Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

STAIN THE SEAS SCARLET – Meet and Greet

My next one-shot comic is a spacesuit noir revenge tale with Alex Cormack called STAIN THE SEAS SCARLET and it’s coming to Kickstarter next week, for the whole of November.

I’m in love with this book and I want you to fall in love, too, so here’s a little meet and greet for you to get to know everyone and everything about it:

ALEX CORMACK

Hot on the heels of his titanic launching of indie runaway success SINK with writer John Lees at ComixTribe, we steal Alex away for one issue and he brings everything to these pages. His inks were phenomenal, and then he coloured himself and made some insanely great choices. This book looks this good because he’s an artist worth knowing, following, and falling in love with.

Here’s a panel of our spacesuited lead using a gravity well around her fist to draw in nefarious nanoblobs to use them against her attackers.

HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU

The brains behind the analytical masterpieces StripPanelNaked and PanelXPanel can also letter. The amount of intellect he’s brought to this comic is amazing and everything is 1000x better because of his inclusion in the book.

Here’s our opening panel.

YELENA

Our lead character, and she’s a bruiser. Her planet is being terraformed by invading android weirdo armies and she’s fought the good fight and now is making one last Hail Mary play.

I’ve loved writing Yelena and I think a lot of people are going to love her after they read this issue.

PLATH

Our story’s villain, or, the lead villain representing a villainous regime. It’s hard to pin down exactly what Plath is – robot, techno-organic 80s video nasty, fleshy intergalactic Cronenberg nightmare – so it’s better to judge Plath by actions, not words. And Plath is nasty, just soullessly nasty. The kind of soulless nasty we need to defeat in the world in 2017.

And that’s really all you need to know. I could tell you more about Yelena’s planet, but it’s pretty well fubar. I could explain how Yelena’s sister figures into this, but I’d rather that be a surprise. And I won’t recount what the robot army are like as a whole because if Plath is their leader then you know something’s rotting in Intergalactic Denmark.

Though it might be sensible to introduce myself, I suppose.

RYAN K LINDSAY

I’m a writer. This is my sixth Kickstarter campaign. I’ve written for Dark Horse, Black Mask, Vertigo, IDW, ComixTribe, and my own imprint which this comic will be on – Four Colour Ray Gun.

I hope you like all the ingredients that have gone into this book and we’ll see you next week when we launch, and launch strong.

Stay tuned!

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STAIN THE SEAS SCARLET – Coming Soon to Kickstarter

STAIN THE SEAS SCARLET is a spacesuit noir revenge one-shot from Alex Cormack and me that’s coming to Kickstarter in November.

This 22 page standalone one-shot comic is completely finished and we’ll be running a digital only campaign for it next month. It follows Yelena, a resistance warrior realising the terraforming robot army has won, but that’s no reason to give up.

You can get the comic, or some digital extras – in the usual style you’ll know well if you’ve backed any of my 5 previously successful campaigns – and then there’ll be great art opportunities, other fun stuff, and plenty of digital extras unlocked as we cruise past our funding goal and beyond.

We’re going to be hunting for $3000 so I’ll let you know particulars you should keep an eye out for in the lead up to this so we can launch with a strong day and no one misses out on the good stuff they wanted right away – there’s gonna be OG art, and a cover commission you will not want to miss if you’re putting together your own comic projects.

I’m excited to release this comic because Alex Cormack’s art in it is completely wild and you’re going to fall in love, this I promise.

RKL Annotations – BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #4

Beautiful Canvas is a comic from Sami Kivela, Triona Farrell, Ryan Ferrier, Dan Hill, and myself through Black Mask Studios.

Issue #4 is on shelves right now and it’s our final issue. We started a tale, and now it’s done. Read the Murder Book rap sheet below.

Below are my annotations. An inside look into my brain as I reflect on our making of this issue, and a chance for me to unpack what I’m seeing in the work now, and how I feel it connects on a broader spectrum. I hope you dig, and find something that’ll help your mind think/make comics in the future.

THE COVER – SAMI KIVELA

You’d almost be fooled into thinking this cover was simple. There’s so much black, and white, and only 3 real elements, but it’s all about the composition of this one for me. Lon’s body language is, as always, perfect. The flame trail just represents so much, and we went through a few colour scheme to get this just right, and this is definitely just right. Then the skyline caps it off, the city she’s saving now something behind her. It’s saved, but she’s walking away.

And that skyline is gorgeous, got shades of Frank Miller in my heart, and I love it so.

This cover might just be my favourite; it’s up there with #2.

PAGE ONE

This opening panel was so easy for me to write, and I’m a bastard, but hot damn it’s worth it to see Sami draw his own version of a helicarrier. That design, Tree’s amazing colours on the vehicle as well as the sky, and then that one caption, and this panel stands alone as something I think we nailed 100%. It sets a tone I’m really happy with for the events of this issue.

We then cut to Milla in a moment where she seems like she’s breaking the fourth wall. She’s not, but I love that it seems that way. Because she’s right, we are indeed entering the final act of the main narrative.

The reveal of Milla in her ship with Asia and Alex was a time jump I know is a gamble. We left things with Lon shooting Alex and now we’re moving forward in time. We explain what happened, in rough terms, but this is my big fear that it’ll throw people off. But I like playing with time. Issues #2-3 actually went back a few seconds between the end of one, and the start of the next, the flashback notwithstanding. But this jumps hours ahead. I hope people don’t mind missing the “action” in between, because it was actually just boring stuff and as such i didn’t want to write it. Showing your pieces move across the board isn’t always as exciting as revealing the pieces in a dangerous situation.

