Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

HEADSPACE #6 Review, and friends

HEADSPACE #6 came out last week. I was happy with it :D

Thankfully, so was James Ferguson at horrortalk.com who gave it 5 stars and said:

“It’s hard to believe that this comic is only $0.99 with the sheer amount of content included. This is the kind of comic that makes you feel smarter after reading it.”

I love it when someone really gets what we are doing. So exciting to connect that way.

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We also got a 4 star review at Comic Bastards from Samantha Roehrig [who has perennially loved the series] and she says:

“Headspace is a very unique read that Lindsay brings all together with the clever writing style.”

Ah, nice words. I am a sucker for thee.

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PLUS, I found this discussion of issues #1-5 on Destroy the Cyborg from Zander Riggs who has plenty of nice things to say. One snippet of which was:

“If you’re looking for an emotional story set in the veritable playground of the subconscious, Headspace is the comic for you.”

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I also hope you dug #6 because #7 will be up for preorder very very soon. Stay tuned.

Ryan K Lindsay’s Two-Fisted Homeopape – SUBSCRIBE NOW

I am starting an email newsletter.

The Two-Fisted Homeopape <– hit up, drop your email in, await with happy thoughts

Screenshot 2015-02-19 22.04.49

The obvious question to ask me is…what, WHY?

I’ll be honest, it feels like a hack self-centred arrogant needy thing to do. To expect people to want to read my words enough to sign up, to let me eyeworm into your inbox and dump my blather on you. And it totally is. I know that, it totally is.

But it’s also just another avenue I have to/want to pursue in the effort of taking my writing gig seriously as also a career move. This year I’ve got two titles in Previews – HEADSPACE right now, and the next thing coming soon, very soon [and I’m usually not one to talk out of school but this thing feels pretty good, it is coming, you feel me?] – and so if I want to get the word out, if I want to get people excited, if I want to actually make sales, in totality, if I want to turn this navel gazing hobby into a pseudo-paying meritorious hobby then I need to explore all options.

A newsletter is different to the twitter, to the site, to the notes I’ve been leaving under your keyboard at work [check it out, lift it up now, see if I’m kidding] because the newsletter gets into your inbox. And it sits there and waits for you at your leisure. It won’t get swept away as easily as a tweet does on the holotubes, it doesn’t require your specific link click or navigation like this site does. It’s another way to connect with people, and much as my site here drops information in vastly different ways from the way I use the twitter machine, the newsletter will also be a different beast. This I promise. Or else it’ll be washed out of your Junk Folder in 5 days, no harm, no foul.

At present, I’ve been hugely impressed with the way the newsletters by Warren Ellis and the House DeConnick/Fraction run their games. Both are more rambly than we allow on twitter, more loosely structured than a site post ‘should’ be, they’re personal in different ways, and I can store them up and have them waiting for me whenever is appropriate.

I know, personally, I rarely visit peeps’ sites anymore, and my day job and upside-down timezone and current snowed under deadline superhappyfuntimes are making me a twitter deadzone, and I don’t Like enough posts by others on Facebook to be considered relevant, so I’m giving this a whirl.

Also, and this is important because it makes me sound like more than just some buzzword slinging shill and band wagon jumper [which i am, but I don’t need to sound it], a newsletter is just another media/genre to tackle, and I love all the writings. I love twitter, I love writing posts here, and what I fill the homeopape with is just going to be more fun, man, lexicographical candy for the soul, man, and the chef is always cooking, y’dig?

So, rambly ramble ramble aside, that’s why the newsletter is about to begin. In fact, the first one will go out on the 2nd of March and maybe think about hitting a fortnightly schedule. At present, I’m just drafting a rough proforma for it that I’ll maybe think about following each time.

If you are interested in an inside peek into my writing process, maybe some stuff I’m reticent to share on the public places and spaces but will happily drop into the fireside chat of my own private e-zine, and want to keep abreast of the publishing dates and links and sneaky peeks of what 2015 holds in store for me, then sign on up. If nothing else, it’ll be fun, right?

The Two-Fisted Homeopape – where good soldiers go to fight and valiantly die in the verbose arena of the mind

Write What You…NO!

