Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Month: January, 2014

Red State – A Study In Broken Quality

I dug Red State.

This warped horror flick from Kevin Smith that is Porky’s meets the Westboro Church is chock full of tone and beats that worked for me completely. I think it’s fascinating that Smith, the king of the lowbrow punchline, can deliver such a moody flick that really grips you once you are in it. After watching it, I found myself with some thoughts, so enjoy, and assume there are spoilers below.

This flick is fascinating structurally because it has no protagonist that I could see. The kids all die too soon, and become too passive, to be the true lead of the flick and Michael Parks’ Abin Cooper certainly chews up some screentime but he’s gotta be the antagonist of the piece. And as for John Goodman’s government agent, he’s interesting but I never saw this as his flick. The movie floats around quickly from place to place and does it all well but doesn’t thread across a character as much as a situation and a place. Not that this is a problem, I didn’t mind not following a lead but it felt unconventional and a bit of a structural gamble.

The initial complication of the flick, the teens answering the sex ad and being accosted by religious zealots, is good but what grabbed me by the scruff was the further complication of the government handling of the case. The cold manner in which they plan to wipe the family out, the specific ways they’re going to go about that, and the toll that takes on Goodman’s character. That all fuelled really solid drama and some moments of analysis of the terrible human condition.

But seriously, who would have thought Smith could do this sombre horror flick, with some action and camera movement, so well? There’s nothing wrong with the tone of this flick.

What some will see as wrong with this flick is the ending. It’s mildly amusing that a film about religion gone wrong features a deus ex machina as it’s finale, I get the hidden gag of it, but it’s also somewhat a cop out. Before this, things are set up tightly and kind of heartbreakingly on many levels, so to just see it sort of fumble to the finish line over an almost gag was a shame because it didn’t hold the same level of density and rules as the start. I understand Smith originally wanted the Rapture to descend, and that finale would have been epic and somewhat strange, and so maybe he just never quite got a handle on a perfect ending that could be earned. This one is good, I certainly don’t hate it, but it felt a little easily triggered. Everything else, the government handling of the conclusion, is pretty spot on.

This is a short punch of visceral entertainment that held me to the screen for the entire time. It’s not perfect but it’s insanely better than I thought it would be, or was led to believe. I’d definitely back Smith doing another flick on this level.

I should also say, Smith taking this flick, making it on the super cheap, and then personally distributing it was a ballsy move and something inspiring. It didn’t work out gangbusters but seeing someone not compromise and then making the art they want on their terms is something we should all support and enjoy.

In the end, I’d put this at the higher end of the Smith catalogue. Check it out if you dig tense and terse horror with a gun streak through it.

Ryan K Lindsay at PonyCon Melbourne 2014

I am very excited to be at PonyCon in Melbourne this weekend, the 1-2 Feb. The venue is the Arrow in Swanston. We will be making with the good times all day Saturday and Sunday, doors open at 9am and close at 5pm.
You’ll be able to find me at Table 31. I will be selling a few rad wares.

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MLP PONY TALES Vol 1 – $30
This trade collection features the first 6 MY LITTLE PONY MICRO SERIES issues, of which I wrote #2 featuring RAINBOW DASH, which has awesome art by Tony Fleecs. The book is relatively new to shelves and I’ll be signing them for free. And if you’re reeeaaallllly nice I might sketch a cutie mark in the book. I will only have a certain amount of copies so get in before I sell out.

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MLP MICRO SERIES #2 RAINBOW DASH MINI COMIC – $10
This miniature sized version of my Dash issue is awesome and I’m only bringing 4 of these to the con so get in first and brag all weekend long.

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FATHERHOOD – $4
This one-shot comic I wrote, with art from Daniel Schneider, colours by Paulina Ganucheau, and letters by Brandon DeStefano is a personal tale from me about a father estranged from his daughter who would do anything to make her smile. It’s more mature and is certainly aimed at discerning readers and possibly the parents of little Pony fans.
And that’s what I’ll have at the show. If there’s anything else of mine you want you’ll have to ask me to bring it, the Pony booms will be weighing me down. But feel free to stop by, have a chat, and make this PonyCon be the raddest weekend ever. You might even consider catching me at my panel:

Writing Panel on the Main Stage – 11:30-12:30 Saturday

Myself, two fanfic writers, and an MC will discuss writing for the Ponyverse.

