Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

ymmv .04 – Opening Panels

What’s the best opening panel you ever created for an issue?

Why? What is that panel doing?

I wrote about opening panels at Loser City for my column, ymmv, and I analysed my own stuff to see what I’m doing, why, and if it’s working.

ymmv .04 – Opening Panels [LINK]


The idea of the opening panel as the opening contract with the reader fascinates me. So, what can you do with an opening panel? I dive into a few different ways to convey a few different things [no, I won’t be more specific, click that red hot link and read for your own self all the things you can do – well, some of the things, and then I’m sure you’ll think of your own things instantly that I seemed to have neglected to mention and then instantly you’ll be a better writer than me – congrats, you’ve made it, pally!].

In short, opening panels are hugely important and you should read all of them, write yours more than once, plan ahead, and enjoy.


STUCK IN THE GUTTERS is a digital magazine about comics featuring essays and comics mashed together just how you like it. I mean, it’s def how I love it, so I assume if you’re here you’d probably dig it. Just a little. Trust me,  yeah?

STUCK IN THE GUTTERS #2 just went live on Gumroad [LINK] – and it’s a ‘pay what you want’ thing, so, y’know, ‘pay what it’s worth’ :]


This issue features a new Jam Session from Dan Hill and myself where we really dig deep into the recently wrapped HAWKEYE run, focusing mostly on Annie Wu’s Kate Bishop storyline, but also just analysing themes from the whole thing. In writing this, I came to better love a run I already loved so much. We really unearthed some stuff that got me thinking, which was nice.

There’s also comics from Dan Hill and Alex Diotto, Kelly Williams [who also rocks the above cover], and majordomo Leo Johnston writes about SOUTHERN BASTARDS, as well as there being multiple instances of malarkey from Ricardo Mo, amongst other radness.

In all, get down on this, it’s a thick digital tome, it’s ace comics and four colour discussion, and I want to write for it forever so fund it a little so we can keep going. You can do this also by buying #1, too, if you haven’t already, thanks [LINK]

Sidebar – I love writing these Jam Sessions for the mag because it gets me thinking about comics in an analytical way and that’s always going to help you level up in making your own comics, also. It’s why I’ll always enjoy writing about comics nearly as much as I love writing them. It’s all good verbiage flow.

NEGATIVE SPACE #2 Review Round Up

negspace2coverNEGATIVE SPACE #2 is on the streets and some people seem to be digging it. here are some reviews of the issue, and I want to thank everyone for taking the time to even side-eye this book. Thank you.

Greg Silber at Adventures in Poor Taste gave us 9.5 outta 10 [LINK] saying “This is one of the most thematically rich pieces of sci-fi that you could hope to read.”

Polo Lonergan at Nerd Undergound gave us a perfect score of 10/10 [LINK] saying “Negative Space #2 is all the more exciting for the blend of eerie artwork and bizarre story and these two creators have found a wonderful balance.”

Wicked Horror gives us 8/10 [LINK] saying “When all is said and done, this is going to be a special comic, I think. One that horror and sci-fi fans shouldn’t pass up.”

We the Nerdy give us 8.5/10 [LINK] saying “I will continue to laud it as one of the most interesting comics out right now”

Amy Brander over at The Frog Queen enjoyed the issue [LINK] saying “The inner monologue of our stories unlikely hero gives this story a more personal quality than most science fiction stories are afforded. ”

Ian Dawe at Sequart stepped in with some love [LINK] saying “I’ve rarely seen a braver book about depression.”

Ed Garrett at TMSmash gave us 8/10 [LINK] saying “NEGATIVE SPACE is one of those rare things in comics – a truly unique premise, one that is highly entertaining.”

Austin Lanari at Comic Bastards gave us a mighty 5/5 [LINK] saying “I can’t think of another book where the art is this unique and aesthetically pleasing.”

Dan Seitz at Uproxx proclaims us the #1 comic of the week [LINK] saying “There’s nothing quite like this on the stands right now, and that makes it a must-buy.”

The Rorschach Rant gives us 8/10 [LINK] saying “that combination of misery and comedy produces an excellent black comedy with depth and emotional resonance”

Chris beveridge at The Fandom Post gives us an A- [LINK] saying “this issue pays off in spades and ups the ante in a great way.”

Karcossa at Graphic Policy gave us 9/10 [LINK] saying “This is a comic where the sum of its parts have created something that is a much greater whole.”

Emma Houxbois at The Rainbow Hub gave us 9/10 [LINK] saying” What they seem to understand better than most is that truly effective horror storytelling isn’t about succumbing to nihilistic impulses, it’s about how harrowing it can be to resist them.” – which is about the highest and most shrewd compliment I can think of.

