Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Month: October, 2014

Old Man Hallowe’en

I grew up a child of horror. I was watching John Carpenter flicks….well, way before I should have been. I segued into Cronenberg and Argento phases before most segued out of their safe kid animation phases and found (what they thought were) subversive cartoons. And so, Fangoria became a word I’d use to represent my identity for my youth. I lived and breathed the 80s works of Landis and Dante and Bottin and Raimi. I was the horror kid.

And I was the horror kid mostly because that’s what was around – with two older brothers – but also because I dug the hell out of those flicks, and I dug the shocks and scares. I think back to watching AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON repeatedly, or THE EVIL DEAD, or even old slasher fare like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or schlock like Troma flicks, and I realise I liked most of them because of the craft. Look at the way Carpenter holds suspense in THE THING, or Cronenberg makes you squirm in VIDEODROME by pushing your nerves past their breaking point, or how Raimi uses that camera in THE EVIL DEAD. I followed the horror fare of auteurs because they did new and exciting things. You cannot tell me Landis tells the story the same way from AAWIL to TRADING PLACES. His camera work in the Underground as the werewolf stalks is insane. There’s nothing like that as Eddie Murphy wheels himself around in that suitcase/wheelchair.

Horror is a genre that’s always allowed innovation, and incorporated it into structure and tone and effect. But it’s also prone to cheap flicks and while Teen Ryan didn’t mind some really terrible stuff – a steady enough diet of ‘video nasties’ and slasher flicks kept me afloat – I realise the ones I still watch today are the horror flicks with craft behind them. Jason Voorhess, while a fun dalliance for the time, isn’t someone I wish to revisit because there’s nothing there for me now. And why are those thin fun horror flicks done in casa de Lindsay? Well, because I had kids. Once I had kids – these little people who gave me the sole purpose of keeping them alive – I stopped thinking how cool it is to sit and digest the myriad ways the world will eat them up. And yet that’s exactly where horror has steered into.

I came into horror with THE THING, and loved the sci fi-locked room-terror laced mash up it is, and I think I last really dug on Wes Craven’s double tap of NEW NIGHTMARE/SCREAM – deconstructions of the horror feeling, a swan song to an era. Then I completely zoned out about halfway through HOSTEL and kind of never looked back. I realised Scorsese and the Coens and Nolan and Russell were going to reinvent cinema without having to gloriously kill people slowly on screen – though maybe Scorsese is the closest to just doing real life horror but in my mind there’s a thin skin between horror and crime – while criminals are horrific, they’re…I don’t know, they feel disconnected from me. Horror is about the horrific entering my world, the suburban world, whereas criminals kill each other and cops (he said, naively).

I don’t watch anywhere near as much horror as I used to. VIDEODROME was on this week so I taped it, and will no doubt devour it soon enough, I loosely keep up with THE WALKING DEAD – but zombies will always inexplicably be my jam – and I was pointed towards and then thoroughly loved PONTYPOOL but anything else that’s just crazy people chopping up innocent peeps, or is simply gorno for the sake of it will rarely get a run with me anymore. I’m a scaredy-cat now, and while the finest of the horror cinema blend will carry on with me, everything else in the genre is dead to me. I can’t handle seeing this stuff and then having my mind think of the world my kids are going into. It’s a crazy emotional fault gap that I’m not prepared to jump across, for fear of falling into it.

So for now, my Hallowe’en consists of a little writing, some coffee, a sitcom with the wife, and no scaredy flicks for me, no thanks. I’m in this weird Old Man Hallowe’en “get off my lawn” phase I truly never saw coming.

And yet I really look forward to the kids growing up because once they get past a certain age, I know I’m going to share Scooby-Doo episodes with them, and watch stuff like THE GOONIES, and then when they are much older, I’ll get out the good horror, the top shelf stuff, and we’ll appreciate it on a craft level. And if they wanna watch 3D found footage slasher trip-hop on their own, power to them. If they are like their old man, it’ll last until they have their own kids, then they’ll truly fear what goes bump in the night and give it the wide berth it deserves.