The old idiom that a writer should write what you know can really yield myriad results.
You might end up with John Grisham writing a whole shelf of lawyers, or Stephen King creating a bunch of white teacher/writers as leading men. Frank Miller started to write grizzled old men even before he dutifully became one.
So often writers write about what they know, or think they know. Men default to writing male, and writing within their ethnicity, and so often imparting their profession on the characters. Hell. Brian K Vaughan wrote a slacker in his 20s when he was the same, and now he’s a father to young kids and so he writes about parenthood.
But writing what you know doesn’t mean writing about yourself. I think. I take it as meaning to write from the truths you know or have experienced. For instance:
William S Burroughs and Philip K Dick were both drug users [from memory, PKD’s daughter was calling this false in the commentary to A SCANNER DARKLY but I just can’t believe that, sorry]. So we have two writers with drugs coursing through their synapses and we most definitely have them writing about that topic.
WSB goes the route of writing about drug orgies and gratuitously defining and describing the heroin entering the body. It’s barbaric and decadent and insane.
PKD goes the route of writing about space drugs that allow different states of being and have weird names and tie into intergalactic espionage and character journeys of discovery.
Both are writing from what they know, but in wildly different ways. I find that fascinating that the one idea, the one experience, can yield wildly different results.
So, next time you are writing what you know, think about what it is exactly that you know. Can that become the core of a fantasy epic? Could your treaty about adoption fit an anthropomorphic romp as a sub-theme? Because we are human does not necessitate we write human stories, grounded in the same reality as our truth.
If all drug users wrote about using drugs, the story well would dry up quickly. Adapt, synthesise, explore the theme of your truth and then marry it to a wild idea, a fun story, compelling characters, an engaging landscape, and tell the story informed by the theme which plays underneath.

Because I do think it is important to sometimes write about the things you have learned, or are passionate about [it’s why fatherhood turns up as a theme in my stuff so often] but you should also try your hand at other ideas, things you want to know more about, things that scare you. And you need to come at these themes with subtlety sometimes. Be oblique, wash a real character over your truth and see how they react, see what changes when it’s them and not you.
Then, after writing these things, go out and learn more things so you have grist for all the mills.

RKL Annotations – HEADSPACE #6

Blame Eric Zawadzki. Blame him for everything that went right here.

HEADSPACE #6 – 99c – all good.

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COVER

Best. In. Show. This is my favourite cover of the series, hands down. So simple, so elegant. I love it, and Eric.

PAGE 1

It was Dan’s idea to match the cyclical redundancy of the film reel ended and spinning constantly with the caption of violence essentially doing the same thing in our worlds. This is why I love him as an editor, he thinks on all the levels.

And once again, Eric nails the emotion. It’s moments like these I’m going to miss getting in my inbox when this book ends.

PAGE 2

Using a black panel as a jump cut to get them from inside the house to outside it, and straight into the next scene. I’m surprised this works as well as it does. I didn’t want to fit some other panel of them going outside, getting outside, bumping into the Maxs. I just wanted the drama, so I reached out and took it. Kinda makes Page 1 look like prologue in retrospect, and I’m fine with that.

I think I wanna add this move to my toolchest and use it in the future.

Dig that red panel, that’s all Zawadzki.

Like Chandler, when I split my infinitives, I mean to split my infinitives.

PAGE 3

Gil speaks Latin. Of course he does.

So excited to script his return. This sequence here, man, it went through a whole mess of drafts before landing here. Originally, Shane spent more time moping inside, but it took up too much time, then he confronted all these Maxs outside and had a huge convo with them. Nothing felt right.

Then Max returned, on the ‘gator, and all was perfect. Sometimes you just know a scene isn’t working, well, you gotta keep punching it in the face – and letting it punch you in the face – before you get something better, something worthy.

PAGE 4

Yet another character based moment for Shane. He is our holy lead, bless him.

Also, yet another colour moment from Mr Z. Always love his choices here.

PAGE 5

Suddenly Gil kicks into convenient wrap up/exposition mode, bless him, also.

This whole page is a transition scene, but totally needed and it wraps a few loose ends up – because I did not wanna pull a “LOST” and ask more than I answer [NOTE: I love LOST, always have, always will.]

PAGE 6

RAND International. Behind it all. We should have known.

Sebastian asked me if I would mind him playing with this page. Look at that middle spread, so gorgeous. As if I would ever mind. The more Sebastian and I worked, and the more time we took, the greater things started to pop. The guy is amazing.

And wordplay was a fun idea to play around with, and a science I could completely make my own to serve the narrative. I love sci fi.

PAGE 7

So much happening, Max is unstoppable. Seb does a masterful job of packing all of this in. That final panel is fantastic.

I wanted Max to feel like the terminator, unstoppable, like he’d decimated everyone before it all even really started. I think Seb nailed that speed and efficiency.