Gregory L. Reece at Pop Matters gives us 9/10 [LINK] saying “In the midst of all that sadness, however, I find myself laughing through the tears.”

James Ferguson at Horror Talk gave us a perfect 5/5 for all aspects [LINK] saying “Negative Space can scare you and then make you want to go out and hug someone.  It’s a weird feeling at first, but you just kind of go with it.”

And The Read Pile over on YouTube made us Rick’s Pick of the Week – yay [LINK] – slide on in 16 minutes, or just watch the whole thing because it’s ace.

We also scored an ace interview with James Leask over at Comics Alliance where I got asked some very on point questions, enjoy [LINK]

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.

RKL Annotations – NEGATIVE SPACE #2

NEGATIVE SPACE #2 is a little late. We do apologise though we hope the quality of the tale has been worth it all.

negspace2coverOwen Gieni hasn’t compromised a single panel and the letters from Ryan Ferrier continue to be some of the best in the business.

If you bought issue #1 and you are now back for more, oh sweet Odin’s beardjuice, thank you. Creator owned books are hard, and sustaining an audience is hard in a speculator driven drop off market but I can only hope you dug #1 and had to know what comes next. And now you know.

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.


This cover was one of the first things Owen came up with for the series and I just looked at it and realised how smart and invested my copilot was. I love the idea here, visceral as it is, and can only hope the THEY LIVE subliminal messages don’t actually work ever anywhere.

Oh, and the bookshop is Bauby’s because THE DIVINGBELL AND THE BUTTERFLY has made me cry. Twice. So I couldn’t think of anything more depressing to seed into this scene than his name.


I couldn’t even conceive how insanely rad Owen’s Viking game would be until this page turned up. Hot damn, that opening panel is fornication on a whole new level for my eyes.

It’s also a perfect example of why writing is way easier than illustrating.

I thought this would be an interesting way to open the second issue after we ended on the cliffhanger of Guy finding Woody in this compromising situation with a dead Evorah. A total space/time jump, and it’s exposition but it’s goddamn pretty so no one can complain.

It also gives you Evorah info straight up because I knew people would want it after the dry rub we gave you after #1. I figured it best to lead off the bat – and many reviews responses proved this after #1 landed, they hoped the info was coming. It always was.


Look at those little Evorah worker bees scurry around, sapping the depression out. This page is genuinely disgusting to look at, the colours, that texture of their little termite mounds. It feels icky to look at.


That first red panel, all Gieni. Love the red.

I wonder if people will get that’s a handshake. Should’ve gone for a more Schwarnzeneggar/Weathers fist clutch from PREDATOR.

The third panel I just said was Kindred in MAD MEN and now we need to write this spin off because can you imagine?

I must’ve written a dozen or more examples of things Kindred have manufactured and then brought it back to those 4 examples. We had Robin Williams, and 9/11, and a few other things. I’m glad we cut what we did and kept what we did, for various reasons. I certainly cut 9/11 quickly because it felt…I dunno, weak to appropriate that. Especially as a non-US bloke. So I dropped it because I’m a scaredy cat like that, and I assume it’s better to err on the side of respect at all times [not to say I wanna disrespect those I included].

That kid stuck in the storm drain was an Aussie news story right around the time I was writing this issue. Ghastly. And the toddler punching viral video is actually a riff on a Stephen King short story I neglect to remember the name of but it’s recent and it’s nasty and it stuck with me.


This is one of those pages where I’m clearly setting up what I think are clever little word play things. I love BKV, and I’m clearly aping him [and he’s def not the first to do this malarkey but he’s my fave] and yet I’ve seen him do it poorly, and usually early in his career, and I worry constantly that’s me now.

Can only hope people are looking at that cracking Evorah shell and severed Evorah brain and won’t even notice me straining for your attention in the balloons.


“I doubt you want a science lesson after a history lesson.”

This is me being lazy. But it’s also me being honest. I’ve info dumped enough, let’s move on.

And this speaks to a greater method I use when writing. I don’t care about the science. I love when it can inform something cool in the story but I don’t want to be beholden to some rule, I don’t want to know if it would actually work. I don’t care about this anywhere near as much as I do true character moments, good narrative. I’m never gonna be the guy that writes real steampunk that I know works because I built the bagpipe gyrocopter hat in my backyard.

I remember plotting HEADSPACE and wondering how they all got into and stayed in Max’s head. I came up with some wifi hivemind thing and that’s pretty well how it was explained in the book, too. Because I’m not writing a textbook, I’m telling a story. And I know that’ll horrify some purists but it’s the kind of sci fi I love. Just get on with the show, no need to expose the reams of research you did. Tell the bloody story and make me care.

