The Full Lid
1st May 2020

Hi everyone! Welcome to The Full Lid!

Top of the month and some new folks in the audience, so time for a recap of The Plan. Every Friday at 5 p.m. you get a concentrated espresso download of everything I found interesting, weird or fun in pop culture this week, direct to your inbox. There will be analysis, there will be commentary, sometimes there will be recipes, and there will be jokes.

It's like email, but fun!

We're rocking up on Year 3 for TFL pretty fast here and are starting to put some fun plans in place I'll be talking more in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you want to catch an archive of the last six months worth of TFL, it's here. You can find me online here and I'm a Hugo finalist again this year so if you're eligible, please consider voting for me when it opens; you can find my voter packet here. Thank you!

Onward, to Contents!


A Short Word About How I Do This
Victory's Price
Vivarium: Home Is Where The Art Is
Being an Engine: The Comics of Jules Scheele
Signal Boost
Playing Out, Signing Off

A Short Word About
How I Do This

I was listening to a new podcast earlier in the week. It's good. Despite it opening with a 'THIS IS NOT A PODCAST' hype reel and making a fat joke inside the first ten minutes. Because for sure the first thing the daughter of a trucker and professional trucker in her own right is going to do is make fat jokes about her colleagues, right?

Anyway, I tweeted about how I was having trouble with it, and that if it hit a third strike I'd both nope out and name it. It hasn't yet (I'm three episodes in now) but the situation and the fact it's the top of the month, reminded me it's always worth stating your aims and procedure regularly.

So! Here's how I try to engage with any creative work:
  • To learn about areas of pop culture I've not known about before
  • To educate my readers about worthy projects they may have missed
  • To focus on the positive over the negative. Plenty of people (and news sites, and advertisers, and ...) take the opposite approach. It's a necessary part of analysis, but emphasizing it isn't something I do.
 My Procedures
  • If something grabs my interest, I write about it
  • I always aim to present a balanced view at the very least, and I don't write 'slam' pieces. Unless you're Facebook. Then you know why.
  • If, as happened this week, I hit something fun but problematic, it gets three strikes. If it hits the third, I name the project and explain why I'm not writing about it. (But I don't tag in the creatives because that's unprofessional and no one should do that.)

In entirely related news, I read the DC 99p daily titles this week. *looks to camera* They're releasing one a day, every day, and include Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman. The Flash, DC Super Hero Girls and Swamp Thing. Wonder Woman.

The ones I liked will be our interstitials this week. The rest, well... I talk more about them over here.

Here's hoping I don't get to strike three with that 'not a podcast'...

Victory's Price

Earlier this week, Time Lord Victorious was announced. It's Doctor Who's first (as far as I can tell) trans-media project, telling one story from multiple perspectives across audio drama, books, comics, escape rooms (!!) and collectibles. It's Crisis on infinite Gallifreys, it's X-Men vs UNIT, it's a crossover. A big 'we fill the stage with goldfish and angst!' crossover that will tell a massive flotilla of new stories forming one unified narrative. Oh and it features three of the Doctor's best loved faces.

So of course a lot of people have decided this is a bad thing.

Let's talk about the crossover, about why some folks feel that way, and why I don't.

Now With Added Precedent

First off, this isn't strictly Doctor Who's first crossover. It has, after all, crossed over with itself three, five, twosort of and thirteen times before. The Doctor pops into their own timeline the way we used to pop to the shops: frequently and often with an item or two missing from our list. That willingness to hang out with themselves, along with the simple passage of linear time, means the show's canvas feels vast.

Because it is vast. The TV show alone covers fifty years. Throw in hundreds of novels, thousands of hours of audio, games and countless comics, and you've got something which is more a fictional solar system than a landscape. There's room for this story. As the most recent series finale showed there is in fact room for every story, and that's my second point.