These fluid filled tanks from Sami/Tree are gorgeous. Milla would absolutely have this weird stuff on standby.

PAGE TWO

I had to get across the idea that Asia is there keeping Alex alive by subduing his mind while the fire has just about consumed his body. I do this by having her monologue at a comatose Asia. I should have had someone else in the room with Milla. Another wolf soldier. Someone to ask pointed questions as to what they could do, so I didn’t need to have Milla stating things outright, which I really tried to not do here so I know it’ll be oblique to those not reading deeply.

I love Ferrier’s balloon tail in that second panel. Subtle, but amazing.

Panel three has Milla continue her monologue ,which I do enjoy, and she lays out her plan. This is everything she’s going to do. Simply because she’s nuts. Like some kind of Willy Wonka Bond Villain. Hence the “We will be the makers of music.” line.

PAGE THREE

I scripted new dialogue over this page a million times. Literally. I hit 999,999 times, and then did one more pass.

This was more fear that readers wouldn’t get what had happened with the time jump. This was in response to reviews saying the book was great, but wasn’t laying out answers with clarity. So I squeaked some info in here as to what’s happened since the last issue, and I wonder how it’ll land.

This page is Lon and Eric in the midst of it. Everything is jumping off and they need to launch into the final fray. Eric knows how to do this, which becomes really clear in the coming pages.

PAGE FOUR

Eric triggering some new marks is the big play on this page, but the underscore is Lon’s look at him, and the look on his own face. She doesn’t trust him right here, and he’s beyond caring. He’s enjoying the road as he feels like it’s maybe leading towards an end.

PAGE FIVE

I know there’s a lot of violence in this book, and maybe we’re desensitised to it, but Eric killing these two is a complete dick move. Lon’s reaction is my reaction, she’s the only person left in this story who’s still a normal functioning human, which is funny because she was a hitwoman not long before this.

Time changes you and your outlook on life. Sometimes you don’t even see the change sneaking up on you.

And Eric drops an open sentence for the page change two in a row…

PAGE SIX

The dropship coming down is an opportunity for narrative movement. Eric’s way of handling entrance to it is a character moment. The wolf soldiers coming out of the dropship is a gonzo moment.

I like that they loom at the bottom of the page, bringing such weird threat with them, and then we deal with them in one big moment next page.

PAGE SEVEN

Eric using his power here to throw the car isn’t an insight to us, but it is to Lon. We have to remember that. This is a moment where not having captions left me out in the cold a bit, haha.

This whole moment is Eric’s Raiders of the Lost Ark moment where Indy shoots the guy with the sword. Why drag shit out when you can be efficient and effective. The look on Eric’s face at the end sells it all. Good ol’ Sami and his facial expressions, always the best in show.

PAGE EIGHT

Okay, this page is a masterpiece. This is the sort of thing that comes from knowing your collaborator, and collaborating with Sami Kivela. This page gets me excited to read comics, no less make them.

Realistically, there was a lot to unpack here, and showing lots of intricacies was going to clag up the whole works. So I asked Sami if we could do something fun here and he’s always down to be the best creator on the page, so he ran with it.

The overall layout is a thing of beauty, but it’s the little things, the details that prove Sami is the GOAT on this one. The panel with Eric using his hand wave to twist a wolf’s head around is genius, and the panel of the wolf being shot back and we see the cockpit behind it is insanely good. Sami is always thinking. His geography is flawless.

Our two leads then step into the cockpit and Tree changes the lighting, and thus the mood. Spectacular. And here, finally, Lon decided there’s a moment for them to talk and work out where they are standing. She’s been put onto uneven ground and she needs to get stability back to her world.

PAGE NINE

It’s interesting to note that Eric starts off by telling the truth. That stuff is all real. Then he starts to swerve, obfuscate, and straight up lie. But we do learn that the hit troupe from #1 was orchestrated by Eric, so that’s one Q A’ed. Then Eric gets back into the truth, that Alex represents a beginning, he’s the fuse, and it’s all about to get big.

The final line is really the summation of Milla’s plan. People looking deeper won’t find anything, this is just her expressing herself. As humans want to do, and are usually allowed to.

PAGE TEN

I love the geometrical design of this page. It’s kind of an inverted triangle, but the point at the bottom is an explosion of Milla’s full form. And the top is actually not a straight line, it’s wiggly, it’s erratic. It all reflects Milla getting things sorted, getting her place in line, and then it all points to her. It’s all for her.

This page IS Milla Albuquerque.

By this stage of the story, I’ve truly doubled down on Milla’s propensity to monologue to herself. She thinks theatrically, she lives that way, despite the lack of an audience, because she is her own audience. This is all for her, no one else. So you can’t silence a voice that doesn’t need to be heard, and you can’t hide her away or muffle what’s coming out because that’s not the point. Milla is all about doing it and enjoying it, the expression means much more than the reception.

Which is actually a good way to create art. Being dependent on the reactions of others is a dire way to put things into the world, but being able to be satisfied yourself in what you’ve done is wildly liberating. It’s insane, and also misses the point of art on so many levels, but it would also be so so much easier.

