Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Month: January, 2013

The Expendables – A Study In Blowing Up That Which You Love

Why am I even going to take the time to deconstruct this movie? I don’t really know, but there are a few thoughts I simply need to get out there. Here’s goes, get excited.

This movie is the ultimate action flick as unashamed action flick. It harkens back to the 80s where action stars led the box office and explosions were massive plot points. It is also mirrored by a current crop of action spectacle films, usually led by either Jason Statham or a wrestler/UFC/MMA fighter. These movies are out to entertain, and often will do that.

The Expendables certainly entertains, if you know what you’re going in there looking for. It wants to be a deconstruction of the genre, and thus of the men, but ultimately it’s just another instalment and nothing that elevates or transcends like it thinks it might.

The plot is easy; Stallone has a team of mercenaries.  They go blow things up and fight fights with dictators and other people who represent the ills of the world. They usually win.

Here, they’re fighting Eric Roberts. Whom else would you expect? Sadly, no, he doesn’t get a great crying scene in this flick. I was waiting for it. He’s the guy who thinks money makes right, and he treats objects like women, man, you know it.

Most of the character work for The Expendables is pretty thin. You’re basing each character more on what you think of the actor than what you know of the person they portray. It’s an effective shorthand but it’s shorthand nonetheless. Stallone has cast well and he doesn’t let too much story get in the way of things going bang; be they guns, explosions, whole mini-towns, or people’s bodies.

There’s a formula to this flick that you’ve probably seen a million times before. Team of mercenaries. Overall bad guy. Lone woman who stands for love in this mad mad mad mad world. It’s Predator without the alien, or Commando times 20, or The Transporter on a larger scale. Or it’s all of them blended with a soupcon of Stallone on top.

Stallone plays the last stage of all the characters he’s ever played before. I know, he already did this in Rocky Balboa and Rambo but he’s doing it again here. Why? Well, I guess everyone likes to play in their wheelhouse.

I appreciate Statham getting second billing. His character is given room to breathe and is fleshed out. He stands out above the crowd and his dynamic with Stallone works, for what it is. Much of this flick can be enjoyed but only with an apologetic understanding and knowledge of the constraints of the piece.

There is one great piece as Stallone hands Terry Crews a gigantic artillery shell and tells him to throw it as hard as he can. Stallone then shoots the shell in the air and blows up a helicopter. You get it? These guys, all the other action stars in the movie, are just Stallone’s weapons. He’ll aim and shoot them as he pleases. I think it’s actually quite crafty.

The finale is the best part as a mini-encampment is attacked and the explosions and bullets fly amongst the fistfights in an operatic ballet of movement and light. If you want to get fancy about it. You probably don’t. This looks like one of those urban training camps the Army use to get their soldiers used to warfare. Hell, it probably is one in real life. Here, it’s a South American village under the grip of Roberts’ money and menace.

There’s a great back and forth between Stallone and Roberts and it plays out, in my mind, like Stallone arguing with the suits that ruined the action genre. If the pencil pushing desk jockeys hadn’t fiddled with action movies (and movie making in general) perhaps the true creative pursuits of action stars like Stallone could have continued on exponentially. It’s up to Stallone to take it back from the studios and make these flicks personal projects, and considering Stallone wrote and directed this flick then perhaps he’s actually doing it. Either that or he’s fanning his gun as Roberts gets riddled with bullets and then one massive (and massively redundant) knife from behind courtesy of Statham pops his chest open.

This movie is all about handing the reins off to Statham, though Stallone still wants to be along for the ride. He’s not passing it across, he’s just allowing Statham up onto his pedestal – even though Statham is now the master, if you ask me.

The end shows Stallone hugging the woman he saved, the one he did it all for, yet they can’t even summon a kiss together. This lady who has been near death, and been waterboarded, won’t even pucker up for the man who saved her life. Perhaps Stallone understands that action stars aren’t sex symbols, especially not anymore, and especially if you’re not Statham.