I look forward to seeing you all at the show.

I Hate Paul Allor – TMNT Utrom Empire #1

Paul Allor gets to write in the TMNT U. Repeatedly. And well.

His Shredder micro from the other month was this tight exploration on the mindset of war which though philosophical in tone could not have featured more fighting, and TMNT: Utrom Empire #1 starts a 3 issue intergalactic epic. Seriously, Allor can blow.

Oh, and he makes Fugitoid interesting here. Actually, kind of heartbreaking. The suicide attempt, and the flat way of Fugitoid thinking about it, kind of got to me. Man, who the hell can make Fugitoid anything but a chore?

And don’t get me started on the intergalactic war and prison island intrigue. Just don’t. I’ll start writing about the cool toys Allor is being given and the fun he’s having with them – which by proxy means all the readers get to have fun, too. Or I’ll rant about how this issue is tightly plotted. Like, Allor most likely sold his grandmother’s soul for this level of game.

Allor also annoys me by getting to work with Andy Kuhn and Bill Crabtree. I dig their style together. That is all.

Oh, and those covers. Man, those covers. Those. Covers. These three covers are some of the best things – as art but in a collective design sense – I’ve seen in a long while.

TMNT: Utrom Empire #1 is just fuel for me to burn the Allor effigies in my mind.

I hate Paul Allor.

SCAM Ultimate HC Kickstarter is LIVE!

The SCAM Ultimate HC Kickstarter is live right now.

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Joe Mulvey, the artist/author of the miniseries from ComixTribe, has brought a fun heist series about con men with superpowers in Vegas. It’s like the X-Men meets Ocean’s Eleven.

The HC on offer here collects the entire miniseries in a HC supplemented by the entire SCAMthology of shorts by a death row of talent and rogues (Paul Allor, Jason Ciaramella, John Lees, Nick Pitarra, Joe Eisma, etc). It’s a hell of a deal and ComixTribe always put together sublime little packages so you know the product will look amazing.

Within the SCAMthology, I have a short with Adam Masterman titled THREE CAR MONTE. It’s a car chase adrenaline rush with a kick of an end.

You can go to the Kickstarter here.

You can like the SCAM Facebook page here.

And you can even read my THREE CAR MONTE tale right here, FOR FREE!

Back the project, spread the word, enjoy the scam.

Opening Contract – Marvel Premiere #15

Over at the Weekly Crisis, I join Dan Hill on his Opening Contract column and discuss the first panel of Marvel Premiere #15 which is also the first appearance of Iron Fist. We discuss floating heads, non-diagetic splash pages, how much fu you can handle, and Pretty Slippers And Capri Pants With A Saucy Pose – My Life in Green by Danny Rand, ha.
Opening Contract – Marvel Premiere #15 — read it with your eyes.

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Also, for those who don’t know, Opening Contract is one of my favourite columns on the internet where Dan Hill takes an opening panel from an issue and dissects it with erudite aplomb. It’s superb reading and you should mainline all of there right here, right now.
I hope you dug the discussion, and that you dig Danny Rand, and we’ll see you next time.

I Hate Ed Brisson – Sheltered #6

SHELTERED from Johnnie Christmas, Shari Chankhamma, and Ed Brisson is a superb Image series about prepper kids gone wild. It’s vicious, brutal, emotional, and breathtaking all in equal bursts.

The most recent issue, #6, made me realise I hate Ed Brisson because he writes this issue, the start of the next arc, the continuation of the story, with a completely new situation, location, and cast. We only see Lucas for a handful of pages, the rest of the established narrative is ignored, and yet this issue shines.

Why does changing everything up work? Because these characters are heading towards Lucas and his group and the tension is palpable as the noose slowly tightens.

