Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Month: April, 2015

Horror Talk Interview about Negative Space

James Ferguson at Horror Talk had a chat with me about NEGATIVE SPACE [INTERVIEW LINK]

Jnegative space 1 logoames asks about my ‘Space’ trilogy, ha, and also delves into the depression inherent in this book/story. He also raises the idea of an emotional array like the Lantern Corp which made me laugh.

Have a read and get a sense of what I’m working towards on NEGATIVE SPACE.

NEGATIVE SPACE is a creator owned miniseries with Owen Gieni published by Dark Horse and the #1 issue debuts in July.

You can preorder the book through your LCS right now, or whichever other channels you score your four colour funnies through. The preorder code is: MAY150012, and all the details are at this [LINK]


To those preordering the book, thank you. Indie comics live and die on the vine based on preorders so you are making a huge difference in our lives. The publisher sets the print levels to match the preorders and change.

And to those who identify closely with the thought of depression or suicide, please HIT THIS LINK and see all the resources and places available to you. You are not alone. We are here to help you.


BEHIND THE PANELS Podcast – now with extra Ryan K Lindsay

BEHIND THE PANELS is the best Australian comics podcast. Do yourself a favour, check it out. Guaranteed to make you laugh. Go [LINK]

So why not start on the RYAN K LINDSAY episode all about Netflix’s DAREDEVIL [LINK]


On the show we discuss:

HEADSPACE – in trade from IDW this week

NEGATIVE SPACE – up for preorder now from Dark Horse – details at the –> [LINK]

DAREDEVIL! – seriously dug this show and we double down on the intense critique of and around it

and then we just shoot the breeze, and I give a killer AAAAAGGGGGEEEEE OF ULLLTTTRRONNNNNN!

I strongly encourage you to give it a listen and then subscribe, the lads there do the Lords’ work.

Preorder NEGATIVE SPACE from Dark Horse Now!

NEGATIVE SPACE is a creator owned miniseries with Owen Gieni published by Dark Horse and the #1 issue debuts in July.

You can preorder the book through your LCS right now, or whichever other channels you score your four colour funnies through. The preorder code is: MAY150012

negative space 1 logo

I spoke with Cardner Clark at CBR all about it [LINK].

I also chat with the Behind the Panels crew about it on their podcast [LINK].

NEGATIVE SPACE is about Guy Harris, a depressed man who sits down to write his suicide note and gets writer’s block. He goes for a walk to clear his head and soon uncovers a century-old conspiracy dedicated to creating and mining the worst lows of human desperation.

This miniseries is about depression, and the reality of emotion in a manipulated world, as well as the superdense core within responsibility. How much do you serve yourself over serving others, and vice versa?

This is an emotionally concentrated storyline wrapped up in the spectacle of wicked visuals Owen Gieni cooks up for our antagonists, and their underwater masters.

Like AFTER HOURS if directed by Cronenberg, if you dug my work on HEADSPACE [an emotional journey of fatherhood and responsibility amidst flying monsters, club-wielding ogres, government killers, and a fridge full of crows] then this book will kick you in the same places that story’s end did. Somewhere between a Philip K Dick book, a Hermann score, and a Polanski flick with del Toro visuals, NEGATIVE SPACE is something I hope will make you sit back to take in the scope while feeling the pinpoint white hot infinite feelings within it.

If you’re going to follow us down the rabbit hole, I have to thank you. Independent comics live and die on the vine based on word of mouth and preorders. If you can tweet it to your friends, that’d be ace. If you wanna slip the title into your next care package to your off-shore accountant, go for it. Actual watercooler chat at work, aw, yeah. All good things are great things to me.

And finally, if you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

We Are Here To Help You

Depression sucks. Let’s kick it in the balls, together.

So, I’m writing this book called NEGATIVE SPACE, it’s a comic from Dark Horse Comics with art by Owen Gieni and words by me, and it’s about Guy Harris, a depressed man who sits down to write his suicide note but gets writer’s block.