I feel like someone like Warren Ellis is smart enough to do that research, and show you, and still make the narrative sing. Me, eh, I dunno.

I love this almost golden ratio spiral Owen drops as the panels decrease into the corner. That’s all Owen.


And, meet Beta.

Wanna know the dirty secret? She would not exist without Daniel Chabon. He said at some juncture that Guy should get some kind of sidekick and I instantly fleshed out this backstory and concept for Beta and now I love her and I desperately hope you love her, too. She’s wickedly  fun to write and Owen’s design for her is bananas. I mean, she’s kinda wearing this long white dress, it’s nuts.

And, yes, Beta’s love for M*A*S*H is real, as is mine, and when it’s sad it does make me happy. I grew up with reruns nightly before dinner for years and the show is just burnt into my psyche.


This Rowdy Roddy Piper THEY LIVE line swippropriation suddenly became topical. Vale.

Owen’s design of this page is all kinds of frenetic. Look at that really little panel with the full figures. Insane that this is even possible.

The SFX are all Ryan Ferrier, I believe. They aren’t in my script. Maybe Chabon touched them up. Anyway, SPLUTCH is divine.

This nasty Cronenbergian turn from Beta is all Owen. Like you didn’t already know. How do you even script something this nasty? Owen is clearly disturbed. Send help.


The fact our love interest barista suddenly pulls down the visor and starts smashing heads makes me excited to be able to make this comic. This is all you really even need to know about this comic, surely.


It’s on this page that I justify why Guy is even still moving along with any of this. I really had to think long and hard through his lens to understand that this is scary as shit, but he wants to die so that’s not his main concern. Here he’s thinking that his life has been grey gruel for years now and this night just got hot pink exciting. Be scared, be uncertain, be angry, but at least it’ll feel like living. Guy is happy to do this because it’s something new to feel.

I hope I haven’t dropped the ball on this reaction from him but it feels right/real to me.

Also, Beta dropping a FRENCH CONNECTION reference makes me smile. Also makes me wonder if the strange fish-out-of-water character with the snarky/funny pop culture references might not be something very played already. Only one way to find out…


That Kindred can come in and murder a house of people and then have PR instantly work to cover it up isn’t really in the realm of CRAZY sci fi, I don’t think. I won’t say it’s ripped from today’s headlines but it feels like something probably going down right now.


Rick calling Woody and the Strangers hipsters, which is essentially exactly what he’s doing, when Rick has that haircut and is just a buff hipster, is what we in the bizz call irony.

And I’m happy with Rick’s little speech about doing the work we love. It paints his picture in completely, though we had 90% earlier, but it also hopefully ramps up the dread.


That elevator shaft panel is just one of my most cherished things. I scripted one of those tall Frank Miller establishing panels and Owen comes to the game. Golden.

I really hope this dialogue plays on the page for others. I know how people are supposed to sound, where the sarcasm lands, where the nuance doesn’t translate, but it’s a tricky page. Ugh, here’s hoping.


Really tried to pack this page so we could get to the next action page quicker. That is my way.

Also, yes, every single person with a Smile sticker, your barista, Free Hugs peeps, the cute girl at the secondhand book store, they are all freedom fighters, they are all for the cause, they are all bad ass.


I actually did script for Owen to use crazy speed lines and stuff for Beta striking out and he nailed it. Beyond nailed it. Then he went further and had Beta wrap up this bomber with all those little tendrils around the mouth and thumb. Because it’s those little things that matter/count the most.

By the time we get to the final panel, Owen has gone full John Carpenter’s The Thing and it is creepy and glorious.


Huh, again, this page rockets along. I don’t want to bore myself or you with the long exposition. I am certain you can keep up. The Kindred logo is there, they are using the hand, you draw the connection lines, yeah?


Really love Owen’s design for this Kindred chopper.

Beta says down and hopefully you start to notice the use of the word. Hell, it was the original title of the book. It’s all about being lead down. There’s never treasure down there, only your grave.


I wish I could have shown them getting into the vessel from that boat but I also hope you can make the connection. We know Kindred has money, they have resources, and they’d have some of this stuff hidden from public eyes. Beta knew where to go, they got it, and they slip away.

Also, that red lighting. They’re down to mood lightning.

Oh, and in that first panel, no, Beta isn’t actually talking to Guy :]



I had to convince Chabon to let me keep DEEPSTAR SIX in there and you’d think I had better edits to fight for but that line meant the world to me, it had to stay. I’m beyond happy it’s in print for you all to enjoy.

