Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Sharing Scripts

I still remember when I started writing comics, it wasn’t even that long ago, not like I started in the 80s or anything, but I remember trying to find examples of what they looked like and could not for the luife of me find many quality examples.

The best one I found showed me the structure, and also happened to be from my favourite writers run on my favourite character:

I printed that page out and had it over my desk since last decade. It helped me find my flow with structuring the page. at first, and you should always be looking for ways to improve your scripting. I know I’ve worked with two comic publishers who had specific formatting rules with scripts, and I stole ideas/layouts from them.

I also remember reading a script Greg Rucka graciously posted on his blog that helped me add the “NO COPY” tag into panels where there was no dialogue so you could consciously see it was my choice to have a silent panel and there wasn’t anything missing – kind of like the comic script equivalent of the “This page has been left blank intentionally.”

I’d hunt down scripts wherever I could find them, because they were showing me what I, a writer, should be putting into my scripts. Over time, I’ve amassed a decent library of scripts, and I share with a crew of mates when we find good ones, and so it’s a natural fit that I also want to share my own scripts.

Why not? Come see how bad I used to do it, and how my words still ended up as gorgeous panels. Come see, come learn.

As such, on my Patreon, where I share my writing and nerdery I recently posted the pdf of my script for FATHERHOOD.

This was my very first published comic; illustrated by Daniel Schneider, coloured by paulina Ganucheau, lettered by Brandon DeStefano, it was my debut onto the scene.

I still dig this comic, I feel like it holds up. It’s not perfect, it never was, nor have I ever been, but it’s a good one-shot. So I’ve shared the script with people on my Patreon in the hopes maybe it’ll help someone on there who is also writing their own stuff.

As an added incentive, I’ve also posted the entire pdf of the comic, so for $3 this month you’re getting a one-shot comic, the script for it, plus the other stuff: two flash fic pieces, one D&D random character history, and I wrote a little something about LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME, and I also have my best of the decade lists going up over the coming weeks.

I want people who step into my Patreon to feel like they’re getting enough, and I think this month is a banner month to dip a toe. All money from the Patreon helps me fund a lot of comic pitches with colours and letters and such. It also helps me allow myself guilt-free time to be creative, which I absolutely love and appreciate so much.

So, if you’ve ever been curious about this comic, smoething that’s been out of print from me on the con circuit for the last few years, here’s your chance.

JOIN ME AT MY PATREON AND SUPPORT MY CREATIVE WRITING LIFE

I thank you dearly for it!

The RKL List of #1 Issues

I was recently asked to pick my Top 10 Comics Issues with a #1 on them. It proved a difficult and very interesting task. It told me a lot about myself. [NOTE: between the time I initially wrote this and this publication date, I changed one element, s one comic came in, and one went out. Such is the fickle nature of lists.]

You can read a complete rundown of the overall vote/list I contributed to over at Shelfdust!

I had to really stew on this and consider a lot, so here is some of my thought process, followed by my Top 10, with a little commentary!

Daredevil/Matt Murdock is my favourite character, but I couldn’t find a #1 I cared about to go into this list. I own his first appearance, it’s signed by Stan Lee, it’s awesome, but it’s not exactly an amazing comic. It’s also nowhere near the first Daredevil I ever read, nor the reason I fell in love with him. But I couldn’t pick either Frank Miller runs on the main title because neither start with a #1. Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada relaunched well, but it wasn’t in my top 10. If the Lark/Brubaker issue was a #1 it would have been HIGH on this list, but it’s not.

Then I thought about old comics I loved, and while my childhood was spent in Spider-Man territory, and on to Venom, with some X-books amidst it all, it was rarely a #1 that led me there, Venom was in the Spidey titles, and whatever numbers they were up to, and Venom: Lethal Protector might have gotten a #1, but that’s not gonna make the list [though I would be interested to reread that mini, I still have all the issues here in my office]. Same with the X-books, they were floating in whatever numbers they were at – though did AGE OF APOCALYPSE have a #1 issue? Was it an Alpha? Does that count? Either way, close, but most likely just off the list.