I have no doubt other Doctors besides these three will be showing up, but launching with these three matters because they form a bridge across three distinct eras. Eight was introduced at the height of the show's existence in prose form and the novels featuring him remain a vital part of the blueprint of the show today. Yes a lot of people dislike the TV movie. I'm not one of them. Paul McGann has a uniquely Doctor-ish energy and his run on Big Finish's audio dramas is one of the most important in the show's history. McGann, I'd argue, is the voice of the Doctor for as many people, as his poster mates up there as the face(s) of the character.

Speaking of his colleagues, Captain Big Hair walks among us! I am very fond of Ten (I literally wrote a book on him) and he's the embodiment of the show at the perceived peak of its modern form. Intense, exuberant, brutal when needed, cries in the rain a lot. Enjoys yelling 'What?!', actually just enjoys yelling. Tennant's Doctor set the mold for what was to come, and you can see a reaction against or steer towards that all the way to the present regeneration.

Then, of course, there's Mr. Eccleston. I don't have A Doctor, I have a surgery of them, and Eccleston's 9 will always be one. Northern, fast-talking and faster thinking, with an exuberant smile and a black pit of despair he refuses to look in the eye or give in to. Eccleston was badly soured by his experience on the show and perhaps because of that, his regeneration sequence has a glorious hint of 'No, Fuck YOU' to it. But he's right. He was fantastic. And he could, and should be again.

McGann bridges the old era and the new. Eccleston establishes the new show. Tennant builds on everything that came before. These three are the foundation and connective tissue. They aren't just good choices, they're compulsory ones and place the story in a remarkably appropriate era of the show. This was, to borrow a line from Captain Jack, the period where everything changed. TLV looks primed for that to happen again.

It's Oxygen, and That's the Problem

Capitalism, as my learned colleague up there and, well... *gestures at the world* proves, is a horribly, horribly broken system. Yes I know we're inside it. Yes I know it's dying. Yes I KNOW it's not doing so fast enough. We are, despite Andy Samberg's protestations, all part of the system and the system sucks.

Which is probably a good a time as any to remind you of my Ko-Fi. Winning smile. Delighted look.

Capitalism -- endemic and toxic landscape as it is -- presents creatives with two choices: work outside the system, or try and change the system from within.

Both options are equally valid. One option seems easy. The other is seen as possessing more artistic worth.

The funny thing is, while TLV itself is inherently a capitalist artefact, Doctor Who as a narrative actually works both inside and outside capitalism. On the one hand, you have a crossover, a narrative technique designed to get more people to buy more things. On the other you have quotes like the moment above, the democratization of canon that took place in The Timeless Children and the 82,000 and counting entries you find on AO3 under the tag 'Doctor Who'. You could almost argue the character fights the law... but also fights the crime, just not as much.


Either way, it turns out ideas aren't just bulletproof, they're also remarkably difficult to own.

That doesn't matter as much for some. It stems from a good place too; the love of something that helped make and define you. You feel duty bound to defend it, duty bound to collect all of it because then it'll still be around and you'll have it all and you'll have the ANSWER to... 

But no one can ever articulate what. Yet 'the most toys' approach is one I see everywhere. It's one the very structure of a crossover is designed to exploit. But capitalism isn't just oxygen, it can be a a gateway to the multifarious horrors of extremist fandom. The desire to protect becomes the desire to defend and assess. Champions become gatekeepers. The past, radiant and immutable, is endlessly held up as a stick with which to beat the present even as the present evolves.

Doctor Who, I'd argue, gets this twice as badly as any other fandom for two reasons. The first is the very factor that makes TLV viable: the show's longevity. Over time, a narrative arc bends towards conservatism and the desire to play the same songs again can drown out the need to try something new. Also, the show's previous cancellation is a wound that elements of fandom cherish picking at. The Doctor as underdog, the show as perpetually in crisis, and the perception that only staying true to The Past can save it. 

