Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Breaking Into Comics 101

Earlier this year, I presented a completely pompous, and totally unhelpful, panel about breaking into comics at the ComicGong affair in Wollongong. I present it now, late, for your downloading pleasure/peepers:

BREAKING INTO COMICS 101

In it, you’ll find me talking through some of the steps you might/should go through when first breaking into comics. There’s discussion of how much to write, and how/where to possibly find artists, as well as what to publish first.

All things I have huge thoughts about but with all of them YMMV.

My hope is you might find one nugget of help in there, maybe two. It’s not prescriptive, and there is certainly no guarantee [otherwise I’d follow it, ha] but if it gets you thinking or points you towards something cool or just reaffirms your current practise, well, shine on.

I share this mostly because it’s full of stuff I wish someone had told me ten years ago. I hope in ten years time it’s had some hand in putting you on the right path.

Enjoy.

RKL Annotations – NEGATIVE SPACE #1

negative space 1 logoNEGATIVE SPACE has landed. With a wet depressed thud. Owen Gieni has slaughtered the game of gorgeous sequential pages with his own coloured magnificence. Ryan Ferrier is our letterer supreme. The story wouldn’t be anywhere without Daniel Chabon editing my brain into shape. And only Dark Horse Comics could take a chance on something this wild.

If you bought this book, dear dark lords, thank you. Creator owned books are hard, and I have no doubt reading this book was a little hard, or at least I hope it was, even if just for a panel.

Below, I present my thoughts on what I wrote, why, how, influence/inspiration, times Owen just nailed it, and any other mental fluttering verbiage I can pin down for you. As usual, I hope you dig the process peep.

COVER

Man, I said probably more than I need to say about this cover here at the [LINK]

I will reiterate, this cover is killer. So killer. Look at that design, and those colours. The. Best. And there are 3 more where that came from :] [LINK]

PAGE 1

negspacepage01colourOpening panels, they are important. This one here, the hand, the words failing, the rejected words chosen. I always say, pay close attention, don’t forget too quickly.

I also just love the way Owen drew Guy’s thumb, and his nails. This panel captivated me when it first came through. So good.

Then we cut to the splash and holy cats does Owen Gieni introduce the world to him, to us, to Guy, to everything we plan to do here in scope and depth and emotion. Look at everything in this panel and think of the life Guy must have had up to this point. I believe in one shot Owen delivers a lifetime. That’s skill and I still love looking into the corners of this panel.

We have one caption in this panel and then as you look down, waiting for more, there’s nothing. Guy is stuck, he’s pausing, he’s screwed.

Welcome to NEGATIVE SPACE.

PAGE 2

I gotta admit, coming up with substandard ways to start suicide notes was a weird task. What the hell would you put in yours?

[please don’t reply to me with your answer to that question…]

Guy wanders the town, because Owen really wanted our location to feel and breathe and then we drop what has long been my shortest high concept pitch of this book – “Who the hell gets writer’s block on their suicide note?”

Guy is so alone in his panels. This floating orb of unhappiness :[

PAGE 3

That opening line here is some dramatic irony breaking your heart. People need to check their words, for reals. Also, look at Ferrier buttonhooking that balloon tail into the truck. That’s today’s masterpiece theatre for sure.

Woody is Guy’s love interest, and is completely Owen’s design. And I love him so much. That haircut is aces. Hell, everything about him screams ‘barista in a coffee truck called ‘HEY MAN, NICE SHOT of caffeine’’ – totally my name, just sayin’.

I wanted this scene to pop because it’s going to produce some feels later on as we move forward in the issue. It’s rare I write relationships in books, especially nascent ones, or flirtatious ones, I usually just look back at the rubble, so to tease out this tendril of a human connection for Guy, but it’s not yet enough that it’s keeping him afloat, was something I wrote lots of times and hope we came up with something that’s a strong foundation to move us all forward on.

PAGE 4

Excuse me while I say I love this page. Writing Rick and Briggs is the release part of this book, their words just spew out of me, whereas getting Guy right is hard, probably how he chooses his own words, too.

This opening panel is insane. The tone on display is off the charts. In my head, I just wanted something that made me ‘feel’ like I was viewing the Tyrell Building for the first time. In a perfect world, this would be a splash. But it’s not, deal with it. Then look at the Kindred logo – Owen is my mainest of main men.

Now before I get into the words, look at the room and colours from Owen. I love how he built this building and brought it to life. Because of course the company making you sad would have a blue scheme rocking, ha.

I tried to introduce these two characters, tease what they are doing to a mild degree, set it up at least, and then end on Rick throwing us into the next page. Love the expression of exasperation Owen gave him.

And Rick is eating an apple.

PAGE 5

More exposition, more character in the way Rick addresses it, but otherwise a pause before a sequence that’s a little more hi-octane. This is something I still don’t know if I’m doing consciously or not [which in itself answers the question, right?] but in writing annotations for HEADSPACE I’d notice that I’d write a dense smaller scene right before things ramped up. Because apparently I’m still learning pacing, and landing ass backwards into its effectiveness from time to time.

I also love Rick’s nose in panel 3 and his build in panel 5. Owen’s created this block of dude that’s just never existed before and that kind of alchemy always fascinates me.

PAGE 6

I’m in love with coloured bars in my pages. It’s my go to hack move now. I’ve written black ones, red ones, and I have an orange one maybe coming up. I love them because they can mean plenty. Here, this grey means silence, but more on point it’s this weighted silence right before the storm breaks. Metaphorically speaking on the weather and the silence, obvs.

Is anyone else writing coloured bars? I bet they are, and doing it better than me :[

I actually just saw a big black bar from Level/Brisson in THE MANTLE. Bastards.

I honestly have no idea what ‘artisan ice cream’ is and don’t even wanna google it because what my mind fills in is way cooler than the truth could ever be.

8 panels of manipulation, we came up with all sorts of stuff for this. That I snuck in a slushie bathtime was either genius or will have people instantly burning their issue.

