RKL Annotations – NEGATIVE SPACE #2
NEGATIVE SPACE #2 is a little late. We do apologise though we hope the quality of the tale has been worth it all.
If you bought issue #1 and you are now back for more, oh sweet Odin’s beardjuice, thank you. Creator owned books are hard, and sustaining an audience is hard in a speculator driven drop off market but I can only hope you dug #1 and had to know what comes next. And now you know.
Below, I present my thoughts on what I wrote, why, how, influence/inspiration, times Owen just nailed it, and any other mental fluttering verbiage I can pin down for you. As usual, I hope you dig the process peep.
This cover was one of the first things Owen came up with for the series and I just looked at it and realised how smart and invested my copilot was. I love the idea here, visceral as it is, and can only hope the THEY LIVE subliminal messages don’t actually work ever anywhere.
Oh, and the bookshop is Bauby’s because THE DIVINGBELL AND THE BUTTERFLY has made me cry. Twice. So I couldn’t think of anything more depressing to seed into this scene than his name.
I couldn’t even conceive how insanely rad Owen’s Viking game would be until this page turned up. Hot damn, that opening panel is fornication on a whole new level for my eyes.
It’s also a perfect example of why writing is way easier than illustrating.
I thought this would be an interesting way to open the second issue after we ended on the cliffhanger of Guy finding Woody in this compromising situation with a dead Evorah. A total space/time jump, and it’s exposition but it’s goddamn pretty so no one can complain.
It also gives you Evorah info straight up because I knew people would want it after the dry rub we gave you after #1. I figured it best to lead off the bat – and many reviews responses proved this after #1 landed, they hoped the info was coming. It always was.
Look at those little Evorah worker bees scurry around, sapping the depression out. This page is genuinely disgusting to look at, the colours, that texture of their little termite mounds. It feels icky to look at.
That first red panel, all Gieni. Love the red.
I wonder if people will get that’s a handshake. Should’ve gone for a more Schwarnzeneggar/Weathers fist clutch from PREDATOR.
The third panel I just said was Kindred in MAD MEN and now we need to write this spin off because can you imagine?
I must’ve written a dozen or more examples of things Kindred have manufactured and then brought it back to those 4 examples. We had Robin Williams, and 9/11, and a few other things. I’m glad we cut what we did and kept what we did, for various reasons. I certainly cut 9/11 quickly because it felt…I dunno, weak to appropriate that. Especially as a non-US bloke. So I dropped it because I’m a scaredy cat like that, and I assume it’s better to err on the side of respect at all times [not to say I wanna disrespect those I included].
That kid stuck in the storm drain was an Aussie news story right around the time I was writing this issue. Ghastly. And the toddler punching viral video is actually a riff on a Stephen King short story I neglect to remember the name of but it’s recent and it’s nasty and it stuck with me.
This is one of those pages where I’m clearly setting up what I think are clever little word play things. I love BKV, and I’m clearly aping him [and he’s def not the first to do this malarkey but he’s my fave] and yet I’ve seen him do it poorly, and usually early in his career, and I worry constantly that’s me now.
Can only hope people are looking at that cracking Evorah shell and severed Evorah brain and won’t even notice me straining for your attention in the balloons.
“I doubt you want a science lesson after a history lesson.”
This is me being lazy. But it’s also me being honest. I’ve info dumped enough, let’s move on.
And this speaks to a greater method I use when writing. I don’t care about the science. I love when it can inform something cool in the story but I don’t want to be beholden to some rule, I don’t want to know if it would actually work. I don’t care about this anywhere near as much as I do true character moments, good narrative. I’m never gonna be the guy that writes real steampunk that I know works because I built the bagpipe gyrocopter hat in my backyard.
I remember plotting HEADSPACE and wondering how they all got into and stayed in Max’s head. I came up with some wifi hivemind thing and that’s pretty well how it was explained in the book, too. Because I’m not writing a textbook, I’m telling a story. And I know that’ll horrify some purists but it’s the kind of sci fi I love. Just get on with the show, no need to expose the reams of research you did. Tell the bloody story and make me care.
I feel like someone like Warren Ellis is smart enough to do that research, and show you, and still make the narrative sing. Me, eh, I dunno.
I love this almost golden ratio spiral Owen drops as the panels decrease into the corner. That’s all Owen.
And, meet Beta.
Wanna know the dirty secret? She would not exist without Daniel Chabon. He said at some juncture that Guy should get some kind of sidekick and I instantly fleshed out this backstory and concept for Beta and now I love her and I desperately hope you love her, too. She’s wickedly fun to write and Owen’s design for her is bananas. I mean, she’s kinda wearing this long white dress, it’s nuts.
And, yes, Beta’s love for M*A*S*H is real, as is mine, and when it’s sad it does make me happy. I grew up with reruns nightly before dinner for years and the show is just burnt into my psyche.
This Rowdy Roddy Piper THEY LIVE line swippropriation suddenly became topical. Vale.
Owen’s design of this page is all kinds of frenetic. Look at that really little panel with the full figures. Insane that this is even possible.
The SFX are all Ryan Ferrier, I believe. They aren’t in my script. Maybe Chabon touched them up. Anyway, SPLUTCH is divine.
This nasty Cronenbergian turn from Beta is all Owen. Like you didn’t already know. How do you even script something this nasty? Owen is clearly disturbed. Send help.
