Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

5Q Process

“Keep asking questions until the pattern becomes clear.”

–PAX AMERICANA, Frank Quitely + Grant Morrison

This is how you break story. I constantly scribble questions to myself in my notebooks to help me work out character motivations, structural problems, and overall ideas of what should happen next in a story – or what has to happen before to allow that next thing to happen.

Don’t just imagine what can happen, ask yourself why something should happen. Ask what someone would feel in a situation. This will bring truth to the page. At certain points, ask yourself ‘Why?’ five times and see where you answers lead you. It’s fun.
Also, PAX AMERICANA is pretty damn amazing. Process and craft lessons all night long as you reread the goodness.
Have a great weekend of creating on the page, in your mind, and whatever you want. I’m off to break this story down for the eyes of an editor. Like preparing some zany sushi meal for a shark, I feel I gotta lay it out perfect, make it all pretty, but all they want is something that makes them voraciously want to gorge.

I hope we meet in the middle.

Kill Your Darlings and Write in their Chalk Outline

This will be the title of my harrowing account of being a process junkie. My many mistakes, my few lessons. My compiled lists of scripts, links, books, podcasts, and musings.

I’m currently reading Matt Fraction’s back matter for the first arc of CASANOVA – raw and weird and open and just full of veins of process diamond dust.
I’m currently reading DEADLY CLASS and pulling it apart in my head like an alien autopsy from the 50s. Pacing and format gold.
I’m currently listening to SERIAL because seeing how each episode is structured to give more of the whole but all of that limb from the tree is stoking fires deep in my basement. Fires in which I will sacrifice my darlings.
I’m currently writing a polished draft of a #1 issue script before sending it to an editor. The only thing stopping me hitting that send button right now is that I want a little more information slipped into the margins, and I want that end kick to be something we wind back for in some of the early pages.
I’m currently writing a one-sheet pitch for a project after the high concept paragraph I sent in raised an eyebrow. I’m writing it all up in a new blank document just to see what I remember, and to then analyse what I forgot, and why forgetting it might mean something about it’s quality or necessity to the narrative.
I’m currently staying up late, drinking coffee, because these are the only hours I get. So I use them.
I’m currently talking behind the scenes with writer friends because they know what they’re talking about, and they speak my language, and these things are important. You wouldn’t ask your dog about your mortgage, don’t ask some rando about your page turns. Find kindred spirits and then battle for the Quickening.

I am currently steeped in process. I was yesterday, I will be again tomorrow.

RETROACTIVE HACK!

Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR has just landed and I’ve noticed, lodged between most of the logical responses, we have some people who are really down to get their hate on. But not only that, because hating is the oldest form of response, these peeps are the first ones to get their hate on. No, beyond that, they hated Nolan first, before all you other plebs were suckling at the Dark Knight Trilogy teets. These peeps are the Alpha and the Omega of Nolan hate.
And I’m fine if you don’t dig his flicks, but why the need to fit your frothy rage with a Certified Cool date stamp?
People laughing at Nolan fans – “Where’s your messiah now, Flanderssss!” – people suddenly hating all his back catalogue, and proclaiming they hated it from the start. They never liked it.
Next they won’t even admit to having seen a Nolan flick, but they hated the wiki summaries of them.
This idea that someone like Nolan – someone I’d go so far as to call a creative genius – someone who has made so many amazing and great flicks – this guy who hasn’t really made a totally bad flick (logic in The Dark Knight Rises pushed aside – that flick is enjoyable) – we have this guy and I feel like peeps were drafting their hate-tweets weeks ago in prep. If INTERSTELLAR wasn’t amazing/perfect/Nolanesque then they were ready with a cavalcade of mocking/snooty/hipster hate.
They got up in the face of all Nolan flicks, pointing out why we should have seen that this guy was a hack all along.
And to be honest, hate all you want, but this sliver of hate riles me up for this one reason:
It seems to be centred on the fact that Nolan was deemed good, maybe great, and now these peeps wanna revel in him being brought low. They want everyone to see what a fraud he is. It’s…yeah, it’s something.
Why can’t swathes of people really dig a creative without a slice of the world having to forcefully jam in and be all like “You’ve been had, he was never this good, this falter step proves it. Retroactive hack, RETROACTIVE HACK!”
Tall poppy syndrome is a killer – awareness is needed.

Though fighting internet rage with my internet rage is probably about as effective as finding a pitbull that bit a kid and kicking it with live chihuahuas strapped to my feet with their snippy little mouths and general unpleasant demeanour.

Linkatron 2

Writing a second draft, trying to get my second wind, giving these links a second chance.