Owen was the craftsman to put that statue in the front of Guy’s apartment block in the first place so shrewd eyes would instantly get what was going on. And I got all the love for the way Guy flies out of frame. It’s almost this Looney Tunes moment of chaos and this makes me want to laugh which is the worst possible reaction to Guy :[

PAGE 7

We finally drop a splash and Owen fills it with this gorgeous fire. Perfect call.

And these captions were an 11th hour addition/change and I guess they are new enough that I’m still super in love with them. This is the moment Guy breaks, our narrative breaks open wide, and there’s no turning back. There is only some kind of metamorphosis.

PAGE 8

The actions of Blair on this page should start to sell you on the insanity of Kindred, and their people. It might be mildly confusing still, I guess, maybe, but the intent and tone behind it should be clear. These people are nutz and no good.

Pretty certain Briggs is sneakily smirking as she points out what Blair is doing.

And I didn’t notice the arm flying out of that car collision at first. All Owen.

PAGE 9

We left Guy in a certain state and now we just throw him into reaction mode. He’s acting before thinking, really. Because when you drive someone down, and then still need them active in the plot, I figured the only way is to give little moments, little reasons to be prompted to movement. The collision jars Guy into action, thoughtless action, and then the baby in the car prompts angry reaction. Guy is being thrown into these moments and we have one more emotional turn for him coming up to control his strings.

Ping – Louie CK cameo seeded for the film adaptation – Ping.

I really wanted to sell Rick’s frantic reaction and he’s the sort of guy to react with his mouth, so that’s always fun to script.

PAGE 10

The tone on this page is perfect. Owen Gieni strikes again. I swear, my office gets colder every time I turn to this page.

“Strange how being consumed by fear makes you fearless.” – this is only true in your very last moments alive, I dare say. And even then, it’s usually just making you stupid, ymmv.

PAGE 11

negtest3And here Guy finally sees his so called fearlessness for the stupidity it is.

And that crusty homeless face is #nightmarefuel

PAGE 12

When you finally see death, it’s never like you might think, or want or fear. It’s finally real and we so rarely see that. This moment is powerful for Guy, it’s him looking at the end of the lane he’s running down. It’s always going to make you pause.

PAGE 13

“It’s a nasty business living, but it’s a nastier time leaving.” should be my next neck tattoo. It should also rattle your bones no matter what you’re thinking or feeling right now.

Page turn build…

PAGE 14

…and we turn to find nothing. And that itself is the problem. If you paid attention to what Rick was saying when he lost Blair, you’ll know straight away what’s going on here. I wanna seed doubt, especially in Guy himself, but we all know. At least, I hope we do. I always like to assume you’re all paying attention, and if not, well, I lay traps to see if you are. I think that’s the teacher in me coming out.

I’ll admit, getting Guy to go from suicidal, to angry, to utterly confused, and then having him walk out of this page back towards Woody was something I put a lot of thought into. I want my lead to be making his own choices, to be doing things for himself, not just because I need them to happen for the plot. To me, in the state of mind he’s in, I can see why he’s doing this. I mean, his apartment blew up, he just saw a dead body, and his world is flipped, but all that happening to someone in his mental place was eventually just going to break him. So instead of going to the cops, like you or I might think about, he’s off to say a proper goodbye.

PAGE 15

Guy overthinks things as much as I do.

The first time we see Guy and Woody touch, they’re passing a coffee. Now there’s no pretense. We get this human moment…so of course I break it…

PAGE 16

…because Guy finds the words. And then these spooks find Woody.

Everything on this page from panel layout, facial expressions, that lack of background. Owen might come up with crazy designs and really world build in dense ways but here he shows insane emotional chops that I hope build to break your heart.

PAGE 17

Guy waits and Rick loves it. He’s a complete bunghole of a human being.

That final look Guy gives over his shoulder in panel 6, man, he’s just cruising his peepers around, poor bastard.

PAGE 18

I love the simplicity of this page, and that Owen broke it into more panels than I had scripted. So simple and that’s all it needed. I think I’ve finally learnt not to overwrite over rad art. I trust the reader to have their heart broken if they have any soul.

PAGE 19

Why this movie? Because it’s one of my favourite rom-coms of the past decade. Because it’s about futility as much as it is hope. And because Guy has a mad killer crush on JGL :]

Release.

I think this might be my favourite page in the book. It’s simple and does so much for me.

PAGE 20

Guy shatters his soul into small enough pieces he can toe down the drain and Rick just kicks back and eats cereal.

PAGE 21

Yes, Guy wanted to deliver his note to Woody. From there, well, it wasn’t going to be fun or pretty.

PAGE 22

But instead we get this. We finally make good on the cover, and we hopefully propel you into the next issue because Guy most certainly is not dead, or dying, or even knowing what to do next. I mean, look around this room, there’s little to really make Guy think this was his next stop for the night. Poor bastard.

And I didn’t realise how this page/idea would be taken by some people. I won’t spoil it by laying out exactly what’s happening here, Woody will do that for you at the start of #2 but needless to say, peeps took this page a different way than it’s intended and them getting it wrong suddenly makes the start of the next issue way cooler. I did not plan any of that at all. A happy accident.

negtest1Now I’ll close by saying this – we crafted this issue as something that built character and drew you deep in. We want you to care, we want you invested. I always strongly believed the best horror stories were the ones where you cared if people lived or died. If you didn’t care, where was the tension, the drama, the engagement?

This issue has been slowly getting drawn up that steep climb at the start of the rollercoaster. From here, we go to some insane places. The second issue drops some history, it sends us on a spiral, and by the end, man, you’ve fallen through that initial drop and are hitting the first bend on the coaster, wondering if maybe your bar isn’t on tight enough, wondering if maybe it’s possible you’ll slip out and say goodnight. Or maybe you do slip out, but not until the end of issue #3. Or by that stage, are you climbing out?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, thank you for getting down on this issue. I hope you dug it. Though if you’re reading this I doubt you’re the kind to go this far into hate-reading a comic. I guess.

