Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Month: May, 2014


I love GREEN WAKE. And I miss it.

The emotional and terrific journey though the destructive and desolate town of Green Wake from Riley Rossmo and Kurtis J Wiebe was near on perfection. Disgusting visuals and heartbreaking character moments filled every issue across a run cut far too short.

green wake vol 1 cover
This book hit me right in the guts both because it is devastatingly well made but also because it sits in a zone of narrative I always enjoy, a character study of how hard we can hurt.
Wiebe channelled the shards of his broken heart into each page and Rossmo knows how to draw a world as strange and grotesque as we feel it is as it closes in on us daily. The pairing between these two gentleman was a comic journey of how to deal with grief and how our lives forever cycle through our worst moments. Some days we are on the other side of the sun from our abyssal souls and some days we end up right back where we started.
The tale of Morley Mack trying to get past the death of his wife is a brutal dissection of how we get dragged down, and then how we keep swimming south. And while sales flagged and the series was cut short at 10 issues, the narrative was brought to a completely satisfying conclusion that reminds me of THE DARK TOWER in precision and inevitability.
I would love to see this series brought back because an emotional horror tale done well is a rare thing that should be cared for and beloved by many, and certainly more than got into it the first time. I think a new series that inspects the town of Green Wake in a DMZ style structure of floating around the inhabitants and looking into intriguing corners would suit this landscape perfectly. One-shots, short arcs of three issues, a vast array of broken characters and a deep noir backdrop on which to hang them and break them is exactly the sort of comic I want to read.
For now, you can buy the issues digitally, or the trades online or at your LCS, and I even wrote a one-shot set around Green Wake which you might well dig.
I miss having my heart broken with each issue. I miss Green Wake.


Comic Writing 101 at #comicgong

This past weekend, I attended the ComicGong show at Wollongong. I tabled, had a bunch of fun, sold plenty of books, had some great chats about comics and life, and also ran a Comic Writing 101 workshop in the morning as we opened that was both well attended and well received.

My workshop looked at how to break story, how comic scripts are structured, how to keep at it, how to find collaborators, how to break in and have your work seen, and how to get future gigs and maybe even make some money. It was a lot of info for an hour workshop but I fly through it, I talk fast, and I kept each point to the point. It was delightful to see many people in the room taking notes and thinking about my suggestions – and they are all suggestions, if they were proven fact then I would have made more comics by now, natch. This is just stuff I wish someone had shown/told me a decade ago.

A few people asked me for a copy of the presentation so in the interest of sharing, I’m going to link to the presentation as a PDF below. I should, however, first state that this presentation is not pretty, I don’t distract with pics/gifs/blingees/really anything eye appealing at all. I put black text on a white background – my attempt at humour as this is all a writer ever deals with, black text on a white background. I should also say, these dot points are often just words and I know I’d flesh them out as spoken. To that end, yeah, you’re missing out and I refuse to type in the whole minute of what I’d say to that two word point. If you’re dying and must know, hit me up and I’ll chat with you about it. Otherwise, just enjoy the other more clear stuff. So, here goes – please take this PDF for educational purposes and do not pass off as your own:

COMIC WRITING 101 – by Ryan K Lindsay


Black Science: A Study in the Heart within Sci Fi

Sometimes a comic just grabs your attention because it’s doing everything you wish you could do. And instead of being jealous, you are just so happy someone else out there is on your wavelength and in a position to make it happen.

black science page 1

BLACK SCIENCE is a science fiction comic created by Matteo Scalera and Rick Remender, with colours by Dean White, letters by Rus Wooton, and edits by Sebastian Girner. I really dig it and you must check it out.

BLACK SCIENCE is interesting because it’s coming out now, the same time as DEADLY CLASS, another book by Rick Remender. Now I think I’d argue that DEADLY CLASS is the better book, maybe only just, and yet there’s no doubt to me that BLACK SCIENCE is the book that’s won the race to and for my heart. It feels like this science fiction titan is doing so many things right for me that it’s almost kind of gross how much I love it. Let’s break my desperate feelings down.