From there, we tell a tale of depression, and responsibility, and the grit of the human spirit, while also weaving in ancient emotion eating creatures, a flat out terrible corporate giant profiting from the melancholia so easily created in our world today, and ultimately we look at the prospect of whether we can save people, and who gets to decide what saved looks like.

It’s an emotional journey, but with a brutal high concept, and while it feels like a Philip K Dick book, meets a Springsteen song, within a Polanski flick, at the end of it I want to also comment on something so incredibly human. Because fiction is great at subversively tackling things that matter through narrative engines of things that don’t matter, or aren’t even real.

But just to be certain, I also want to tackle this depression malarkey head on, because it deserves to be tackled daily by all of us.

Y’see, years ago, decades ago, depression kicked me in the face. I was five years old. Short story – my father killed himself. I was there to find him. Easily the worst thing I ever saw in my life. Horrendous. Life altering. He’d obviously gotten to a point where this was the only option he could see for himself. With a loving wife, three kids between 5 and 16, he was feeling something so oppositional that he had to end it all.

For years, I honestly didn’t know what to feel. You hate, you’re confused, you ignore, you wallow. It’s so insanely difficult to process. Hell, look at my work, I still am processing it. There’s no accident my writing so often veers into the territory of fathers and depression and sacrifice, and now suicide. My mind is a whirlwind started by that one storm. I don’t think the winds will ever die down, but I’ll learn how they turn and how to keep them blowing all my worldly goods away into the bleak horizon without a thought. NEGATIVE SPACE is most definitely another step of me processing certain things through one of those narrative3 engines that can fool you into thinking it’s about another thing. I find writing this sort of material cathartic, it helps. I have a lot to process and I like to think my writing might just help someone else with another step forward, another inch into the light.

Because to me my father proved that depression is invisible. This was a man who was a towering influence on my life, a booming laugh, a loud singing voice, a smile wide as a canyon. No one saw this coming – why? How’d we not see it? Why’d he not show it?

The answer is – depression is an illness, and it’s a sneaky bastard.

Especially in men. We don’t have any sort of real talk about our feelings, we don’t like to show weakness. We let problems fester, we bottle up, and then when it goes bad, it goes terrible.

I’m a firm believer that we stop this garbage now. I’m a firm believer that there is help for everyone, but it’s not going to be easy. I’m a firm believer in opening up the discussion, even if it only works for one person. That’s one less person gone if things were to go pear-shaped. As such, I’m going to curate a little list/link farm below. I’m going to link to this page a lot as we prep NEGATIVE SPACE for launch, and as we travel along making the book. I figure if I’m bringing suicide/depression into a spotlight, I might as well try to use it for good, especially if my story [which I know will be confronting] triggers anything in anyone anywhere. If all this helps someone, that’s fantastic. If it opens up a dialogue somewhere, brilliant. Depression works best in the shadows, let’s shine some sunlight on the bastard.


Depression Resources/Links

But if you are feeling suicidal, please talk to someone right now! A hotline, a friend, family, a mate on twitter, someone, please.


Wiki page of Suicide Crisis Lines in 13 countries [LINK]

BeyondBlue – an Australia depression/anxiety organisation with a multitude of aspects [LINK]

Black Dog Institute – an Australian organisation involved with promoting peace of mind and aiding in mood disorders [LINK]

Headspace – an Australian organisation working with youth depression and mental health [LINK]

PANDA – an organisation for post and antenatal depression [LINK]

Fantastic link farm for mental health resources and assistance [LINK]

Mental Health America is a great resource of links and advice and information [LINK]

Anxiety and Depression Association of America – an organisation dedicated to treatment and help for a variety of mental health issues [LINK]

Partners for Mental Health – a Canadian organisation providing access to further resources dealing with mental health issues [LINK]

If you know anything supremely helpful I should be linking to please drop me a line and I’ll edit this post.

Find what works for you, but know there’s something that will work for you. There is help, someone cares, there are alternatives and opportunities and options, this I believe.

