Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Category: tv

What Is Best In Life? – 2022 Edition

Happy new year – 2023 is upon us. I got a lotta problems with you people thoughts on this year’s media, now, you’re gonna hear about it! I love looking back and seeing what different and awesome stuff I got to sneak into my brain and enjoy.

I did a poor job of keeping tabs on what I consumed this year, and there’s every chance I’ve missed something pivotal. Que sera, etc. Okay, let’s spotlight what made 2022 a pretty good year for me:


It appears this past year was a big time for rereads of old favourites that reminded me of certain feelings and thoughts I had about comics when first coming back to the medium after a long hiatus through my university studies.

The first reread came to me because I got Covid and had to sequester in my office. I took the chance to finally dive back into a formative run I’ve been wanting to reread in years. The run on Daredevil by Michael Lark and Ed Brubaker might be my favourite, for my favourite character, and it really holds up quite well.

DAREDEVIL by Michael Lark, Ed Brubaker, and friends.

The craft on display – Lark’s atmospheric art for this noir run, Brubaker’s pacing of short term goals and ongoing plot threads – is a thing to behold. The comic is epically readable and I absolutely tore through these single issues one after the other. The overall story – that of Matt Murdock as a broken man being led down a noir spiral until he’s completely shattered at the end is my favourite kind of take on literature’s longest running terrible man.

There are elements of the story that have aged less well – the treatment of Milla Donovan, Dakota North, Lily Lucca; do you spot the trend? There’s an element that it makes sense that the women in Matt’s life swirl amongst chaos because that’s the best way to break Matt as a man [and his best friend Foggy also gets shivved, so you could argue parity, but it would be a weak argument]. The onslaught of troubles for the women, plus the way they are often discarded once their plot purpose is served is a very noir trope, but one we would hope to be subverted if written now to give them more agency.

The villains in the run are all great choices – the Mr Fear storyline still being my overall favourite. What a way to make a guy who seems pretty silly [he’s kinda like Batman’s Scarecrow and his Fear Toxin, but slightly more goofy] and give him some strange levels of power and influence and gravity.

Ultimately, this is Matt’s show – and the way he is broken down, and the terrible choices he makes along the way, make for an interesting character study. The man really isn’t much of a hero, he just has a compulsion to help, but no real weighted centre to naturally do it in the best way. He’s emotionally driven, and conflicted, and wrong, and it’s got all the trappings of a 70’s cinema leading character and the team here lean heavily into that vibe and morality.

If people want to read Daredevil, this is often the first place I’d send them, and to return reminded me of all the little reasons why.

The other comic I reread was…

THE WALKING DEAD by Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, and Robert Kirkman

This one actually started a while ago, but my brain went elsewhere. This year, while I was working through a stack of essay marking and then short story marking, I found my brain couldn’t process novel reading at night. The wall of text would make my head dip, and I found that frustrating, but I could read comics just before sleep. Maybe it’s the constant head movement due to needing to pivot around the page for each panel – yes, I do read comics like a bird hanging out on a street corner, my eyes fixed, my neck doing all the work, thanks for asking.

I initially, once upon a time as they were being released, read up to about Volume 23. Then I stopped, thinking I’d catch up, and just never did. Then the comic ended, and I realised I had a finite amount of trades to read, so it seemed like a good idea to claw back from the start and then slowly buy the new trades over the coming years through present-type events.

Rereading this, I found myself loving all of the old storylines from the first dozen or so trades. All stories I’d read more than once upon release – I used to reread from #1 each time a new trade dropped, but that soon ended as a routine.

Once past those trades, I could feel myself rereading these stories in a fresh way – it wasn’t all muscle memory. The book is good, I can confirm. Similar to my other reread, there are some problems when you read through a Feminist Lens. I wonder at which point I will be able to reread comics and not cringe at certain character elements that feel like they wouldn’t be written that way these days. Or maybe they still are written that way these days…I won’t do my due diligence and find out, not now. That’s a whole other post.