Science fiction. You know, I always thought I’d be a horror writer. I grew up on King and Barker and every single horror VHS you could care to name. It felt right that I’d go down that path and yet I’ve written very little horror in my time in the saddle. I seem to write a lot more science fiction. I blame old EC sci fi comics and Philip K Dick. BLACK SCIENCE hits the sweet spot somewhere between the two. Science fiction has such scope to do anything and be anything and take a million paths, through a billion solar systems and slivers of reality, to tell amazing stories about characters.

Because, and this is important, within BLACK SCIENCE beats the heart of a character study. This narrative is about people, not the awe inspiring electro-tongue frog-men or the gas possessed monkey-men inside the frozen volcano or the many other freaked out fantastic elements of the many places this cast go. No, this is a book about fatherhood (yep, always going to get my attention right there), and infidelity, and responsibility, and legacy.

At the start of this year, we were asked at the school I work at to discuss a book we had been reading over the holidays. After half the room talked about THE BOOK THIEF, and the other people rolled out their favourites, I dropped BLACK SCIENCE into the pile. I said it was this brilliant sci fi comic where a family and team of scientists tripped through realities trying to get home. I described the Aztek V WWI soldier reality and the bloody great helmeted travel suits they all wear. I then said the book was how I liked to be as a teacher because underneath all the hustle and dazzle the book wasn’t its stranger elements but rather it was its emotional core. But the bright colours and mashed up physiological concepts sure helped to get everyone’s attention.

This all made me realise how important character is. You need to give the reader a reason to care and in this book, Scalera and Remender plot out many reasons for us to become invested, and this counts across all of the cast. Many personal moments are found within these wild situations, seeing what Rebecca has to do to save her own life, and the lives of those around her, was a touching and brutal and superb moment of pitch perfect narrative meeting a moment from the heart. It showed the creative team cared about and knew t their core every single person on these pages.

The opening arc of this book, the first 6 issues, is out now and within it you’ll find moments and reasons to love and hate these characters. Sometimes both emotions for the same person. It’s an emotionally dense text that draws upon experience and fallibility. It’s a disturbing look at how we can all fail on the micro level and how that’s often more important than the larger stumbles we make in life.

There is no doubt Matteo Scalera is a master craftsman of the four colour page. His character designs and sharp and fun and varied on the most part – the daughter and the assistant look a little too similar but Grant McKay is an interesting lead because he’s not particularly good looking, or even noble. It’s nice to see for a change. Scalera’s designs of the many gonzo denizens and elements of this book are always on point. He populates worlds with strangeness and fantastic insanity so you believe anything can and will happen. But one specific thing he does captivates me each week.

Every issue opens with a splash. You could mostly call these non-diagetic splashes as they are primarily concerned with tone and theme and scope and they don’t always show a part of the narrative. A spark reaching down to the ground, an eye observing coldly, a wildly dense cityscape by a sea. These splashes show a commitment to making this book not simply just a narrative machine, this is a study of feeling and so moments should be taken to purely make us feel. These splashes also show that the team is happy to give an extra page in the month to just lay out something more for the fun and feel of it. I dig that Scalera and Remender are so into making this book that they’ll go that extra mile, they’ll let us all in on the emotional core of this beast because it’s that important to them, and so it must be that important to us, too.

BLACK SCIENCE has had a very strong opening arc start and I cannot wait to see what else comes in these pages. Science fiction and the black hearts of characters and sublime art, yeah, this book is pretty well perfect for me. It’s like seeing my id scooped out and smeared across the page with a masterful hand. It’s like finding exactly what I want and finding I like it more than I thought I would.

Riding Success Waves, Learning Lessons, and Why We Create: Favreau TruthBombs

Was listening to the Nerdist Podcast with Jon Favreau on it and it’s a superb listen as Favreau talks about craft and comedy and career growth as a creator. Truly fascinating insights and one caught me and really rattled me in all the right ways.