As Lon and Eric fight closer to her, she waits and honestly looks forward to it all. She has no idea what’s going to happen, but she’s down for whatever.

PAGE ELEVEN

I packed so much into this page and Sami handled it all like a boss.

Milla is honest, she really does love what she’s created with these two.

Then she lets slip the big news moving forward – she can’t be allowed to die because it’ll awaken every pyrokinetic sleeper agent on her books. Which we know is a lot.

The escalation from entrance to the shot nearly hitting Lon’s head is too quick, I think, but it’s what we’ve got, and the rest of the pages all flow a lot better, so it gets us where we need to go and be.

PAGE TWELVE

And Eric finally reveals himself a little more. He’s not just here for the good times, he’s here to turn on Lon and kill Alex. Initially when he pinched off her suit he was going to crush her arm off and she’d be left with a bionic arm at the end of the story, but it didn’t work well for this scene to have her bleeding out insanely from the loss of a limb, so I scrapped it.

Then we end the page with the truth all tumbling out. Because Milla knows all about it…

PAGE THIRTEEN

Eric’s daughter is already dead. He’s lied about her. And if you paid attention to when Eric searched for his daughter, Eve Robinson, in the camera, you now know why he wanted to drop everything and watch that footage so much.

Was it worth discovering this now and then a reread will play that scene differently? Well, I hope so, ha.

Milla gets words and Panel Five is clearly too wordy, but I liked all the words, so bugger it – in they remained. So Milla explains it all to Lon in a page, and she also drops the fact that Eric’s daughter is also her daughter, and the way we do that means, yes, I want you paying attention. Read. Every. Word.

The final panel is all about Milla finally making a connection with Lon – she’s hinting that Lon’s daughter is a sleeper agent also. Again: I’m not gonna have her state it all in so many words. I just can’t bring myself to do that, but I hope people jump into this with me [my rally cry since issue #1 – I want people interrogating these pages].

Also, that negative space in the bottom is the best. Love how empty it is, and where Ferrier drops the caption.

PAGE FOURTEEN

Eric slings the bullet away and reveals his inner truth – he feels like they’re all damned. He feels this because Milla made him something else, and that caused the death of his daughter, and I was never ever gonna show you what happened, because the idea of it should be enough to give you chills. What a horrible turn of events, and I hope it sticks in your guts.

At this stage, Asia has awakened – presumably the shooting at Alex jolted him which caused reverb back into Asia, so she’s here, and she leaps at Eric’s back like Voorhees coming outta the lake in Part I and she floods Eric’s mind with Eve. This is what pauses the whole situation, which also allowed the pause off Alex. Unfortunately.

Lon screams for Asia to return to Alex, because she knows this will kill him, and she’s torn on that front, but Asia is resolute, and she’s making the bigger decision that Lon hasn’t been able to.

PAGE FIFTEEN

All points converge through Lon’s POV as she sees the three things before her, and must choose what will live and what will not.

Excuse me, the FOUR things before her.

Then Lon makes her decision, in as few words as possible. Again, trying to keep things clean and not overexplain. Let her actions speak more than anything else. So into the uncontrolled fire goes Eric. And so too does Lon, hoping she’ll survive.

The thick white section is time passing and that’s the kind of thing you can script all you want, but the whole team has to work to pull it off. Thankfully, Sami changes up the angles on the shot for the next panel, and Tree dominates with her colours, and the result is a very clear transition of time.

That movie caption came very late in the game. I wasn’t listening to the song though, I promise.

This final panel is so well laid out, so much space around the characters, so much world still out there hogging the frame. And their words are going to be true forever and for everything moving forward.

PAGE SIXTEEN

I scripted this page as a conversation. I had to get it all out. Then I edited it. Then I broke it across panels. Then Sami wanted to kill me. But then he came around on this stupid over-panelled idea. And then, once drawn, I edited the script again. Thinking about the truth of the moment, the stuff that was Capital N Needed, and also thinking of Ferrier on letters, ha. These are the beautiful moments of collaboration.

I also dig how that final panel runs full down into the bleed, as Lon looks back into the zephyr. That’s art storytelling well beyond my pay grade.

PAGE SEVENTEEN

This kind of summarises how to combat trolls, and how to fight against the world, and how to stay upright through the resistance. Tl;dr – fear is for fools, and fear is their tool.

Lon is completely resolute here in this sequence. My idea is that ever since she found out she’d be a mother, Lon has grappled with violence. She wanted to step away from it, she wanted to rise above it, be better than it. A parent protects.

But, the thing is, protection can be a violent game. Retribution can occur, and you can’t always remain passive. We hope and wish for such a thing, but it’s just not true. It sucks, but it’s not always an option. Lon finally understands that, she realises violence doesn’t mean you aren’t protecting, and parents aren’t a passive shield. So she steps up to make the world a better place, for her kid, but also just in general.

This page is the culmination of Lon’s growth.

The zig zag of the final tier of panels is glorious as it focuses on Lon, and the movement, and not the actual violence.

PAGE EIGHTEEN

And so Milla becomes the one with the metal plumage now. That whole throne, her death, everything was built to this moment of flipping the intro.

The rest of the page is Lon dealing with the cathartic pain of what she’s become, and the world in which she has to become in. And Sami handles it all perfectly. The absolute carnage of Alex and Eric, and her one delicate hand says it all. She’s accepting, but that’s still a painful internal transformation to undergo.