What I will say about TWD is that the longform character growth, change, and swerves are all quite effective. The idea no one is safe keeps the comic fresh, and while it does steer towards just being brutal for the sake of it, often it’s still in service of the story and the impact is not just on the reader, but also on the characters who survive.

Ultimately, I read to the end of Volume 25 and I’m excited to read beyond and to the end. Hopefully it doesn’t take me another decade or something.

Beyond rereads, I did read some new stuff, and I have been trying to think which comic would top this list and I’ve narrowed it down to two, each intriguing me and making me lean forward while I read it so I can study the story construction and the page layouts. Those books are:

LOVE EVERLASTING by Elsa Charettier and Tom King, and FRIDAY by Marcos Martin and Ed Brubaker

The thing I dig in both is that these comics play with old tropes and do something new with them. They want to bring a modern perspective and a different viewpoint to things that are very old. They want to surprise us. I like being surprised, as they often lead me to being delighted, and it means I read with no idea what is coming.

Though, to be fair, I never know what’s coming. I don’t engage with the act of prediction very well in storytelling because I’m like a tourist on their first boat tour ride – I’m wide eyed, mouth open, just enjoying the ride. Yes, I’m an idiot.

As for the comics, Love Everlasting is this straight up romance comic. It has all the old tropes of the romance comics of yonder years – thought balloons, women pining for that right man – but then at the end of the first issue it takes this strange swerve. Massive respect for doing 95% of the first issue as a straight romance comic, though, and really nailing that vibe, before completely pulling out the rug. It was like the first episode of WandaVision levels of commitment.

From there, the series has continued to show us various situations of Joan falling in love through time, and then having her time come to a violent end. I admit, I’m so curious to see where this is going, and along the ride it’s interesting to see what perspectives and thoughts on love are dropped.

Beside this comic sits FRIDAY – a brilliant weird noir take on kid detectives as we follow Friday Fitzhugh, a kind of partner to a kind of Encyclopaedia Brown character who returns to the home town after a year away at college and finds death, conspiracy, and more waiting for her.

The story is an intriguing blend of genres as we see Friday intuit and think about situations, but then we also see a police officer shed their skin. It’s a wild ride. I love Brubaker’s writing as much as I can love anything on the printed [or digital] page, but Marcos Martin’s work on this comic has been absolutely brilliant. The characters think and fear and squirm in every moment, but I find myself drawn back repeatedly to the environments. The street lights, the cove, the buildings. The town feels lived in – by both nice people and arcane horrors – and I could spend many books just soaking up this atmosphere.

I also want to mention DEADLY CLASS has been one of my favourite comics of the past decade. Wes Craig took some really wild and innovative swings with his art in this strange hyperviolent tale of assassins that’s really just writer Rick Remender trying to work out where he’s come from and where he finds himself now. It’s a great way to show that memoir is in all [many] of our works, and that you don’t ever have to write yourself or in a realistic fashion to be able to tell some of the most personal stories. I liked the end of this comic, the final arc was bloody gripping and satisfying.


THE YIELD by Tara June Winch

At the start of this year, I read the latest novel from Winch that’s all about language and culture and Australia’s history with both of these things. The book is a staggering work of heart and genius mixed together on the page. The book weaves between 3 narratives: the death of Albert Goondiwindi whose story then goes on to live in the dictionary of his language that he’s writing for his family; August Goondiwindi who has returned home for her grandfather’s funeral and then discovered a mining company is going to destroy their land, and Reverend Greenleaf who is represented in his letters from over a century ago documenting his work with the local Indigenous people and attempting to care for them.

The story explores Australia as a country in various stages of dealing with Indigenous peoples of the land, and the changes through time are subtly shown through narrative perspective, character interaction, and structural choices. For my money, the dictionary entries are my favourite as they are this chaotic and wildly roaming account of language as it pertains to one man’s journey. Albert doesn’t set his meanings out in bland didactic form, his explanations are stories, they have heart and meaning and personal connection. They show language as a living entity that runs through a man’s life and holds the memories as much as expresses them.