Why Do You Con, Bro?

Being on the con circuit is a difficult thing to quantify/qualify in our creative worlds.
Why do we con?
Is it the networking afforded with peers? Hoping to lead to more/better/rad gigs?
Is it the ego stroking we get from people buying our stuff?
Is it the money made from said ego stroking sales?
Is it just the chance to hang out with likeminded peeps from across the country who we never/rarely get to see in person and buy a cider?
In the end, all of these reasons are fine, but are they worth it? To con is to book a table, insurance, transport, a place to crash that isn’t a dumpster. Conning takes money, and preparation, and time away from loved ones. It requires you to endure the hours where you don’t sell anything, the exclusion when you aren’t asked to drinks, the anxiety of wondering if it’s all worth it.
But a con also can lead to landing gigs, finding collaborators, consolidating friendships, connecting with readers, turning a profit.
In the end, you have to work out why you con and if it’s working for you. If that con money could be better spent getting an artist on a short story, or printing up more books to send to shops, or feeding your kids, then maybe do that.
Personally, I con for the sales, the readers, and the mates. And I take that hit because it’s an investment in myself as a writer. I’m not turning crazy money now – though I usually make some profit – but it’s not yet about the money, it’s about the fun, I guess, and it’s certainly about the culture. Meeting readers of my work is an insane thing to do, and having people come back to buy more is seriously the best. But I make that choice now as a calculation against how far it’ll get me and where I want to be in the coming years.
In the end, it’s a big thing to consider – make a list, weigh those pros and…wait for it…cons. Ask this important question:

Have recent cons been working for you as you want them to?

Do you need to reshuffle your expectations? Or take a break and concentrate on the work? Work out what’s not working – then fix that break.
Plan. Then move forward with purpose. Your purpose, in your time.


Linkatron 43

For the eclectic non-fic reader hiding in us all. With a sock full of pennies.

Pulp fiction, the really old lurid stuff, always fascinates me – but more fascinating, nearly always, are the guys who wrote them (and they nearly always seem to be guys) – this guy pumping one of the books out in 3 days is insane, I can’t imagine how wild living like that is – part of me wishes I was there doing that – part of me really does not, ha – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/18/world/americas/a-one-man-pulp-fiction-factory-keeps-his-motors-running-in-brazil.html?_r=0

A look at the fall of patriarchy in TV – and possibly in life – do our narratives have to end with men dying? – is there something cyclical about killing off your father or your god in your writing, and then what do you write next? – this is a long read but it’s really well put together – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/magazine/the-death-of-adulthood-in-american-culture.html?smid=tw-share&_r=2&referrer=

I grew up loving HALLOWEEN III – it never even occurred to me that Michael Myers wasn’t in it – it was just this cool 80s horror flick – but now I’m yearning for what could have been, a decade of Carpenter at his finest testing the boundaries of the horror genre and doing something special – instead we got a few decades of slasher dreck – bugger – http://badassdigest.com/2014/10/16/timing-is-everything-the-unfortunate-case-of-halloween-iii/

People who freak out – FREAK OUT – over flicks being possibly bad before they come out baffle me – people need to chill out and wait – http://thedissolve.com/features/exposition/781-its-time-to-stop-freaking-out-about-movies-we-have/

So apparently writing is my superorigin story – I wonder what my secondary mutation will be… – http://mic.com/articles/98348/science-shows-writers-have-a-serious-advantage-over-the-rest-of-us

Writing short stories can sometimes be just as hard as writing long ones – sometimes even harder – this great old article breaks down a superb MURDER BOOK short by Johnnie Christmas and Ed Brisson and you can see exactly how they make the story succeed in 5 pages – probably must read materail for those breaking in with short stories – http://www.comixtribe.com/2012/09/01/points-of-impact-week-22-make-the-most-of-every-opportunity/