We are here to help you.

RKL Annotations – Headspace #8

The final moments, did you really think we’d get a happy ending?
HEADSPACE #8 available on ComiXology now for 99pence.

Art by Eric Zawadzki + Sebastiàn Piriz, colours by Eric Zawadzki + Dee Cunniffe, letters by Eric Zawadzki, edits by Dan Hill, back matter design by Christopher Kosek, logo design by Ryan Ferrier, and written by me.

There are other worlds than these. There must be.

Creepy flat colours, blood, and I love the logo down the bottom. Because it’s digital, the logo can go anywhere, there’s no rack to slot the book into.

Two silent panels as Shane and the Id showdown. I can’t remember if I scripted it that way, it’s a slow open, and I dig that, because once things start, man, they rocket along.

Day Keene – again, if you haven’t, check him out.

Love the wardrobe of the Max Collective. So varied, so intricate. This is where Zawadzki makes his money, he puts that effort in.

Another quiet page, huh. Both sequences start off with a quiet page building to a moment that’s the ignition. I dare say I didn’t plan that at all, hashtag happy accidents.

That look on Max’s face, Seb and I discussed that further right before he drew it, and then he went and nailed it. Nailed. It. So creepy, and those two fingers hanging off the handle of his blade, that’s all Seb. I wanted it to look all as casual as possible. Max is about to slaughter two kids, in front of their mother, and it ain’t no thing to him. This is just part of the business. Chilling.

Such a talky page. Yakkity yak yak. But it just lays down that if Shane thinks there’s another way to change Max’s mind then he’s most certainly mistaken. That’s two dead ends for him. In two pages. Poor bastard returned to be the hero and it’s just not gonna happen. Here is where we steer away from the usual hero tropes, because if Shane could strap on a cape and become a superhero here, well, the usual measures would come up short. So what s left?

“All your other hippie bullshit love thoughts are half measures that suck.”
That’s me subtweeting the world through comics 😀

But seriously, getting that line just right so it’s not tooo mealy mouthed but so it gets across this frustration and annoyance was tricky but I’m happy with how it came out. I can say the line without it feeling ‘off.’

And look at the aggression on the Id’s face. Eric nails that emotional outburst and then the punch, with the jagged speed lines, is just superb. This moment here, we are done talking.

Zara Blackwell has only a few moments left. I can’t imagine being in her position.

Who is screaming? I think it’s actually her, as the zipline cuts her wrists, but I left it ambiguous on purpose. I think.

I love Seb’s inset panel of zooming panic on Zara’s face. Like Spielberg in JAWS showing the mounting terror.

Look at how thick the Id’s arms are, man. I hope people notice that and dig it. The idea these Maxs are all different and this guy is just a bruiser, and one ever growing, was something I really enjoyed cooking up but Eric nails it so hard.

Also, this page is brutal poetry. None of it scripted like this, Eric just knows how to make good pages. Helps that he letters too because that caption flow is dynamite.

That lightning handover panel, pretty sure that’s all Eric. I love the page/colour break it offers, and then we get the final interaction.

It was actually while scripting this page, as the Kid Max talks, that I realised who Shane had to kill. Initially I had Shane killing the Id, like always planned, and I had him doing it because he came back the master of the realm and could also lift his power, or something stupid, but then as the kid got all Chris Tucker in his face FRIDAY-style, it all became clear, and then things all tie together so much cleaner across the whole narrative. And it all wraps up in so much more of a brutal way, but let’s get to those pages now…

Sitting back, this page is a masterpiece. The composition, the white bars, the centred text, the empty spaces, the colour change, the way she looks in those panels. This is one of my favourite pages of the whole book. Ugh, that sunset, everything Shane loves, all he’s given up, all he’s giving up. I love that Eric letters his own stuff.

Annnnnnd we get another masterpiece page.