This movie is not exceptional. It isn’t a swan song, no matter how much it wants to be, though it is for some of the actors. It’s the last time Dolph Lundgren will be made to feel relevant. The smartest choice Stallone makes is capping the flick at an hour and a half. He doesn’t want it to be more and seeing as he’s no Shane Black it certainly won’t ever be more.

The Expendables. You might think it’s dumb but just think back to all the dumb action flicks you loved back in the day. I still love Commando and Kickboxer and Predator. Now imagine this flick is some younger buck’s first. He’s probably loving it right now so let’s not rain on his parade. He’ll do it himself once he gets a little more mature.

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Multiversity Comics Interview About Daredevil Book

I spent a good week emailing with Matthew Meylikhov about Daredevil, comics, being the boss, and this book of essays I’m bringing out through Sequart titled THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS: EXAMINING MATT MURDOCK AND DAREDEVIL. The resulting email thread is now the:

Multiversity Comics Interview with Ryan K Lindsay about The Devil is in the Details

Check it out for some cool words and why you need to be excited about this book.

 

The Round Stable Interview About Rainbow Dash

The Round Stable were good enough to chat with me about the MY LITTLE PONY MICRO SERIES: RAINBOW DASH one-shot I’ve written.

This chat was a load of fun and we get into the nuts and bolts of working on a licenced property and aligning with a tv show. Hit that link above to read it – and even see a rare photo of me. Gah.

 

As always, pre-ordering is just loving with more thought put into it.

Equestria Daily Interview About Rainbow Dash

I sat down and spoke with Equestria Daily about my upcoming MY LITTLE PONY MICRO SERIES: RAINBOW DASH one-shot coming out in March from IDW.

This interview was a lot of fun, and I was then absolutely floored by the community response in the comments section. Truly one time you should read the comments. Man, what nice people.

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Pre-order to your heart’s delight at your LCS.

ManWithoutFear.com Interview

manwithoutfear int

That image above is my name listed amongst every single other manwithoutfear.com interview ever conducted. You have no idea what that means to me.

I chat with manwithoutfear.com’s Kuljit Mithra about the upcoming THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS: EXAMINING MATT MURDOCK AND DAREDEVIL, out from Sequart in early 2013.

This interview was a blast to do but it’s also a bucket list scenario ticked off. I’ve loved Daredevil my whole life, I’ve loved Kuljit’s site ever since I stumbled across it many, many years ago, and so to have my name up in lights pixels there means so much to me. I am humbled.

I hope you dig the interview, and if you can find the other thing I’ve had up on the site then I’ll be incredibly impressed.

The Clive Barker List

Here’s my take on Clive Barker’s catalogue.

1. The Books of Blood
2. The Thief of Always
3. The Great and Secret Show
4. Galilee
5. Abarat
6. Everville
7. Clive Barker’s A-Z of Horror
8. Cabal
9. Weaveworld
10. The Hellbound Heart
11. Mister B Gone
12. The Damnation Game

NA
Imajica
Sacrament
Incarnations: Three Plays
Coldheart Canyon
Days of Magic, Nights of War
Absolute Midnight

Thoughts.

Man, I have long considered Barker one of the high horror masters but looking at this list makes me realise he doesn’t have that deep a bench. Wow, I did not see this coming. I’m kind of saddened by this.

There are two classics in this list. That is all.

The Books of Blood I would rank in my Top Ten of all time, I think. Insanely inventive and gory fun. Barker really thought outside the square on these. I think they work because he’s not so busy building the mythology and so instead just uses all he brings to the page. He’s snappy and scarier for it.

In The Hills, The Cities is one of my favourite shorts of all time purely for the concept. If you do not know of it, track it down.

The Thief of Always is simply superb. Buy this book for every kid you know and enjoy how they light up. Subversive and yet still safe.

I really have fond memories of Galilee but could not concretely tell you why it is so high. I just dug that book. It would be the first one to reread so I could see why it struck a chord.

The Great and Secret Show is really great at many things. It builds mythology, spreads out a far cast of characters, and has that Barker stamp of crazy. It’s well followed up by Everville but the series is one step off greatness.