Brisson does this in two seemingly easy ways:

  • He uses time captions to show them slowly all drawing near to what we knew must be conflict. A ticking clock in narrative rarely reveals the pretty lady jumping out of the cake, it’s usually someone’s final minutes.
  • Brisson, and the whole team, bring these characters to life and make us care about them very quickly. Most of this is just small talk, a middle aged jock teasing a nerd (with some hilarious lines) and a family wishing their father didn’t have to leave (which is heartwrenching because your own assumed dramatic irony tells you they should really dial it up and stop him). This is all talking heads, literal kitchen sink drama, and it’s endearing to us so in the final moments of this issue you are completely invested. You are holding your breath, you are hoping and praying, you are in Brisson’s sweaty palm.

With these devices, Brisson shows us he can mix up this tale and still keep us completely glued. He’s basically changing the rules for this issue and getting away with it. How dare he.

Oh, and Brisson gets to work with Johnnie Christmas and Shari Chankhamma – a team that bring the characters to the page in a way that connects instantly to your heart. This is one of the best looking books running today.

If you haven’t bought Sheltered yet ask for it at your LCS, I guarantee they have copies, it’s been huge, or if you’re a digital person then hit this Sheltered ComiXology portal for all the issues so far.

NOTE: I write the back matter for this book. It’s a sweet gig graciously given to me by Mr Brisson and his generosity is only fuel to all the more passionately hate the man.

What Am I Professionally Jealous Of?

I got to thinking about professional jealousy recently. I’ll admit, it’s a stiletto slid between my ribs from time to time. Not all the time, not even often, but it blips on the radar periodically. But I had to stop and think, what am I actually jealous of?
It usually crops up when someone gets a rad opportunity, one I didn’t or couldn’t get (natch, though, because who’s getting jealous of someone landing that sweet GreenWater gig or getting knocked back, so this start should be obvious and a touch universal). But what is it that I’m jealous of?
Bigger question, what is it that I should be jealous of?
I put some thought into this and I realise that as a storyteller the only thing that should make me jealous or envious is a great story. But I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been jealous of a great story. In fact I love and respect most guys who are capable of creating great stories. I think about mates like Paul Allor/Frank Barbiere/Ryan Ferrier/etc and they crush their books but I’ve never once felt a shred of jealousy of them because I am happy for them and I dig having their work in the world to read.
Jealousy really comes up when I see people getting those huge opportunities. I wish it was me. It’s really that simple. But when I see a guy get an opportunity because they deserve it I’m truly and honestly happy. Again, list above and my usual people, and if they got called up to Marvel tomorrow I’d have no problem because they have the talent, the drive, the work ethic, and I want to see that stuff rewarded.
So I guess what I’m intimating is really I’m jealous when I see somebody get an opportunity and they didn’t deserve it. This in turn raises the question what do I mean by didn’t deserve it? This could mean a lot of things to a lot of people and is a slippery slope fraught with perilous pitfalls of arrogance. In short, I guess it means the people who haven’t worked hard for it (and to me this specifically means, what are they working hard on? Craft and building a storytellers toolkit or just breaking in by any means necessary? Some people put this value into different areas and I guess I’m fine with that in a live and let die way) or whose product is pretty clearly inferior. If I see someone put out a book that is flawed, beyond me just not digging it, but it truly is flawed on some levels but they parlay it into an Oni gig, then yeah, it’s probably going to kickstart the green eyed monster in me. And I know you might be thinking – mate, you didn’t like the comic, but obviously someone did, many someones, or just that right someone, but either way they worked hard enough to produce the comic (which is damned hard as we all know) and now they’re getting a break for it. Quit being a dick and just deal with it – and to those people I say, yep, I know. Professional jealousy is never fun, or nice, or really smart. It’s based in arrogance and fear and a fair degree of stupidity and hubris and it’s unfair because you build the jealousy based more on what you think in your head than in what’s going on in the real world. However, explain this fact to near every creator who feels it. Because they do. They do. Ask them why they feel it and see if their answer doesn’t sound as dickish as me.