If I could read about writing process all day long, damn, well, you know I would – Joe Keatinge discusses his work space, and then his work flow, and he gives some suggestions and ideas on how to get things going – that idea of being accountable to yourself, and not being distracted, and doing your damn job seems so obvious but I always believe people don’t plan to fail at that stuff, they just fail to plan – http://www.eatgeekplay.com/creative-spaces-joe-keatinge/

There’s something about Joe Carnahan I just absolutely dig – I mean, I dig a lot of his movies – if you haven’t seen THE GREY then you are a fool – harsh words but so insanely true – and this article is just perfect creator feature writing – I now obviously need to see STRETCH – http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/movies-joe-carnahan-stretch-mission-impossible-the-grey-tom-cruise-white-jazz-daredevil-unproduced-movies/

Writing Splash Pages

Splash pages are tricky beasts. Used right, they can be amazing beats. Used wrong, or at least with little effect, and they become placeholders, structural ticks on a checklist of formula, turgid, ho-hum, forgettable.

I don’t write a lot of splash pages. I don’t decompress so rarely find I have the space for a splash page. I say that like I’m bragging when in reality it can be a fault at times, it means I’m trying to cram too much in, I want too many little beats, I want my words all over everything. Sometimes your story needs time and space to breathe.

And splash pages add both – time and space.

Used right, they slow the reader down, make them feel the moment, bring them in and invest them on an emotional level – whether that emotion is awe or infinite sadness or extreme guttural horror. The splash page is the signifier that the reader needs to stop and soak it in for a moment, or maybe three moments.

I’m not here to preach which splash pages are the best and the worst – though I would like to write a future post about which splash pages have hit me hard in the past few years as a writer/reader – for now I’d like to point you to a link and make you think about it in regards to your writing, and illustrating (though I usually speak from the writing/writer’s perspective because there’s no way I’m lecturing about art).


Yep, this is click bait, but it’s got 75 pics that are pretty good, and I want to highlight a few that might make you think differently about how you’ll write splash pages in the future – however, as always, ymmv.

Classic Majesty

nyc skyline

Look at this shot. It’s beautiful, right? Haunting, emotional, inspiring, and all just with a cityscape. You can use your environment to do this to the reader. Do it.


bush mission accomplished

Have your character doing something dramatic. Post them with their environment, frame it real pretty like. Have everything point to them and their message, and make it so their message points to them, and they are the central point of their message. Extra points for making their pomp a true farce.


reuinited family

Drop that emotional beat. Character posing in maximum emotional mode, tears on display, or anger, or whatever. This is the action shot of their soul. But also, look how this mother’s body frames around her daughter, and the colour juxtaposition, the interlocking human pieces that fit perfectly, this is a pretty shot that also manages to evoke so much. Don’t rely purely on the shown emotion, just because I see tears doesn’t mean I’ll care. Draw me in, use your craft. I also think the business pants guy clearly just walking on by says so much, this lady is melting down, he’s just looking for some java before making his connecting flight. Sometimes these heightened emotional moments are just yours, and no one else cares, we are pockets of hyperfuel for whatever we are feeling and rarely do others get burnt by our flames. That in itself is a fascinating concept about empathy, and time in the day, and just how much emotion we have to give the world and still function.

This shot also goes well with this shot below:

bridge suicide

Look at that body language. Ooof. Masterclass right there from the real world. Capture something as real as this and I’ll read your book.


virginia tech

Use scope and numbers to your advantage. Whether it’s an army, or a family, or mourners, or protestors, make us care because you’re bringing a thousand peeps who care.

Now, this won’t always work – sometimes it feels like saturation and can be numbing – but when done and framed right for the very perfect moment, it can stop us in our tracks.


boston bomber

Look at the lighting on this one. If you wanna think about mood you think about the shadows, but only as they juxtapose against the light, and as they differentiate because this pic has pitch black, but also weird greys, with multiple light sources. This is just great.


kiev independence

Be bold. Tell your moment in a way you have not seen before. Damn the rules.


vancouver riot

Because if you think something is preposterous, or will feel like a contrivance, or not plausible, or will be laughed at, just know something crazier has happened in real life.

