer money.
- Barrow became increasingly frustrated with the movie success of Buchanan as his own projects failed to start. Finally, he created a sigil to erase Buchanan, to remove him from reality. After activating it, he slept like a baby. The next day Buchanan died of a heart attack.
- Montague continued to skewer Strunk on twitter until even his most ardent supporters had to admit that the dream was dead.
- Barrow drank himself into a stupor, binged on drugs, he couldn't get what he did to Buchanan out of his head. He saw a couple in black watching him, and followed them, but they disappeared. Stumbling after them he found an old yellow suit he used to wear, and put it on. He climbed up the steps in the alleyway outside, saw the sun, its purity, and how it can burn up his shame, and rose upwards.
- Montague continued to write under her pen name, but she couldn't escape Finn Foster. She tried to shut down all references to it, those licensed and those unlicensed. Eventually, when considering her autograph as an incendiary device, a way to destroy all copies of her book at once, she realized she's gone too far, and escaped. She retreated to the Greatwood.
- Sheldrake now was a paper based lifeform, rather than flesh and blood. Eventually he grew tired of the constant attacks on his domain by those who wished to chain him or buy him that he fought off. While they weren't threatening, they were annoying, so eventually he decided to become a tree, a Yggdrasil for his home town. So eventually he gathered up all the paper in his home and took root, stretching up into the sky and down into the ground as well as into abstract realms.
Date Unknown >> The Age of Steam
- Originally, culture was ice, monolythic. Over time, ice melted, culture became more and more fluid as it neared a boiling point. What some might call the apocalypse, others the singularity. From the far off vantage point of The Age of Steam the sceneshifters sent back agents to manipulate events. Some of the moves were a bit much, the Black Sun imagery. It attracted the attention of the Faction, but there was ultimately no setback.
- As Montague protected the lost children from the Negs, the symbols of depression in her works in a covering, one of them goes to the front of the covering and lets them in.
- In Comic Book New York, the time has come for Barrow's solar hibernation to end. Instead, the sun cracks open to reveal a black orb.
- For a year and a day Sheldrake held open the door between IdeaSpace and the physical world. He created a utopian version of his hometown and watched as the world passed him by, though the black sun was a surprise, and after the year and a day, he retreated, and they stood eternal.
- Sheldrake thought of as IdeaSpace, Montague as the Greatwood and Barrow as a multiverse of stacked realities, but these were all the same, the idea that ideas and physicality were just as real. But for the sceneshifters this was something else again, it was the answer to the question, "Where do you get your ideas from?"
Characters[edit | edit source]
- Jim Sheldrake
- Gideon Barrow
- Michelle Montague
- Martin Montague
- Donna Montague
- Bobbie Buchanan
- Edith Neville
- Del Rictus
- Leonard Holland
- Steve Mandrill
- Jez Splatt
- Ricardo do Nascimento
- Philip Goodman
- Billy Nguyen
- Simon Sheldrake
- Colin Shields
- Belinda Sheldrake
- Steve O'Dowd
- Daniel Strunk
References[edit | edit source]
- Sheldrake writes The Man, Muck Monster, TickTockMen, The Secret, Imaginary Friends, Dear Boss, and Babel.
- Montague writes a series of books starring the character Finn Foster: Finn Foster and the Diamond Gondola, Finn Foster and the Black Sun, Finn Foster and the Night Mayor, Finn Foster and the Somnambulist, and Finn Foster and the Empty Grave. She also writes Counting Down to Zero.
- Barrow writes the comics Apex, Madhouse: Mister Grin is a Very Naughty Boy, Animus, Lex, Karma Knights, New-OmeN, Team Supreme, and UltiMan.
- Buchanan writes Son of God, The Management, Public Enemy, The Absolutes, Ass-Kicker, and The Civil Service.
- Mutakfever was a phenomenon in 1963.
- The Grumblings cause the Torrentgeddon.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Sheldrake is heavily based on Alan Moore, Barrow on Grant Morrison, Montague on J. K. Rowling, and Buchanan on Mark Millar.
- The Man is based on Marvelman, The Secret on V for Vendetta, Muck Monster on Swamp Thing, TickTockMen on Watchmen, Imaginary Friends on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Dear Boss on From Hell, and Babel on Jerusalem.
- Apex is based on Zenith, Madhouse: Mister Grin is a Very Naughty Boy on Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Animus on Animal Man, Lex Christian: Space Chaplain and Lex on Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future and Dare, Karma Knights on The Invisibles, New-OmeN on New X-men, Team Supreme on Justice League, and UltiMan on All-Star Superman
- Finn Foster is based on Harry Potter, Counting Down to Zero on The Cuckoo's Calling
- Son of God is based on Saviour, The Management on The Authority, Public Enemy on Wanted, The Absolutes on The Ultimates, Ass-Kicker on Kick-Ass, and The Civil Service on Kingsman: The Secret Service
- In the story, Faction Paradox is seen to inspire the Morrison analogue to write his The Invisibles analogue. The point has been made before, multiple times, that there are similarities between the works of Lawrence Miles and those of Morrison, particularly Faction Paradox and The Invisibles. 
- Cyberia is a reference to The Matrix (film), as the production circumstances mentioned are similar to what took place on that film.
Continuity[edit | edit source]
- Jim Shelrake's time in Camp Gulliver is expanded upon in PROSE: Mightier Than the Sword.
- Sheldrake writes a series of back-up stories for a licensed comic based off the Mister E television series. One of them explores Mister E's homeplanet being in a time war with a terrorist organisation known as the Black Sun Brigade whose motivation lies in actions Mister E's people had yet to take. This story is "a shade too close to the truth". (COMIC: Star Death, 4-D War, Black Sun Rising)
- Imaginary Friends: The Hundred Year War: 1969 has a 1960s spy character named Malachi Yarrow (PROSE: No Enemy But Despair) and an imaginary spy character named X-12. (PROSE: Pre-narrative Briefing S)