Beside Lon, always with her, is Asia. Accepting, supporting, they are a team. As good parents should be. While the world twirls around them, they must hold fast. Their one true goal is the same, and becoming violent, seeing the world vastly change with these sleepers awakened all around, this changes nothing for a parent.

A parent protects their child, that’s the job. Protect, teach, lead, love.

PAGE NINETEEN

The future is safe. It’s unsafe for man people, but the actual concept of the future, the time ahead, is safe now. Things can still be amazing.

That part is probably just wishful thinking from me. I’m happy to cop to that.

This final image is the close of the story, really. The zephyr floats above, the city burns below, and will only get worse, and our two ladies are allowed a moment. Because if you pull back enough, you’ll see the world is a melting pot of emotion and action, and yet we endure. We find a way to move forward and find a way. We have to, there is no other option.

You search it out, you carve your own space, and you make a little piece of the universe yours. This is what Lon learn and hopefully we do, too. Keep moving and defend yourself, your ideals, and your love forever. Because on the horizon, you’ll find your island.

PAGE TWENTY

Okay, Coda time.

I always love a good coda. And I came up with the brainchild that because it’s a coda, we could use a different storytelling method. So we were allowed to use captions. But not just any captions, we could go crazy, use big arcs of words like BWS did in WEAPON X. man, I loved writing these pages.

This coda is Lon applying her lesson, showing us she’s going to be alright, she hasn’t forgotten.

It also teases out what’s happened in the aftermath of this mess: people are hunting the names of the sleeper agents, because some have managed to go dormant, and that scares people. But should it?

Isn’t acceptance the key, much like Lon told Milla. Fear is the problem, so remove it’s teeth. So Lon wait, ready to act, if needed, but happy not to if she can avoid it.

Also, dig that bear design, obvs influenced by Weapon X as well.

PAGE TWENTY ONE

We get the time frame now because we see Asia’s belly. We can see months have floated by, and the world is still there. Lon and Asia are still there.

Asia gets to describe the flipside to Milla’s beautiful canvas, which makes the title of the story take on a new meaning now, I hope. Every person’s beautiful canvas is the life they create, that they foster, and respect, and love, and craft for the future.

As these two bicker, as lovers are wont to do, we see Alex as a spectre, but a rather content one. This is the personification of Lon’s state of mind. She’s able to come to grips with her past, all of it, and understand it all in a broader lifelong, worldwide context.

Which builds us to the final page…

PAGE TWENTY TWO

I love playing the end against the beginning, and I’m 100% happy with how we’ve done it here. This is a wheel turn, but the wheel has advanced, so it’s the same, but it’s different. This is life.

I also can’t overstate how much Tree’s colours bring this whole moment home. They are such a difference from the opening page of 31 – and that blue horizon behind them calms me and makes me smile every damn time.

The book on the table is another Argento jam. I’ll let you google it, but know it’s not chosen for specific reference to story moments here, but more as just a neat bookend, and important because Lon has put that book down. She’s moved onto something new, a little less violent and horrific. But the book is still there, ready to be picked up, if needed.

Ending with “This has been THE BEAUTIFUL CANVAS” was something I thought up and then couldn’t not do. It brought it all together for me.

And that’s the story. Many have asked if I will do a sequel, and you can see here that people survived, so I really could, but I don’t have anything to say as yet. Lon’s lesson is so important, and is so complete here that I’ve certainly closed the door on this. But I’d be interested in coming back to the characters a decade later, as the wheel has turned many times, and see how they are coping, how the world has transformed as it’s moved on, and what their daughter is like.

Hell, I’d give her a sibling, without this curse, and see what family drama that breeds.

Now that I think about it…hrmm…

BACK MATTER

Truth, Beauty, Erudition – choose one

Fun, as always. And always nice to gush about your amazing team when they so clearly deserve it.

JAM SESSIONS

Okay, this one was a beast. I don’t know what I expected when Dan Hill and I entered a room to talk about Matt Fraction. Maybe we should have limited ourselves to just 1-3 books. Maybe. But probably not.

Matt Fraction looms over most of my work, and not always in ways you might expect. I just dig his work ethic, his devotion, the fact he’s busy as hell and manages it, and his quality. I don’t specifically want to write books like him – I don’t think I could, nor should, nor would. I want to write RKL books, but I want to always strive for more, so he helps me think of what that ethereal more might look like.

There’s too much to cover, but this might be my favourite Jam Session we’ve done yet. Or maybe it’s the worst, I don’t know. But I enjoyed it, and I hope you dig it, and if it gets you to try out one Fraction book you hadn’t before, then it’ll have all been worth it.

Also: daaaamn, that Kivela illo. Love it, as always.

THE TRUTH

Fraction took all the space, so we scrapped this. But I have one written. Maybe we’ll put it in the tpb.

And that’s us done. How sad, how wonderful. If you came this far, especially with the annotations, you are wonderful. Thank you.

There will be a tpb collection of BEAUTIFUL CANVAS at some stage. I know when, but can’t confirm just yet – set phasers for 2018 and some present buying for your smart friends, though. I will tell you when I can, because you should buy 5 and give them out at birthdays and for Xmas and such because it’s probably a safe bet your friends didn’t get it already, and if they are your friends then they are probably smart enough to get it and good looking enough to love it. Just like you are.

But until then, thank you.

BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #4 – Out This Week!

And so our beautiful tale ends.