I’m wondering if the Books of the Art will ever get finished.

Abarat, the first book, has a beautiful opening line. I’ve used it in class for art plenty a time. The rest of the book is pretty special, too.

I have yet to read the rest of the Abarat books. But I will. I hope.

Cabal is a descent book. I think I enjoy the movie more. Gasp.

The Hellbound Heart might be another where the flick really delivered it spot on. Hmm…

Weaveworld just didn’t grab me. A shame, really. The same with The Damnation Game. Man, for a master, there’s a lot here at meh and below.

Mister B. Gone was an interesting experiment but it ultimately disappeared from my mind as soon as I was done.

I don’t think I’ve read Imajica. I think I’d remember something that hefty. Sacrament doesn’t call out to me at all. I tried Coldheart Canyon once and bailed but I blame the time not the book – I will try this one again some day.

I kind of wish I hadn’t done this list now. It’s just showed me all the flaws. Oh well, I’ll always have that which I love.

I can remember going to my second hand book shop in high school and finding a heap of the old Tapping The Vein comic collections of the adaptations of the Books of Blood stories. They were pretty damn good. Steve Niles did a bunch of them.

I also like a bunch of the Barker movie adaptations, though he’s got his fair share of stinkers.

I can remember buying this rare VHS of Barker’s early college flicks – Salome and The Forbidden. They were so weird but it cost me like $50 and I was determined to like them. That tape is long gone now.

Harry D’Amour has always been a favourite of mine. I wrote about him for Horror Factory. Enjoy.

What are your thoughts on Clive Barker?

The Great #fearagentreadalong – Part One

The FEAR AGENT LIBRARY EDITION has arrived. I must become one with it. To force myself into devouring it, and also just because I think it’ll be fun, I’ll be running a #fearagentreadlong on my twitter. I won’t be spoiling, no way, no how. Feel free to join in the fun.

This might take me a while. I’ll post here in chunks.

——-

Looking at this gorgeous FEAR AGENT HC and thinking about posting some #fearagentreadalong thoughts. You game to join in?

Slick black cover with a UV spot treated porthole Heath Huston image is boss. Fact.#fearagentreadalong

Ooh, goddamn, look at these end pages. #fearagentreadalong

This book smells like paint. True story. #fearagentreadalong

And this title page is design heaven. Man, I could spend a decade reading this book. #fearagentreadalong

I love forewords/author’s notes/back matter of any kind. Even at the front. This one is great.#fearagentreadalong

Opena was in video game design and @Remender brought him back. Wow. I owe Remender a beer.#fearagentreadalong

It gets real when he talks about depression. I can see this book is wry much for me, it holds truth.#fearagentreadalong

“How else should we gauge the success of art? Money and audience size, right?” This back matter, at the front, rocks. #fearagentreadalong

He acts like he’s just talking smack but somewhere in the middle of the Foreword truth is told. Golden.#fearagentreadalong

RE-IGNITION #fearagentreadalong

Aw, yeah, this art looks amazing at this size. I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this. Take my time.#fearagentreadalong

Opening panel is interesting in what it offers. Scope of space, style and tone of the quirk, sci fi via hillbilly.#fearagentreadalong

Opening scene is tight. Dialogue carries so much world content, it acts as a pre-credits tease. Felt bad at the end. #fearagentreadalong

Space cowboy/hillbilly philosophy. I’ll teach the 101 in 2014.#fearagentreadalong

Don’t see enough silhouette panels. They break up page flow, in a good way. Do writers script ’em, or artists choose? #fearagentreadalong

Fight sequence between Huston and Zlasfons is so well structured. Each page works in step, builds to a beat. Crescendo.#fearagentreadalong

P.23 – great use of colour to build to the page turn. Use every tool in the warchest to #makecomics #fearagentreadalong

This gang fight feels like a metaphor for #makecomics. Huston is kind of losing. #fearagentreadalong

Now that is one hell of a splash page. Use ’em wisely.#fearagentreadalong

“I can feel the pitiful bastard’s jaw snap clean beneath my foot.” This represents so much of the book. Tone, intent. #fearagentreadalong

Great intro issue. Drops the world and the character right in our laps and makes us feel ’em. Golden.#fearagentreadalong

Alright, that’s enough#fearagentreadalong for one night. I got a script needs my attention.