——-

I love CRIME FACTORY – their zine is pulp perfection – they’re good dudes – and I’m proud to have articles and short stories with them – check out this great interview of Cam and Liam discussing how they roll – then go visit the site and get yourself into some of their business – http://www.spookmagazine.com/projects-crime-factory-publications/

Starting stories is really important to me – that right moment, that right very first scene/image, the right words – it’s such an important thing and this discussion here on it by Chuck Wendig should give you enough food for thought - http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/11/05/the-breadcrumbs-at-the-beginning-of-the-story/

A discussion of HELLRAISER as a noir – it’s this sort of analysis, quick, sharp, and out that is exactly what I dig right now, it’s all I’ve got time to read, it’s all I want to write – HELLRAISER is one of those flicks I dig, it certainly felt formative to me as I discovered Barker, devoured his works, and found the flick passable if not perfect – has a perfect Barker flick been made? Perhaps not – though this is kind of perfect in that sense of it being an artifact of what it is, a video nasty, something to be on VHS, something to be a little grimy, unperfect – a remake would most likely be terrible, as were the sequels - http://maxrennblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/hellraiser-and-the-noir-fantastique/

An interview with a guy with a micropenis – this article is usable in that it’ll le you peer into the mind of someone who is so clearly broken by what they see as their major flaw – look at what he says, how he says it – then use that for motivation/dialogue/reference next time to make some character – how are they defined by something? Hoew does it make them think/feel/react to the world? – interesting stuff - http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/11/what-its-like-to-have-a-micropenis.html

Ferrier makes a mix tape – always read Ferrier - http://www.eatgeekplay.com/make-me-a-mixtape-ryan-ferrier/

Aronofsky talks about TV being the better medium for stories in today’s world – he says other things, too - http://www.indiewire.com/article/what-we-lose-when-film-dies-how-storytelling-is-changing-and-more-from-darren-aronofsky-20141026

All the Foo Fighters’ songs ranked bottom to top – yes, EVERLONG deserves that spot – yes, The Colour and the Shape is their best work, but I’ll always love how the second half of In Your Honor makes me feel - http://www.spin.com/articles/foo-fighters-every-song-ranked-sonic-highways/

Interesting piece about comics journalism – definitely food for thought, on a few levels - http://www.newsarama.com/22691-jim-mclauchlin-s-panel-discussions-here-s-everything-wrong-with-comics-journalism.html

Paul Allor talks STRANGE NATION – as well as some of his process - http://multiversitycomics.com/interviews/alien-invasions-and-personal-sacrifice-paul-allor-discusses-strange-nation-8-interview/

Back Pocket Comics

Found this comic in my stack I use at school recently and promptly brought it home for a few reasons.

IMG_4806
One of the main reasons is that sweet Mike Zeck cover. Look at it. His work completely owns my childhood, I could buy an Artist’s Edition of his G.I. Joe covers alone. His figures and his layout always look so dynamic and iconic. Just so boldly superb, confident.
The second, more mild, reason was because it’s starting to fall apart. I can tell when a comic is about to lose its cover. I usually let most of the school comics meet a happy demise in the sweaty hand of some little educational urchin but this I took because of the cover, and I wanted to read it.
But it got me thinking, I have no problem accepting this comic back into the personal/home fold. It’s not Near Mint but it’s mine, and it’s still fun, and I don’t care if comics get damaged.
I’ve stopped bagging and boarding because in the end, I’m only buying stuff I want to read, so I keep around only the comics that I’ll want to flip through, and so the comics stay out and then get loosely sorted together – I think, truth be told, I haven’t sorted my comic pile in at least 9-15 months.
But all this got me thinking about how pristine we keep our comics and why. Are people really thinking they can resell these later and turn a mad profit? Pay for their kids schooling? C’mon, no way. So then we B+B just to look after our things, cool, I get that, but I couldn’t be bothered, truly.
I like a good comic hanging out the back pocket. I like a comic that’s been in bags and passed around, and well worn and loved. I want you to fold your comic and slot it into your back pocket, especially if it’s a book you’d put at like maybe 3.5 stars on the review-o-tron, or below. If it’s just some Marvel character then read it and share it, take it with you, send it with someone else.
I have some comics in the middles of runs where my son, as a baby, decimated the issues with water across them, or just grabbed them and squeezed them like diamonds might result from the pressure. I got plenty of comics with problems but really all I’ve got is stories I’ve dug on.