Funny thing is, I scripted this totally differently. Totally differently. I had a really specific idea, and one I still love, and I can still see it, and yet Eric did something else. And I love this, too. And that’s the thing about collaboration. Sometimes things change. For me, the artist is the peep working on this page and staring at it for a solid day [and change]. I want them to be invested in it, and I want them to bring not only their flavour but also their expertise. Because I might have rad ideas, but they have rad knowledge. So Eric took this page, kind of took my scripted page as a launching point and ended up somewhere else and it’s so good. The red face inset panels are superb and really track the time of this kill so brutally well. And then we get the staggered little panels down the bottom, with the Kid Max shifting in each, and then white space, no words, just emotion [I guess].

Like I said, another masterclass. I’m always excited when we do new things with our comics, but even more excited when it’s with purpose.

The final page of Max’s story. It’s such an ignominious send off, almost like he’s just a prop in Zara’s page, really. I like that. Max’s story was always strange, and was never ever going to end well. I love the blood droplets in the first panel but the light in the second panel is just glorious synergy between Seb and Dee Cunniffe.

But it’s that final panel. Max, dead, that’s done so craftily. Look at the white space between, like the family surviving is an island away and Max is alone with his death. Except we know he isn’t alone. We know him dying is bad news for Shane. My greatest hope is that people read this issue slowly. Take the time, think about each panel.

It was long after the issue was finished that I noticed the fractured cracking coming out from Kid Max in that first panel.

And then Shane falls in silence. Only to be picked up one final time. I guess the white space in this issue represents emotion. I love how Shane’s son smiles in that frozen moment. We could almost end there, buuuuuuuut…

It was late in the game that we changed this to a double page splash. I’ve not been big on writing them since reading more comics on my iPad but this scene kinda just called for it. Again, emotional space is needed [something I’m fighting for in a current script this very week].

I use a word twice on this page and that spells out the whole oblique ending for me. Shane repeats the word ‘hope’ and for me, I think we can have hope for Shane. Or maybe just hope for the world. Hope for his wife, may she find many great years to come. If you think Shane dies within Max here, you’re right. If you think Max’s death causes him to get shunted out, and into his body, and he manages to escape the Rand Intl building self-destructing and he tracks his wife down, you’re right. If you think something else, something that would enable a sequel, yep, that’s my thoughts too. You are right 😀

I love a good open ending on a story. Because we don’t know what happens next, but we know we feel like Shane did the right thing. We feel like he’s redeemed.

[Note: in the seconds before I post this, I will admit, I overwrote this final page. I wish I had the son say his lines and that’s it. Sigh.]

And that’s everything. I really hope you enjoyed this story. I hope it made you think and feel. Maybe anger, maybe awe, maybe a need to tell someone you love them. This work is so important to me, and from the heart, that I want it to sledgehammer people in the chest upon exit. And not with a big shock, but more with the thoughts you still have about it tomorrow night in the witching hour.

HEADSPACE is over, but our thoughts upon it will be our present to take with us forevermore.

All hail designer supreme, Chris Kosek. I am going to miss getting these parcels from him :[

I list some peeps I dig. Track them down, fave their stuff, buy their books, enjoy the four colour world.
I did this because as much as I love to prattle on about myself, it’s nice to share the love.

Ah, MODERN WAY by the Kaiser Chiefs. One of the first songs I attached to this book. I love that song. Love that entire album, actually.

I can’t believe we finished our tale. Monkeybrain, and ComiXology, were a hell of a home. For one long year we hustled and made this book the hard way, to low returns, and now as we cross the finish line I can finally see all the places we could have stumbled. Because I’ve seen plenty of stories not get finished there – making comics longform on the cheap is super hard, so I’ve gotta thank Zawadzki, Piriz, Louise, Cunniffe, Hill, and Kosek for rallying on this one. So good.

If you bought all 8 digital copies, seriously, excelsior. If you are a print junkie, then have a think about our trade collection from IDW bringing you the entire story at the end of April [LINK]. It’s probably too late to preorder but hit up your LCS anyways. Land yourself a copy [if you are in Canberra, do it at Impact Comics on the 9th of May and I’ll be there all morning signing them and smiling like a loon].