I like the beat at the end of the page because by using the word terrorist, and placing it all into Beta’s hands, I am hoping maybe this seeds some little doubt in your mind as to how things are playing out, and who is right and what is wrong. Because so far, Guy is just going off what he’s been told and that’s not always reliable stuff.


Owen was thoroughly disgusted that I wrote this hot dog order. My idea is Rick orders more condiments than actual food, and this reminds me of The Narrator in FIGHT CLUB only having condiments in his apartment. Rick is the same, but he steers into the skid and just lives off them.

Wow, that’s a lot of text for one panel. Owen drew it sharp and Ferrier nails the balloon placement. And I’m lucky I’m not fired off this book by this stage.


Guy is being set up to do something a lot more serious than he thought his night would go. Perhaps the adrenaline is wearing down, perhaps he’s really thinking about this in real terms. I hope the readers are.

Almost a ‘what would you do?’ situation. Almost.


LOVE the way Beta throws up her hands when she says “HAPPINESS!” Beautiful Owen Gieni moment right there.


This final splash is just bananas. Look at all these little things everywhere. I scripted some but this is next level. I lost a good ten minutes, nose to my screen, just soaking this in when it first arrived.

In Owen Gieni we trust.

And we hope this cliffhanger again lures you back for more next time, because this issue set up a lot of the forward moving narrative but it’s the stuff in #3, the very creepy and weird stuff, that I’m really excited to show you. Like Dan Aykroyd hoping you’ll lean into the dark so we can show you something really scary, yeah, I’m hoping we get you next issue.

With the first issue a full character investment, here we really play with our toys and move them on the board. We delve into more action, we ramp up the insane. We bring the sci fi to this weird sad little tale. For this, we hope you dig. In #3 we marry the two vibes, so I think if you’ve come this far then the rest will be gravy for you.

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.

ymmv .03 – Casing the Joint

Over at Loser City, I’m flapping my gums about writing for practise because your first stuff is not up to the game.

I’m assuming you might have a script in your back pocket. Enjoy the feeling, then burn it. Maybe.

ymmv .02 – 2 [LINK]


Big question: how many scripts/pages did you write before cracking something worth pursuing?

NOTE: ymmv is an abbreviation for ‘your mileage may vary,’ which means an idea might be rad for me but won’t work for you. That’s pretty well the mystical truth behind any advice, knowing it when giving as well as receiving it is key.

Have a great day.

ymmv .02 – Knights of the Round Table

My column on comics process over at Loser City has successfully hit its second deadline and this time I’m talking about your Knights of the Round Table – those first reader peeps you trust to give feedback and ask questions and lead you int the brighter light of glory.

You have some Knights, right? I hope so, they are your best allies in this soul crushing campaign to bring comics to its knees in front of you.

So, yeah, here me bang on about being able to let go and ask for help, because it doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it’s actually call *gasp — choke* collaboration. Dig.

ymmv .02 – 2 [LINK]


I’d love to hear about your Knights, how you found them, what they do best for you.

NOTE: ymmv is an abbreviation for ‘your mileage may vary,’ which means an idea might be rad for me but won’t work for you. That’s pretty well the mystical truth behind any advice, knowing it when giving as well as receiving it is key.

Have a great day.

ymmv. – A Column on Comics Process

Yep, process.

It’s no secret I love talking about, reading up on, and sharing thoughts about writing process. It’s one of those things where I bring things up to find answers, or to share aspects because it’s the kind of thing I wish someone had brought up with/around me when I was a writing youngling. I never really know exactly what I’m talking about because who honestly knows it all? But what fun is couching everything you say in passive modality and loose terms that hold little power for yourself or others.

As such, I’m launching a new endeavour, a column on comic process titled ymmv. It will be caged and put up for display every second Tuesday at Loser City. You can read the initial instalment right now:

ymmv .01 – 4 [LINK]


This intro column sets the table without me just sitting there and dot pointing what I plan to do with the column. I figure I’ll show you by doing it, and so I unpack my personal writing situation, I talk about being a human first before a writer, and I guess it’s all a disclaimer that as important as comic process is, you and actual real life connections matter the most. And if you treat them right, you’ll probably have more to write about. Or not. ymmv.

So come along, see me fall flat on my face, pick me up and point me in the right direction, or just jump over that trap that flagged me, and run into daylight so that I might follow. Let us all make better comics, one self-absorbed fortnightly column at a time.

NOTE: ymmv is an abbreviation for ‘your mileage may vary,’ which means an idea might be rad for me but won’t work for you. That’s pretty well the mystical truth behind any advice, knowing it when giving as well as receiving it is key.

Have a great day.