Which is of course nonsense. The fetishization of cultural trauma is as healthy and useful as a red top newspaper. But it's pervasive, especially when combined with the show's weird scale. Doctor Who is both vast and within living memory, cosmic in scope and fundamentally about a mad person in a box. Doctor Who is the handle so many fans use to grip onto the terrors of daily life and when you're holding on for dear life? It's easy to lash out. Easy, but never excusable.
The Doctor's got a point.

Being The Optimist

Doctor Who is a show uniquely positioned for an epic-scale crossover like TLV. That vast canvas mentioned earlier is a big part of why this will work so well. There's room for a story like this without treading on anything else. Not just because of the scale of the show but because when something breaks -- Doctor Who's continuity breaks semi-annually -- it just knits itself back together.

In practical terms, Doctor Who's scale means you can tell a massive story by telling lots of little ones. Let's take the Escape Room element of TLV as an example. That has to be a set narrative instance because the consequences of it can't change depending on whether you got all four power cores LOCKED while the Dalek is SHOUTING at y-


A finite narrative has internal and intrinsic worth, but also isn't something you have to experience to contextualize something else. I mean it's nice, but it's not critical. Not if the writers do their jobs correctly. Likewise it would be very easy for each Doctor to work a strand of the problem which in turn leads onto the next one -- building linear narratives that cross the media streams. 

All this gives the TLV arc the modularity comic crossovers often lack, and empowers consumers to pick and choose their interactions. Less Secret Wars, more an RKO serial. Or the sort of narrative tapestry approach that various shows and, weirdly, the ...Has Fallen movies have been trying to put together for years now. Not just fun and accessible, but pushing narrative form forward. It's making something new we can all escape in out of the bits of the past we all sometimes feel trapped in.

Not bad for an idiot with a box.

But most of all, it feels like the right time for TLV. I said earlier the show is a coping mechanism for a lot of folks right now, and that's especially true due to Emily Cook's amazing work staging global weekly re-watches. 

The show, and the Doctor, is helping, doing so as individual characters, as ideas, and as an ideal. Emily and the cast and crew returning are doing an amazing job of building new things out of the past.  TLV looks set to continue that tradition while pushing the show forward into narrative shapes it's never taken before. Will it work? Yeah, I think it will. The Doctors will see us all, very soon.

Oh and that's totally The Crack, yes? Good. Good. 
"Commitment to Chaos"
Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Art by inaki Miranda, , Colors by Hi-Fi, Letters by Travis Lanham, Cover by Amanda Conner and Alex Sinclair

Wonder Woma's entry into the 99p daily range is tons of fun. Teaming with everyone's favorite roller derby psychotherapist, she takes on an evil billionaire, some very creative assassins, and Harley's impulse control issues. The art has a great flow and Conner and Palmiotti's eye for comic timing is as always, superb. Funny, smart, and kind-hearted, and light on it's feet.


Editor's note: Spoilers. 

Home Is Where The Art Is

Serendipity, like Ayn Rand, is a hell of a drug,just one that doesn't mutter something about the free market while throwing you down a well. Instead, it means that a brace of horror movies that were already good have been made better by the frankly terrifying world circumstances in which they've been released.

First we had Sea Fever, and now Vivarium.

Written by Garret Shanley from a story by Shanley and Lorcan Finnegan (who also directs) it stars Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg as Gemma and Tom. A school teacher and groundskeeper, young, in love, looking for a home and having the same luck most people do. Until they meet the estate agent, Martin, played by Jonathan Aris. Martin wants to show them Number 9 in a development called Yonder. He's not taking no for an answer.

Sea Fever's quarantine subplot is what gives it so much resonance right now. Vivarium is much more suburban and much more insidious. From the moment they follow Martin out Yonder, Gemma and Tom are doomed. The estate is a Lament Configuration furnished in avocado and turquoise horror. Endless rows of boxy houses. Each cheerful, identical, and barren. Each made out of ticky tacky. Each just the same.