The book makes you think, and understand certain elements, and is a powerful study of the past that should push astute readers into action. The ending of the book aims to do just that, force action, and I can’t think of a more brilliant ending line that I’ve read in a long time.

COVEN by Marc Lindsay

Nepotism be damned – I love reading a book written by my brother.

This one is a new character, and a new genre, and a new level of awesome from my big bro. Coven is very much written in the same vein as characters like John Constantine – roguish magicians in a world of violent, grey morality. What plays out is a story of a killer and an investigation that’s a delightful blend of Michael Crichton mixed with urban magic.

I really hope Marc returns to John Coven at some stage as I think this is a world he could continue to tell done-in-one stories for a long time.

Teaching Novels with ‘Salem’s Lot and The Road

I found it really interesting and awesome to teach these two novels this year, and for different reasons.

With Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, the students really looked into how style was used to build up the horror of the story, while also layering in more meaning. The long chapter ‘The Lot’ where the town is introduced through multiple characters over different hours of the one day was something that intrigued the students and showed that the focus of the novel isn’t the vampires, but is rather the lower case ‘e’ evil found in every small town.

With Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, I sold the book on the promise it was about hope. Beyond all things, it is a hopeful text. I think at the end of the unit of teaching, many of the students believed me. The text is so crisp, and the visceral feeling of the visuals soaks into your bones, and McCarthy showed the students how to make a whole lot of something out of moments where there wasn’t too much, at first glance, but there was a world of emotion beneath it all.

Ultimately, I could ask students – “So, the boy is found by the family at the end, and they are going to eat him right after the book ends, right?” Every single student disagreed, and this was the final proof that the text was hopeful. For all the destruction and tension and depression in that world, nothing in the book sets you up to believe the boy dies as soon as you close the book. You have hope in your heart because you believe that family and you know the boy is safe.

I also read WONDER BOYS by Michael Chabon and BURIAL RITES by Hannah Kent and enjoyed both deeply. Chabon’s was one I thought maybe too navel gaze-y, but I really dug where it got to in the end and I think doing some more thinking about the book will only improve it. Whereas I enjoyed Kent’s Icelandic tale of bleak acceptance a whole lot from start to finish. I also want to do some more thinking about this one to isolate exactly what makes it tick so beautifully.



I am still thinking about this show.  I don’t even think the high sell of the show would have gotten me to watch it, but rather it was the fact so many people I trust told me it was so damn good. It really is.

The idea of someone undergoing a procedure where they never remember going to work, which means that the version of them at the day job never has any memory of anything that happens after they leave the workplace is a good one. The idea that the working version just leaves work and instantly returns [in their mind] and their life is a terrible nightmare because of this is really fertile ground. From there, the show creates a company and a mythology that’s intriguing, worrying, and finally fascinating and insane the more the story spirals out and reveals the state of the game in which these people are caught.

The show has plenty of visuals and style to match the plot, and also the hidden meanings of the story. It pays to pay attention and it’s rewarding to slowly discover more and more beneath the surface of this show. It’s nice to have something smart on the airwaves.


The 3rd and 4th seasons both dropped this year and the whole experience proved this show to be one of the best things from the past decade. There are certain plot elements that continued to weave through the show – Earn managing the rap career of his cousin Paper Boi – but mostly this show became an anthology showcase of race issues in America, and in this regard it truly shined. The cultural commentary was great, but the fact it was so deeply steeped in weird genre ideas was what pleased me the most.

I really enjoyed the Snipe Hunt episode that was all about using the build of a camping horror story to deconstruct the relationship of Earn, Van, and their daughter Lottie. The coiled spring aspect of how this story was told made the stakes of every conversation and moment amplify completely, with a kind of twist ending that really made me smile.

Then there’s the final episode. One that left me really satisfied, despite the open ended nature of the closing moment. Hell, I think because of the lack of specific closure in the final moment I loved it all even more. It’s not about which way that moment turns, it could be either – what really matters is that friends are together and that it should be enjoyed in that moment. The world is chaos and stupidity and insanity and you need to hold onto what you can.