I will say, BARTMAN #1 nearly made the list based on how many times I read and reread that issue [and mini] in my youth, but it just got squeezed off. As did THE WALKING DEAD #1, because it might have been instrumental in getting me back into comics as a young professional – shout out to my brother for buying me that trade for my birthday – it was the first trade and the end it landed on that made me a huge fan, not just the first issue.

So, without further ado, here’s my actual list, each served with a little reason why. Enjoy.

10. VAULT OF HORROR #1

This one was a reprint. It collects a variety of stories from other issues. But this was one of the very first comics bought for me, and it started a long-standing tradition of loving everything EC had once put out.

The stories themselves aren’t the absolute pinnacle of what EC could offer, but this issue is one I’ll remember forever because I remember where I was when it was bought, I still remember its cover, I remember reading it over and over throughout the years, and I know it was the first building block of my own comic collection and the place where I forged my own path as a lifelong comic reader.

10. VAULT OF HORROR #1

This one was a reprint. It collects a variety of stories from other issues. But this was one of the very first comics bought for me, and it started a long-standing tradition of loving everything EC had once put out.

The stories themselves aren’t the absolute pinnacle of what EC could offer, but this issue is one I’ll remember forever because I remember where I was when it was bought, I still remember its cover, I remember reading it over and over throughout the years, and I know it was the first building block of my own comic collection and the place where I forged my own path as a lifelong comic reader.

9. LOCKE & KEY #1

The effective hooks of a first issue are many: deliver characters we can connect with, make the premise simple and enticing, have knock out art, have 1-2 moments that grab our collars and shake, do it all with economical use of pages/scenes with no fat. Yep, it’s gotta be all thriller, no filler.

Gabriel Rodriguez & Joe Hill effortlessly bring us into this world they build through really strong character interactions and a hook that’ll catch you for days. It almost seems simple how well they did it, but don’t be fooled, this is arcane alchemy. And it was so good I bought the #1 issue again when IDW offered it with a full script in it. Absolute brain fuel.

8. THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST #1

This is the book that brought me all in on Danny Rand. I previously dug him for the loose Daredevil connection, and the killer yellow threads, but this run from David Aja and Ed Brubaker/Matt Fraction locked me in for life, and the foundation is all laid here in this issue.

Danny Rand is a kung fu master, and there are few better equipped to show that than David Aja. The early double page splash of Iron Fist fly kicking some HYDRA goons in the rain is just stunning [and mirrors the same trick Brubaker pulled over in Daredevil with Michael Lark, and both times they are just as effective].

The whole mythos then gets a little tweak with the introduction of Orson Randall, and the stakes go up, and the tone is set. It’s part superhero story, part gritty 70s action flick, and all billionaire kung fu.

7. CASANOVA #1

I’ve come back to this issue a whole bunch of times, usually when I’m writing my own #1 issue. Maybe it’s because I love Matt Fraction’s writing, maybe it’s because Gabriel Ba builds a whole world in one go, or maybe it’s because this issue covers so much ground and uses so many comic skills that I find it inspiration fuel every time.

I do appreciate the cyclical nature of this issue, and the fourth wall breaking captions, and by the end I know Casanova Quinn, and his job, and his problem. And I know I will read this comic for the rest of my life, no matter what schedule it comes out on.

6. THE IRREDEEMABLE ANT-MAN #1

This is a book no one was asking for. Phil Hester and Robert Kirkman go about building a new super, which is hard enough yakka, but then they make him not very super, and very barely heroic. In fact, he’s a scumbag and by the end of this first issue you want to keep reading because you really want to see Eric O’Grady’s house of cards fall down around him.

And yet I still kind of love him, and have enjoyed reading him elsewhere, but that’s due to the way his character grows over time. In this debut, he’s absolute pond froth. But you just can’t look away at this seedy underside of what goes on behind the Marvel superheroics.

5. SLEEPER #1

Okay, now the list hits the real tour de forces. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips here start something truly special, and I think it’s their second collaboration, and it’s one of the first comics I bought when getting back into comics and it was the one that completely solidified my fall back into things.