We are done. Such madness brings glee.

And to steal lines from my back matter for the finish:

As ol’ Gil would say – “You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.”
*salutes* “Be seeing you.”

HEADSPACE #8 Review Round Up

HEADSPACE is all over, and sticking the landing is something so important, and notoriously difficult to do, so imagine my delight to see a few reviews, and all of them yielding perfect scores. I guess maybe the mad scientists at Headspace HQ did it.

James Ferguson at Horror Talk gave us 5/5 saying:

Headspace has one of the most satisfying endings I’ve seen in years.  Lindsay crafted an emotionally draining adventure through the mind of a killer that’s unlike anything you’ll see on the stands today.  It’s huge in scope and earnest as all Hell.”

Samantha Roehrig at Comic Bastards gave us 10/10 saying:

This is one of those comics you just want to read over and over again. The story is so complex but the goal is simple.”

Ed Garrett at TM Stash gave us 10/10 saying:

The whole HEADSPACE team deserves some accolades here for one of the best indie series we’ve seen in some time.

If you picked the book up, thank you so much. You are a deadset legend.

HEADSPACE #8 on ComiXology

HEADSPACE #8 – the final issue! – is up on ComiXology now for just 99pence [LINK]


See the art and colours from Eric Zawadzki!

Screenshot 2015-04-07 21.14.19

Feel the art and colours from Sebastian Piriz/Dee Cunnifee!

Screenshot 2015-04-07 21.13.33

This is the end of the whole mess. Everything has been building to these 12 pages. We hope and aim to satisfy. Our solicitation text reads:

Shane V the Id in a blood red Carpenter Cove. Max and the kids under a slow dull sky. Surely, in our final moments, we all wonder if there are other worlds than these.

I cannot stress how immensely proud I am of this book. The whole team has rallied to bring together something special and I feel like, a whole year after we launched, that we’ve done it. But only you can tell us all.

So, please, buy the issue, enjoy the book, give us a rating on ComiXology, let your friends know, tweet up a storm.

Also, preorder the trade paperback collection from IDW which drops on the 29th of this fine month, just days before FCBD! Through the link you can see the actual trade cover before we’ve officially announced/released it – go run 😀

And if you’ve even read this far into the post, no less read up to issue #8, I gotta say thank you. I wouldn’t be doing this from 8pm-12midnight daily if it wasn’t for you. Well, that’s a lie, I totally would, but you def make it more fun. Thank you.

Thank you.

Time Control – RONIN #2

One of the things I love about comics is the control of time given to the creative team. There are great inventive ways we can play with time across a page. Sure, other media can do it – hell, if they’re smart, all media can do it – but no one can quite do it like comics does it.

LOST had that episode where Jin was running to the birth and we thought it was Sun’s birth but then it wasn’t because they were in different time periods. Genius.

MEMENTO is perfect. INCEPTION might not be perfect but damn it’s fun.

I’m trying to think of an example of prose using time well. I mean, MOBY DICK took ages to read, does that count? [caveat, I dug MOBY DICK, and if you edit out the didactic chapters it’s one hell of a tale – it was Stephen King’s CELL which I started and then stopped and then finished maybe a year later, begrudgingly, that is my greatest temporal prose trip].

Yet, when I think about comics and time I find a million thoughts splashing into my brain. And maybe that’s because I primarily write comics, and because I love messing with time. It’s like buying a new beanie and suddenly everyone everywhere is wearing that beanie, and you become beanie bros, but you didn’t want bros, you wanted to stand out, be individual, by buying your clothes at mass market stores, so maybe you did it wrong. But playing with time in comics, totally doing it right.

Anyway, I’ve finally been reading RONIN after wanting to for many years. I bought the HC a while back and held it off until I finished writing NEGATIVE SPACE. So with the final script of that dusted off my plate, I finally dove in and I’m digging this book. Early Frank Miller is my jam [but so is late Miller if I close one eye and can only see ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN THE BOY WONDER and HOLY TERROR is blocked from all view]. Miller became a master of the form because he controlled the form, he used it to convey big ideas, broken people, and flat out have fun.