Indie comics live and die on readers caring, so thank you for taking the time. It means the world to all of us at NEGATIVE SPACE HQ. Stick around, see what drops next month, and remember:

If you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

Sequential App Sale – Top 10 Things to Find and Imbibe

The SEQUENTIAL app [you can find it in the App store, and browse the books here [LINK]] is a new digital comic reader [well, new to my peepers] and they seem to be peddling in ‘smart’ books, non-Big Two books, funky stuff, fresh jams, the pages  you sometimes won’t find elsewhere, so there’s Dark Horse, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Myriad, IDW, and more.

Right now they’ve got this rad summer sale rocking [it ends August 1, so don’t delay] and I took a peep to see what’s up and I think there’s some cool stuff you’ll wanna get down on so here’s a little list of recs for you to hunt out there in the pixelated wild.

DISCLOSURE: Yeah, this is a shill for the app, but I completely would not do it unless I believed it.

COOL BOOKS ON SALE

  • Corpse on the Imjin

A reprinting of some sublime Harvey Kurtzman work from TWO FISTED TALES and FRONTLINE COMBAT, this is just prescribed stuff, really. Well, in my EC-centric world, it’s on the syllabus. Enjoy.

  • The Underwater Welder

Jeff Lemire’s best work? Quite possibly as this Twilight Zone style almost-fable is smart, gorgeous, and utterly perfect.

  • Sin Titulo

Cameron Stewart once did a webcomic and it was the best thing ever. It’s horror, and it’s front end loaded so you have no idea, but if you feel me on VIDEODROME then you should follow me into this wild world. It’s completely worth it.

  • Hook Jaw

Now, I haven’t actually read this one, hadn’t even heard of it, but Pat Mills does this and it’s about a shark attacking people and it sounds like a bloody ripper.

  • Green River Killer

This documentary comic [docomic?] about the Green River Killer is very much in that Oliver Stone vein of JFK, and even Fincher’s Zodiac, and I reference those because they are texts about their content but also thoroughly gripping, much like this book.

  • DKW: Ditko, Kirby, Wood

An homage to those three names. Enjoy.

  • The Fifth Beatle

I was prepared for this book to not come near the hype but over a long plane flight [well, two of them, actually, this is a tome] I fell deeper in love with Andrew Robinson’s art, and this book will hook you in hardcore.

  • Hellboy in Hell

A masterclass of storytelling, plain and simple. Even if you know nothing of Hellboy, hell, if you hate the chaarcter, there’s still so much learning to take from Mignola’s pages. On the syllabus it goes.

  • Richard Stark’s Parker – The Outfit

Darwyn Cooke’s series of Parker novel adaptations are all on point, get down on any of the 4, but this one miiiiight be my favourite. It’s loose, warped, intriguing, interesting – and that’s just the style of storytelling, then there’s the actual story.

  • Thumbprint

An adaptation of a Joe Hill short story by Jason Ciaramella with Vic Malhotra art. Yeah, this is good stuff you might have missed.

Sooo, those are some of the sale items I heartily recommend you scope out. Beyond that, there’s Sin City, ApocalyptiGirl, a tonne of BPRD, Essex County, and I’m keen to finally try TEOTFW. But, hell, there’s so many more. Get the app, dig in, seriously, this is the ‘other’ app you need on your reader next to the ComiXology and Dark Horse readers.

Here’s the link to the sale [LINK] and hit me up if you dig any books and think I should drop the coin while the sale lasts.

NEGATIVE SPACE Cover Gallery

Owen Gieni is an art monster. And while pretty well everything he’s done for NEGATIVE SPACE has proven this fact, I want to take a moment to talk about the covers.

Y’know, these beasts right here.

Negcover1colour

negspace2cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

negative space 3negative space 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s 1-4 right there and it’s insanely gorgeous. With #4 now in Previews, all our cover art is live in the world. It’s a cool thing to have, like we’ve reached a little milestone on our trek up the arduous and thorny mountain.

From weird, to sad, to hinting at redemption, to just a flat out END to it all. Tonally, these pieces tell the story in broad beats, they hint and entice and draw, but they also leave well enough off the table so there aren’t really any spoilers. There might appear to be some but I know the story, this isn’t really ruining anyone’s reading experience.

Looking over these, I like the colour variation, there is no real ‘theme’ on our covers. We go from hot pink to muted around orange to a weird sea of blue to this dead pink explosion that actually relies on a lot of negative space [truly only realised this on typing this up right now].

I think maybe our theme is portraits, because 3 of these covers are kinda waist up shots of people. An Evorah, Guy, and Rick, whereas 3 isn’t but it’s kinda a portrait of Kindred and their peeps. That’s actually pretty cool and it makes me happy.

That cover to 1 is so damn eye catching. But I spoke enough about that here [LINK]. As a lead for our series, it is everything.

2 is one of the first things we came up with for the book. Owen’s idea for the subliminal message was and remains genius. My only input was the name of the book shop. Because THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY absolutely floors me every time, so I couldn’t think of anything sadder to reference.

3 is wicked for all the little details. The nearly POV aspect of it with the gun up the front, the broken mask screens and brutal violence within it all, the circles around Guy hinting at…something. Hell, just his pose, I dig it. Owen brought that kinetic action with such a subdued palette that it makes me smile every time.

As for 4, yeah, this is nasty. Out of all the thumbs he sent in this was my beauty from the very first instant I laid eyes on it. I don’t even think I need to explain it, though I hope people have all looked closely to see those aren’t brains flying around, yeah? Good, there’ll be questions at the end of this tram ride, kids.

As a whole, it’s a glorious thing to see all the covers for this book come together. It’s an art alchemy the likes of which I’ll never understand. I am no good for cover ideas, I babble when I give notes on them. They are just these magic illos that make my life that little bit brighter.