STUCK IN THE GUTTERS #1 – Digital Comics Magazine

For a long time, I’ve wanted to put together a digital comics magazine. Something to download, to squirrel away on the iPad for a rainy train trip, to savour and enjoy in its levels/layers of interrogation and design. I’ve wanted this thing but I lack the time to write it, even the time to edit it, and certainly the design fu to put all the pixels in the right place. But that want only grew and grew.

Then, enter Leo Johnston, comic commentary enthusiast/wizard, who has created and curated STUCK IN THE GUTTERS, a digital magazine about comics and also featuring comics. An initiative that brings together an array of creative/analytical minds to pull apart comics and put them back together again.

You can back the Patreon to support the issues [LINK]

Or you can go to Gumroad and get the first issue right now for PWYW [pay what you want], so that could be zero dollars, or maybe a little more to share around the bullpen kitty [LINK]

stuck in the gutters cover 1

Cover by Alberto Muriel

So, what are you buying? Well:

THOR & WONDER WOMAN: MODERN MYTHOLOGICAL HEROES – a great article by Rudy Trevizo about the two titans from the Big Two and their recent runs.

STRANGE LOVE – a column by Jeremy Holt about breaking into comics.

LICENSED COMICS DON’T HAVE TO BE BAD – an argument by Jess Camacho that some licensed comics can be very good.

CAST OUT: PART I – a slice of a comic by Kelly Williams that’s absolutely gorgeous.

THE CIRCLE GAME – an article by Alex Mansfield that discusses the rotating wheel of nostalgia and comics.

USING COMIC INFLUENCES IN YOUR WORK – is a great article about, well, it’s in the title, and Tyler Hallstrom lays it all out against Jack Kirby, Todd McFarlane, and Mike Mignola. It’s a great exploration.

And FURY MAX JAM SESSION – wherein Dan Hill and I just loosely chat about the FURY MAX run from Goran Parlov and Garth Ennis. There’s no structure, just a chat, and it was loads of fun. You can expect:

Dan Hill: But in the ‘real world’ of the MAX universe (which for all intents and purposes is *our* world), what would this entail?

Ryan K Lindsay: Whoa, whoa, whoa! The MAX universe is really just our world, whoa, shit, [grawlix] you’ve just blown my pea-sized mind. That’s so goddamn true. Oh, man, I’m not recovering from that at all.

So if all that seems like it’ll be up your alley – and why gd wouldn’t it be – then get on over and pick up a copy. Because the world needs more comics analysis and stuff, get some.

Why You Should Be Buying NEGATIVE SPACE

NEGATIVE SPACE is a creator owned miniseries illustrated by Owen Gieni, written by me, with letters from Ryan Ferrier, edited by Daniel Chabon, being published by Dark Horse Comics this year.

Screenshot 2015-07-17 12.56.01Our story is about Guy Harris, a depressed gay American Indian man who sits down to pen his suicide note and gets writer’s block. From there, he goes for a walk to clear his head and stumbles across a large conspiracy where a megacorporation has been mining people for their emotions to give to an unknown and very scary underwater culture of monsters.

The first issue was released in July and below are some reasons why you should preorder/buy the entire series, or really wait to stock up on the trade, whatever floats your boat [shout out to my digital peeps on the Dark Horse App, where we are $2]

Reviews for #1 were through the roof, as we averaged a 9.0 on Comic Book Round Up [LINK] — and I catalogued a lot more reviews here [LINK] and here [LINK]

Most reviewers praised the book for Owen Gieni’s gorgeous and evocative artwork as well as our respectful and intriguing handling of depression and suicide issues.

Many readers drew comparisons from the book to LOST, THE TRUMAN SHOW, ALIENS, Spike Jonze, and Philip K Dick. Many also called it one of the strongest debuts of the year, hailing it an important read in the way the themes were woven into the narrative.

If you have enjoyed books such as GREEN WAKE, LOCKE + KEY, ASTERIOS POLYP, or even PHONOGRAM then you’ll dig this book or be able to sell it to a friend with a grand success rate.

#1 sold reasonably well and was also featured within the Comic Block service for July which means there are many thousands more readers now intrigued in the series and looking to continue. I would like to funnel them into comic stores to find the next issues, or the trade paperback collection when it prints.

#2 will be in stores in August, #3 will follow in September, and #4 in October, which will then close out our tale. And our tale does close.

We hope you consider preordering/buying the rest of NEGATIVE SPACE. It’s been fantastic to write something that means something and we want people to stick around to the very end. Tell your mates, tell your LCS, make the noise that you want/need all of this title.

And don’t forget: 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.

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:


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.



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