Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

I Make You A Mixtape at Eat.Geek.Play

Over at Eat.Geek.Play they asked me to make them a mixtape.

The RKL Mixjams Vol. 2

I tried to slap together a variety of things, the sorts of things that inspire me and fuel my process. A peek into what’s on as I work, but also what’s been on before that’s shaped my brain. Because when I work, I have playlists for tone and projects and I use them like prescription. Music has always been a great mental trigger for me. That’s why music also attaches to memories so well for me. Certain songs/albums/bands really define periods of my life, friendships, and relationships. I like having that ability to delve into an album and have my heart transported somewhere else for 45 minutes. It can really help the writing sometimes.

Rereading the post, I realise how real I get in a few entries. It’s nice to write about real stuff. We should always be honest.

Enjoy the tunes, peeps.

What To Do Next

There’s always that moment where you stop and wonder to yourself, “Huh, what’s next?”
You’ve just wrapped a script and it’s off to the editor/artist brainhive, or your pitch is off to the publisher and you have to wait for a greenlight, and you know there’s nothing ‘next’ that needs your immediate glance.
So, what’re you going to work on? What’re you going to dream up?
I mean, there’s always revisions to do, snark to drop on twitter, fractions of something in your future in ideas and lines and fun, there is always ‘something’ to do but some days you gotta start prepping the materials for the next gig.
There’s lots of ways to break new ideas into your headspace but here’s something to consider.
Widen your scope. Stretch yourself. Be bold.
You just did a crime book, try a romance book. You’re waiting for art on that sci fi horror book, try some slice of life on the side.
I got thinking about this idea when I was considering the chronology of some of my favourite creative minds. Let’s have a look at the progression of genius. Because you don’t need to limit yourself, and maybe you don’t know how well you’re going to tell that steampunk bromance.

JOEL and ETHAN COEN

I love the Coen Brothers. So many of their films sit high atop my must see lists and I find it inspirational to look over their career path and see how insanely headstrong they quite clearly are. Look at the fact they never pander, they don’t make Oscar Bait – though I’m sure it seems that way these days but cast back to a time where they were the kooky uncles of quality cult cinema.

Look at how they would conquer a genre and then move onto another genre straight after it. It never felt like the Coen Brothers were colouring by numbers, they were telling stories they absolutely had to tell. Genre be damned. Audience demand be damned. Never let it be said they phoned it in, these guys delve right into their narratives like it’s Scrooge McDuck’s money bin.

The Coen Brothers started with a simple bang, a crime story. BLOOD SIMPLE put them on the map with this visceral noir punch. Brutality, death, terrible people. This was a huge stake to drive into the ground as a debut.

So, how did they follow it up? With a slapstick gonzo trip about babies, and a mythical bikie bounty hunter, and how far we’ll go for true love. While RAISING ARIZONA is centred around a crime, it is miles away from BLOOD SIMPLE.

It’s such an incredibly bold move to just go from this black crime flick to something that’s bright and innovative and zany. Consider this, Quentin Tarantino debuted with RESERVOIR DOGS, a darkly comedic straight crime flick. How did he follow this up? He made the darkly comedic straight crime flick PULP FICTION.

It’s natural to want to replicate success, and feed the beast, but sometimes you gotta follow your heart.

Now, the Coen Brothers followed RAISING ARIZONA with MILLER’S CROSSING which is a little closer in heart to their debut. But whereas BLOOD SIMPLE was very new wave, MILLER’S CROSSING is very much more classical. This is Dashiell Hammett opposed to Gold Medal paperback pulp – both crime, each different.

From here, we can see the common vein in Coen flicks – besides vomiting fat men – is crime. But the crime is always tinted with very different lenses, and even genres. The Coen Brothers like to study flawed people, which nearly always strays to crimes of various levels, but the way they attack these narratives changes so often in fantastic ways.

Look at BARTON FINK, there are certainly crimes committed but it isn’t a crime flick. This is a deconstruction of a creative mind breaking in its own heartbreaking way. Then they roll into THE HUDSUCKER PROXY – a flick whose title alone tells you these guys just don’t care – and the farcical approach to this flick is genius but almost defies definition.

It would take over a decade before the Coen Brothers would tell another story close in tone and theme to BLOOD SIMPLE as they allowed people to end up in woodchippers, and wives to be kidnapped. And with FARGO they finally cracked the code and were allowed into the winner’s circle. They became touted as something we’d known they’d been for years – genius.

They dial it back with THE BIG LEBOWSKI – the sort of tonal fall from grace that saw them once more shunned at the Oscars, despite making the flick that would now have the deepest and most avid fanbase. You’d think once the brothers got into the Oscar Auditorium they’d scramble to stay there? Nope. And not for some time.

O, BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? is kind of genre insanity in that it’s a loose adaptation of a classic text via the film tropes of the 20s. It’s Clooney looking weird and acting weirder. It’s so well put together and yet those who came for/from FARGO or even THE BIG LEBOWSKI were going to have no idea what would hit them. A film with layers, that’s aged well, but not the sort of surefire follow up to anything. Because what the Coens want to do is explore genres, which they then show with their next two outings.

THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE is straight up James M Cain (you can see them slowly go through all their favourite crime authors in good time) and in doing so it’s staying so close to the original tone of those flicks from the 50s that you know it turned some people away, but no doubt lured in the purists, who they have to have shunned by that final scene. It’s like they didn’t want anyone in particular to be the core for this flick, and yet the people they’d get, the few, would be there for life.

And as for INTOLERABLE CRUELTY, well now we can just see they want to play in genres that are about as close to box office poison as you can get without trying to replicate the magic of a GREASE2/TEEN WITCH double bill.

I guess we can all forget THE LADYKILLERS – which is a shame because a Coen/Hanks jam should’ve been better, but I guess all this navel gazing genre crushing fun leads us to…

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN – a film so far removed from the past five outings – count ‘em, FIVE – that it’s like they were putting that cattle gun to the past decade and wiping it out. And it worked. Everyone forgot THE CAREERKILLERS and the golden siblings were back. This is nowhere near their best flick, and it certainly didn’t deserve to beat THERE WILL BE BLOOD, but it’s straddling that line of tight storytelling, brutal Coenesque world views, and commercial appeal without asking for it that this was the revival they needed/deserved. FARGO worked, so did this, the data shows the formula, and so then they instead stay true to heart and make…

BURN AFTER READING – because apparently every BLOOD SIMPLE needs a RAISING ARIZONA, in the same way THE BIG LEBOWSKI clearly cleanses the palette after FARGO. They go deep and dark, and then they become bioluminescent. It’s a wonderful skill, but I get their agent – trying to skim from profits and not street cred – hates it. This flick is another genre mess. Crime, yes, but totally wacky and weird and Malkoviched out.

The brothers sink really deep again for A SERIOUS MAN, a flick more towards BARTON FINK in that it defies genre or audience expectation or dollar drive. And you could never foresee this flick leading them towards TRUE GRIT, a Western, a remake of a classic, an adaptation of a classic. Or by now, maybe we should see that coming. Maybe we should know when we are in the weird calm before the bombastic storm. Because this is what the brothers do, they defy you to guess their next step. I guarantee no one saw INSIDE LLEWELYN DAVIS coming.

And true, they haven’t done horror, or war, or every genre, but you can see each project stretches them in new ways. That’s clearly a good thing when you look at the quality they produce, and that there’s no burn out on what they do. You can barely compare flicks because they’re all so different.

Whereas if you look at the godfather of ganster crime flicks, I sometimes struggle to compare because they’re all playing strings on the same harp. But let’s try, just quickly, to look at the diversity of:

MARTIN SCORSESE

You’d think Scorsese’s flicks would all be the same, and so many of them are. After some rough and tumble early indie credits, Scorsese lands on the scene with MEAN STREETS, a very street level view of crime on the streets of New York. And while he follows up with the dramatic romance of ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, he’s back into the NY filth with TAXI DRIVER. He’s tried and been shown that his dark NY crime flicks are going to work, and going to work exceptionally well. So how does he treat the news of having a guaranteed successful genre on his hands?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK might reference his useful location but it doesn’t hold the same flavour at all, even with the screen stand in of Robert De Niro yet again taking the lead. You could call this flick a mistep and not many would argue. From perfect crime to some music/romance/slice of life hybrid, the flick just didn’t register as the usual Scorsese goods and so it flopped. From there, we get nearly the whole decade of the 80s with Scorsese hiding inside the genre that works.

Sorta.

Scorsese packs a lot of crime into the 80s, but it’s skewed through different genres. RAGING BULL is certainly a step removed from the mean streets, a boxing flick with black heart, and it’s a raging success on all levels. THE KING OF COMEDY defies expectations and reflections, a genre Frankenstein’s monster that’s ultimately a failure but stands proud because it shows Scorsese was happy to play the game, but on his terms. He’d do dark people – none of this saxophone playing anymore – but he’d still be trying out new irons on the green to see how to get the ball to move.

AFTER HOURS is the black mirror version of NEW YORK, NEW YORK, and while again a flop, it’s certainly worth its place in the back catalogue. It just also marks the end of the slide for Scorsese, as he accepts a sequel, THE COLOR OF MONEY, and while it’s good enough to land him his next flick – the very personal THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, about perhaps man’s greatest crime – it all swirls inevitably towards the next flick that will define Scorsese’s name for an entire generation.