I think covers are important to a book and having a tight cover gallery can go a long way to holding interest right up until the end. We only have 4 issues but it’s still a long period of time with scores of other comics lining those shelves so you do wanna stand out as best you can. I believe Owen has put the best NegSpace foot forward into the world we could hope for. This gallery excites me and amazes me and Owen deserves a victory lap atop the shoulders of giants as we all look up and sigh.

To Owen, mate, I love you, and thanks for providing my world with the 4 images above. Our book is rad because of you.

To those who dug #1, thanks a trillion, and I hope you’ve all now got #2-4 on your standing order at your LCS. Drop them a line, confirm it, and enjoy the roll on into the pointy end of 2015.

And finally, if you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

 

NEGATIVE SPACE #1 News and Reviews

If you took the time to buy/read NEGATIVE SPACE #1 from Owen Gieni, Ryan Ferrier, Daniel Chabon, and myself from Dark Horse comics this past week then thank you X one exact million.

negative space 1 logoThis book means the world to us all so it was insane to see it garner a lot of advance praise [LINK] – where we got 19 glorious reviews pitched at 8/10 or above and matched with some spectacular words of praise and criticism.

Over the past week, we’ve also got some press, reviews, interviews, and such, so here is the round up, which landed us an aggregated 9.0 on Comic Book Round Up [LINK] and made us the second best reviewed comic in th land for our week, beaten only by the ARCHIE reboot from Staples/Waid.

REVIEWS

Nick Hanover dropped a straight up smart review of the book over at Loser City [LINK], saying “Negative Space is well on its way to proving itself as a far more emotional and profound high concept work than the bulk of its competitors, making it a more than worthwhile break from the sad and lonely pits of your Facebook feed.”

Patrick Hess gave us many sound words to ponder over at Nothing But Comics [LINK], including “Negative Space is nothing like you’d expect, even after you’ve adjusted your expectations and there is something really special about that.”

Pierce Lydon over at Newsarama gave us 8/10 [LINK], saying “Negative Space is another great comic book from a couple of creators who should soon be household names.”

Ed Garrett at TMStash gave us 8/10 [LINK], SAYING “You really need to check out NEGATIVE SPACE – it’s a wild ride very well worth taking.”

Matthew Jent at The Comics Beat dropped some considered words [LINK], saying “Every place is distinct, even when changing locations panel to panel, and in a story about the harvesting of emotions, Gieni wisely lets facial expressions reveal the intricacies of the characters’ inner lives.”

Jack Johnston at We The Nerdy slays us with a flawless victory score of 10/10 [LINK], saying “I’d like to say that this issue managed to successfully set expectations for itself at the beginning then shatter them by the end for me. I’d highly recommend this series to anyone and I highly look forward to reading the rest of the story as it come out.”

Ross Sweeney at Big Comic Page gave us 4/5 [LINK], saying “there’s a beautiful, dream-like quality to Gieni’s gauche visuals.”

Steve Morris at Comics Alliance blessed us with ace words [LINK], saying “It’s a really careful story, and one that plays off the considerable strengths of the creative team.”

Miz Caramel Vixen at Vixen Varsity dropped insanely glowing words on us [LINK], saying “As I read Negative Space, the tears didn’t stop”

Ray W at Review Brew dropped 4.5 out of 5 Kindreds on us [LINK], saying “The art helps with the tone of the issue and keeps you engaged the whole time.”

Chris Beveridge at The Fandom Post grades us A- [LINK], saying, This opening installment doesn’t give us easy ideas of what the world is, but there are tantalizing clues to be explored as it progresses and that’s exciting to think about.”

Robin Burks at Tech Times gives us 5 stars [LINK], saying “What makes this story work are the characters, very deftly written by Ryan K. Lindsay.”

Ian Simpson at Geek Syndicate gives us 4/5 [LINK], saying “There is no wasted space here.”

JAdam at Comic Buzz scores us a perfect 10/10 [LINK], saying “From the first page, an immediate sense of hopelessness blankets the reader.”

Over at the Rorshach Rant blog we get 8/10 [LINK], with them saying “the book has a rare spark of creativity, of originality about it, has hooked me.”

Mike at Fellowship Geeks enjoyed the issue [LINK], saying “The art goes a long way toward setting the mood”

Chris Melkus at Destroy the Brain spread the good word [LINK], saying “If we need (and we do) a comic book version of a Spike Jonze movie, Negative Space does the job nicely.”

Austin Lanari at Comic Bastards gave us a stellar 10/10 review [LINK], saying “Rarely do a writer and artist come together to present such a singular vision.” and “That all of this was achieved within a first issue borders on upsettingly fantastic.”

^WOW.

Sam Wildman at Nerdophiles gave us a 5 star reviews titled NEGATIVE SPACE IS KIND OF THE GREATEST THING EVER [LINK], saying “I might have my new favorite Dark Horse series here, people. It’s that good.”

Walt Richardson at Multiversity Comics gave us a 7.5 [LINK], saying “it is rare to see a serialized comic these days with as few solid-background panels as this one, even a miniseries. This extra touch brings the dour world of “Negative Space” to life in a way that few comics manage to reach in debut issue.”

The team over at Comics Bulletin rave about our issue [LINK], saying “one of the most affecting books I’ve read this year.”

Kazmataz at Talking Comics said you need to pick this up [LINK], saying “Lindsay’s writing is breathtakingly harmonious with Gieni’s visual portrayal of Guy.”

Magen Cubed at ComiConverse gave a stellar review [LINK], saying “Negative Space is raw, honest, and respectful in its portrayal of depression, in ways rarely seen in comics with similar themes.”

And we got a great talk up by Tor Athena on her YouTube channel, so hit that stuff up and enjoy [LINK]

We featured on the Comics Should be Cheap feature on Multiversity twice [LINK], with Leo Johnson saying “there’s a small moment that will break your heart.” and Jessica Camacho flooring me with “It’s a beautiful debut that sets up what could easily be the best miniseries of 2015.”