PAGE 8

Loooove that double head tap. Great flow, great colours from Marissa. Perfect moment.

Shout out to Tim McEwan :)

Also love that helmet, makes me think of Christopher Walken in BRAINSTORM, ha.

PAGE 9

Slow burn set up page for the page turn. A small quiet moment for Shane before we turn up the volume.

PAGE 10

And our volume goes to 11.

When I came up with this idea, I instantly saw it in Eric’s art and I know it’d be immense. Eric did not fail to deliver, this is so grotesque and gorgeous. I figured the Id needed something bombastic, a real entrance, and here it is.

Also, look who is on the very front of the boat? Everything comes together, from the first page to the last. Poor Laura.

PAGE 11

A Bond villain moment ruined by…something strange. I like that the moment is completely interrupted by something different and no one knows what’s going on, not you, not Shane, it just happens and ruins a moment that is building. I like messing with that structure.

And it’s this end that’s all Eric’s idea. I had the script for #6 already written and he said that Shane should get out of the Cove, he should get what he wants, so here we leave him. It’s fantastic drama.

PAGE 12

Salvation, the most key term on this page…except for those of us who know the face of that guy waiting for Shane :|

BACK MATTER

As always, all hail Christopher Kosek, Designer Supreme of Carpenter Cove.

Seriously go hunt out the back matter, all the back matter, for CASANOVA. Thank me later. And see what a ersatz version you’ve been steeped in here, go guzzle the real deal.

Ambient Yeast link.

ESSAY

Dan Hill makes me hate the world and fear the future – and that’s how I know I need to read his stuff and drain his brain.

PIN UPS

Sandy Jarrell draws Gil and my heart swoons.

Matt Horak, with Marissa Louise colours, just becomes this black velvet/black light poster I wish existed.

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This sends us into the final reel. From here, two issues to go, and the business gets real.

We’d also appreciate it if you spread the good word. Indie books live and die on the vine due to exposure and word of mouth. Hit up twitter with #headspacecomic to share your thoughts. Chat with myself @ryanklindsay or Eric @ericxyz and let us know your thoughts. We love to chat about the stuff we create. Or just about other stuff. Tell your friends about the book on Facebook, or in person, actually phone a friend to talk about Headspace, or gift the comic to someone. It’s all appreciated.

We’ll see you for #7 very soon, we’ve already completed and sent the issue in. Til then, have a think about our trade collection from IDW bringing you the entire story at the end of April. Talk to your LCS about preordering it from Previews now, and tell your friends how much they need this in their life, and just stock up for Xmas, or get in for an Xmas in July now.

HEADSPACE #6 Out On ComiXology this Wednesday

You are not ready for the end of HEADSPACE #6. But you must still prepare, for it drops this Wednesday and we wish for you to consume it. As the solicitation text tells you, “It’s time to find out what happens out on the water beyond Carpenter Cove.”

Also, dig this cover.
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HEADSPACE #6 up for preorder on ComiXology.

With art from Eric Zawadzki, Sebastian Piriz, colours by Eric Zawadzki, Marissa Louise, letters by Eric Z, edits by Dan Hill, back matter design fu by Christopher Kosek, and words by me, and published by Monkeybrain Comics via ComiXology is yet another issue I am insanely proud of.
This issue shows us Shane right after he’s hit rock bottom. We also get to see Max up to his usual worst – though maybe we see that in a different light now, no?
The issue is 99c – as are all the issues – the final pages are pure insanity, and the pin ups are by Sandy Jarrell and Matt Horak.
Tell your friends, download one and punt the iPad into the sun, pick it up on subscription then ignore it, whatever, I’m not here to be the boss of you, but mostly just enjoy the story.
We thank you for listening, you may return to your normal broadcasting frequency now.