This is the horror of time having no meaning. This is the horror of March being sixteen years long and April under a minute. As Gemma and Tom continue to struggle, to look for a way out, the house is the gravitational pull at the heart of their tiny, shrunken universe. They're safe in the house. Or at least, in less danger. Resistance filed down by consistency, the persistence of time stretching a scream into a yawn. Familiar and comforting, if disconcerting.

Until the child arrives.
The message left by their unseen captors is as impossible as it is inescapable. It drives Gemma and Tom into equally uncomfortable, unsuccessful and familiar coping mechanisms. Tom tries to muscle the problem, literally working himself to death to dig a hole out of their prison. Gemma alternates between trying to understand the problem and bonding with it. Neither work. 

Ironically, the arrival of the child throws both of the central performances into stark relief. Eisenberg clearly enjoys playing something other than 'nervy, over articulate genius-asshole' for once and his Tom is a stolid, glowering and ultimately sincere presence in the movie. Poots has the heavier lifting to do and more than rises to the occasion. It's Gemma who discovers the true nature of their child, Gemma who ultimately battles it, and Gemma who understands their situation and defies it, even as it kills her.
But the Child. My god, the Child. Côme Thiry plays him as a baby, Eanna Hardwicke as something in the shape of a young man and Senan Jennings gets the most screen time as the younger version. The Child is a very convincing sketch of a human boy: the right proportions and behavior and appearance. But when he opens his mouth, it's only ever to perfectly mimic a parent or to speak in a voice which sounds like a bass speaker being choked to death.

He's rampant and alien, innocent and insidious, malicious and frail and the most unsettling element of a deeply unsettling movie. The moment he turns to Gemma and says 'ArE yOu FeElinG OvErWhElMeD AgAiN, MoThEr?!' is nails on the chalkboard in the best way. It's also interesting that no one is saying who voices the Child. I suspect it's Aris given what the movie implies. Regardless, Aris(?) and Jenning's performances mesh beautifully. 

For two and a half of its three acts, Vivarium is a slow burn exploration of supernatural stress and the humans caught in it. It makes terse, clever points about the holes in coping mechanisms and gives Eisenberg and Poots some of the best material of their careers. Then, in the third act, it and the Boy alike skitter sideways across the perfect street and dive into the nightmarish world beneath it. We find context, we find the truth. For Gemma, it means a terminal kind of release. For the audience, the closing scene which places us back where the movie began, restarting a life cycle we now understand but are powerless to stop -- complicit observers as another nest is filled.

Vivarium is bleak, clever, funny and essential. It's widely available now.
THE FLASH: Fastest Man Alive
"All The Teeth, Glittering & Sharp"
Written by Gail Simone, art by Clayton Henry, Colors by Marcelo Maiolo, Letters by Rob Leigh, Cover by Dan Panosian

Babeeee shaa - OH GOD! Barry Allen and Iris West take a vacation but, as is always the way, someone has other plans. King Shark is such a magnificently goofy idea that you forget how scary he is. Both goof and danger are very much present here and the book is as fast and clever as its gangly hero.

New reader? Find The Full Lid archive here.
Follow this link to toss a bean in the caffeine cup.


Being an Engine: The Comics of Jules Scheele

There are two pieces in Sleepless: Diary Comics Jan-Sep 2019 by Jules Scheele I can't stop thinking about.The first is a multi-page story exploring the necessary horrors of untangling the past -- a ball of angry scribble slowly, painfully teased into a straight line. There are still knots but now Jules, and you, can see them.

This sort of fierce honesty is what drives Sleepless. Comics exploring Jules coming to terms with therapy, with coming out as non binary and trans masculine and with PTSD are interspersed with moments of serenity and peace. This is an unflinching exploration of a life being lived and for some people it's going to be hard reading. Don't let that stop you, it's vital engagement.

The process of healing, of discovering yourself, is as inconceivably hard as it is worthy. Jules doesn't just explore their own journey here but provides the makings of a map for others to follow. It's not easy, it's never linear, but it's what needs to be done.
Jules' work is this perfect combination of space and strength, intensity and openness. It captures that sensation of waiting to be better like nothing I've ever seen before.