INTERVIEWS

Amy Brander took time to chat with me about the book at her site The Frog Queen [LINK]

Edward Wendt sat down with me to discuss how the donuts got made at Graphic Policy [LINK]

Nick Hanover and I got deep into this whole malarkey over at Loser City and it was a hell of a discussion, in two parts – I [LINK] II [LINK]

And if you need to be tipped over the edge, soak up this video trailer on the DH instagram [LINK] – so pretty and moody.

negspace2coverAs always, if you’re going to follow us down the rabbit hole on this crazy story, I have to thank you. Independent comics live and die on the vine based on word of mouth and preorders. If you spread the word in cake writing, sign language to the blind, or anything else, I’m grateful. All good things are great things to us.

#2 is right around the bend so I hope it’s on your pull order and you’ve told your LCS al about it, and #3 and #4 are right around the bend, too.

And finally, if you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

NEGATIVE SPACE #1 Early Reviews Are In

Gah! :]

negative space 1 logoAdvance reviews for NEGATIVE SPACE #1 have been dropping for the past fortnight and here’s the hot word. I am mighty humbled by all these erudite peeps who spent the time to appreciate the hard work from me, Owen Gieni, Ryan ferrier, Daniel Chabon, et al at Dark Horse.

At present, our debut issue sits at a 9.0 on Comic Book Round Up [LINK] but I also have more reviews linked below than featured there. In total, we already have 19 stellar reviews and I cannot explain how exceedingly grateful that makes me feel because this subject matter is something so close to my heart it’s filling a ventricle right now, and it’s certainly the strongest I’ve landed with any project to date. So, thank you all.

Here we go, dive in, dive deep, shiny and chrome.

Torin Chambers at Bloody Disgusting gives us 9/10 [LINK], saying “It’s nightmare inducing stuff, that’s a little too close to reality.”

Polo Lonergan at Nerd Underground gives us a 9.3/10 [LINK], saying “if you’re a fan of detailed art, heart-busting stories, and interesting characters then pick it up.”

Erik Cheski at Fanboy Comics said “Lindsay seems to be a disturbed human, and I hope he forgoes help in order to continue tossing his damage onto the pages.” [Which is kind of the best recommendation ever.] [LINK]

Greg Silber at Adventures in Poor Taste gave us 9.5/10 [LINK], saying “Negative Space is the most promising new science fiction series I’ve encountered since Saga.” [Wait, this is the best rec ever ever, wow.]

James Ferguson at Horror Talk gave us 4.5/5 [LINK], saying “Negative Space is a damn near perfect first issue.”

Clay N Ferno at Forces of Geek gave us [LINK], saying “This is another great book from Lindsay and the artwork is intricate and moody.”

Jason at Brutal Gamer gave us 9/10 [LINK], saying “Dark Horse’s newest foray into the world of horror and the supernatural comes along with one of the most interesting main character’s and plot lines that I’ve read pretty much ever.”

OmniComics drops a great review on us [LINK], saying “The very first page is a very strong showing by Gieni that effectively captures the despair of a man on the brink.”

Johnny Hughes at Comic Crusaders gave us 5/5 [LINK], saying “This book feels like an opus.  I cannot say enough great things about it.  There is not a bum note anywhere in it pages.”

Forrest Hollingsworth at Comics: The Gathering gave us 9/10 [LINK], saying “Negative Space is a hard, sad, and incredibly important read.”

Raisa at Florida Geek Scene gave us 9.7/10 [LINK], saying “One of the most engaging, creative, and well-executed books I have read to date.”

Nikki S at The Outhousers said many nice things [LINK], including “Ryan K. Lindsay and Owen Gieni bring us a brand new series, which I’m pretty sure is the equivalent of an anti-prescription for depression.”

James Bridcut at Transmissions from the Void have us 9.2/10 [LINK], saying “The book feels like a blend of ‘1984’ and a very sinister ‘The Truman Show‘.”

Ian Simpson at Geek Syndicate gave us 4/5 [LINK], saying “Lindsay and Gieni have set up an intriguing premise and left us some delicious threads hanging ready for the next issue. There is no wasted space here.”

Amber Santos at Pulp Cultured said many nice things [LINK], including “with Negative Space they have hit another golden series under their belt.”

Astghik Poghosyan at Emtertainment said many nice things [LINK], including “Negative Space is Alien meets The Truman Show and vomits a macabre love child.”

Nat Brehmer at Wicked Horror gave us 8/10 [LINK], saying “if you like weird, paranoid sci-fi horror, you should definitely give it a look!”

Bhavna Bakshi at Comic Wow assigned us a perfect 10/10 score [LINK], saying “This, my friends, this is divine catharsis.”

And Trevor Van As at How To Love Comics picks just 11 comics you have to try in July and you best believe NEGATIVE SPACE was on that list [LINK]

negspacepage01colourPlus, if you want more, hit up these interviews from me about the book:

I chat with leo Johnson at Multiversity Comics [LINK]

I chat with Cardner Clark at CBR [LINK]

I chat with Polo Lonergan at Nerd Underground [LINK]

I chat with Alexander Lu at Comics Bulletin [LINK]

And figure out why the book has already been deemed “buzzworthy” by CBR [LINK] and Multiversity named it one of the Top 10 Books coming from Dark Horse in July [LINK].

 

As always, if you’re going to follow us down the rabbit hole on this crazy story, I have to thank you. Independent comics live and die on the vine based on word of mouth and preorders. If you spread the word in cake writing, sign language to the blind, or anything else, I’m grateful. All good things are great things to us.

And finally, if you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

Wordplay and Two Sentence Stories

I love the power of two sentence stories. So easy to be lame, so perfect when you nail them. It’s all about control and power.

I use these 2ss in class because they’re a great way to quickly assess who has mastery of word choices, punctuation, sentence structure, and figurative language for effect. They’re also fantastic mental exercises for me on the sly.