This is a phenomenal debut: it gives us a character we can’t look away from, it surrounded them with other people who are interesting and will help/hinder him along the way, and it slowly unpacks why we should care for our character through the main complication of the text.

A spy comic by way of some superpowers, this is hard hitting action and a slew of characters you’ll follow to the grave and beyond. I’ve read this entire series more than once and it only gets better.

4. ELEKTRA #1

I love Elektra. Frank Miller introduced her, he told the best story with her, and he buried her. That really could have been her entire catalogue in story, but I’m glad it’s not because Mike del Mundo and W. Haden Blackmen did something special with her in this maxiseries, and it all starts in this character focused debut.

Elektra has history, so it’s unpacked here in gorgeous detail, and this builds context, which they then quickly move away from. This isn’t yet another story of Elektra circling her boyfriend Matt Murdock. This is her story they want to tell, and she will be the centre of it, so she thinks about the past right before moving forward and taking a bounty hunter style job to find someone. It’s all fairly simple in summary, but the way it’s told is so exceptionally fluid, and it’s juxtaposed against Bloody Lips, a new villain invested here who is truly fascinating.

And then we get the final splash of Elektra descending into Monster Island.

Yes, Elektra, our leading lady/ninja/bounty hunter jumps out of a plane and descends towards Monster Island in her wingsuit. Comics! When they’re this good, they’re better than anything else out there.

3. UNCANNY X-FORCE #1

I’ve not been an X-mark since the cartoon when I was in primary school, so I initially slept on this book. I don’t really follow Wolverine or Deadpool, I knew little of Fantomex, Archangel didn’t feel like anything that had been interesting in a while, and I dig Psylocke but not enough to buy into this comic. But then I started hearing things, so I dug back and got the first issue and didn’t stop pulling it monthly until the run ended.

This issue not only makes me care about an X-team, but it invested me in characters I had little connection with, and made me have to come back to see how it would all unfold over time. The wild adventure style storyline is certainly something a little different, and Jerome Opena elevates it beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. There are funny moments, but also some gore, and the cast selection shows itself to be genius for what is being set up. This run is an absolute titanic force of how good it can get when someone plays with the toys, and it all began in this debut issue I roundly ignored until I realised I had it wrong, and I’m so glad I realised my error.

2. KILL OR BE KILLED #1

Okay, maybe my favourite comic from the past decade, and something so incredibly my specific jam, and the pinnacle of what I’ve enjoyed about what happens when Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker collaborate.

This debut issue is a masterclass.

Brubaker carries us through this all with a resonating first person caption voice that’s captivating. We see Dylan try to kill himself, and then we rewind to build context, and then we shift again to showcase other pertinent information. It’s all dripped out at a delicious pace, but one that constantly gives us something else to add to the pile to astound us.

Phillips uses gutters to isolate characters, and guide the eye, and make us feel the emotional scope of this character and the world around him he feels so constantly attacked by. I’d love to map out how this issue gives up information, and how it does it. Putting something like this together, giving us so many character interactions alongside our leading man’s state of mind and motivation moving forward is a masterclass in how to give an audience everything they need without them ever seeing it coming or having a moment to feel bored.

Every comic writer should read this issue to see why we should never rest on our laurels. We can always do better.

1. Y: THE LAST MAN #1

This is the cliche choice, the one people are told to read, to seek out, to study. And there’s reason for that.

Yes, this issue is that good. You might not dig the story [I guess, I don’t know how, but that’s cool], but there’s little denying this issue does everything it should and does it with the most simplistic style. If you step back, this issue looks so easy, and doesn’t do much, but it really just pushes information into your brain through conversation and dialogue and that’s not easy to do without making anyone feel like a James Remar Exposition Machine.

Every character for the series gets time here, they all get moments that shine, and by the end of this issue you know them all and have cast your lot in with the right or the wrong ones. The hook in this issue isn’t that all the men on Earth die, that’s just doing what it says on the tin, the masterful magic here is in how much you love the characters and need to know what will become of them all.