Lon Eisley has come a long long way, baby. This issue sees the end of our story, and I guarantee there’s a tonne to chew on in this issue, as well as one hell of a satisfying final page.

For those who have followed us on this journey this year, we thank you and hope you dig the book on NCBD.

Illustrated by Sami Kivela

Written by Ryan K Lindsay

Coloured by Triona Farrell

Lettered by Ryan Ferrier

Edited by Dan Hill

Published by Black Mask Comics

Enjoy.

THE TWO FISTED HOMEOPAPE – The Smell of a Number Edition

My newsletter lands in inboxes every Monday, delivering an update about my writing life, as well as considerations on making and writing comics, links to good fuel for your brain, rapid fire thoughts on the latest media I’ve squeezed into the week, and if you’d dig that kind of round up then click the image to go to the subscription page and get yourself a treat to start every week.

This week was The Smell of a Number Edition – here’s a sample:

“I know I know, I’m being political. And this is a newsletter about writing, right? So here’s something:

Be political. Be informed, be active, be angry, be as right as you can as much of the time as you can.

Because then you’re living a life where you’ve got shit to say. And the best stories have shit to say. Fence sitting/hand wringing isn’t a story, and it won’t drive your characters through to the end. I want to write stories about suicide and the diamond forming pressures of parenthood and the galactic failure of idiocy to lead and the infinite self-absorbtion we’re facing as a people. I want to stake claim to ground in those fields, and I want to do it by synthesising the world around me, and hating things, and wishing for things, and for being engaged.

The moment you shrug and let shit happen, well, you’re already dead. And so are your stories.”

To read more, be sure to HIT THE LINK and subscribe.

The Two Fisted Homeopape – The Whispered Mentions of 2018 Edition

My newsletter lands in inboxes every Monday, delivering an update about my writing life, as well as considerations on making and writing comics, links to good fuel for your brain, rapid fire thoughts on the latest media I’ve squeezed into the week, and if you’d dig that kind of round up then click the image to go to the subscription page and get yourself a treat to start every week.

This week was The Whispered Mentions of 2018 Edition – here’s a sample:

“Listened to Bryan Cranston on the latest Nerdist and he mentioned two major things that stuck with me and made me think about story planning and creativity.

He mentioned that old chestnut that Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman was only supposed to last a few episodes, he was Walter White’s plausible “in” to the world of meth. But then Paul slayed it in the role, and he got to stay.

And, that’s pretty cool, force of will, chemistry, and talent got me half a decade’s work, rather than just a few weeks.

But I got to thinking about what they did to the overall plan of the show for Vince Gilligan. Because the show is about Walter White breaking bad, but it’s also about Jesse Pinkman becoming unbreakable. That dual narrative is the entire heart of the show, and it clearly wasn’t there from the very start. Which is crazy, and kinda awesome.

And the other thing Cranston said was he worked with some professors to get into Walter’s head on that level, but he didn’t want to study cancer because he wanted to discover it with Walt, which is an insane idea, but is actually something I think rings true. I find I have to script a little to discover the characters and the world first, and it’s why characters start to break away from their plot outline because you’re now discovering the plot beats as they discover them, and seeing it as you better know them after inhabiting some page real estate with them.

Creating worlds and filling them with populations is some kind of wild alchemy, and I’ll always be wary of it.”

To read more, be sure to HIT THE LINK and subscribe.

RKL Annotations – BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #3

Beautiful Canvas is a comic from Sami Kivela, Triona Farrell, Ryan Ferrier, Dan Hill, and myself through Black Mask Studios.

Issue #3 was shifted back a week, but distance [of time] makes the heart grow fonder, right?

Below are my annotations. An inside look into my brain as I reflect on our making of this issue, and a chance for me to unpack what I’m seeing in the work now, and how I feel it connects on a broader spectrum. I hope you dig, and find something that’ll help your mind think/make comics in the future.

THE COVER – SAMI KIVELA

Sami came up with a bunch of those little warning signs for the cover and eventually chose the best ones to use. I love that Sami’s brain is constantly cooking when you collaborate with him. He’s such a gentlemen, and a crazy genius to boot.

I love that the gorgeous exosuit Sami designed gets some play here.

PAGE ONE

This page didn’t exist for a few drafts. I cut straight to Lon launching out the window to open this issue, and I’m glad now I didn’t. This flashback isn’t much on narrative, but it sets a character tone, and we get to call back to it later, so it pleases me so.

That idea of having a wide white bar down the side and putting text into it is very obviously something I stole from Brubaker’s work on KILL OR BE KILLED. I won’t try and hide that influence. And I’m actually happy with the excerpt from the book Lon is reading – sometimes those words never come to me, and sometimes they work. These one work [for me].

Seeing the girl twice playing on this page, when you know she dies in a minute, gets more heartbreaking every time I read this page.

PAGE TWO

Dig that exosuit superheavy design by Sami, and Tree coloured the hell out of it. Writing this sort of stuff is the absolute best part of the job.

Also really love how Sami timed this page to match with the final page of #2 so it makes sense for it to have happened and worked out. Sami’s layouts are genius for this kind of thing. You can also see that ghost reflection in one of the shards of glass and realise that Sami is damn well capable of anything on a page.

PAGE THREE

Choreographing everyone on this page did my head in during the planning stage. Who was going to react, how, where, why, and what would it leave them doing and where?