 

Midnight Notes

People ask creatives where they get their ideas but they never ponder upon how we keep our ideas.
Some writers keep notebooks everywhere they go/are. In the breast pocket, on the bedside table, in the car. They write every thought down, they rely on paper to be the gigabytes of memory they often lack in their head.
But then there are others who swear against this method. They say if an idea is any good then it’ll survive on it is own. If you’re meant to remember it, you will. If it’s so amazing, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. If memory serves, Stephen King prescribes to this memory.
Good luck to the King, his cerebral fortitude no doubt tops mine, but for my money, I’m a notebook man.
My grey matter is holier than a burning bush. I am clearly doing something wrong with life because I never remember anything. Often to my detriment.
If I didn’t make notes I’d lose plenty of thoughts/ideas/lines of dialogue.
A recent case in point, I just randomly found an idea I quickly utter into my phone Notes at 12:07am about 5 weeks ago. Not only had I forgotten the idea, I’d forgotten I’d jotted down the idea. And yet this idea is very good. Very good.
There was a slight moment where I got to enjoy it for the first time, again. And then I realised I probably would’ve forgotten this forever and man that would’ve been sad.
So when choosing a side on the battlefield of paper v memory synapses, think about what’ll work best for you.
For me, I am extremely glad I have not lost this idea.

Station 16 – A Study in Atmospheric Spatiotemporal Fear

STATION 16 by Hermann & Yves H. got its first English language release through Dark Horse and you should probably track it down.

station 16 cover

A Bandes dessinées horror book about a small Russian group of soldiers who receive a distress call from an abandoned station that hasn’t been active for decades. They send a small team to investigate and what they find is a spatiotemporal anomaly that thrusts them through time and in front of danger.

Considering the logline on the story, it’s nothing insanely inventive. It’s fun, sure, and it’s just enough to keep up with without getting lost, but it’s not reinventing any wheels. By about halfway through you’ll have guessed most of the turns in this path. I assume most people spent their youth filling their twisted anthology gourds with EC shorts and OUTER LIMITS/TWILIGHT ZONE episodes and if you have then this tale will unravel for you easily, and you’ll probably even predict the end by about halfway through – maybe even 5 pages in if you are really trying – something I rarely actually do, I’m happy to let a story play out for me rather than become my own Spoilers Man. But that’s not the point of the book. It’s not about knowing the journey ahead but rather it’s about settling into the way you feel on that journey, how your surroundings affect the temperature of your skin, and why the fact you can’t see through the copse of bush into daylight on either side is making your breath come in fitful spurts. This book becomes more about the page atmosphere than it does the plot mechanics.

The art from Hermann is the winner on these pages. The way he stacks and tiles each page so he’s routinely landing 9 panels per page, or more. He takes moments and beats and makes you feel the pauses and still have ample room to progress the story every time.

I’ve been reading some ASTERIX books with my kids recently so had been delving into that Franco-Belgian page style where 12 panels ain’t no thing. I’ve also been loving those reprints of THE SMURFS so to see that style, that page density, used for dramatic/horrific purposes was really cool. This is the sort of thing you can study because as much as widescreen comics are rad, sometimes just confining your characters tightly in a shot in a small panel can have some cool other effects. I found I felt trapped with these guys, and that the time was moving really fast. Each page rips along, propelling you into the next, and as time keeps changing, and the colours are sometimes the only signifier that something is amiss – until the character exclaims aloud what just happened – you feel a little like you’re blindfolded on a rollercoaster. It’s a breathless experience, and the ~50 page count on the tale also help that as brevity is a horror tale’s secret weapon at times.

STATION 16 is definitely worth your time if you’re into tone in your comics. If you like a little experience that’ll grip you for a short time and make it feel like a long time. It’s also helpful if you dig a little meaning in your four colour funnies.

There’s a visual used in the book that is the hollowing out of eye sockets. People are being experimented on and that’s one of the things. The look alone is eerie and haunting but it’s something else about it that slowed me down and gave me thoughts. It makes the book feel like it’s about how your country can sometimes choose to wilfully blind you from the truth, and the fact they literally have the means to do so is ghastly. To have it done to you, to see it done to others, none of these are good things. To forcefully obscure is an invasive and atrocious act and this book shows it as such.

There’s something enveloping about this book, and the art is something to really take your time with, so definitely do yourself a favour and pick up the STATION 16 HC so your diet can break free of the usual dreck.

If still not convinced, apply this trailer below once, or twice, as needed.

Linkatron 616

Read widely, think deeply, click hard.