Being Strategic

I’ve seen a bit of chatter recently where people talk how to get started in comics, or how to break in, and one thing always seems to strike me, and it got me thinking.
You have to be strategic.
Making comics, as a professional, is going to become your business. You can’t just hope and want and glide about on dreams of a starving artist. You have to clearly plot out how you are going to do it, or at least try. Now, that plan will be decimated dozens of times, but that just means you recalibrate the plans, you don’t just cast your ancient runes to the wind and hope they’ll guide the way.
“I want to tell the stories I want to tell, how I want to tell them.”
Of course you do, we all do, but there are limits to this sentiment. I’m not telling you to start writing fanfic of Fifty Shades because you think that’s hot right now, I am telling you this:
Just because you have this rad 60 issue epic in your head, doesn’t mean you’ll get to tell it, or that you should even try. Here’re a few reasons why.
No publisher will back you – you’re pitching this beast before proving you can tell any sort of tale, why would a publisher back you for a 5 year gig when they don’t know you can stick the landing on a 5 page gig? Again, this is business, you aren’t viable yet.
No audience will follow you – there are literally trillions of comics released every month across the globe. Literally. Readers are flooded with some amazing content, why are they going to invest 5 years and hundreds of dollars into your tale? What have you done to build/earn such an audience? What makes you think this is sustainable on any sort of level?
By the time you get to the end, your start will be embarrassing – if you’re still breaking in, you are no doubt not yet fully formed – I’m still like a BrundleFly of the writing game – and so if you did manage to somehow churn out this 5 year gargantuan beast, man, you are going to grow and improve over those 5 years like crazy. And yes, everyone improves over half a decade, but that first learning curve is steep. Your book will go from ‘not ready for prime time’ to ‘maybe ready for prime time’ and the disparity will always be there, and it will haunt you, and you don’t want none of those ghosts haunting you for life.
Any time anyone asks me about breaking in – and let’s be clear, I know very little, though I know a few things NOT to do – one of the first things I tell them to do is to chuck that 60 issue epic out the window, for now. And every time I do, I see that glint in their eye dull a little, and their frothy surf of loathing come churning for my face, but on this I stand staunchly unmovable. You can’t start that big.
Go small.
“But if my story wants to be longer, I want to stay true to that.”
Yep, if that’s the comeback, I feel all is lost. Yes some stories must be long, yes some stories should not be truncated just because, but your job is to find a story you can do right in your current position. If that’s 5 pages, then do it, if it’s a one-shot, rock that biz. Shelve the long con tale, flip out something punchy and shiny and something everyone wants to touch.
Editors mostly want – and this has been supported everywhere from interviews with Stephenson to Bendis’ book on writing [including an editorial round table] – editors want to see completed comics. They want to know you can produce, and you can close. If you can do this in 5 pages, you’ll get their eyes. If you send them samples, it’s a crap shoot, if you drop a tantalising issue #1, that’s cool, but they’ll want more, and only then if it’s any good. If it’s not, they won’t read the rest. Trust me.
Editorial time is scarce, you gotta give them your best.
So, yes, that means being strategic. Shelve the glorious 5 issue mini – because making that off your back is going to be hard, and getting a random slush pile greenlight is also on that end of the spectrum, and just rock out something decent in 22 pages or less [though there are peeps who prove this wrong, like Sam Read and co on EXIT GENERATION, and Ryan Ferrier’s slowturning but always amazing THE BROTHERS JAMES, and Craig Bruyn’s FROM ABOVE – but there are also examples where someone made 2 issues and never came back and that’s gonna hurt them, even if just in small ways]. Do something manageable, finish it, and it’ll get eyes, it’ll check all the boxes those eyes need to see, and it’s achievable to make off your own back.
That’s a strategic decision.
The more you do this, the more your brain will pop up short stories, and break them naturally. Which is in itself, a huge skill to sharpen.
It’s not selling yourself short. It’s not selling yourself out. It’s selling yourself, and that’s your job.
I have been strategic in my time. I made a one-shot, I did a handful of shorts, I made another one-shot. Then my first pro gigs were a one-shot and a short. Amidst all that, I did a mini. Can you guess which works have helped me the most with editors and getting more gigs?
Yep, I don’t even need to say it.
Read all of the above with all your grains of salt. Everyone’s path is unique, as are we all. I spoke in sweeping statements above because constantly couching every statement in the exceptions at every turn is a fool’s game. Modality is heard, anything less is brushed off. Go hard or go home, y’know?
But if this helps one person – and I know I’d have killed to read the above 5 years ago – then I’ll be happy.
I hope you are happy, too.

Tell Your LCS HEADSPACE Is Coming

El peeperinos, I come to you asking a favour.

HEADSPACE – the Monkeybrain comic by Eric Zawadzki, Sebastian Piriz, Marissa Louise, Dan Hill, Chris Kosek, and myself – is about to be collected in its entirety by IDW and it’ll be in stores April 29.

headspace tpb cover 1

But — it’ll only be in stores if those stores think they can sell the book. They won’t magically order 15 copies and assume you’ll all turn up with fistfulls of cash by the fire drums screaming “500 ON RICHARDS!” – no, they’ll order what they think they can sell. So if you go in and tell them you will buy a copy, they’ll order a copy. Hell, they might even order one more – just in case. If 5 of you hit your shared LCS and preorder with the store, they might order 8 copies to have 3 shelf lurkers – because if this book has 5 peeps pre-keen, then it’ll surely move, right?