In the end, I don’t think this is my strongest page. It gets Asia moving out of the scene. It gets Eric to see Milla in the chopper, but it doesn’t do much more. It’s a bit thin, really. I like the pacing of Eric’s lines, and the passage they take, but they aren’t doing much.

“I’ll do better next time” is all we can say, right?

PAGE FOUR

Whereas this page certainly does something. We reveal this idea of ‘sleeper agents’ that Milla has access to and can activate. This should answer certain questions the answer might have been holding onto. Does it grab their face and scream the answer into their retinas? No. I want you to piece it all together. But it’s all here, coming to light.

THEY BOTH YIELD is a prime example of the way I’m giving info out. That title clearly tells you what I think of both of these characters, but it won’t say it outright. I refuse, and I hope you don’t mind.

PAGE FIVE

This page reveals Alex has run away from Lon, but we don’t show you Lon on the car, coming to, without him until the next page. Again, just the way I like to roll things out. I’m sure it’ll throw too curvy a ball for 1 in 10, but I think the rest won’t mind.

That plant horse is just madness, right? I sometimes feel like I could throw anything at Sami and he’d nail it. Also love that pink background Tree dropped on the mayhem. Makes it pop in all kinds of funky ways for your mind.

PAGE SIX

This is an instance of a boring page – Lon wakes, she gets picked up by Asia, they move to where the action is going to be – and yet I’m completely happy with it, and here’s why.

I used the page to show a little more about Lon, and even Asia.

Lon stares down the ghost of the girl she killed, and she walks away mid-sentence. She’s trying her damnedest to move on.

And Asia has just stepped up to show herself as this rad sci fi bike riding lady of action who isn’t going to back down from the situation. She’s going to stand by her girl.

The way Sami paced out Asia picking up Lon is really well done, and that bike is just crazy gorgeous. I think flying bikes are my new trope.

PAGE SEVEN

Okay, we see that Alex is a super danger to everyone around him, we get Lon and Asia moving to the scene, and we start to connect Eric and Milla. This page does stuff, but I’m not crazy excited by how it does it. It’s perfunctory, it’s just doing what it has to do. I did struggle with this page in the script, because I had characters who needed to get into position, and I had to place them into position, and that’s kinda all I did.

The sfx of the helicopter being dragged down into the road was my idea – and I’m not certain I made the right call with it.

I didn’t notice Sami snuck a CHUM Easter Egg into Panel Three.

Also: don’t ask me the timeframe on Eric getting to the downed chopper just after Lon and Asia zoom away.

PAGE EIGHT

Sami draws the best faces. His angry Alex is a sight to behold. That he can go from humanity to wild sci fi destruction in half a page consistently excites me. He’s an illustrator who is limitless, and writing for that is as much fun as it is anxiety inducing. You never want to waste what you’ve got.

The way Triona handles the building corner falling, and the pink background building to an emotional retaliation is lovely. Every panel always has so much feeling in it.

PAGE NINE

That big mess of rubble and a map is why artists hate writers.

I’m sure colourists hate writer, too.

Basically, writers are dicks.

But this page looks so good, and gives us such information, and it’s funky in a way only comics can do so beautifully. We get our guy saving himself, and then a showdown with Alex, and then fire across the page. There’s tension and time and space on this page. Sami did a great job with the duelling fire across the bottom, and we crosscut with Eric’s conversation with Milla just to layer in a bit more, and draw both scenes together a little bit.

PAGE TEN

People have wanted answers, and this page is what it looks like to get answers from me. Milla is somewhat oblique about it all, but she’s also laying a lot out on the line here. What she’s doing is clear, and the scope to which she is doing it. The rest of the page isn’t very razzle-dazzle, but you need to focus on these words. I need you to understand what’s going on.

PAGE ELEVEN

Milla gets one last dig in at Eric, about spreading who he is, and then we introduce Moore to the scene. Because things have to finally move on – you can see I’d be horrible at writing a 5 page sequence of talking heads because I’d constantly worry I was losing the reader. All i ever do is worry about these pages – is it too boring, is it too confusing, is it too lame…reframe, repeat.

Eric’s action against Moore is harsh, maybe not well thought through, but he’s operating from emotion now. Milla got under his skin.

PAGE TWELVE

Hot damn Sami and Tree know how to create pain and scope for their firefights. Especially with those inset panels, they make you linger, they drag you into the smoke and hold you there.

Asia drops a little more exposition – because the facts are rolled out slowly, and she has a plan. We also know she’s gutsy enough to try it, too.

PAGE THIRTEEN

I love the colours on this page, the heat of the yellow. You feel it all.

Then we get that panel, and Asia Prof X’s into Alex’s head. For me, she’s looking in there here and seeing a representation of what he feels. It’s not literal, how many of our thoughts and feelings ever are? But it’s the monster he feels he’s become in this short amount of time, it’s this horrible dragon he feels affinity with – which is a problem because he saw his mother as the dragon, too. He’s blaming her for what he’s becoming, which is totally unfair and untrue.

So Asia gets knocked down and we get yet more inset panels of Lon just looking at everything. She’s weighing up her options, she’s looking at what needs to be done against what she hoped was all she’d have to do. I needed to make Lon’s choice in this sequence difficult, so we build up her tension with the moments/panels.

PAGE FOURTEEN

“Kicking back the tide” is such a great saying. And so many of my characters will do just that, endlessly.