Bruce Springsteen lists some of his reading habits – he’s a hardboiled guy – and a classic dude – yes, I shall dig him forever – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/02/books/review/bruce-springsteen-by-the-book.html

Fascinating and insightful discussion about the Marvel Phase 3 flicks logo set – every time I read about logos I realise how much I still have no idea around them – but I am learning, and taking notes, and am still terribly behind - http://kleinletters.com/Blog/marvel-movie-logos-a-new-trend/

Man digs up girls’ bodies and turns them into dolls for his apartment – he put music boxes in their rib cages, lipstick on their mouths – he wanted to keep them around until science could bring them back – not only is the world a sicker place than we know, it is a sicker place than we can know - http://metro.co.uk/2014/10/28/grave-robber-dug-up-29-girls-and-turned-them-into-human-dolls-4924735/?ito=facebook

Twitter activist is murdered and the Mexican drug cartel uses her phone to send out messages about her murder, and to scare off her followers – intense and sad stuff - http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/21/she-tweeted-against-the-mexican-cartels-they-tweeted-her-murder.html

Classic Aussie bogan beer dresses down, sneaks in, and wins craft brewery award – edgy judges distance themselves from their decision without ever addressing the fact they loved the taste of something they no doubt mock to others – makes you wonder what makes something ‘good’ or ‘cool’ is it objective or complete social construct - http://www.betootaadvocate.com/uncategorized/vb-goes-undercover-to-win-surry-hills-craft-beer-festival/

Pat Grant is a complete dude – and TOORMINA VIDEO is beyond amazing – and so is the new thing, AMBIENT YEAST – you can read them all free online, follow the links – Pat’s work is just like nothing else – enjoy - http://www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/art-and-design/article/comics-con-men-and-cultures-yeast

I don’t generally get down with motivational lists or anything but this one is right on point – people are their own worst enemy – and this all goes for creatives, absolutely - http://thoughtcatalog.com/tim-hoch/2014/06/10-ways-youre-making-your-life-harder-than-it-has-to-be/

Stephen King is a dude I could listen to all day long – and he gets some jumping random questions here – and also manages to drop a little process chatter - http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/stephen-king-the-rolling-stone-interview-20141031?page=6

Linkatron 22

Why 22? Because I was just reminded that the Aja/Fraction run on Hawkeye ends at #22.

:(

HAWKEYE truly is a special comic – possibly my favourite ongoing right now – possibly Fraction’s best work – possibly better than IMMORTAL IRON FIST – and I will read anything written about it – http://blogs.indiewire.com/pressplay/metamericana-hawkeye-normcore-avenger-a-mellow-revolution-from-marvel-comics-20141022

Where you can submit your comic writing – a fantastic list of publishers and how to get in contact with them - http://comicspire.com/2014/09/25/how-do-i-submit-my-writing-to-comic-publishers/

HOWARD THE DUCK #1 script - http://www.oocities.org/soho/6612/htd1.txt

Nate Cosby talks pitching comics in a tweetstorm from years back – always worth casting your eye over as you edit/refine.smash your face into your latest pitch doc - http://topsy.com/s?q=Pitch%20from%3ANateCosBoom

Mugs have long been my jam – I would seriously buy 6 of these bad boys – I’m fine with boring cutlery and plates but I like my mug to keep me company - http://www.buzzfeed.com/robinedds/you-f-ing-mug

Curiosity in people is so rad – that quest to know, and the fact you’ll hunt endlessly when you want/need to know – if nothing in this world I wanna make my kids be curious people – question everything - http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20142710-26398.html

Think about all these literary rules before embarking on your writerly life – for they are mostly true – ha – :(http://inktank.fi/15-laws-literary-life/

Fascinating interview with Ron Perlmen – I’ve long dug his work – ever since seeing THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN at a cinema as a wannabe hipster teen before hipsters knew what they were doing – reading him go in depth here on some serious issues is good stuff because sometimes sunlight is the best disinfectant – and his book sounds pretty bloody intriguing - http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/28/ron-perlman-from-fat-boy-to-hellboy.html

I agree: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER should be up for Oscar Best Flick contention – because it’s the best flick I’ve seen all year – and it’s just spectacular on every front – but will it happen?- http://deadline.com/interstitial/#u=http://deadline.com/2014/10/oscars-captain-america-best-picture-comic-book-movies-861019;k=pmc-adi-31bb2464aad8b905af7a81e1d57b77ae

10 Things HANNIBAL Does Better Than The Movies – this is clickbait for my soul – I really do love this show – all good things to consider here - http://whatculture.com/tv/10-things-hannibal-better-movies.php