GOODFELLAS.

This flick is the obvious next step from MEAN STREETS –> TAXI DRIVER, and yet Scorsese took a decade and a half to get there. Those many years were spent looking at romance, and sporting flick as introspective downfall, to the Greatest Story Ever Told. Scorsese didn’t rest on his laurels, he didn’t go back in for the easy beat, he worked his ass off to do things that mattered to him. Maybe this is why he came back stronger and defined the genre with GOODFELLAS?

CAPE FEAR follows, then we dovetail into THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, before hitting GOODFELLAS-lite in CASINO. Scorsese knows how to game the system and he delivers one for them so he can do one for him. KUNDUN is his exploration, BRINGING IN THE DEAD, and to some lesser extent GANGS OF NEW YORK is what we expect but it’s not a carbon copy. He’s pushing niches into the crime genre he now owns. THE AVIATOR is for him, then he gives them THE DEPARTED and by this stage he’s doing the same genre but in a totally different way. It’s not the 70s anymore and this flick is the clear signifier of his growth.

SHUTTER ISLAND is such a fun pulp paperback, dropping down to HUGO which is a beast unto itself, and WOLF OF WALL STREET is something new in a myriad of ways – tone being a huge slice of it.

I know I think Scorsese just did crime flicks, with a few personal puff pieces between, but upon inspection you soon see a Coen level of differentiation.

And these are just two examples. You can look at so many creatives and see them stretch themselves constantly.

BKV did weird sci fi/travel/growth story, while doing political cape book. A masterful slice of life anthropomorphism allegory on war (PRIDE OF BAGHDAD), or the slice of life book about comic creators and what it is to create (THE ESCAPISTS). Now he’s doing romance as sci fi and dystopia sci fi as a PI commentary on social media on the side. You can see his throughline, sci fi, but it’s always something new, always pushing himself.

RICK REMENDER is currently doing a hard sci fi book, a weird school of assassins book that’s navel gazing into his teen years (and is absolutely brilliant), an underwater sci fi journey tale, and an upcoming weird looking sci fi book. This is all on the side of a mammoth Marvel event. Again, see the throughline, but see how it’s constantly different. BLACK SCIENCE might be a true sister title to FEAR AGENT but DEADLY CLASS is like nothing else.

MATT FRACTION is writing SEX CRIMINALS, to defy genre because it sounded like some warped sci fi time stopping tale but is really one of the sweetest relationship breakdown stories going. He’s also writing some crime homage to the early days of television, and a Marvel book that’s really just this lazy PI tale, and he has upcoming Odyssey meets sci fi book coming on. And all this atop a history of a talking gorilla, the greatest superspy fu comic ever, and a variety of Marvel books from wacky to straight up cape style. He’s constantly expanding his horizons, and is always better when he is.

The exception that proves the rule, for me, is ED BRUBAKER. He’s writing crime fiction, always crime fiction. He has a dash of spy in one of them now, and in the past injected capes into the mess, but otherwise, Brubaker, mostly with Sean Phillips, just rocks the mic for crime and rightfully so because he’s become a master of it.

So while looking at all this, I consider myself. What’s next?
I’ve just done this sci fi/thriller mash up, as well as an anthropomorphic/journalism/crime tale. I’ve tackled fatherhood, as well as a sci fi/Australian political/thriller mash up. I did boxing noir for my Vertigo short. So what’s next?

A PKD-sci fi/thriller about depression

An all-female Viking ghost story

An intergalactic espionage sci fi

An all ages sci fi romp

A hard sci fi journey periodical

A straight up lady kung fu bonanza

I hope an Australian warped historical thriller

And hopefully more anthropomorphic/journalism/crime, too

Maybe eventually that beach noir surf crime tale…

There’s other stuff, but let’s not prognosticate beyond our abilities.

My point is – I have a throughline, but I’m constantly poking what I can get away with. All ages, hardcore fight fu, devastating ghost tales, depression. I have a lot of sci fi, but it’s nearly always a different level of it. I’m also interested in looking into different emotions, themes. I’m not necessarily doing it perfect, the Coen Brothers are the true masters of diversification, but I know I want to knock about a bit, try lots of everything before I, hopefully, settle into mastering one or two of them very well. I’m keen to continue to ape that PKD style I dig of tone and a warped reality but I’m also excited to see what else I might do well. I have yet to do war, or cape, though I have a prison take in the works, and I’d love to try my hand at a western of sorts. All in good time, just gotta make sure I don’t get bogged down spinning the same wheels I am now.

Lord knows I’ve yet to get deep into my Cronenberg romance book. Yet.

tl;dr version – as a creator, are you trying brand new genres, or mash ups, or takes on genres, or are you doing the same old formula every time? Expand your horizons, most of your heroes do.

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.

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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

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