So I’m trucking through BOOK TWO in the HC and this page flattens me. Just absolutely floors me. I had to stop and soak it in because the use of panels/gutters/time here is superb.

Let’s look at the page and then I’ll describe what I love.



















Yes, that is a crappy photo from my iPad, with the book on my lap. Sorry not sorry.

Besides my photog creds, did you read that page? It’s not spoilerific, though it’s shows off Miller’s bondage fetish nicely. It also shows off insanely high end time control.

The first panel sets up the scene, this Ronin has been accosted by a gang of superfreakthugs. That’s the scene, so the Ronin got down with some ultraviolence and now they have him from behind [I hope no one ends up on this site from searching those last seven words].

Panel Two shows this Sin City ex-pat closing in on the Ronin, he has a gun, the samurai has a stupid sword. What could happen next? So we have the establishing shot, now the tension builder.

Miller spreads the tension out across the next five panels. Panels all tightly zoomed in, panels all moving incredibly slowly through time. Y’see, there’s no way someone can be faster than a gun, they call it a speeding bullet for a reason, surely, but perhaps you can beat the shooter, not what they shoot.

The Ronin moves, a glance, he takes his opponent in – distance away, posture, size – all in a glance.

The superfreak’s finger is tightening on the trigger, gotta have a few pounds of pressure on it already.

Ronin lifts an arm – to what? Defend from the bullet, to hide? Not sure, read on.

The superfreak’s finger is now really tight – is he just slowly busting his cap, or is Miller showing us this all happening in slow mo? The Ronin is doing all this in the time it takes a trigger to be pulled. You’d be surprised how complex a concept this might be. It’s not intuitive to many but I’m sure most seasoned four colour vets got it straight away and ‘read’ it that way.

The Ronin now moves and does…something, we don’t see. But the next panel shows the superfreak’s hand dropping the gun, notice the finger on the trigger holds no pressure now. Something has happened and the fight is won.

We then rest on the final panel – and to me it looks like the sword cutting through superfreak’s neck [and I love this laser intense slice of orange where the sword connects with human tissue – almost like he’s using fire or lava to cut through this man]. But it could also be seen as a very small gutter showing where the impact occurred and the effect it all has on the neck area, separating it from the body. From memory, a comic recently used the gutter to show a bullet wound, but my memory fails me in remembering this specific example. It’s messing with my brain trying to remember it, argh.

My reason for highlighting the two options here on the page is that it all depends on the time. The panel before showed the moment where the Ronin has clearly already won, if the gun is being dropped, I’m assuming the superfreak already got sliced, yeah? But then we see the slice in the next panel. Is Miller taking us back in time a moment to revel in the gore? Or did the initial impact cause the gun to drop and microseconds later we cut to the sword just exiting the neck?

The fact Miller raises the tension while slowing the time in those 5 panels and then cuts to the release, the Ronin victory, and then we reveal the why tickles me to no end. There are a million ways you could draw that scene/moment. There are myriad ways you could present the timing of it. Imagine a caption stating “The Ronin moved faster than the superfreak could pull his trigger!” – it gives the same information but man is it not boss. Miller chose this way, and I think ending on that visceral image is the right choice.

Reading a page like this always makes me want to up my game. Am I telling my story boring? Is there something more interesting I can do, and not just for the sake of doing it, but because it will affect the reader in a more effective way. I mean, that’s our job, to handball a narrative into the collective faces of readers and hope we break some bones. If we constantly feed the rock to them in the same way then they’ll see it coming and suddenly know how to catch it and protect their precious easily-bled noses.

The idea that we can slow down time, or fracture it slightly to break reveals, or hold just that right moment forever in a perfect panel is glorious. This is comics. This is the temporal playdoh we use to lure in the people and then make them care.

This is the stuff that gets me excited. Every. Single. Time.

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