Some really amazing art, and titles, in these grindhouse style movie posters – beautifully gruesome inspiration - http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/articles/20-movie-posters-in-the-style-of-vintage-horror-films

Peckinpah posters – you clicked already, didn’t you? – http://mattmulcahey.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/the-movie-posters-of-sam-peckinpah/

A look into the working ind of Christopher Nolan – reading this made me realise I’m clearly influenced by his work and style and tone and structure – and while I’ll most likely never come close to the heights of Nolan’s work, it is nice to have a target upon which to train - http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/02/magazine/the-exacting-expansive-mind-of-christopher-nolan.html?_r=3

Old Man Hallowe’en

I grew up a child of horror. I was watching John Carpenter flicks….well, way before I should have been. I segued into Cronenberg and Argento phases before most segued out of their safe kid animation phases and found (what they thought were) subversive cartoons. And so, Fangoria became a word I’d use to represent my identity for my youth. I lived and breathed the 80s works of Landis and Dante and Bottin and Raimi. I was the horror kid.

And I was the horror kid mostly because that’s what was around – with two older brothers – but also because I dug the hell out of those flicks, and I dug the shocks and scares. I think back to watching AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON repeatedly, or THE EVIL DEAD, or even old slasher fare like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or schlock like Troma flicks, and I realise I liked most of them because of the craft. Look at the way Carpenter holds suspense in THE THING, or Cronenberg makes you squirm in VIDEODROME by pushing your nerves past their breaking point, or how Raimi uses that camera in THE EVIL DEAD. I followed the horror fare of auteurs because they did new and exciting things. You cannot tell me Landis tells the story the same way from AAWIL to TRADING PLACES. His camera work in the Underground as the werewolf stalks is insane. There’s nothing like that as Eddie Murphy wheels himself around in that suitcase/wheelchair.

Horror is a genre that’s always allowed innovation, and incorporated it into structure and tone and effect. But it’s also prone to cheap flicks and while Teen Ryan didn’t mind some really terrible stuff – a steady enough diet of ‘video nasties’ and slasher flicks kept me afloat – I realise the ones I still watch today are the horror flicks with craft behind them. Jason Voorhess, while a fun dalliance for the time, isn’t someone I wish to revisit because there’s nothing there for me now. And why are those thin fun horror flicks done in casa de Lindsay? Well, because I had kids. Once I had kids – these little people who gave me the sole purpose of keeping them alive – I stopped thinking how cool it is to sit and digest the myriad ways the world will eat them up. And yet that’s exactly where horror has steered into.

I came into horror with THE THING, and loved the sci fi-locked room-terror laced mash up it is, and I think I last really dug on Wes Craven’s double tap of NEW NIGHTMARE/SCREAM – deconstructions of the horror feeling, a swan song to an era. Then I completely zoned out about halfway through HOSTEL and kind of never looked back. I realised Scorsese and the Coens and Nolan and Russell were going to reinvent cinema without having to gloriously kill people slowly on screen – though maybe Scorsese is the closest to just doing real life horror but in my mind there’s a thin skin between horror and crime – while criminals are horrific, they’re…I don’t know, they feel disconnected from me. Horror is about the horrific entering my world, the suburban world, whereas criminals kill each other and cops (he said, naively).

I don’t watch anywhere near as much horror as I used to. VIDEODROME was on this week so I taped it, and will no doubt devour it soon enough, I loosely keep up with THE WALKING DEAD – but zombies will always inexplicably be my jam – and I was pointed towards and then thoroughly loved PONTYPOOL but anything else that’s just crazy people chopping up innocent peeps, or is simply gorno for the sake of it will rarely get a run with me anymore. I’m a scaredy-cat now, and while the finest of the horror cinema blend will carry on with me, everything else in the genre is dead to me. I can’t handle seeing this stuff and then having my mind think of the world my kids are going into. It’s a crazy emotional fault gap that I’m not prepared to jump across, for fear of falling into it.

So for now, my Hallowe’en consists of a little writing, some coffee, a sitcom with the wife, and no scaredy flicks for me, no thanks. I’m in this weird Old Man Hallowe’en “get off my lawn” phase I truly never saw coming.

And yet I really look forward to the kids growing up because once they get past a certain age, I know I’m going to share Scooby-Doo episodes with them, and watch stuff like THE GOONIES, and then when they are much older, I’ll get out the good horror, the top shelf stuff, and we’ll appreciate it on a craft level. And if they wanna watch 3D found footage slasher trip-hop on their own, power to them. If they are like their old man, it’ll last until they have their own kids, then they’ll truly fear what goes bump in the night and give it the wide berth it deserves.

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