It’s a newly formed mag about weird stuff in the world around [and within] us and the first issue was AAA+ – it’s got essays, weird fiction, and superb layout/design. I love a good magazine and this is beautiful *and* it showcases a trove of unique ideas from really great writers.
So – imagine my delight at being able to pitch them on something, and having it selected. Yes, I’m in CREEPER 002, and I’m really excited about people reading my article – yes, it involves comics.
My article is called ‘THE LOCKED BOOK’ and it’s about the bandes dessinées comic CLAUS & SIMON – which I found in a small comic shop in Spain, and despite me not being able to read Spanish I bought the comic and have thoroughly loved it many times. Look how my article is presented inside the magazine:
Seeing your work all laid out in this delicious design is enough to make a man weep with joy. I think I wrote something really awesome about this story of escape artists, and my engagement with it as someone locked out of the story through language, but also brought in through the magical elements of visual storytelling that comics does so very very well.
I think you’ll dig my article, and most likely then go on to dig the magazine as a whole. Head on over to the Kickstarter, have a scroll through what’s available [those stickers and shirts look ace], and I hope you dig it.
The last time Sami Kivela and I made a comic together, it was also through Black Mask Studios, and it was called BEAUTIFUL CANVAS.
This was a comic about a hitwoman who is contracted to kill a small child and in the same week finds out her girlfriend is pregnant. It’s an emotional tale soaked in blood and Sami and I loved making this comic with Triona Farrell, Ryan Ferrier, and Dan Hill.
We were given many amazingly thoughtful reviews, so I thought I’d pluck out a few key quotes that will prepare you for what you are in for now that Sami and I are back together again for a new comic – EVERFROST launches in June.
Here’s what they said about us last time in some reviews for BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #1
“Aiding and amplifying this is Sami Kivela’s artwork, which is nothing short of fantastic. It’s not just the great details and exquisite imagery. – While Lindsay definitely creates some relatable characters, it’s Kivela’s artwork that makes them real.”
“What really sets the art apart is the scenery in the scenes, the half splash panel of the ferris wheel with a half buried animatronic clown head look beautiful and reminiscent of something that was once vibrant”
“Sami Kivela shines on the art. He takes a scene I’ve seen hundreds of times and makes it sublime; I’m talking specifically about page 4, where Lon enters a house to carry out a hit and Kivela’s staging of the scene, page layout with the inset panels, and the discrete moments in time he captures on the page really emphasize the artistry involved in telling a comic story.”
“The first action sequence in which Lon encounters conflict and she has to make use if her gun is very short, but also very effective in showing you 1) Lon is good at her job and quick with her hands, and 2) artist Sami Kivelä masterfully pulled this short burst of action off using one entire page and it’s a testament to an artist who knows their way around some damn panels. Throughout the book, Kivelä is manipulating panels and cutaways to really maximize the action scenes and ensure the pacing is good enough for the scenes with more emotional weight. He also has a really solid art style that helps keeps the reader stay invested visually.”
“The issue is written by Ryan K. Lindsay and drawn by Sami Kivela, and both turn in excellent work. The script is smart and always one step ahead of us, and the art shows great design skill, with strong characters and vivid environments on display.”
“Sami Kivela, whose slick, expressive style sizzles alongside Lindsay’s story, creating an effortlessly cool aesthetic. A little bit David Aja, a little bit Tyler Boss, Kivela throws in some fantastically inventive panel layouts, including one particularly brilliant page where snorting drugs off a carrot leads seamlessly into a brutal ‘hit’ from Lon.”
And this is a big beautiful slab of love for Kivela!
“Sami Kivela delivers tasteful, sleek modern art that fits the issue’s tone perfectly. The first page, which may very well be the single best page in the issue, is a great example of the blend of normal and strange that is yet to occur in the book, and Kivela blends the two elements like they were simply meant to be. Kivela includes telling details in the background of the room – things that indicate a normal, modern household like small plants by the window, a bottle of vodka, star-patterned cushions and a desktop computer. Yet, at the focal point of the page, a body lies dead, with blood splattering from a bullet wound to the eye. Lon herself sits on the couch next to him, looking just as astounded as you, the reader, are at this visceral scene. It’s a perfect opener, giving readers the low down on what to expect from this book.