Today in class, I wrote:

There was a crack splintering across her faceplate. The cold kiss of space crept into her suit.

It’s not perfect but I wanted to try something specific.

I unpacked the two sentences with the kids and then asked if they liked it or not. Most did; they dug the mysterious tone, the elements of tension present, and the fact it was creepy and sounded like someone was about to die. Many admitted they didn’t quite get it but then still dug the feel of it.

I then showed them something really cool. I played with titles for it. Check this:

LOST IN SPACE

There was a crack splintering across her faceplate. The cold kiss of space crept into her suit.

Everyone quickly connected that this was literally about a spacewoman who had probably befallen some accident and the vacuum of space was about to kill her. Now they knew to enjoy the horrors for real that were merely implied before.

Then I changed the title up and it took a while but one student finally understood what a difference it all made. Check it:

DEPRESSION

There was a crack splintering across her faceplate. The cold kiss of space crept into her suit.

At first, no one could get it, their attempts at unravelling this narrative went wildly off base. Then one student put up their hand and said, “It’s about someone finally breaking their smile and having their sadness fill them.”

Spot. On.

Because the title just took the literal and turned it into a brutal metaphor. Because that’s the power of words and how they connect to form narratives for us. Though I wish I’d chosen MELANCHOLIA for the title now.

Oh, and my students are 10 years old. How ace is that?

In summation: take the time to play with words, see how small tweaks inform new meaning, see how shuffling can bring out something better. See how two sentences, when done right, can make this grand thing out of something small, and can hint at way more than it presents and get the audience to feel something and imagine more, as well as desperately wanting it.

As writers, wordplay is our control. It’s our outlet, it’s our jam, and it’s something that can spark an event in your brain where a new world grows. You never know.

Play/write/read/enjoy/repeat – go get a notepad, fill it with a 2ss a day. Be a better human after just one month. Believe.

Self Publish or Perish

Self publishing comics is something I love in a way my wife isn’t ready to hear about.

There are no rules and sometimes your creativity needs that. Or as Becky Cloonan puts it so eloquently and purposefully:

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I feel this down to my creaking bones. Every damn day.

I’m a nobody in the DIY game, and when dipping your toe is the usual analogy, I’d say I’ve got a soggy toenail but the digit remains unwrinkled. However, it’s already got its hooks into me and I plan to be sitting down and dangling my feet soon enough. Because I love what self publishing offers, both in your story and then your readership engagement, and because it’s just bloody exciting.

I found myself tethered to a sick kid recently and while keeping her asleep or quiet with tummy rubs, I launched ComiXology on the side and went through some of the stuff on there. This took me through some ALL NEW, ALL DIFFERENT AVENGERS [Waid looks strong], and KAMANDI [Kirby is always the strongest] and then I dipped back into two of the Becky Cloonan one-shots from her DIY imprint INK & THUNDER.

To offer clarity, the two issues specifically were:

THE MIRE – which is this supremely atmospheric short story that’s about a medieval squire sent on an errand by his master and it all turns eerie and heartbreaking by the end. The actual narrative is short and sweet but this issue is all about the visuals and the tone. Cloonan’s artwork is tonally on point for every panel as she makes you feel the air of the location as our kid wanders through this spectral swamp.

But really it just opens on this splash and it instantly had me in the palm of its hand. It’s a bold choice, for many reasons, to use this as the first page and my brain instantly went into churn mode as I was inspired hardcore:

FullSizeRender (3)

Negative space. Silent. Beautiful. To open on a pause, when we are used to diving right in, is the sort of thing I’d probably never think of, but it’s airtight here.

The rest of the story is the narrative equivalent of ambient noise and that’s jacked right into my gut at present. With this fanning some flames, I then dove straight into:

DEMETER – and it’s interesting to see that WOLVES was cool, and THE MIRE was a good step up, but this book is the level up Cloonan was always on a trajectory to take and it nabbed her an Eisner for best single issue for very good reason. And it was with this issue that I realised why I love self pubbed comics, and why I cannot wait to do more.

The central emotion in DEMETER is love. From it we stem out into desperation, and fear, and black black hope, but it all revolves around love. And love isn’t something you see fuelling most big time stories. It’s a rarity when a book pauses the action or insanity and just tells a love story truly. Or at least tells it this well. Because this isn’t exactly fairy tale love, it’s almost toxic in its desire to be pure, it’s self-stifling, it’s the key to unlock you as you peer up and realise you’ve merely unlatched your own coffin for a peek at the sky before the dirt gets shovelled down into your eyes and your mouth and you are not getting out.

By the end of this read through, I was disgustingly energised to go make my own DIY one-shots. Because it reminded me that not only do you steer the ship, but your vehicle is so lightweight and superpowered that it can go anywhere it likes. You wanna do gonzo, run with it. You think the world needs a war story, hell yeah, assemble that team. There are no boundaries except those you erect and hold strong.

Love, drugs, depression, cancer, moon pigs, whatever. You can do whatever you want because the overheads are low [they’ll be extremely high for you, but you won’t have investors to please so you’ll be left alone to run to daylight in a creative sense]. You can do whatever you want because your audience is small but they are no doubt loyal. You are not beholden to page counts, to page formats, to genre conventions, to a rating for content.

In short, you get to create, to experiment, and to explore.

After some DIY one-shots, you will probably know yourself very well as an independent creator. That’s powerful stuff. Especially because each story is short, so you aren’t toiling half a year on one mini exploring that one avenue [haha, like a mini only takes half a year — HAHA, like you’ll get your one-shot done in half a year!]. Rocking some 16-28 page self-contained beast will help you spread across multiple genres, styles, collaborators, and that’s where some growth can truly be found.

If I analyse my own work, I find it to be true:

FATHERHOOD

This was my debut on the biggest stage, from theoretical dabbler to finisher. From years writing broad and harsh genre fare, and some personal fanfic, and some cape story pitches that were false starts, this is something that deserved a home, and something that was true.