So I thought long and hard on this one fact. In the end I asked myself what do I care about the opportunities they get?
Let’s say someone gets an Image book then a Marvel gig then a sixty issue Vertigo series. If I feel they didn’t deserve it and they don’t have the talent then it should stand to reason none of those books will be any good (and this usually goes hand in hand with those razor focused on breaking in instead of committing time to craft and process – it makes me wonder what they want, the fame or to tell great stories…? But that’s a whole other discussion when I kick a different hornet’s nest). So why would I be jealous of an Image book that’s garbage? And if they get better with each gig through practice and it’s good then I’m stoked to have another good book in my world (and this has happened where I’ve read stuff by someone I didn’t like and the first stuff was not my cup of tea at all and I was baffled by their further opportunities and then I read something of their’s later and it was good and I was happy about it, and could enjoy it – I might get jealous but I’m not bitter. Yet.). With time, this idea of enjoying all the good stories and ignoring the bad ones became the root of the solution to my professional jealousy.
If I like you and your stories then I’m happy every time you land again. And if I don’t think you’ve got talent I don’t care if you’ve got a top 10 selling book if it’s not very good. I have nothing to be jealous of. It is this thought that has freed my mind.
I am, at my core, a storyteller and I will never be jealous of a good story or good storyteller.

Rating ComiXology Comics – A Study Into Why You Should

When you finish reading a comic on ComiXology, the final swipe across reveals a panel where you can rate the comic from 1-5 stars.

It takes literally a second to do – unless you want to take 10 minutes deliberating your choice. And, hey, if you want to be judicial and thorough in your assignment of approval or disappointment then I have no problem with you or your methods. You do what needs to be done.

However, despite the ease of the process, it seems that many people don’t take this opportunity to give anonymous feedback to the creator, the publisher, and the world at large. I have to admit, I don’t know why.

There’s the internet rule of the 1% which states that only 1% of users will interact with their community. This could mean that only 1% of people are giving ratings, which would be crazy. Though, to be honest, from some chat behind closed doors, it seems more common that only 10% of ComiXology readers are giving feedback after reading a comic.

Why?

Apathy – this is always a big player in most endeavours these days. People just couldn’t be assed. They don’t want to be heard, they don’t care if anyone’s listening. They just move to the next comic to read it because that’s what they’re there to do, read.

No WiFi – at the time of reading the issue, the reader may not be in a wifi zone and so the rating cannot be assigned, and be damned if I’d go back later once I got a signal. That’s way too much commitment.

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say – the reader might feel bad about giving a poor score because they were raised that if you didn’t have anything nice to say then you don’t say anything at all. And they aren’t going to drop a praise score if they don’t mean it because that’d just be disingenuous toward the money of other buyers who trust these scores.

Which raises my next point, do these review scores mean anything? Does anyone look at how many reviews an issue got and what the average score is and care or even more allow it to affect their purchasing habits? I’d be interested to know thoughts on this one.

For me, I don’t care what other people rated a comic. Well, I don’t care what they rated comics created by other people. I do, somewhat, care about what the ratings are on my books. I like to know how things are landing, if I’m anywhere near target.
I rate pretty much every single book I read on ComiXology, I think it’s only fair. I wish they had a 10 point scale to allow for greater nuance of pleasure/pain but otherwise I’m happy to take a second and drop my feedback so the creator feels that little warm glow in their special area (which is their brain, perv).

The next time you read a book on ComiXology, think about dropping that rating at the end. It’ll only take a moment.

My Comic Plans for 2014

This is not a post of comic resolutions. This is a plan moving forward.

I wanted to write down some plans for 2014 to keep me focused, to show me I’m on the right track, and just as an open process thing to see what someone on my level (Dante puts me down on the 8th circle) is doing. Here’s what I want to achieve in 2014.