The fact our love interest barista suddenly pulls down the visor and starts smashing heads makes me excited to be able to make this comic. This is all you really even need to know about this comic, surely.
It’s on this page that I justify why Guy is even still moving along with any of this. I really had to think long and hard through his lens to understand that this is scary as shit, but he wants to die so that’s not his main concern. Here he’s thinking that his life has been grey gruel for years now and this night just got hot pink exciting. Be scared, be uncertain, be angry, but at least it’ll feel like living. Guy is happy to do this because it’s something new to feel.
I hope I haven’t dropped the ball on this reaction from him but it feels right/real to me.
Also, Beta dropping a FRENCH CONNECTION reference makes me smile. Also makes me wonder if the strange fish-out-of-water character with the snarky/funny pop culture references might not be something very played already. Only one way to find out…
That Kindred can come in and murder a house of people and then have PR instantly work to cover it up isn’t really in the realm of CRAZY sci fi, I don’t think. I won’t say it’s ripped from today’s headlines but it feels like something probably going down right now.
Rick calling Woody and the Strangers hipsters, which is essentially exactly what he’s doing, when Rick has that haircut and is just a buff hipster, is what we in the bizz call irony.
And I’m happy with Rick’s little speech about doing the work we love. It paints his picture in completely, though we had 90% earlier, but it also hopefully ramps up the dread.
That elevator shaft panel is just one of my most cherished things. I scripted one of those tall Frank Miller establishing panels and Owen comes to the game. Golden.
I really hope this dialogue plays on the page for others. I know how people are supposed to sound, where the sarcasm lands, where the nuance doesn’t translate, but it’s a tricky page. Ugh, here’s hoping.
Really tried to pack this page so we could get to the next action page quicker. That is my way.
Also, yes, every single person with a Smile sticker, your barista, Free Hugs peeps, the cute girl at the secondhand book store, they are all freedom fighters, they are all for the cause, they are all bad ass.
I actually did script for Owen to use crazy speed lines and stuff for Beta striking out and he nailed it. Beyond nailed it. Then he went further and had Beta wrap up this bomber with all those little tendrils around the mouth and thumb. Because it’s those little things that matter/count the most.
By the time we get to the final panel, Owen has gone full John Carpenter’s The Thing and it is creepy and glorious.
Huh, again, this page rockets along. I don’t want to bore myself or you with the long exposition. I am certain you can keep up. The Kindred logo is there, they are using the hand, you draw the connection lines, yeah?
Really love Owen’s design for this Kindred chopper.
Beta says down and hopefully you start to notice the use of the word. Hell, it was the original title of the book. It’s all about being lead down. There’s never treasure down there, only your grave.
I wish I could have shown them getting into the vessel from that boat but I also hope you can make the connection. We know Kindred has money, they have resources, and they’d have some of this stuff hidden from public eyes. Beta knew where to go, they got it, and they slip away.
Also, that red lighting. They’re down to mood lightning.
Oh, and in that first panel, no, Beta isn’t actually talking to Guy :]
I had to convince Chabon to let me keep DEEPSTAR SIX in there and you’d think I had better edits to fight for but that line meant the world to me, it had to stay. I’m beyond happy it’s in print for you all to enjoy.
I like the beat at the end of the page because by using the word terrorist, and placing it all into Beta’s hands, I am hoping maybe this seeds some little doubt in your mind as to how things are playing out, and who is right and what is wrong. Because so far, Guy is just going off what he’s been told and that’s not always reliable stuff.
Owen was thoroughly disgusted that I wrote this hot dog order. My idea is Rick orders more condiments than actual food, and this reminds me of The Narrator in FIGHT CLUB only having condiments in his apartment. Rick is the same, but he steers into the skid and just lives off them.
Wow, that’s a lot of text for one panel. Owen drew it sharp and Ferrier nails the balloon placement. And I’m lucky I’m not fired off this book by this stage.
Guy is being set up to do something a lot more serious than he thought his night would go. Perhaps the adrenaline is wearing down, perhaps he’s really thinking about this in real terms. I hope the readers are.
Almost a ‘what would you do?’ situation. Almost.
LOVE the way Beta throws up her hands when she says “HAPPINESS!” Beautiful Owen Gieni moment right there.
This final splash is just bananas. Look at all these little things everywhere. I scripted some but this is next level. I lost a good ten minutes, nose to my screen, just soaking this in when it first arrived.
In Owen Gieni we trust.
And we hope this cliffhanger again lures you back for more next time, because this issue set up a lot of the forward moving narrative but it’s the stuff in #3, the very creepy and weird stuff, that I’m really excited to show you. Like Dan Aykroyd hoping you’ll lean into the dark so we can show you something really scary, yeah, I’m hoping we get you next issue.
With the first issue a full character investment, here we really play with our toys and move them on the board. We delve into more action, we ramp up the insane. We bring the sci fi to this weird sad little tale. For this, we hope you dig. In #3 we marry the two vibes, so I think if you’ve come this far then the rest will be gravy for you.
Thank you for getting down on this issue. I hope you dug it. Though if you’re reading this I doubt you’re the kind to go this far into hate-reading a comic. I guess. Indie comics live and die on readers caring, so thank you for taking the time. It means the world to all of us at NEGATIVE SPACE HQ. Stick around, see what drops next month, and remember:
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.