Daniel Schneider was a godsend to find and work with and it then all came together beautifully with Paulina Ganucheau on colours, Brandon DeStefano on letters, and Chris Kosek designing the whole thing for print. The book is 22 pages, it’s through a genre lens [crime] but it’s a personal tale that means something.

As far as a debut goes, I’m incredibly happy with it still to this day, it’s been a consistent seller at cons, and having it up in the early days of ComiXology Submit saw it land in that first Top 100 sale and now a few thousand people own the pixels for this tale. It’s been a true test of getting your stuff out there. And I am always happy to see it find a home even this week with random tweets dropping in when people sample and dig on ComiXology.

And when your stuff is going to have the same ‘shelf space’ as all your other stuff in your back catalogue on ComiXology, you suddenly want it all to matter because it won’t go away, ever *shudder* [LINK]

From FATHERHOOD I got the bug and while waiting for other things to line up [and by waiting I mean drafting story outlines, writing other shorts, flying my ass to Seattle a week after my daughter was born to meet editors and sell my wares] I started to set up the next one-shot.

DEER EDITOR

It took a while to get this beast made but when you’re waiting for Sami Kivela art, you do not complain. I wrote it on my phone when my second was born. It kept me sane. I then waited while we made it as perfect as we could and in the meantime I had HEADSPACE land at Monkeybrain so that kept me busy.

For me, DEER EDITOR was a chance to do something wild. Where FATHERHOOD was completely from the heart, this was me dabbling in something more thin but way more broad. It’s crime, it’s political intrigue, it’s journalism [sweet, sweet journalism because THE PAPER was my teenage jam], and I think I just wanted to create something iconic in Bucky, our anthropomorphic lead. He’s definitely the closest thing to an iconic image I’ve ever been associated with. All my other characters are just straight up people *snore*.

But I also didn’t wanna be the guy writing his daddy issues into everything, I needed to branch out and this was most definitely that.

We Kickstarted, we crushed it, people dug it, I tattooed this as a success on my soul. I haven’t Submitted the book yet, but that’s with reason…

So, WHAT NEXT?

Well, like I said, I fell in love with the DIY one-shot ethic. Dropping HEADSPACE across a year and into an IDW trade was mindblowing, and the forthcoming NEGATIVE SPACE from Dark Horse is obviously not real and I’ll wake up soon, but a good part of my brain is still kicking over short stories to tell with rad peeps.

That ability to do whatever you want, however you want, is strong in me and hopefully runs strong in the plans I have forged in heat and stupidity.

So here’s a run down on what’s coming…eventually/hopefully.

An all-ages romp about monsters in the dark, an all-ages sci fi tale about acceptance and a sentient helmet, a sleepover tale about power and responsibility with teenage girls, an intergalactic sci fi action thriller about espionage and data, a lady Viking ghost story, and a lady kung fu tale [I’m being hella vague so as not to give too much away – which is why they maybe sound lame…or more awesome than they actually are].

All of these stories are pretty wild, and they definitely end, and they are short, and there’s no way I’d pitch them as anything bigger. They are going to be gorgeous slices of fiction once done – and with the artists I have lined up, yeah, gorgeous is just the start, but they are something we can control, and can do in our time, and can have a little fun with. These stories are personal and wild and something I’m certain could and should only work as DIY daggers to jam into your peepers. And you’ll also notice they cover a variety of genre styles. All-ages comes up twice, but in very different ways. Sci fi comes up a bit, but again, with very different tones. It would take me years to diversify tone and character type and personal style through minis like this but with one-shots I’m slinging all kinds of fury onto the page, every colour, all 31 flavours.

And I know the above sounds obvious [and wickedly self-aggrandising] but I put it here because I wish someone had told me some of this sooner. I wish someone had thoroughly explained why pitching minis from your inception was a bad idea [well, maybe not bad, just not good…or effective…yeah, actually, it’s bad…because you are no one, you will most likely not get picked up, ever, if no one knows you can close…and everything everywhere with everyone is ABC, peeps]. And if you do get picked up youare probably too green to make it count. But if you drop the ball on a short, well, no harm no foul.

TIMEFRAMES AND END GAMES

The DIY game is fraught with danger. Look at the weekly stack of things clogging up the ComiXology Submit lines. We are not alone doing this. So why do it?

Because it’s fun, man. It’s just jam packed with zest for life like a croissant full of dripping butter and jam. It’s proof of life – yours and the market’s. It’s this groping finger looking for a new heartbeat, the one no one else found. It’s this unwieldy beast you can just do, no one stops you, you do your way, and then you just see what happens.

There’s something very wild west about just saddling up with a partner and riding into the four colour sunset.

I also love using one-shots as my side thing. DEER EDITOR was written upon my return from Seattle and with a 2 week old who refused to sleep. I wrote two one-shots while writing NEGATIVE SPACE because it helped give me time between drafts or while trying to break a scene. It was the thing that kept my brain churning on the side. My brain is a fractured boxer’s fist with floating metacarpals and gristle grinding like rusted gears. I’m a mess of insane parts.

But once the book is made – the tone set, the genre amplified, the characters destroyed, the fun had – then we get to sell it. And I love selling my books at cons. I love pairing up a reader with just the right thing on my table. One time, this kid walks his other kid friend of his up to my table and they are poking around and I get chatting and it turns out this one kid is a comics dude and he is getting is mate to join the club, he’s just trying to find the perfect comic to be his mate’s first. I tell them, from my table, you can’t go past DEER EDITOR. It’s a great first comic, one you won’t soon forget, and the kid bought it and was stoked to have his carefully selected first comic in hand. That was a cool moment for me.

Because DIY comics is all about the readership. People get pumped about DIY books because when they hit the bullseye, they hit it hard. There’s only one book with a deer journalist solving crimes. There’s only one place to get Australian political sci fi thrillers in this town. A good DIY book isn’t middle of the road, it’s not cliche, it’s not something you can get anywhere. You get to be unique, batguano insane, beautiful, ridiculous – why waste that telling some standard story?

