NEGATIVE SPACE is coming. In July, Owen Gieni and I are going to bring the sombre tones and wild trombones with our tale of Guy Harris, the poor sap who sits down to write his suicide note and gets writer’s block.
You can find more information about this book here [LINK] and you can preorder this book now at your LCS using this order code: MAY150012
While you wait for the book to finally drop, I thought it might be nice to gaze ahead – but not into spoilers – so today I’m bringing you a little discussion about comic issue titles, and the ones I came up with for the 4 issues of NEGATIVE SPACE.
I love comic issue titles. Though I find titles hard, titling an issue has less stress. It won’t be on the cover, it won’t even be noticed or remembered by a portion of your readers. It’s a thing where you can experiment, and go long, and steal, because it’s just an issue title, it’s nothing real/important, it’s an extra you don’t even have to do. Right?
I went for titles on this because they helped me handle the ever-shifting tone/scope of the story as we cook through the issues. So, here’s what I came up with, and a little on why – no spoilers.
#1 – ATLANTEAN HEARTS
This title is a huge homage to Stephen King’s HEARTS IN ATLANTIS, and by that I mean the novella with that title within the collected book also holding that title. The other stories aren’t superb but this story is one of my favourite things ever. It’s about this kid at college, and he’s wasting his time playing the card game Hearts, and he’s falling in love on the side. But like all things at college, it’s in flux and it’s transitory. Ugh, just thinking about the relationship in that story is getting me all weird right now. King might be the master of horror but he’s also really the master of characterisation and he uses that here to tell this amazing love story.
I chose this title for this issue because it reflects the aim of #1 – like any good horror story, like King himself knew perfectly, the terror only works if we care about the people being terrorised. This issue is here to set up our characters and then really make you care about them. We open on Guy Harris trying to write a suicide note, you don’t just then walk away from that and throw him into the shenanigans because, quite honestly, why would you care? His suicide isn’t shorthand to deliver a generic character cliche outline, it’s structurally important to the integrity of the tale right up until the last page. As such, Owen and I are working hard to seed it all throughout this issue so it matters and so you care.
King wrote some masterful things in his story and they are:
“Hearts are tough, Pete. Most times they don’t break. Most times they only bend.”
“Hearts are tough, she said, most times hearts don’t break, and I’m sure that’s right . . . but what about then? What about who we were then? What about hearts in Atlantis?
Damn story crushes me every time – if you haven’t read it, go, now, feel. And while NEGATIVE SPACE is a weird horror/sci fi, none of that matters if we don’t first make you care, so here, in this issue, we make you care, and we also mess you up. At least, that’s the plan.
#2 – THEATRE OF WAR
The title alone tells you we’re past the character introductions, we’ve hopefully made you care, and now we are going to put them, and by proxy you, through hell.
I mostly love the double entendre of this title/phrase. It’s mostly used to denote a specific playing field upon where combat and operations will take place. I wanted to allude to the theatricality of war. The stripes and bright lights we use, the shock and awe factor, the way it goes above and beyond anyone’s semblance of daily life. Or, at least, the war waged in these pages does. It’s all a big show, it’s all OTT, it’s all hyperreal.
This issue takes our grounded characters and throws them well into a subreality that should never be real.
#3 – THERE’S A REASON THEY CALL IT EXECUTING A PLAN
Again with double entendre. I am a hack. But this title came to me and I stuck with it. Because it’s true, sometimes you execute a plan, and sometimes you execute a plan. You never know what’s gonna happen because a plan by definition is theoretical. Practical application holds all kinds of rubbish variables.
But in short, this is the issue where things get real. There’s renewed focus, a level up right as we delve down, and things get crazy/nasty. This is some pay off as we expand scope and put people into the weirdest situations they’ve ever found themselves.
#4 – ALL THE PIECES GO BACK IN THE BOX
I had this title before I wrote the script. I heard it in a TedTalk, and it’s one I cannot for the life of me find [because my memory is about as useful as an open toed sock – and whenever people recall stories from decades earlier with crystal clarity I wonder if that’s even possible, or if they’re making it up, or if I’m just a guy with a noggin full’a cottage cheese and a fat lazy rat slowly consuming it all]. This title kinda sums things up nicely, and there’s still the idea that the pieces might go back, but they can be broken, their safety is not assured, we just know their final resting place. And if the pieces go back, in what state are the players left? It’s an absolute statement but leaves blank so many qualifiers. Much like any good story should.
This issue is where we’ve let the scope and sound expand for 3 issues and now it all rachets back in, like a star dwarfing. All good things must come to an end, and maybe all bad things go on forever and ever. I guess you gotta lay down the money to find out this year.
So those are our issue titles. They don’t spoil a thing but they maybe paint a blood splattered silhouette.
As always, 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 us.
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.