What I Hope 2014 Can Do

My Best Work Yet – I’m dropping a series in the first half of this year that is the best long form thing I’ve done yet. I want to spend the time to do this right and show growth. I have something to say and my art team are beyond compare so I’m looking forward to this happening. I also have another series and two one-shots in the works and the aim is for these to bring the thunder in new ways. There is no room to rest on your laurels, you need to be charting up constantly.

More Shorts – I’d like to add a few more shorts to my list this year. I have a few sniffs in places so we’ll see what happens. I also want to collaborate with some cool people for kooky DIY 5-10 pagers we can just throw up online. Fingers crossed.

One More Greenlight – In a dream state, I’d like to get one more mini greenlit before the year is out. The ball always needs to be rolling and it can only be greased with the carcasses of previous comics work completed. This one will be the real test of the year but I have the faith.

Yep, that’s it. Other than that, I’m not going to ‘aim’ insanely high. No Daredevil gig just yet, or Image mini, or anything like that. I want to be realistic and set a plan I can reel in and stuff an air tank in its mouth before pulling the trigger.

This is my battle plan for 2014. I want to do what’s set already as well as I can, I’ve got lead time so I’m working my ass off to make every script really pop. I also want to aim for the next stuff with precision rather than with a scatter shot approach. Hopefully I’m doing it right.

What are your comic goals for 2014?

Baywatch Nights Musings – S01Ep01 Pursuit

If you dig crime fiction then you kind of have to watch this show. I am not kidding.

Staggers me that BAYWATCH NIGHTS is nearly 20 years old, first ep is 1995, and I’m just getting to it now. I thoroughly enjoyed this first episode, though don’t let that confuse you into thinking I’m saying it’s great, or even really good, but it is distractingly enjoyable.

BAYWATCH NIGHTS is clearly the Hoff’s play at diversifying his presence and trying something new. Spinning out of his mega-success on BAYWATCH, which is really just lifeguards on the beach going above and beyond into solving crimes and saving lives, the Hoff puts his iconic character of Mitch into an actual PI agency and has him solving crimes for reals.

If you are confused as to how this might come about just watch the opening minute of the show where Mitch breaks the fourth wall and tells us how his friend bought an ailing PI agency and how he can’t stop himself from helping everyone, including a friend in need. So, we get Mitch PI. Oh, and the Hoff tells us this while wearing a beach jacket with no shirt underneath so the hirsute chest segue from beach to darkness will make complete sense. Complete sense.

From there, we get an introductory episode that puts the Hoff in the middle of a model and her stalker paparazzo sleaze of a problem. Or so you’d think it all is. Where BAYWATCH NIGHTS succeeds is that it truly wants to be a crime show. The Hoff narrates like a grizzled penny dreadful lead, the night is neon soaked as he spends off hours nursing drinks in a local blues bar, there are foot chases and fist fights and salacious photos. Everything about this show is ripped from crime fiction standard tropes.

The most fascinating element is the fact the Hoff becomes the perfect crime lead because he is fallible. He gets punched, he makes poor decisions, he kisses the dame when he shouldn’t, and by the end of the episode you see he’s actually handled this case poorly. He isn’t the superheroic lifesaver decimating problems in slow motion anymore, he is human and he is new at this and he is making mistakes. There is a DNA thread of Sam Spade in this new Hoff incarnation – the genes have just been washed out a little so the quality is diluted.

It should also be noted that the PI agency is made up of the Hoff, his friend who is African-American, and some other lady (I’d know names and specifics but I was writing while this was on) and this means the diversity of the core cast is pretty good considering this is twenty years ago. Most core casts today don’t stretch this far. Though it should also be noted that the other two PIs barely get on screen as the Hoff is too busy chewing up the scenery like its sovereign German land.

For a terrible knock off sequel tv show, BAYWATCH NIGHTS brings a new spin on an old character, it borrows the right things from the right places, it’s amusing in a way you can still write with it on in the background, and it’s bookended by an opening theme and a separate closing theme both written and performed by the Hoff himself.

BAYWATCH NIGHTS is the crime fiction show you need to catch up on to truly round out your gumshoe knowledge of the world. Trust me. And enjoy.

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