——-

So that covers the design, the opening pages, and the first issue. Yep, this is going to take a while. Giddy up.

The Stephen King List

Here’s my order of thinking on the vast catalogue of Stephen King – a man who shaped my nascent years and continues to give me pause.

1. The Shining
2. The Long Walk
3. The Dead Zone
4. Hearts in Atlantis
5. The Stand
6. Night Shift
7. On Writing
8. ‘Salem’s Lot
9. The Dark Tower
10. It
11. The Eyes of the Dragon
12. The Colorado Kid
13. 11.22.63

14. The Talisman
15. Misery

16. Different Seasons
17. Everything’s Eventual
18. Skeleton Crew
19. Nightmares & Dreamscapes
20. Christine
21. The Green Mile

22. Pet Sematary
23. Four Past Midnight
24. Full Dark, No Stars
25. Firestarter

26. Danse Macabre
27. Cujo
28. Under The Dome
29. The Running Man
30. Carrie
31. Blockade Billy
32. Rage

33. Ur
34. The Regulators
35. Dolores Claiborne
36. From A Buick 8
37. Thinner
38. Rose Madder
39. Desperation
40. Cycle of the Werewolf

41. Roadwork
42. Bag of Bones
43. Gerald’s Game
44. Dreamcatcher
45. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
46. Cell

NA

The Tommynkockers
The Dark Half
Needful Things
Insomnia
Black House
Lisey’s Story
Blaze
Duma Key
Just After Sunset

Thoughts.

The Shining was my favourite book of all time for about a decade. It now resides at #2. It is there for it’s amazing characterisation.

The Long Walk is amazing. The sort of narrative that pulled me in completely, almost made me want to be there, and stuck with me forevermore. Such a simple idea and yet tweaked enough to become amazing. And that ending, nice.

I read my first King book when I was about nine – it was The Eyes of the Dragon. I loved it. I then moved onto Misery, I lost the paperback with about 50 pages to go. I’d go on to finish it years later.

I had actually started reading It when I was about eight but I think that was aiming too high.

The Dead Zone was one of those books that surprised me. I didn’t expect it to resonate so damn well with me but I was hooked and it’s one of the ones I give to people to convert them to King now. It’s not really horror, it’s not that spooky, and it’s got amazing character work in it. That first scene of Stillson is mesmerising and scary as anything, yet not horror at all, in fact, it’s far too human.

Hearts In Atlantis ranks that high purely on the ‘Hearts In Atlantis’ novella in it. I can’t even use words correctly to explain to you how much I love that story and what it means to me. It is just about perfection (and I admit it might only be to me but I’d prefer a story that’s perfect to me than a story just 95% awesome to everyone) and I’ve read it near on a dozen times. I adore this story – you get it?

Night Shift is just the ultimate short story collection, isn’t it? Everything is based on how well it stacks up against Night Shift.

On Writing is one of my favourite craft books. It is both instructional and inspiring. That’s exactly what I need when I’m looking to books for guidance.

The Stand is a mammoth undertaking and a very successful execution. Such a sprawling cast of charcaters and moments. I can almost see how its the favourite for a lot of people, it is damn good, but it’s trumped by a few in my books.

‘Salem’s Lot is one that’s grown on me over time. I keep mentally coming back to it and being impressed with so much of it. When you strip it back to its high pitch concept – an update of Dracula – it’s a ballsy move. I have an updated HC of it with these crazy photos. It’s pretty awesome.

I really enjoyed The Colorado Kid. It’s so well written and I was so into the characters that I didn’t mind the plot of it at all. I know this got kind of panned but I wholeheartedly disagree.