In a world where most comics end their #1 issue by revealing the hook that’s already been in all of the solicit/prepress material, this comic goes another route. Knowing that Yorick wanted to propose to his girlfriend at the worst moment and got interrupted is the key to this series. Brian K Vaughan never sells this book as a post-apocalyptic tale of every man on Earth dying, bar one. He sells it as the story of the last boy on Earth becoming the last man on Earth. A great reminder than your story isn’t your hook, your hook is there to make people give your story their eyes. Then your job is to make them care.

Reread this issue, see how BKV does it, especially with the world’s finest work from Pia Guerra, and marvel at how he does it. One tip: he has 40 pages, so he’s got that working for him. Good luck to you!

What Is Best In Life? – 2019 Edition 

The final year of the decade, and we’ve gone out with some high quality parts, so it’s nice to sit back and reflect on all the good things, and only the good things, just for one moment.

Comic

Every year, I manage to read a lot of good comics, and this year was no exception. I’m always thankful to find new things, and see amazing things continue to be phenomenal, and to see mates making excellent stuff, as such, here are some comics you should scope out.

November by Elsa Charettier and Matt Fraction is a brilliant OGN with a killer structure and some absolutely brutal pages of character and design. Crone from Justin Greenwood and Dennis Culver only just started but it’s already one of my absolute favourites of the year as it depicts a Red Sonja type adventurer who has grown old and now sees the world and herself very differently. John Lees continues to impress with Mountainhead with Ryan Lee and Sink with Alex Cormack, both showing skill, craft, and care. 

But my comic of the year, yet again, is a Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker jam: CRIMINAL

Absolutely stunning, beautifully put together, intricately woven, and just damn fine crime comics. An absolute MVP on the market.

Novel

I don’t give myself enough time to read novels, but this year I finally sampled Fletch by Bregory MacDonald and did enjoy it, despite the eponymous hero being a fairly decent asshole. Killing Gravity by Corey J. White absolutely won me over and I need to catch up with him to get my hands on the next 2 in the trilogy. But my favourite reading experience of the year was: CANARY

Duane Swierczynski always makes his books feel like arrows flying directly at you, and you can either duck, dodge, or take the hit. This one is very much in that school of his shelf.

TV

There are a lot of good shows out there, but I’m trying to spend my time on the truly great stuff. This year I really enjoyed The Kominsky method as it does something a little different with the sitcom format and allows Michael Douglas to seemingly both stroke his ego while completely deflating it. The return of Veronica Mars was really fun because it truly did posit the concept of what this character would be like travelling into adulthood. Life is hard for her, and that’s about right. How interesting then that my favourite show features the same lead actress: THE GOOD PLACE

It doesn’t seem right that this show can continue to be this good. It’s funny as hell, and deep enough to keep you thinking, and structurally sound like a glass snowflake. Every character continues to shine, the plot goes insane, and the heart of it all never leaves view.

Movie

It’s always exciting to find new things in film. Captain Marvel continued the trend Wonder Woman began last year of strong superhero films featuring women in the lead, and this flick really amplified the presence. This flick was funny and full of awesome and Brie Larson can easily carry the MCU for another decade, if she so wishes to. However, my heart belongs to something that’s not a franchise flick because this year I was completely bowled over by: KNIVES OUT

A murder mystery, in the style of old mansion novels, and Rian Johnson nails it all. The tone, the style, the characters, everything. I’m still thinking about the structure of this beast as the audience is given information at different times, and sometimes we don’t even know it yet, and there is so much to learn from this one.

Podcast

Every commute, every time I mow the lawn, I’m listening to someone talk info into my brain. I’ve enjoyed learning more about D&D through their official podcast, Dragon Talk, and it helps the two hosts are great fun. I’ve continued to expand my teaching brain with the Google Teacher Tribe, and my comics brain with Off Panel and Word Balloon, but this year my ears belonged to: SMASH BOOM BEST

This podcast about two people debating two topics through separate rounds got my brain firing with all kinds of rad ideas and desires for the classroom.

And that’s been the best of my 2019, let’s keep the run going into 2020 and the next decade to come.