But if you can capture those moments, and think about them first, and present them with a modicum of craft, respect, enthusiasm, and talent then the world will love you for the opportunity to share that beautiful moment in space and time.

So the next time you go to write a splash page, consider why you are writing it, what do you want to make the world feel? How are you going to evoke that feeling? Scope of size, or body language, or by bringing something new and worthy of study for just a moment. Because the world has plenty of pages of the Spider-Buggy zoooming through the air, and of cape teams launching inexplicably through the air, but they don’t have enough moments of soul searching on a bridge or macking out in the middle of a riot.

If you are going to stop the reader and make them slow down, give them reason to do it and make them feel that page for hours later.

Linkatron 99

Read. Consume. Die.
I love LOST and always will, and this article comes close to telling you the whys and hows of that love – http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/lost-legacy-ten-year-anniversary-abc/

These numbers on the OG TMNT boggle the mind – they also inspire me like crazy – on making your own comics – http://geekout.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/31/thinking-of-making-your-own-comic-book-read-this-first/

TRIGGER WARNING: dead children in this story – and you might wonder why I read stuff like this but as a teacher, I need to know how some kids/families are doing it, I need to know why some kids come in angry, why they are upset, why they are broken before 9am – that someone could neglect being a parent so hardcore, and yet have 6 kids, does my head completely in – my wife told me not to read this article and she was right, this stuff just makes me angry way before it makes me sad – http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/case-of-starving-twins-and-how-their-11yearold-sister-tried-to-save-them/story-fnn8dlfs-1227076269742?nk=a5159f14307d0cf9131ba4c68eb564a6

And now for something lighter: the definition of first world problems as people worry about seeing that someone is typing on their end but not knowing what they’re typing/why it’s taking so long/OH GOD, WHY DID THEY STOP?! – this makes me laugh but I also completely feel it – social interactions begin neuroses and anxiety, why we brought social media into our homes, so we could feel this way 24/7 oftentimes baffles me – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/31/fashion/texting-anxiety-caused-by-little-bubbles.html?referrer=&_r=2

“On Mars, for example,  sound will be higher in pitch.” – huh, the more you know – and other science/space facts – http://www.iflscience.com/10-space-myths-we-need-stop-believing-ls-currently-fact-checking

I love reading about process and muse and craft from people I admire – Snyder, Cloonan, and Vaughan step up at NYCC to discuss how they make the donuts – http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=56171

CHINATOWN will always be my jam – lotta high quality chatter on this page put together by Cinephilia about and around this classic flick – absorb, learn, replicate on your own scale – http://www.cinephiliabeyond.org/the-forty-year-rule-chinatown/?w3tc_note=flush_browser_cache

Proof you can write any plot twists or contrivances you want, because people are nuts and anything can happen with them around – mother arrested after her 4yo took bags of her heroin to school – imagine your 4yo ODing at school because some other little kid brought baggies of horse and your kid didn’t know and hoovered it up thinking it was sherbert – imagine being the parent, imagine being the teacher – imagine – oof – http://www.mediaite.com/online/mother-arrested-after-4-year-old-passes-out-her-heroin-at-day-care/


Chatting NYCC Daredevil TV News at The Spire

Steve Morris at The Spire was kind enough to hit me up with some cool Qs and thoughts about the NYCC Daredevil TV announcements and pics.


See what I think of the look of Matt Murdock, why I think Mike Murdock needs to be in the show, why Nuke never should be, and why I’m excited for this Netflix/Marvel jam.

And I truly am excited, I feel like the tone of this show is going to hit us hornheads and scarlet swashbucklers right in our DDs, if you know what I’m saying.

I mean, look at this Quesada art, it’s on point.


I look forward to seeing a grounded, urban, witty, violent, fantastic Matt Murdock on my small screen as soon as I possibly can.