“Kivela draws refreshingly normal looking humans, like David Aja’s style if you read his seminal “Hawkeye” run a few years back. Lon displays a wide variety of emotions as she reacts to all the strange events during the issue. A scene occurs in which she talks to her lover Asia on the phone, and a panel depicting each person sit opposite each other. Each panel can only show one emotion, but are drawn with subtle detailing that make them feel more real than they are. The way Kivela draws Lon looking down her shoulder, the way her eyes look away in doubt, and her just-ajar mouth are more telling about her emotional state talking to Asia than the words themselves are. Contrasting to this, it’s almost funny how Kivela draws the bad guys with the fashion and looks of models and super-stars. Milla, the limb-gardening psychopath, is a slender blonde clad in makeup and a bold red dress. It’s a reversal of roles that makes the portrayal of these characters so engaging.
“Kivela’s sequential action is great when established. A sense of movement is always established when necessary, so that the flow of the comic is easy to follow. Right from the start, Kivela guides the reader’s eye around a boxing ring with multiple camera angles as Lon moves around it. It’s a small touch here, not noticeable only because it makes the reading too smooth to make it obvious. The first scene in which Kivela’s talent is immediately obvious is during the shootout with Julie, in which reading time is slowed down to having three seconds play out over three panels. Each big panel is intersected by smaller close-ups of each sudden movement – the carrot flinging, the gun firing, the collision of objects – it’s so wonderfully constructed that you can’t help but stop to take it all in.”
We’ve been putting out comics for nearly a decade, and our latest story, EVERFROST, lands in June through Black Mask Studios.
Way back when, Sami and I first worked on a pitch for a comic that would become CHUM at ComixTribe. I loved the character acting and clear page layouts he brought to the project, and I loved how he made everything I wrote work better on the page. I was writing a surf noir story and Sami made every pulp trope I wanted to play with, and invert, come to life on the page.
Imagine being a nascent comic book writer/creator and getting this cover in your inbox? I was so deeply deeply in love.
While I pitched CHUM around, I talked to him about building a weird sci fi world with me and Dan Hill and so he co-created and illustrated the first issue of CURRICULUM. His work on this story is phenomenal, and it’s one of life’s great failings for me that we never managed to get this story completed [that’s a whole other post, sadly, and it mostly focuses on my ineptitude].
I loved this opening panel so much it was the back of my phone case for the next 5 years.
Dying to keep working with Sami, I pitched him on the idea of doing a one-shot and taking it to Kickstarter. He was down and thus DEER EDITOR was born. I’d written this script on my phone as I wandered my neighbourhood late at night, trying to keep my kid asleep in a Baby Bjorn while letting my wife rest at home, and I was so excited when Sami trusted me to go on this journey with him. This is still one of my favourite comics I’ve created, and Sami and I ended up rounding out a trilogy of connected one-shots that were super successful on Kickstarter, and I still plan to collect in a trade paperback [one day].
CHUM was made and Sami just continued to level up, so I asked him if he’d be again willing to swing for the fences with me on a pitch. Legend that he is, he agreed, and within a year we cooked up BEAUTIFUL CANVAS, pitched it, got it picked up at Black Mask, and it started hitting the shelves.
Sami’s work on BEAUTIFUL CANVAS really showed his ability in a new light. Perhaps it was the colours of Triona Farrell, perhaps it was having more people read this book than any of our stories before, or perhaps it was just the right time: but Sami knocked this one out of the park. His page layouts continued to become dynamic and full of narrative, his character designs jumped off the page and kicked you in the guts, and his star went on to shine as he made ABBOTT with Saladin Ahmed, MACHINE GUN WIZARDS with Christian Ward, and UNDONE BY BLOOD with Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson.