I Won Xmas 2019

I mean, ’nuff said right here.

I could list the killer paisley shirt, or the beard oil with gold flecks in it, or the EBERRON D&D source book, or the dragon/d20 short. All winners, but ultimately it came down to this pair of socks my sister-in-law got me.

Complete winners.

And now I want to put this character into a D&D adventure. Definitely has washed up barbarian written all over him,

The 2019 Holiday Bag Breakdown

Going away for a break is fun, sure, seeing family, hitting the pool/beach, relaxing.

But organising to pack your bag to go away is the real jewel of the adventure. As such, here’s a quick breakdown of my Go Bag for this end of year family quest.

I’d be cool and tell you what kind of bag it is, like Warren Ellis, but I honestly have no idea. A tag has CYBER on it, and I know it has zips and I think was labelled as a ‘laptop bag.’

My laptop is a Chromebook, because everything I do is online and I don’t game, so it’s being worked on tonight and in the morning will go inside the bag with its charging cord. Never forget charging cords.

On the table, I have my Bullet Journals. One for the first half of 2019, one for the second half of 2019, and one I’ll set up for the first half of 2020. I like starting the year with some clear goals and plans and lists to check off, so I aim to do that by night after days of craft beer, D&D, banter, and kicking the ball with my brother and our kids. These Bullet Journals are A5 Marvel notebooks I got from Target, in 3 packs for maybe $5, perfect size to just scrap lists into, and then tuck away with little fanfare or bulk.

Inside the bag, this is where the real prep goes, but first let’s talk about what’s not in there:

I have no novel or comics for this trip. My plan is to read my brother’s new novel, THE ELDER TRIALS by Marc and James Lindsay, so I’ll take that into possession as soon as I arrive, and then it shall be absorbed into this paper monstrosity. And there are no comics because I’m all digital on holidays, so the iPad has been loaded up with some of Jason Aaron’s THOR, and some more trades of THE IMMORTAL HULK.

Also not pictures are the two D&D books, the PLAYER’S HANDBOOK and XANATHAR’S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING which I’ve subbed into the suitcase as those are crazy quality paperstock of a few hundred KGs each, and I won’t need them in transit, just while we are there.

So, actually in the bag, top to bottom:

My D&D journal, a notebook I bought in Nantes, FRance in their mechanical animal festival. It catalogues the D&D adventures I’m writing.

A BAFFLING MYSTERIES notebook, part of a set of 3 notebooks with old EC-style covers on them, this one specifically has been chosen for its grid paper, perfect for drawing D&D dungeons. A quality mindfulness pasttime if ever there was one.

A composition notebook, cheap in bulk from Target, and this one’s for notes for [THE LONG ROAD PROJECT], which is currently unannounced, and I will be writing the script for issue #2 while away.

A notebook with a tiger’s head on the front, a gift from my sister-in-law she got from the National Zoo. It’s being used to track the insane changes I make in each D&D adventure as I take my kids through the ESSENTIALS KIT adventure book, DRAGON OF ICESPIRE PEAK, which is also found below.

D&D paper miscellania: character sheets [for my kids, and spares in case my brother or nephews want to play], a DM screen [the one in the Essential Kit is really light and thin], the map from the Kit, and some plain A4 white paper.

A plain pink notebook my wife found…somewhere, and it has my pitch and story for [THE MIDNIGHT MARS PROJECT], which I’m pitching, but think I might start scripting in 2020, so I want to break it down in more specificity so I’m ready to roll.

And then a ziplock bag with 5 copies of my latest comic, SKYSCRAPER, in it for family.

Not pictures, in the front pocket, is my pencil case with pencils, erasers, and D&D dice. Also a 7 pen felt tip set I got as a Xmas gift from a parent in my class last year which I use for the dungeon inking.

Chargers [iPads/iPhones, etc] go in the front pocket, maybe some Butter Menthols, and I’ll throw in a water bottle. It’s not too heavy, and I’m rarely walking with it full for long.