Favreau talks of his career and how he’s had his flops. He’s certainly had his high points – making SWINGERS and IRON MAN will hurt no one’s career – but he’s also made ZATHURA and COWBOYS AND ALIENS and those didn’t set much alight. So he talks about these low points and he says at least he learnt from them. At least they still helped him get to where he would go next. You could probably argue Favreau doesn’t get IRON MAN without making ZATHURA. And you can chart his career and show an always upward trend.

This got me to thinking about making comics. In my head, I want everything to be better than the last thing I do. I don’t want to falter and make a misstep. But maybe those missteps are going to happen and it’s not the end of the world. Maybe you need to try things and fail but learn from it all. Maybe it’s all going to be okay.

I don’t know, it was comforting to know that the guy who launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the stratospheric success it is did a dud after it, and is fine with that, and he gets back up and keeps on rocking. And will keep on rocking onwards and upwards for a long time coming.

It’s important to realise not everything you do will be great, and not everything will land well (or as well as you want it to), and that so long as you are generally trending up while also taking risks, then you’re probably doing it right.

Oh, he also says one really important thing:

Favreau talks about wanting to be happy with what he does. Because he creates because it makes him happy. That’s a real key point. If you aren’t enjoying it, then maybe stop. And if you want to keep enjoying it, do stuff that will make you happy.

Seems simple, yet is always so evasive.

I know all the comics I’m making right now make me extremely happy. Here’s to only doing that moving forward, flop or not, let’s learn and make more and eventually not suck at all (much).

thoughtballoons Turns 4

Four years ago I created a site, a place for comic writers to go and just write one page of script a week on a decided character/theme. Yes, the concept is completely stolen from ComicTwart, and such, but instead of having rad art, it had scripts. Text heavy, wordy, non-arted scripts.

And today, thoughtballoons turns 4!

tb logo1 - 700

I thought this site up and figured it would be fun. Above all else, I built this because I wanted to do it. I wrangled in a few mates to join me and so each and every week we wrote our scripts, and critiqued each other, and bonded, and got better, and experimented. It truly was a glorious time to live and learn. For the first two straight years, I didn’t miss a week. But then I got busy, well, kinda busy, and I found the one page script a week was either going to take up too much time/headspace, or they were going to start sucking. So I bowed out early in that third year and I know it was the right thing to do but I miss the site and the challenge and the team a lot.

In my two+ years running the site, I forged friendships in steel, I figured out my writing strengths and weaknesses (and I worked on improving both), and I see that I did what the site was intended for – I grew and I enjoyed it. From the site, I really got to know Ben Rosenthal and now we table next to each other at many Aussie cons. I met Dan Hill in the comments section and now he’s a first reader on nearly all my stuff and he’s the editor on HEADSPACE, my Monkeybrain book. I also met Grant McLaughlin somewhere in the mix and we’ve subsequently shared a bed – true fact. The site was a breeding ground for much of who I am today as a writer.

If you want to watch me grow, and stumble, and try, and enjoy every word – scope my thoughtballoons archive here (though skip the first few at the top, the team decided to write scripts ABOUT me so those aren’t mine, though I wish a few were, bloody good they are).

While looking at the site, and realising 4 years has passed since I thought it up and slapped it together and started hacking my words on there, I started going through my scripts and I came across my final few and realised I didn’t immediately hate myself.

Iron Man’s Armour – we had to write about the central item of Stark Tech and I write a page where Iron Fist chi-powers an Iron Man gauntlet. Not gonna lie, I still wanna read this in a Marvel comic, hot damn.

Captain America’s Shield – a small moment as a page where a fellow soldier realises Cap is reading something on the back of the shield right before battle. I’d still use this idea today if I got to write a Cap short.

Mjolnir – I posit an equal and opposite hammer, and then put it into Jane Foster’s hands in order to kill Thor. This page was just damn fun to write.