But, I’ll stress this again, if no one preorders it, the store will assume this things a bigger fizzer than a bath bomb and will proceed to order none so their business remains financially secure. Fair play, and all that.

WHAT WE AT HEADSPACE HQ NEED YOU TO DO IS SIMPLE!

Go into your LCS [Local Comic Store] and follow the following script:

“Hi, shopkeep, would you mind ordering and setting aside a copy of the HEADSPACE trade from IDW in April, I’m pretty sure the Item code is FEB150469. Cheers, boss/mate/muscles/cobber/captain/[insert cool nickname here].”

Conveniently, for you, that scripted sequence can just as easily be copy+pasted into an email to your LCS.

I’ve constantly said that indie comics like these live or die on the vine based on word of mouth and I appreciate every kind thing anyone has said about our little story that could.

If you are on the fence, hit the digital issues on ComiXology for 99pence each, or take the word of Christopher Sebela, because he’s a good dude:

“From page one, HEADSPACE takes the quiet life of small towns to some strange places. And once you’ve gotten your bearings, it giddily saws all the legs off your chair and sends you tumbling down a vertiginous hole of guns, monsters, dead folks, betrayal and that inescapable feeling that you’ll never know which way is up again.” — Christopher Sebela (HIGH CRIMES, ALIEN VS PREDATOR)

Or if Sebela has wronged you, sample these fine testimonials:

Zac Thompson at Bloody Disgusting said: “The concept is brilliant and executed with such skill that’ll you’ll barely find time to take a breath. The pacing is perfect and the world building is insane.”

And Pipedream Comics named us the 3rd best Monkeybrain book of 2014 as they said Headspace’s: “-dark fairytale mixes elements of the Truman Show, Hannibal and The Prisoner to create a brilliantly surreal take on the world of a small town sheriff.”

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Head to your LCS stat and preorder the HEADSPACE tpb for April. We aim to please.

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#fourcomics – Prominent Childhood Comics

The #fourcomics hashtag burst into life – thanks Jim Zub – and it’s the sort of thing I love seeing, and love doing. So, I chose 4 comics I can remember that were prominent in my childhood. I’d love to do plenty of other #fourcomics pieces but time only permits one, and nostalgia is king.

Now, doing this was hard – I cannot remember a time when there weren’t comics around. There is no remembering the very first comic I ever read because by the time memory was forming, everything around the house already felt old hat. But there are comics that meant a lot to me as a kid for various reasons, so let’s get into them.

G.I. JOE #60

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One of my earliest memories in life was being dinked on my eldest brother’s handlebars [sounds dirty – totes isn’t] into town and he had this part time job and he’d saved some of the money and he was taking me to the toy store [because back then you didn’t have mega-retailers selling everything, you had to go to dedicated and ludicrously overpriced toy stores] and he was going to buy me one G.I. Joe action figure. I was pretty stoked. G.I. Joe was totally my jam. I cannot remember which one I bought. But I remember thinking my brother was the bee’s knees and having the time of my life. I also remember my mother being in town with me another time and saying she’d buy me one and I think I chose Muskrat. My childhood was pretty ace and filled with amazing family.

Anyway, so onto the comics, so my earliest memory of the Joe comics was with the family on some sort of road trip – could have been around the corner, or interstate, to me all instances of road travel in our speeding automobile were akin to sorcery. So there we are in some road side stop – it felt long, like a split level, and near some stairs was a spinner rack. Now me and the middle brother are looking over all the mostly Marvel titles and I think Mum said we could get one, so we got a G.I. Joe comic. Now I wanna say it was this one but unlike the rest of the world my memory isn’t great. I don’t remember those covers and numbers and stuff others do [NOTE: I always assume they’re lying to sound cool] but I know we got that Joe book and it begat a cavalcade of Joe books in our world.

Quick side note – how bad ass is this cover – it’s totally just how we’d play with those toys, and I love that the art just makes everyone and every vehicle look like the toys. Also, neither of these guys is firing anywhere near the other, seriously, look at those trajectories. Whatevs…

I can remember reading all about Zoltan, or Zartan, or were they both twins [can’t I just research my own damn thinkpiece – NO! TimE!], and they were dragging people down halls to be brainwashed. I remember all the ninja shenanigans and realising that Snake Eyes was cool but I thought Shadow Storm was just a touch cooler – or maybe I had to think that because my middle brother – who read all these books with me and played all the action figure games with me – always got to be the ‘coolest’ characters, so he was default Snake Eyes and Han Solo and I was always left with the squares or the 2iC’s of cool. I remember reading all those crazy storylines and just loving them.