Once I pack the bag, I commit to what I’m allowing my brain to look at and focus on for the duration of the trip. I’ve marked what files I need as available for offline, and I know I want to focus, not crazy multitask, so this is the bag to see me through maximum relaxation, and minimum work flow as I glie into 2020.

The Last Comic of the Decade

As 2019 closes, so to does the decade.

It’s been a wild ride, and I like to commemorate events with comics. I can remember the night before my wedding I read THE ESCAPISTS by Brian K Vaughan, Jason Shawn Alexander, Steve Rolston, Philip Bond, and Eduardo Barreto. I’d bought it a few months before and saved it, and thankfully I loved this comic, but it also now always reminds me of my wedding day.

There are other comics that remind me of locations: GREEN WAKE #2 is walking from my hotel in Sydney to go find coffee to survive being in another town with my first child as a baby; Jason Aaron’s THOR run has only ever been read in trade, and seemingly only when on holidays; THE WALKING DEAD Vol. 1 takes me back to a house I shared with a mate when I first started teaching and my brother bought me that trade and got me back into comics; SLEEPER Vol. 1 is on a holiday to Brisbane, and Vols. 2-4 are back home to the first house I almost bought and reading them all on my bed in the sun.

As such, I like to plan ahead, and I’m wondering what comic i want to read as this decade closes, and as the new one opens.

Makes sense I should reread something to close out the decade, and then open the new decade with something new, something vibrant, something that’s a risk. Though, it also makes sense to do the opposite…

I’m thinking of rereading KILL OR BE KILLED #1 to close the decade because I *love* that comic, so it would be a fitting send off.

And to open 2020…I don’t know. Maybe I’ll get something for Xmas? I definitely feel like it should not be a Big Two book, it should be something more personal, something more specifically tailored to my tastes, perhaps.

RANDOM THOUGHT: if someone reads one of my comics to close/open a decade, well, that would be amazing.

Reading Piles

I should really be taking season photos of my reading piles.

Different from the reading shelf, where many things with pages go to sit and politely wait and watch everything else get read before them, the reading pile is for stuff being somewhat actively engaged with at the particular moment the photo is taken.

The reading pile is something special.

I recently had my end of 2017 reading pile turn up in my feed and t was interesting to see what I had been reading, and that all of that did indeed get read. Here it is:

This made me consider my current reading pile. Right now, it is:

Fascinating to stack up all of the things you’ve got going into your head at any one time.

I see I’m prepping a D&D adventure, I’m into a novel, I have two comics on the go, I printed off the PanelXPanel with my essay in it about NOVEMBER, and I’m chipping away at the PKD book.

A good pile reflects a good life, I believe.

Comic Critiques on Patreon

To start 2020 in a nice way, I’m going to offer a one page script critique to everyone who is supporting my Patreon at any $ level by the end of this month.

CLICK HERE TO SCOPE OUT MY PATREON AND JOIN

If you’re currently writing something, or the New Years Fog will lift long enough for a few script pages, then I’m here for you. Pledge by the end of December and any time during January, drop me a line, show me some script, and I’ll let you know how that opening page looks.

I love the Page One madness, that opening contract with the reader, so I look forward to helping a few people out with this one.

PanelXPanel – I Wrote an Essay About NOVEMBER

The latest issue of the comics magazine PanelXPanel is live and it’s all about NOVEMBER, the OGN from Elsa Charretier and Matt Fraction. I was honoured to be brought aboard to write about NOVEMBER, and I looked at a recurring visual which was a chainlink fence and how it represents the many lives that exist in a city and how people constantly affect others, and we get some agency, and sometimes life just happens to us.

The comic is great, so to get to write about it was a joy. There was so much to chew on, and everyone should go check out this issue, and then buy every PXP there is. It’s great brain fuel.

YOU CAN BUY PXP #29 RIGHT HERE!

The Comic Scripting Process

I can never speak in absolute truths, but I can tell you I have gone through the process of this comic writing cycle scores and scores of times, and it never ever seems to change.

I don’t know if I find comfort in it anymore or not.

Wherever you are in your cycle today, know we’re all getting tumbled by this, constantly, and sometimes in our own personal and specific hell way.

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