Eric is here to mess up Milla’s cabbage patch, and he openly tells her so. This is one of those ‘down’ pages, where for pacing you are setting up for the next moment. I just wish it did more for Eric or Milla rather than just a decent line for each one.

Though I do like that Sami seems to be driving the extra car, and he goes up in flames. That must’ve been fun, ha.

PAGE FIFTEEN

Those smoke clouds from Sami/Tree are just gorgeous. There’s such beauty in them.

Eric throwing Moore into that car is the end of his story, and what a way to close out. I liked Moore, but this was his abrupt stop, he doesn’t get a full looping arc like the others.

I like the angle Sami uses for the final two panels as we split Eric from the camera, we give that pause of time, that shift of focus. Sami’s an expert at making the physics of those moments work so well on the page.

PAGE SIXTEEN

This page is all about Asia giving up and Lon realising she has to take a new angle on things. The plan she’s been running with since like Page 4 of issue #1 won’t hold anymore, sometimes you’re a killer and you have to kill. So Lon has to make a choice, and act upon it.

That gun barrel inset panel, and the pink, and the sfx, is what collaboration looks like. Every person in the squad worked to make that moment pop like that.

PAGE SEVENTEEN

Lon approaches the scene, she’s cold now, detached from things. Asia is reactive and hustling, and all Lon can offer the solution is more bullets. She’s broken by now, and on a slippery slope towards the end of this issue. All roads are leading to this final page, now.

The briefcase full of fish is something I now wish was just real and able to be bought in some local market.

PAGE EIGHTEEN

Eric is completely sucked in here. And he’s processing, pausing, and then realises he can search for his daughter.

I wish I’d build a buffer panel between the 1-2 here, just to give his thoughts a little more time, even just a white bar, something. Reading it, the moment feels quicker, and I wanted it to be him really pausing and then realising what he can do with this camera.

Milla sees what’s happening, and she wants it recorded – which should tell you so much about her, and what she does, and what she loves. And at the same time, Eric looks back at her and he’s just giving up. He’s got his daughter on screen, and he’s…well, it makes more sense next issue, but this reaction from him is totally in character here. For this moment, he’s beyond thinking about Milla.

PAGE NINETEEN

This is the tipping point for Lon, where she sees this whole mess fucking up her world. This is what makes her realign herself, yet again.

Sami and Tree did such an amazing job of showing Asia walking into Alex’s mind by walking into his panel – all an idea from an edit by Dan Hill. I swear, everything you love about this comic exclusively was not me, haha. Though I did purposefully make Alex’s repeated word mean two totally different things across those two panels. He’s telling Asia not to come in, but then he’s chasing it by telling her not to care.

Again, Sami’s inset panels electrify the pacing, the transition of things. They also make me subtly think about that cut back-and-forth you’d get in ALTERED BEAST when levelling up. I’m sure that’s not what Sami was drawing from, but it’s what I’m connecting to.

That goddamn dragon and all it symbolises.

Alex turns now, not pushing Asia away, but rather pulling her in. Holding her in close for the body blows.

PAGE TWENTY

Sami gives us Milla, and her movement, and the drones, and even a sign pointing to the Market Square 5 miles away. Damn, he knows how to get everything you need right in front of you.

The rest of this page is dedicated to Milla being a dick and just enjoying what she has created. She can hustle her ass somewhere AND take little moments to engage with the art of her city.

And the look on her face says it all, she’s enjoying all this far too much. Also: dig that green background in the final panel.

PAGE TWENTY ONE

I used the word beautiful in this comic at strategic places to show you what the ‘beautiful’ of the title is – and it’s anything but our standard definition of the word. It’s usually the opposite, and it’s ghastly, and yet it’s also completely what’s captivating on the page and in a narrative. We love seeing the shitshow in stories, and that’s just how Milla views the real world.

How far apart are we, truly?

Lon is alone now. Asia is trapped in the head, Alex is out, and then the ghost appears, making her feel more trapped inside herself.

It took me ages and ages to get the right rewrite to unlock what the girl said here. Man, it was like pulling teeth, but I really think we pulled it together.

When she whispers, you can zoom in and read it. I always hate that squiggly line that means you can’t know yet. It gets me every time, so I couldn’t do that to you.

And so Lon turns a corner. She is truly sorry, and she is honest when she says she didn’t know how to save ‘you’ – which could be Alex, could be the ghost, could be herself. In this moment, she doesn’t feel like a saviour, she feels like a killer, and she feels like she’s giving up. So she aims the gun, at the ghost, and on the other side, in the line of fire, we see Alex.

Will the shot at least save Asia, she doesn’t know, but dealing out death, yet again, is all she’s got.

PAGE TWENTY TWO

I’m interested to see what people think of this final page. It’s wild, and silent, and so beautifully illustrated. Sami shows that bullet getting closer and closer – yet another ending splash that plays with time. Triona nails the concept of the flames and the heat intensifying.

I did have a movie title caption on this page until the final lettering draft, where I realised we just didn’t need it.

This moment wasn’t the bombast, not really, it’s about being inside Lon’s head to feel this moment drag out slowly. This is her death, come what may.

BACK MATTER

Truth, Beauty, Erudition – choose one

Starting to get into a swing writing these.

JAM SESSIONS

Man, Sami continues to slaughter these illos for these pieces, right? This one right here is just glorious, really something of beauty and value. Just like the flick it discusses because THE RUNNING MAN will be curriculum viewing within the coming decade, you better believe it.