G.I. Joe comics were a staple of my childhood, and a bunch of artifacts I remember clearly and dearly. I also think they shaped me immensely.

Oh, and a side-story – I can remember playing with the figures with my middle bro – we had them laid out on our massive pool table, Cobra V Joe, epic battle. And a Cobra spy, or maybe the Commander hisself, infiltrated the Joe camp, and my bro was holding the Commander. So he takes a Joe hostage to give himself time to villain-splain to the Joes. While that’s happening, I take a Joe and start sneaking around one of the vehicles hoping to pop a cap and end this ridiculous posturing straight up. My bro makes the Commander tell me/the Joe to quit it. I keep moving. They tell us to quit it for real. I don’t. Cobra Commander whacks this hostage Joe right in the head and everyone freezes. Commander tells the Joes he is serious and not to be trifled with, and then makes his exit. My bro puts the CC away and looks at me and says that Joe is dead now because of me and that we can’t just take it back or resurrect him, he’s out, for realsies. I remember this as being a huge lesson to me in the importance of keeping your villains real, and that dead is dead, there are no easy ways out.

Props to my bro for making a fun game with toys a masterclass in mortality and war.

What If…the X-Men Had Stayed in Asgard? #12

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I cannot be certain I ever actually read this issue but I know I spent a whole mess of time looking at the cover. It intrigued me in ways I could not explain. The pink background the fact I knew enough to know this story wasn’t ‘real,’ the giant frog wielding a hammer. This cover is just always something that speaks to me, and I think it’s forever telling me that comics need to be eye-catchingly rad. And I am down with this lesson.

It is also the truth behind What If…? books being the raddest.

Vault of Horror #1 [a reprint]

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I was in a newsagent with my eldest brother when I saw this. I instantly knew I needed to have it. I was about 12, I considered myself a horror aficionado, and this ‘new’ horror comic had to come home with me. So my bro ponied up the cash and bought it for me [again, rad fam, right?]. I read this issue cover to cover an insane amount of times. And some of the stories aren’t even that great but I loved everything about this book from the hosts, to the tone, to the art, to the fact it led me down the spiralling rabbit hole of tracking down as many EC comics as I could find.

As luck would have it, I was right at the start of the reprint era of all the EC books and I spent the next few years gobbling up as many as I could [Tales from the CRypt, Haunt of Fear, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Crime SuspenStories, ALL OF THEM!]. And many I did get. I got them in newsagents, I got them in back issue bins in out of town comic shops, I got them by looking hard and long. I got so many, and I treasure them to this day.

Though I remember getting a mammoth oversized issue of Tales from the Crypt – it was like WEDNESDAY COMICS large, but with a harder cover – and I loved it so. Now…I have no idea where that issue is. Still bums me out. The closest I came to making up for this was buying the JACK DAVIS EC STORIES ARTIST’S EDITION a while back. Book is a bruiser and sits behind me in my office making me smile daily.

Spider-Man: Carnage

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This is one of the first comics I bought with my own hard-earned Empire Credits. It was at Minotaur Comics [then the largest comic shop in the Southern Hemisphere and regular train-ride-away comic haunt for me and the bros] and I had recently been sucked into the Spidey vortex of Venom and Maximum Carnage. I insanely loved both [I still have nearly all the issues of MC and so so many issues of those Venom minis they kept pumping out – I doubt I could ever find the heart to part with them] and Carnage was a character I just thought was super interesting. So I snapped up this weird little trade collection – of which there weren’t many at the time – and I read these issues a lot. Looking back, it’s just OTT 90s gorno in spandex but at the time it marked this transition from the Uncle Scrooge stuff I had been reading. It showed I was ‘maturing’ into an ‘adult’ reader, ha, wink.

Anyway, I still love Carnage [come at me, brah] and this book has not been cracked open in a long time but I know when I do, I’m going to love it with all my nostalgia feels.

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So, those are my #fourcomics – they certainly aren’t perfect but they speak miles to me as a young person, and me as a progressive reader, and me as a comics reader and where my foundations lay.

In writing this, I can’t help but wonder which comics I should/would/could have included. Presented because I care [and am certain you do, too] here’s some alternate suggestions.