But all along, Sami and I had yet another collaboration cooked up and now it’s finally appearing – EVERFOST is coming.
This might be our greatest work yet. Some of the pages Sami has dropped in this series are shockingly electric, and he’s illustrated all 4 issues, so I’ve seen it all. You are going to love Sami as much as I do, and that’s going to fill both your heart and your eyeballs.
I get the privilege of seeing Sami’s character sketches, his ability to capture characters out of my brain and get them onto the page perfectly. I get to cruise through his thumbnails that show the amount of class and emotion he’s going to put on the page – and the fact he can show that in thumbnails is just astounding. I get the pencils, and the inks, and the thoughtful notes on story. I see where Sami explodes a page, or alters the flow, or [usually] improves every scene as it transitions from script to art. The guy is a stone cold genius, and working with him to create a world and tell a story is one of the most satisfying things I’ll do in comics, or in my life overall.
But mostly, I’ve just enjoyed working with one of my best mates to tell a huge story. From every cover thumbnail, to script edit notes, to these small moments he drops all over each issue that made me hold my breath while reading emails, this comic has been a true labour of love.
It took about 4 years to get this comic onto the shelves, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to finally share all of Sami with you once more. If you’re a fan of beautiful art, or nuanced moments, or great comics, then I have to imagine you are a Sami Kivela completist [I know I am]. So if you want more Sami Art in your life, this is a good year for you. ABBOTT 1973 has been coming out, he’s drawing the next volume of UNDONE BY BLOOD, and we’ve got EVERFROST landing for you in June. I’m just lucky to be writing that last one, but I’m pushing all of them constantly to mates.
I know we appreciate your support, and the best support is telling your comic shop you want them to order a copy of the comic before it hits shelves so they definitely have one for you when we hit the streets on June 02. Here are the details, you know what to do!
EVERFROST #1 is in the latest Previews for a June 02 release – Order Code: APR211533
I took a few moments to record some commentary about the cover Sami Kivela crafted for EVERFROST – both for issue #1, but also as a launch image that’s beyond perfection.
This kind of video is a new kind of hype promo material for me – I filmed my screen using Screencastify, and dropped in some edits with its video editing software. I’m interested to see how else it could be used. Anyway, enjoy.
Chris Shehan had asked an important question on Twitter – “Show me a comic page that made you see comics as one of the greatest storytelling mediums of all time.”
I had to think.
This is the page I finally settled on. I am pretty sure it’s the one that came first. I started reading all of the EC comic reprints when I was somewhere around 10 or 12 or something. I was in a newsagent with my biggest bro and saw a copy of VAULT OF HORROR #1 and pestered him to buy it for me, and he did. Thinking back, what a champion. There are loads of reasons why he did it, but what’s important is that he’s a 20-something dude, with his own income from being in the Srmy, and he insta-spends it on some comic that randomly caught my eye.
What came from this was years of hunting back issue bins to find any comic I could with the EC logo on it. I amassed an insane amount of them, and read them all voraciously, so when I read Chris’ tweet I had to think about what early comics I might have really imbibed with an eye for the flavour of comics being comics.
It could have been old Marvel stuff, but i didn’t think so. I dug that BARTMAN miniseries, but nothing stoof out to me, same as the MONSTER IN MY POCKET mini.
Then I remembered that I was an EC hound, and their stuff was dynamite, so which page would do it.
One page instantly came into my mind. It’s from the story ‘Wolf Bait’ by Jack Davis. It’s about a sled full of people going through the snow and being chased by an insane pack of wolves. They are trying to work out what to do and they realise, once all the meat they had has run out, that if one person is sacrificed then the rest will make it back. Each person had a sob story, a reason it shouldn’t be them, and then the story ends with them throwing someone off in silhouette, so we never know wh it was.
That ending stuck with me for years. I reread that story so many times, loving the ambiguity, and the pacing on those old stories was always rocket fuelled. But that silhouette panel, it’ll haunt me to my grave, and it’s that thing that showed little RKL what comics can really do.