Celebrate My Back Catalogue in Pixels

I just realised if someone were to stumble upon me and my work and wonder what I was all about they could drop a tenner on ComiXology and scoop up nearly everything I’ve done so far. That’s pretty insane and pretty cool.

I love finding a new creator and then wanting to dive into more and more of their work. I can remember when Duane Swierczynski took over THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST and I super dug his run so I looked into his back warehouse of words and found a slew of novels, man, I was in heaven chasing them down and devouring them.

I figure, maybe, y’know, it’s possible this might happen to me. Someone sees me on twitter, they get curious, they wonder where to start. Well, here’s the battleplan, and for under $10.

Hit up the Ryan K Lindsay creator page on ComiXology. Then my suggestion is:

HEADSPACE #1-4 – buy ’em all. This is half our expected tale and it’s a steal for $1 an issue. This book is my calling card, it is exactly what I want to be making and leaving in the world as my legacy. It’s a sci fi/crime/gonzo mash up of pure emotional kindling.

FATHERHOOD – this is a $1 one-shot, self-contained, and it shows my emotional heart. I’m constantly surprised by what a perennial seller this is, online and at cons, and it’s nice that it continues to find the right audience and punch ’em in the aggats.

GHOST TOWN TPB – get this four issue intro arc, of which I wrote issues #2-4, for just $4, a bargain in anyone’s ledger. Daniel J Logan drops some great action in this high energy thriller.

For $9 that’s a complete arc, half a massive story, and a one-shot. That’s over 140 pages of my love for $9. Or you can pick and choose for less money and sample with more vigilance.

In all, I’m really happy to have this place where you can binge straight into what little work I’ve done so far.

Not to mention, if your wallet is fat and luscious with the skins of prior hunts:

OXYMORON #3 – the Oxymoron anthology was broken up into parts for digital consumption and I was stoked to land in with Aaron Houston and Paul Allor for this $1 issue.

MLP RAINBOW DASH – if you want to see me get my all-ages anarchy on, get this Rainbow Dash issue for $2.

SCAMTHOLOGY – the entire SCAMthology was uploaded in one chunk, so it’s more doubloons, but it’s more pages and more talent. Get into it.

VERTIGO CMYK MAGENTA – again, a whole antho, so more expensive, but here you get the Vertigo quality. And my tale has Tommy Lee Edwards art and John Workman letters. I can’t think of a reason you shouldn’t buy this.

So this is a way to digitally work out who I am, what my work is, and if you dig it. Buy in $1 at a time, if you like, in the order given.

And once you’re done with me, hit up other creators, other books, bounce around. Find fun stuff, try new stuff, get into some good stuff.

Digital comics are a great low cost/low risk way for you to test the waters on people you are discovering. Get into it, and enjoy.

Your Read Pile

What are you reading monthly right now?

Tell me why?

Are there any books you aren’t enjoying anymore? Are there any titles you are only buying out of habit?

As a creator, your read pile needs to be supertight. You need to only be spending your time on the finest of four colour quality.

I operate on the 80/20 rule of creation to consumption. YMMV but you can’t waste time on hot garbage. Ever.

This year I took a New Years resolution to read, at least, one comic issue a day. On top of this, I’ve started grading what I read in a notebook. I soon started to see some patterns.

Most of what I read gets an 8 out of 10 or above. Nothing gets under a 7 and stays on my read pile. Then anything in the 7 zone is somewhere in a nebulous place. And this is where it gets interesting.

I’ll keep a book in the 7 zone if I dig the creator or the character, but I’ve dropped some books in the 8 zone if they don’t have that spark. And a book is allowed to be very good and just not be for you, that’s cool, never forget that.

9 and up is pretty damn safe because I’m either really enjoying the pants off it, or I’m learning something from it, or both. Sub-7, no matter the creator or character is a waste of my time. 7-8, yeah, you gotta earn those stripes every month. And I never thought I’d set such a high bar, an 8 out of 10 should be celebrated, but I found with limited time I really scrutinised my reading habits. It’s been good value.