11.22.63 shocked me with how good it was. I really didn’t think King had it still in him anymore. Then he dropped this and I dug the pulp crime start, then the historical middle, and then the end gets kind of weird and then massively emotional. I may have misted up. I’m hoping people are still popping into his work because this one moved me.

I love pretty much all of King’s collections, be they shorts or novellas. You look at them all assembled and there are so many golden ideas. Kind of makes a man jealous and want to give up.

Christine is so much better than anyone gives it credit for. It’s a book about being a teen and how crappy your life is at that time. It’s fascinating, truly.

The Talisman is just a whole mess of fun. It’s kind of silly in parts, indulgent, but it gets the job done so well. You can’t ignore all that CCR.

I bought each chapter of The Green Mile as it came out. That was a fun prose reading experience. I’d like to get that again. Or do it myself one day.

Pet Sematary is a book you need to read before you have kids. I’m glad I did and now I’m glad knowing I’ll never read it again.

I wish I could remember more about Danse Macabre.

I was reading Cujo on a plane once and this lady next to me commented on how she couldn’t read King books because they were all horror and gore. She pointed to Cujo as a case in point. I explained to her that Cujo was really about the breakdown of a marriage and told her about what was happening in the book and it really floored her. She said she’s give the book/author another go. I was happy.

Under The Dome was really damn good but it did not stick the landing at all.

Carrie isn’t the breakout debut you might imagine. It’s solid, that might be all.

The Running Man is pretty damn prescient. And so is the film but in so many different ways.

He really kind of lost it in the late 90s for quite some time. Nothing truly good came of it.

For some reason, I have really fond memories of The Regulators. I know it’s not ‘good’ but I enjoyed it. More than Desperation which was fun but ultimately just trash.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was just completely forgettable. Cell was kind of bad.

Dreamcatcher has the most depressing opening 100 pages in the history of ever. A real downer. You can tell he was in agony in his chair writing after his altercation with the out of control van. It seems like that incident has informed every single word in some way ever since. And fair enough.

Of those I haven’t read, I’m excited for Insomnia and maybe Black House, that’s it.

I am incredibly excited for Joyland (another HCC book) and Doctor Sleep (a sequel to The Shining). You better believe I’ll be reading both of those as soon as they drop.

I should do one of these for the Stephen King Cinematic Adaptations – so much to cover and I’ve probably seen 90%+ of it.

The Dark Tower is a fantastic epic. I finished the last page, closed the book, and swore at it. I was not impressed with what just happened. Then an hour later, I realised it was a perfect ending. Such a great series. I started it in the mid-90s and finished it ten years later. I can’t imagine how it felt for people waiting since the early 80s.

This is my Dark Tower order:

The Drawing of the Three – such great characterisation and structure
The Gunslinger- just old school pulp perfection – possibly the greatest opening line in literature
Song of Susannah/The Dark Tower – I shotgunned these together and dug them together, so they are ranked together, I would not know how to separate them
Wolves of the Calla – weird but kind of wonderful
Wizard and Glass – this one didn’t grab me as much as I almost feel it should have

The Wind Through the Keyhole – completely superfluous but that doesn’t stop it being fun
The Waste Lands – just didn’t dig it, really

What are your thoughts on King?

Survival of the Dead – A Study Of A Fading Dream

I finally gave myself two hours aside to watch George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead. This is the 6th Dead movie that Romero has made, and though the original trilogy only kept getting better it certainly feels like this second trilogy just keeps getting more unmemorable. Land was actually quite terrible but at least Romero was swinging for the bleachers. Diary was just completely amateur and bad for anyone, but so sad knowing the master of the zombie genre had sunk so low. Now we have Survival, which is just completely averagely lame.