THE TRUTH

Weird, tangentially connected, a delight to write. I wonder if anyone is really reading these?

And that’s us for another month. Join us on the final Wednesday of August as #4 lands and concludes this wild wild ride, you’ll see it on the stands because it looks like this:

BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #3 Out This Week

Tipping into the 4th act, this issue brings some madness, and some answers [and more questions].

Illustrated by Sami Kivela

Coloured by Triona Farrell

Lettered by Ryan Ferrier

Edited by Dan Hill

Presented by Matt Pizzolo

Written by Ryan K Lindsay

and published by Black Mask

This issue is near and dear to us all. I think the opening page, and the character insight it brings, builds a tension to the melancholy that escalates in a horrific way into the final sequence. After this, we wrap it up, so you know we’re going to end with some bloody emotion on the page.

I’m also truly exceptionally proud of the back matter Jam Session Dan Hill and I roll into. I won’t spoil the topic yet, but it’s a favourite flick of mine that’s a part of me, and now I wanna make it a part of you. Plus: another spot illo from Sami Kivela that’s just gorgeous.

BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #3 out September 06 at all fine comic emporiums. Hook yourself up, and if you need #1-2 then I’m sure you can just ask.

 

The Two Fisted Homeopape – The Rundown Edition

My newsletter lands in inboxes every Monday, delivering an update about my writing life, as well as considerations on making and writing comics, links to good fuel for your brain, rapid fire thoughts on the latest media I’ve squeezed into the week, and if you’d dig that kind of round up then click the image to go to the subscription page and get yourself a treat to start every week.

This week was The Rundown Edition – here’s a sample:

“My Writing Ticks!

John Lees recently wrote about his writing ticks, and what genius ticks they are – hit up his newsletter to always learn more – or back him on Patreon because he’s one of the sharpest dudes I know, and always executes plans so you know it’ll be a good place to give a monthly tip – and it got me thinking about what my own writing ticks are.

In a slight moment of introspection, I found a large one.

Water, and underwater creatures

I’ve long been fascinated and scared of water. There’s a mystical unknown about it that just lures me in constantly. I seem to use water heavily in many stories, and it’s often more than just a location, it’s an element to the foundation of the story.

So HEADSPACE had its answers out on the water, and the monsters in NEGATIVE SPACE came from the water, and salvation might have been out on the water in CHUM. BEAUTIFUL CANVAS and DEER EDITOR have mostly steered clear, I think, but [THE ENYA PROJECT] deals heavily in the location of water, and [THE PLANET SNOWBLOOD PROJECT] is a whole mess of ice.

Another pitch also features water as a kind of MacGuffin.”

To read more, be sure to HIT THE LINK and subscribe.

My Newsletter – A Study in Madness and Shame

I write a weekly newsletter about my life making comics that I send out every Monday. Perhaps you’d like it.

I love writing this newsletter. It’s a personal insight into who I am and what I do. It’s a journey. And it goes straight into your inbox, waiting for whenever you are ready, and you won’t miss it [unless you choose to].

It’s 2017 and nobody actively checks sites anymore, blogging feels dead. Social media is wonderful, but so heavily weighted down with dread lately. When cities burn, you feel like a fool fiddling as you talk about how many pages you wrote that day. Or maybe social media needs that, too, it probably does, but sometimes opening up the portal to connect means other stuff connects with you. It’s heavy on the heart and I openly admit I need my time away from it. I need to have enough heart for my own family, and children I teach, and worlds I create [and destroy], etc.

Plus, when The Natzis! start doxxing people, you start to reconsider how open and accessible you are online. I mean, I guess white grand wizards could just subscribe to my newsletter, then I’d be screwed, but I live in hope to be off their radar.

Anyway.

So I have this weekly newsletter and it’s the space where I’m really personal. It’s the space where my week is summed up. It’s the space where if you don’t exist in my weird pockets of the Australian Space/Time Continuum, you can catch what I’m up to.

I write a recap of sorts about my writing week – what I’m working on, how it’s going. I try to unpack my writing process, what I do, how and why. I want anyone reading it to get a sitrep on me, but maybe learn something through that process they can use themselves. I love nothing more than when someone replies that they loved the process slices in my week – especially when it’s an artist realising how writers tick.

Then I rapid fire out a suggestions of things/links you might dig – podcasts, interviews, articles, kickstarters, etc.

Followed by what quality media I imbibed that week and what I took away from it, good or bad [though I tend to usually only spend energy focusing on the good and helpful].

There’s a corkboard of dates for things coming up that’ll feature me or my name.

Then I drop some kind of After Credits Sequence – a little something for those who read all the way down. Could be an After School Special closing quote. Could be a weird short story. Could be a rant. Could be crap. Could be a link to something, or a cheeky heads up about something coming up.

Most newsletters come in ~1500 words, lately. The biggest ever was 5k, but I won’t be trying that again any time soon. They rarely dip under 1k. They should feel worthwhile, without being laborious. Should be.

Anyway, yeah, I write a weekly newsletter about the comic life I chose [not the comic life that chose me].

I really think you’d dig it.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE TWO FISTED HOMEOPAPE HERE

Oh, yeah, it’s called The Two Fisted Homeopape – I figure if you get where those two elements have come from then you’re going to love my newsletter. Enjoy.

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