I’m now left with only issues I’m passionate to dig into. It also means I’m surrounded only by things that are craft gold mines. When I sit down for my daily dose and it’s HAWKEYE or THE FADE OUT or HIGH CRIMES I feel good because I’ll never feel like I’m wasting my time. I’m going to enjoy those pages, and I’m probably going to steal some little craft pieces from it.

So, what are you reading monthly right now?

Tell me why?

Comic Structure is Your New Fantasy

If you are writing comics then you absolutely must be thinking about comic structure.
The whole idea of page construction, panel layout, gutters, page turns, etc is why comics is so exciting as a medium. That idea of control is like so few other media. I always say comics are like a sonnet in iambic pentameter and this is why, the structure of it is key.
A comic with superb structure is usually indicative of an artist and writer being on point.
So, I can only assume structure is something you are thinking about a lot. You’ve no doubt read McCloud/Eisner/Bendis (which are my trio of start up #makecomics guides) and now you’re branching out, finding your voice/style, becoming a comic structure citizen of the world. As such, let your thoughts be informed by much, read plenty, dissect it all, and if you need a hand, start here:
HAWKEYE by David Aja + Annie Wu + Matt Hollingsworth + Chris Eliopoulos + Matt Fraction, from Marvel.
This book is an insane structure dream come true. This book is must read material if you are looking to level up the ways in which you make your comics – and don’t worry, I was beyond ambivalent about the character of Clint Barton before this title started up. In fact, I wasn’t even pulling the title at first and then reviews dropped and so I had to sample and now I think it is the best book craft-wise being put out right now. So if you even downright loathe Hawkeye, still consider dipping into this.
As an example, I offer up HAWKEYE #20 – a Kate Bishop tale of her taking on Madame Masque. Read the issue.
Now read it again.
Now marvel at how Wu/Fraction use time. They bounce all over the place, from locations, to times, and back again, and around, and they never tell you how, when, or where, they just do it. They assume the reader is smart enough to get it. They don’t pander with non-diagetic captions for reference, they believe half the fun, half the beauty, is just making you do the work. They play a conversation across two pages, the first page, and the last page, and you only get one side of the conversation on one page, and then you wait until the final page to get the other half of the conversation – and everything in between informs what Kate has to say. It’s a brilliant move and one that made the process junkie here start salivating.
Moves like these takes guts, and precision like you’re shaving someone on the moon with a laser from earth. You have to be bold, and sure, and you certainly need to plan like you’re invading Russia in winter. Structure doesn’t just happen, you do it, you make it, you force it into the world like you won’t settle for the standard mediocrity.
Now read the issue one more time…
…and start to think about how you structure your comics. I’m not saying you need to play fast and loose with time like some drunk wizard, but I am hoping you’ll think about the myriad ways you can tell your story. A-B-C-D storytelling might get the job done, but if I want someone to get me from home to the holidays I guess they can drive me in their beat up Datto, or they can sling me into a private jet and let me sip G+T while listening to ELO while I’m pondering my ETA, you down with OPP?
And this should come as no shock, Matt Fraction has been an out and open process junkie for years. He tears apart the work of others so he might drink from its soul and redefine his own process. Think about his Reverse Engineering script activity, or the things he wrote about BORN AGAIN. It should come as no shock that Fraction thinks this much and this hard about comics and then his books are just this good (and for the quality debate I lay at your bare feet: CASANOVA, IMMORTAL IRON FIST, SEX CRIMINALS, and HAWKEYE – argument over).

Ergo: you also need to think this hard about the books you are reading, and then the things you are writing. Again, good quality is no accident.

Structure, it’s the difference between a one-bedroom basement dwelling and a liquid labyrinthine Hogwarts dorm-frat funhouse.
You wanna make something as good as HAWKEYE, think about the structure.

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