The lows here are subterranean, the highs incandescent in their honest joy. There's a depiction of a panic attack and it's aftermath that's the most accurate take I've ever seen. Jules has an extraordinary ability to capture moments with total honesty and in doing so, show us both its strength and its edges.

Sleepless, ultimately, is a journey and you can see its progress in the second page I love. Jules standing happy and strong, talking about being an engine, powering themsleves and the people they love. Strength and calm, honesty and focus all on a single page.
Jules also sent me Mixtape Zine: Songs to Cry To On The Nightbus. Printed in wonderful risograph colours this is an illustrated mixtape that sees their style shift gear completely. The images here hum with color and energy, each one complimenting the lyrics. I especially like both the Fever Ray excerpt pictured above and the battle cry / regal portrait of the 'We Become' quote by Austra:  It could be islands! It could be better!

Here, it is. Jules' voice and style and brain shine through on every one of these pages. Often funny, often sad and always honest these two zines represent some truly magnificent work. Now more than ever, the industry needs this sort of work, and creators like Jules. Seek it out.

Sleepless and it's sequel are available here, with all proceeds going to Shelter ScotlandMixtape is available here, as, brilliantly, is the mixtape itself
DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: Infinite Frenemies
Written by Amanda Deibert, Art by Erich Owen

A little time off is also on Kara's mind over in DC Super-Hero Girls. Only her version of time off includes a mosh-a-thon and helping her friends out and an increasingly weird number of pigeons... The show is on Netflix right now and this example perfectly captures it's fizzy aesthetic and witty, fast-paced style.

Signal Boost

Editor's note: Another substantial listing this week. Might be a good time to refresh your beverage before venturing forth.


  • Diana M. Pho, Alison Bunis, Diana Gill and Melissa Frain have been laid off from Tor due to current world events. They're all searching for what's next for them and have encouraged people to get in contact via their websites and Reedsy profiles, the latter of which are linked above. Diana also has an excellent twitter thread, linked here, talking about the situation and detailing books they have coming out. Do read to the end and help them out if you can.


  • Steve Toase has an excellent piece on portrayals of homelessness in genre fiction.
  • Cat Rambo does incredible work on countless fronts, not the least of which is the astonishing array of classes being run at her school right now. If you're a creative, you need to check these out.
  • Shelfdust is an excellent comics writing/criticism site not enough people know about.  Steve Morris walks us through several features listed below. Their Patreon is here, go check 'um out.
    • “A Year in the Big City” by Charlotte Finn, where each week she writes about an issue of Astro City
    • “The Annotated Giant Days” with Claire Napier
    • “Spider-Man Roulette” with Steve Morris
    • "Shelfdust Presents" - their podcast hosted by Matt Lune, which each week counts down the top fifty #1 comics issues with a different guest 


  • The always wonderful Vixlingr has a Redbubble store at Extortion Industries. Bridgeglitch is a particular favorite.
  • Alexis Goble is one of my favorite people and artists (check out her work at Cast of Wonders) and she makes amazing pins! The store's here and you should go visit.
  • Jen Williams! One of my best friends, a fiercely talented award-winning author and artist and also now Redbubble store owner. Witches! A cheeky flying cat! Frith's tiny little grumpy face! Go check it out!


  • Sarah Chorn is a writer, editor, reviewer and profoundly badass human. Of Honey and Wildfires is their newest book, balancing the rise of a very odd oil economy with environmental concerns and a fantasy setting to create something deep, rich and engrossing. It's out now.
  • Hugh J. O'Donnell is a relentlessly talented writer, podcast producer and, like everyone else here, a fantastic Twitter follow. Hugh writes and releases a new drabble here, every day. Go read them, I will be.
  • Queen of Swords are an excellent publisher and publish one of my oldest friends in podcasting, the amazing AJ Fitzwater.  I've mentioned their new book, The Voyages of Cinrak The Dapper here before but will happily do so again because A) AJ, B) Queen of Swords, C) THAT TITLE!, and D) I am absolutely here for heroic lesbian capybara fiction.
  • Corry L. Lee is a fiercely talented author whose debut, Weave The Lightning, is out shortly from Friends of The Lid, Rebellion. Full details here. (Friends of the Lid is a thing now.)
  • Doctor Tiffani Angus' new book sounds fascinating. Threading the Labyrinth follows 400 years in a haunted garden. It's out now in ebook and arrives in print later this year, hopefully around June.