The basic premise is the soldier who raids the Winnebago in Diary (yeah, he WAS the best thing about the movie – not saying much) is now the main player and we follow him as he manages to find out about an island and decides to head there hoping to find safety, maybe a little isolation and peace. Instead, he finds two warring family/clans that are just unbelievably stupid and ignorant in the face of the end of the world. I kind of think that was Romero’s point, that humans are the problem, their petty problems would carry over. I don’t know about that but I know what I thought of this movie, so here are those thoughts:

Alright, I’m now going to heat up some lasagne and watch Survival of the Dead #zombiesonhorses Giddy. Up.

Pretty sure an exploding head doesn’t work like that-and these soldiers should care more. #zombiesonhorses

Oh damn, it’s the soldier from Diary of the Dead-he was easily the best actor in that hot shaft. #zombiesonhorses

There’s the horse-hey, lady, get off the zombie’s horse! #zombiesonhorses

First real scare of the movie-the audio of the door opening is dialed up to 11. #zombiesonhorses

The old man is fine with killing a human lady but draws the line at zombie kids-priorities man. #zombiesonhorses

Is that chick rubbing one out-around a bunch of sex crazed soldiers-and they don’t care-PLOT HOLE. #zombiesonhorses

Moaning zombie heads on pikes-that’s actually pretty damn cool. #zombiesonhorses

How’d DJ Squalls-a-like ever survive the zombie apocalypse? #zombiesonhorses

I like Romero is obv keen to use new tech but it never feels organic-where’s the electricity coming from to charge things? #zombiesonhorses

Fishing for zombies, on a slanted roof, at night. That guy deserves to die. #zombiesonhorses

I’ll never call my beloved zombies ‘dead heads’ ever. You hear me? Never. #zombiesonhorses

How is that zombie changing gears? #zombiesonhorses

Ooh, Ghost Rider zombie, seriously http://twitpic.com/25dqrw #zombiesonhorses

If you light your smoke off a flaming zombie head can you get infected? #zombiesonhorses

Zombie just delivered mail-they can do menial tasks-quick, get them to join social media-ha. #zombiesonhorses

Oh yeah. That zombie. Is riding-wait for it…A horse. Boom. #zombiesonhorses

“I’m going to go the stealth route, alone.” *starts unloading his gun, stealth style* #zombiesonhorses

Pig’s a filthy animal, zombies don’t eat filthy animals. #zombiesonhorses

Hey look, it’s the love child of Michael Biehn and Joe Pantoliano, if you can dig it? #zombiesonhorses

Cheap Shot #2: That bird noise was well amplified, and completely superfluous. #zombiesonhorses

Ah, the twin reveal late in the game. But to no real avail. #zombiesonhorses

Why is this hard ass suddenly soft-not consistent nor a true character progression. #zombiesonhorses

This zombie better eat this horse now, c’mon. #zombiesonhorses

Protip: Never walk up to your zombie twin. Ever. #zombiesonhorses

Zombie just peeled old mate’s hair back like a hood-nasty scalping. #zombiesonhorses

Hanging upside-down next to a zombie-it’s like a game show, or an exercise-it’ll really work your core. #zombiesonhorses

YES! That zombie is now eating that horse. Golden. #zombiesonhorses

Old man hick zombie shoot out. Seriously. http://twitpic.com/25e3k3 Lame. #zombiesonhorses

I give Survival of the Dead 2 Cleveland Steamers, it’s just not worth the effort for more. #zombiesonhorses

————————————————————————————————–

And that’s all I got to say about that.

I was always going to see it, it’s the master, but man, I won’t be watching it again any time soon.

Have you saddled up with the zombies on horses?

Jonbot Vs Martha – Guest Strip

There’s a webcomic I dig, it’s called Jonbot Vs Martha. You should check it out.

And then you should definitely check out the one-off guest strip I wrote and had Mike Perry draw up. It was called:

jonbotvsmarthat-gueststrip - teaser

click through to strip

I pitched this to Colin Bell out of the blue and he dug it and then had a whole slew of fill in strips. It was very cool to be amongst them all. I really had fun writing this one – both because it’s goofy and it’s also my first ‘strip’ style comic. I’d like to go back to this format before I leave.

It is a little…uh…edgy. Check it out.

Enjoy.

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