Hulk – I take the phrase ‘Hulk smash!’ and make it feel really nasty and problematic in a way I’ve not thought of/about before or since.

I link to these scripts not just to brag – 1) it’s my site, let me brag, 2) there are plenty of flaws, so little to brag about – but I want to show just how much fun it is to write a one page script each week. You get to play with characters and ideas just for the fun of it. I know I don’t get to do that like this anywhere as often nowadays, and reading these scripts makes me smile and realise sometimes the words can just be fun, and sometimes you can try different things, and sometimes you will have huge and insane and awesome ideas. Look above, a fanboy Iron Fist moment, a sombre Cap piece, an almost cheesy old school Mjolnir moment, and a downright horrific Hulk page. Each week I was flexing all kinds of muscles. There is definite power in that for every writer. And those were just my last handful of scripts. I have my absolute favourites from history – if you come across my X-Men page then you’ll see something I think I did very well (and no, I won’t link to it, I can’t do everything for you). I just recently took one page and pillaged it for an upcoming pitch. Everything old is new again.

I’d suggest, if you are a process hound, or someone looking to hone their craft, check the site out. Damn, there must be about a thousand pages of script on there so far, wow. You should scope the site, pluck the lessons from the corners in which they hide, and if you want to play along at home then each week when a character/theme is picked they write a Why post – throw a one page script there and have it in the world, have it real, and maybe have it critiqued by some other people who might just be your best friends and strongest allies in a few years time.

Also, artists, looking for sequentials to draw? Well, damn, I just found you hundreds of pages on all sorts of different characters from Indy to Batman to Buffy to the Pet Avengers. Enjoy.

As for me, I’ll just sit and reflect that something I started 4 years ago, and abandoned nearly two years ago, still lives on and thrives and provides those lessons and fun for others like it did for me. I have to admit, that’s really humbling and intergalactic levels of cool.

thoughtballoons – because I wanted to be a better writer and have fun and found a way to do both over time. I hope you have or find your thoughtballoons.


I Want More…Tiger Lawyer

Sometimes you can’t get enough of a book. Sometimes it gets cancelled way early, and sometimes it doesn’t come out often enough. And in those times, I just want more of that thing that I love. Like how I want more TERRIERS, and want more MURDER ONE – but only like the first season, not the second, it wasn’t ‘bad’ but I didn’t die for it like S1 – and I want more New Flesh movies – but I’m kinda scared what they’d be because maybe the return with eXistenZ was a fluke, y’know?

Anyway, I want more of the comics I love and one of the comics I love to death is…TIGER LAWYER.

tiger lawyer 2

TIGER LAWYER, for those who don’t know, is the brain child of Ryan Ferrier and it’s about a tiger who’s a lawyer, or a lawyer who’s a tiger. Either way, it’s kind of perfect. Ferrier has partnered with Matt McCray and Vic Malhotra to craft this trilogy of tails and what comes out is astounding.

The McCray stories are funny and cartoony and puntacular. Whereas the Malhotra storyline is this noir infused crime tale. Ferrier shows us that you can take a character/concept and twist it however you like so long as you do it well. Both sides of Tiger Lawyer are gripping and solid on a craft standpoint and I’ve reread a few of the issues more than once. The McCray pages are funny – like honestly laughing out loud and not just typing LOL, or worse, saying “LOL.” These are funny comics, and then they’re backed up with this heartbreaking downbeat whiskey stinking real gutter crime story. They’re both so damn good.

The only problem is, there are only 3 issues. I know a fourth is coming but I want more, and I want it now. This is the sort of book that deserves to be coming out monthly but because it’s coming from the wallet of Mr Ferrier, it’s taking a while. And I guess I can wait.

If you are curious, you can buy all 3 issues on ComiXology for three bucks and you really really should.

I will leave you with this, a teaser for issue #3 Malhotra did which really got me excited way back when. It still gives those chills only the best of comics and moments can deliver. Tiger Lawyer, I miss you, I love you, and I look forward til next we meet.

tiger lawyer 3 promo

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