Uncle Scrooge – I’d have no idea the number, but these comics [and I wanna say some Goofy ones] got me through Year 2 in a big way when I was dealing with my father’s death, had moved towns, and came down with this harsh asthma that was probably more psychosomatic than real but it dropped the ass out of my year either way – but these comics were there to keep me focused.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #4 – before we’d even seen the show, this comic came into my life because my middle bro moonwalked into a plate glass door. Relax, he was fine, just a few stitches – but he was in hospital and I remember overhearing the call that he was in hospital, and my Mum raced off to see him [said moonwalking took place at a mate’s place] and as she left I just burst into tears. I thought he was gonna die – I obvs didn’t get the idea of a cut leg – but I was calmed when I found out we were gonna deliver some reading material to him the next day. Mum randomly picked out some comics and #4 here got us tracking down more, and then the show dropped, and we never looked back. I dug the show just fine but these comics were gold dust, and only just behind the Joe books for us.

Mad Magazine – again, I’d have no idea the issue # but my middle bro and I inherited the eldest bro’s collection when he went off to join the Army. So we got sucked in, and then one summer we spent countless hours riding from town to town looking in all newsagents for any different Mad mags we didn’t yet have. They were glorious and inform so much of my stupid humour now.

Bartman #1 – I read this issue, and the subsequent 3 that make up the mini, soooo many times. I really wanna read them again to see if they hold up is some sort of way because man was Young Ryan hard into these guys.

And I wanna do more, SuperPro #1 [which I speed reread this week and it is not good], and Daredevil #201 [I think it is, him with the broken arm], and some of the covers to the X-Men Classic issues, but I’m realising with the comics loitering in my childhood peripheral I could rage rage against the night forever.

I will close by saying, I hope you peeps have #fourcomics that shaped your youth in a rad way, and I hope you’ve shared them with the world.

Your Writing Process Will Murder You Dead – BKV Edition

I wish every writer took the time to write about their process, or drop hints, or just describe the shitstorm that is the inside of their cranium because I find all of that stuff so helpful and important and powerful and true.
Even when everyone does it different and feels it different and produces it all different.
No writer is the same, but be damned if we aren’t all a face on some weird dodecahedronical 4th dimensional beast spewing self-absorbed tweets and wondering if we are the only one.

BKV
Anyway, enough about me, I wanted to showcase this great Brian K Vaughan piece you can read online and is from the mega-huge superfantastic SAGA HC containing the first 18 issues of the title I love so dearly.
He drops plenty of bombs for your process id to chew over breakfast, I wouldn’t be quoting so much as lifting the piece so instead I’ll link to it here:

BKV TALKS WRITING, from the Saga HC

But I will highlight one line because it’s the sort of thing I find useful to remind myself, and the sort of thing we should all know/remember/practise and here it is:

I try to force myself to use no more than six panels a page, and no more than twelve balloons of dialogue per page, with no balloon exceeding two typewritten lines of text

Think about the myriad reasons to do this. Think of the letterer, allow that person to do their job sanely. Think of the artist, allow that person to have room to do their job creatively/awesomely. Think of the reader, allow them to not be overwhelmed by the page/words/text-slabs/density. Think of your characters, your pacing, your beats, everything. Paring back is good, assuming the intelligence of your readership is fun, and a good editor once told me that whenever you feel you are finished the whole thing could probably lose 10% easy and not suffer at all. And he was pretty well exactly dead on the money with that call.

I’d been thinking about this all this week because an editor asked me to start numbering all the dialogue/captions on the page [nope, I’d never formatted that way before] and I started freaking out because all my pages were running up into double digits. This made me feel a lot better.

As for panels per page, well, man, this is something I’ve loooong stewed over. I noticed way back when that BKV/Pia Guerra’s Y: THE LAST MAN possibly never ran over 6 panels, and always seemed to average around 4, with some 5, a few 3, and that consistency really got to me. Then I read EX MACHINA by BKV/Tony Harris and that book’s like clockwork for 4 panel pages. And then SAGA is 5 panels most of the time.

From there, I started looking at how other comics rolled – obvs WATCHMEN is the 9 panel grid, Frank Miller would rock the 16 panel grid, I noticed the widescreen layout of Hitch on ULTIMATES and Parlov on FURY MAX and soon I can’t read something without counting the panels with the hand behind my back.

But what does this for me? Knowing all this is no good unless it informs you, maybe even elevates you. So for me, I started looking at what my go-to was for panel count on a page. I seem to sit ~5-6 for most pages, on default. But in editing I’m always looking to drop a panel if/when/where I can. I’m doing this tablet view book and I noticed I definitely love 3 panels per tablet page, so 6 per art page. Whereas I’ll skew to 5 if I’m scripting just a plain full page.