  • Jon Lock and PJ Montgomery are two leading lights of the UK indie comics scene. Come with them now on a journey through time and space as they launch the JLACast! A detailed look at Grant Morrison's epochal run on the title.
  • Karim Kronfli is an incredible podcaster, actor and narrator and, like me, a Magnus Archives alumni. He's narrating the audio version of new magazine, Parallel Worlds, which is currently using Patreon to raise the funds for that recording.
  • Less is Morgue is a fantastic horror comedy podcast that you should absolutely listen to. And maybe write for! They're running a call for paid writer positions right now. Go take a look.
  • Inqueery brought the Sensitivity Reader Podcast to my attention. It's a new show which 'focuses on the craft, business, and necessity of diverse stories in books and other media.' That sort of awareness is something we need a lot more of and I'm delighted to see the show appear.
  • Luke Kondor's The Other Stories is an anthology show that's had a recent refresh. If you don't listen yet, give them a shot they do great work.


  • Yakuu_yaro brings news of a DMs Guild site-wide sale running from the 4th to the 17th of May. Everything is 20% off AND they're giving 100% of the earnings from product sales to the creators. They particularly recommended two products they've worked on, Midwinter Ghosts and Eat The Rich Volume 1. I know the second book and it's fantastic, a collection of anti-tyranny adventures that will change your game forever. Midwinter Ghost Stories echoes classic Victorian ghost stories, so that's going to be big fun too.

That's this week's Signal Boost, folks. If you have a project you'd like to see here, get in touch.
"Double Edged"
Written by Steve Orlando, pencils by Daniel Sampere, inks by Juan Albarran, colors by Adriano Lucas, letters by Wes Abbott, cover by Liam Sharpe and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Looks like a fun but standardish Aquaman story, right? Not quite. Orlando's script is a clever reversal of expectation, emphasizing Arthur's duties as a King and the terrible pressures he's under. Sampere, Albarran, Lucas and Abbott do a great job of grounding the action while keeping it fluid and Sharpe and Fajardo Jr turn in a great cover.

Signing Off / Playing Out

April's done, folks! Time's moving again! Maybe a little too fast... Make sure you take some of it for yourself this week, please. Everything is harder than you think, so rest more than you want to. It'll help.

TFL will be back next week. Until then there there will, of course, be photos up on the Team KennerStuart Instagram regularly and we will be causing both shenanigans and maybe even malarkey on the the Twitters.

Our weekly Bedtime Stories stream on Twitch fell over this week, but we'll be back next week. There's a couple of new pieces of equipment being ordered which should hopefully help our just rotten luck to date. Join us Wednesdays at 10 p.m. BST, and randomly over the weekend when Marguerite trounces me at Crash Team Racing. If you follow the account on Twitch you can receive notifications when we go live.

This work is produced for free. If you like what you read please consider dropping something in the tip jar. Thank you :).

Playing us out this week are the Rolling Stones, a band who have now pulled off this 'go away for a while... come back and be... REALLY GOOD?' thing in about as many decades as I've been alive. This is VERY much *gestures at current world situation* inspired and as a result, you may want to skip it. If you want a weird, jangly little piece of noir from men whose GRANDCHILDREN are probably old enough to know better at this point, then you should listen.

I really like it, and it's also?
a Full Lid.
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Agathon Towers · Cheapside Road · Reading, Berkshire RG1 7AG · United Kingdom

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