I always wanna do some DIY stuff. I think it’s freeing, it’s fun, and it’s going to keep you sharp. Publishers won’t really gamble on one-shots, you can’t always go crazy and experiment on publisher backed books [unless you are good enough to show you can do that and succeed a high majority of times]. There are advantages to dipping back into DIY waters for you.

I have no idea what my future in comics holds but I’d like to keep doing DIY stuff on the side, or right up front, for as long as I can. I know Warren Ellis is setting himself a timer to periodically write short fiction and I’d love to do the same with some shorts. Just brainstorm weird stuff, bash out a script on the side like you are pounding dough, and then team up with someone rad and make something beautiful. It’ll be fun to explore new places, difficult emotions, warped realities. It’ll be a growth experiment to try to break pages in different ways, write characters that would never be thought to sell, or just throw myself into a whole new direction for one issue [romance, ghoul noir, gonzo Crimean war]. But most importantly, if I dig it hardcore, then someone else probably will too, and that’s cool. That’s what DIY is, and hopefully always will be. I’ll tell you in 2042 how I went.

It’s like the lady says: self-publish or perish.

NEGATIVE SPACE Coming Out Your Boom Box

NEGATIVE SPACE has a Spotify list [LINK]

Screenshot 2015-06-02 22.38.40

So if you wanna know what kinda jams bring me completely low enough to write a suicidally depressed guy then get down on it.

For those wondering about purpose, I often use music to get in the writing zone for certain projects. When writing HEADSPACE I found listening to ‘Harbor Lights’ by The Platters instantly put me in Carpenter Cove. For Guy Harris, I find hearing ‘Everyday’ by Buddy Holly puts me in this weird place where I feel his pain but also desperately want it to feel better for him. It’s heartbreaking and perfect to get in the right place to bring him to live on the page.

From there, the highlights of the list so far are:

EVERLONG [ACOUSTIC] – Foo Fighters – because this song is amazing and when done acoustic and slow, my lord, it’s soul rending stuff.

THE GREAT PRETENDER – The Platters – imagine your old man was a huge Platters fan, then imagine this was one of his favourite songs, then imagine he kills himself, and then imagine years later you suddenly see the saddest irony ever that your childhood was spent with him singing this song like it was something grand when it was the most subtle cry for help you ever missed.

IN YOUR HONOR Disc 2 – Foo Fighters – because Dave Grohl is my depression spirit guide, haha. This second disc of the album is one of the best things to Fooeys ever did. It’s gorgeous, crazy, insane, and I could listen to it on repeat forever.

Sarah Blasko – seriously, anything she’s ever done, haunting. She’s always writing fuel but for NegSpace she was a supreme goddess.

And I’ll continue to add to it over time because even just writing press [or this post] it helps to keep the brain in laser focus.

As always, if you’re going to follow us down the rabbit hole on this crazy story, I have to thank you. Independent comics live and die on the vine based on word of mouth and preorders. If you spread the word in cake writing, sign language to the blind, or anything else, I’m grateful. All good things are great things to us.

And finally, if you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

BKV, Story Truths, and Writing Answers to your Questions

This article about Brian K Vaughan is a few months old but I just found it and it’s got me thinking [LINK]

In short, it posits this theory that BKV has been dealing with 9/11 in a lot of his books and that’s pretty well true. So that made me wonder, what am I dealing with through my stories? Obvs fatherhood, probs depression. Which is interesting because I am a father but I don’t suffer from depression. I’d think to claim that would do a disservice to the crippling affliction actual depressed people have. I hate myself from time to time, but I’m a writer, that’s just called creative process.

The article also mentions BKV’s comics/stories come from questions that he feels need answering.

I think that’s a fantastic way to come at your stories. I’m wondering what I’m working through in my books, and it’s a great thought to lay over any work/stories I’ve got coming up. To analyse their root honestly, and address their issues, is to better understand why they matter. That’s powerful stuff if you are brave enough to peer into your own soul.

What bigger truths does HEADSPACE address?

Is NEGATIVE SPACE going to be about something?

I am a firm fan of what is often called genre fare [sci fi, crime, gonzo, whatever really] still tackling real world issues but through some kind of genre and narrative lens. I know I’ve tackled the idea of responsibility in fatherhood, to get more specific, the concept of the human need to survive down to the very last possibility, the idea of how far anyone is willing to go for certain things and then examining if we choose the right things to fuel how far we push ourselves and if it’s indeed even in the right direction. I seem to look at family and responsibility above all else but now I’m wondering on what kind of wider scale?

Because it would seem that writing about fun stuff like cheerleaders or drugs or endless summers or robots is just too damn freakin’ hard for me. Maybe as a writer/teacher/father/husband kinda guy the ideas of responsibility and emotionally fracturing and family and doing what’s right/best weigh on my mind a lot.

And being Australian, 9/11 means little to me, I haven’t been in a war, my life is relatively easy, I just live in a world of terrorist threats [though few that will seemingly hit as close to me as they do other nations] and human rights violations committed by politicians stating they have the right cause and online activism that turns to public shaming in a blink. These are the wider concepts that avail my mind in the night when not concerning myself as to whether I’m raising my kids right, or if I’m around for the wife enough [spoilers: I’m not], or if my son or daughter will have it harder growing up [no spoilers, please] or when the hell me and my generation will ever actually be able to retire.

My concerns for myself and my future are so internal that it’s no wonder my characters struggle through mindscapes and suicidal depression and crushing responsibility.

Huh, yeah, that kinda all came together in the end. I see what my stories are doing now. Thanks for letting me talk it out.

This post above was started as a section of my newsletter found here [NEWSLETTER LINK]

Screenshot 2015-02-19 22.04.49

You can subscribe and get my rambly verbiage in your inbox at the start of every week just in time for a coffee. Enjoy.

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