Suddenly, you start looking at the splash pages you do – should you do a Brian Wood and pack the pages with density so you can afford that double splash of Conan sitting down [still one of my favourite double splashes of all time, because it’s about emotion] or do you eschew the splashes entirely, like Phillips/Brubaker on CRIMINAL who only ever dropped 1, and it was a guy looking up at a star filled sky.

Panel count is so important because it’s the control you exert over the reader, over time, and over the way the story reads and feels. If you aren’t thinking about it then what the hell are you doing this in comics for?

Anyway, sometimes rules like this are great because they give you a guide, a starting point, and something to keep you on the straight and narrow and not making the crazy noob mistakes [some of my early early scripts called for some insane 11 panel pages, and worse – and you can go way higher than that, but not with the amount of dialogue and people I also wanted in those panels :(].
Then, as always, remember it’s just a suggestion and if you wanna go crazy with a 25 panel page, or a silent page, or silent issue, or splash with no art, or whatever, then at least you’re probably one step closer to doing it with meaning. Because the old saw of not breaking the rules until you know them and show you can use them is so so very true.
Anyway, also read the post because thinking about BKV stressing over his words and hating on himself makes me fell better about myself in all sorts of nasty mental ways.

What is Best in Life? – 2014 Style

It’s been a good year, let’s steep in the high octane feels.

Best Comic
HAWKEYE

4075322-5+hawkeye2012020_int_lr2-page-005

This book is just an insane process bonanza near on every single issue. I enjoy this book, but also feel I’m learning from it. That’s exactly how I want to spend my time right now. And I bought in mainly for Aja’s art so it says a lot that Annie Wu’s issues are just as pleasing for me on every single level. This book is a true bruiser, you need it in your life.

Best TV
HANNIBAL

hannibal-season-2-finale-mizumono-mads-mikkelsen

Love everything about this show. The chaacter performances/arcs, the writing, the slowburn pacing, the way it does not ever pander, and even the messed up horror. This show always makes me want to go out and create.

Best Movie
CAPTAIN AMERICA – THE WINTER SOLDIER

winter soldier flick

Didn’t see this on a lot of Top 10 lists and was floored by the absence. This flick rocked me so hard I actually saw it a second time. In a year where I only really watched like a dozen flicks, I watched this twice. And did it in black and white the second time and it was superb.

Best Book
WORDS FOR PICTURES by Brian Michael Bendis

words for picturec over

Not so much levelled at actual craft but moreso at all the other parts of the game that fall in between the cracks. Dealing with editors, writing for artists, etc. Book is supremely readable and just flat out great. I’d put this in my #makecomics 101 basket every time.

Best App

ZITE

zite

This news aggregation app really helped me keep in contact with the world at times (for the little things and thoughtpieces twitter failed me on) and it broadened my scope a little. When I go to bed, I get my zite and my tumblr on. It’s good stuff.

Ha, just realised, with all the swiping on articles and such zite is pretty much the tinder of articles.

Best Music
CAPTAIN AMERICA – THE WINTER SOLDIER OST

CATWS

A lot of my 2014 writing output was scored to this soundtrack. The Lemurian Star track just tells me to SUMC (shut up and make comics)

Best Decision

A Career…Deviation

For years, I’ve been in and out of teaching at an executive level (as an assistant principal). I have decided, for 2015, to step away from that level of work. It’s a step away from money – but one project lined up will cover a little of that missing moolah, thankfully – but mostly it’s just a step away from having a cluttered brain. Being a classroom teacher AND having to organise other school ventures and things is a lot of work, plus wanting to be an engaging husband, and have two kids, and y’know, the whole writing dealie.

So, for 2015, I’m stepping back to just being a classroom teacher – a gig I can do standing on my ear – and the rest of my mind can focus on the writing a little more. Which, again, is starting off well with an announcement of a sweet book coming at some stage which I think you’ll all dig, and see why I wanted to give it as much grey matter as I possibly could.

As for going writing full time – a-hahahahahahaha – yeah, that might take a little while longer. Maybe if I lived with my mother, leeching her wifi, and had no lady options, then I could afford such fancy things. For now, writing is not coming close to teaching money so we’ll just keep the kids in new shoes, okay?

——-

I hope your 2014 was full of many ‘best’ things. Here’s to all the best things – huzzah. And roll on 2015 – believe.

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