These 4 seasons have been a joy, and I’d love to write stuff this absurd and insightful.

I also watched all 4 seasons of BARRY, and that show is pretty titanic in the scope of how funny it can be and how hard it hits. Bill Hader has always been a boss, so it’s good to see him leave something this meaningful in his work now. I’m also nearly finished THE BEAR and am finding it a really fascinating exploration of grief and the tension and conflict it causes – and this is shown both through the plot, but also the storytelling tricks they pull: so many cold opens, that episode that’s one long shot [it was one long shot, right? I’m not on social media so didn’t see any response to this, but it looked like and definitely felt like one long drawn out breath].

There was a second season of ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING, and it continued to be awesome. 



The original PREDATOR might be iconic and damn good, but I think this flick jumps in front of it in wholistic quality and for the fact it is far less problematic. Both films are great, and perhaps it’s reductive to pit them against each other, but if I had to suggest someone start in on a Predator film then Prey would be my choice easily and 100%.

The action in this one is well directed and tense, the storyline of the main character matters and shows growth and has something to say, and the tightness of the plot keeps it all in line.

I cannot think of other new films that need to be on this list. I cannot think of other new films I watched and enjoyed. Ugh, I need to keep a better list, or maintain my Letterboxd. I did see CRIMES OF THE FUTURE, and definitely enjoyed it, but it was mid-tier Cronenberg, which means it was better than most things, but just had me missing some of his other stuff.

I just caught GLASS ONION and thoroughly loved every minute of it. If Rian Johnson can create comfort food quality like this every time, then I’ll line up every time. It appears TURNING RED might have been this year, and there was a lot I loved about that flick. LIGHTYEAR was also pretty damn rad.


HOW OTHER DADS DAD with Hamish Blake

I already find Hamish Blake, the Australian comedian and presenter, a funny guy. He’s been great on radio, tv shows, and recently Lego Masters, and so I’d be inclined to give him a try in most things so giving his new podcast was an easy try.

But the fact his podcast is all about parenting, and not from an authoritative standpoint and instead taking an open, honest, and inquisitive stance, means I already deeply love this show. Hamish just brings on other fellas he knows and has a frank discussion about how they parent and how they view quality parenting. Every episode gives me multiple moments of reflection, consideration, and hope. It’s like all good professional learning – you hope to have some good things in yourself confirmed, and then you aim for at least one solid takeaway for the day. Getting a few solid laughs on the side is just the soupcon of flavour this whole dish needs to bring it home as a 10/10 recommendation for me.

Alright, that was the year that was [that I could remember, to the best of my ability, your honour]. All of these things have inspired me in some way, and will affect me as a person and a writer in some way, and I hope you also dug some, or found something new to dive into.

Here’s to what 2023 brings – and to me keeping some better lists :]


What Is Best In Life? – 2021 Edition

Well at least it’ll be better than 2020, we cried into the night, before a few months of 2021, and then we just cried into our cereal.

It’s been an interesting year. We’d come out of Covid and lockdowns and the year started pretty cruisy. Where I live, we had zero cases for months on end and everything genuinely felt fairly back to normal. My teaching game was strong, I was reading plenty, and then Sami Kivela and I had EVERFROST launch at Black Mask and Sebastian Piriz and I had BLACK BEACON launch at Heavy Metal.

Things “looked” good.

Then the Delta variant swept across the nation, slowly but surely, and eventually invaded my ‘hood and we went into another lockdown. When that happens, my teaching load goes through the roof. It wasn’t as bad as 2020, but it was still pretty escalated. My comics kept coming out, I kept teaching, so there was nothing catastrophic.

Then I decided to change up my dayjob a little – I’ve moved from teaching little kids to now teaching English. It’s rad. But it’s taken a lot of mental load and prep to make the transition smoothly, especially as it happened as we came out of lockdown – a strange time to be doing anything, no less starting a new job at a new school.

It did mean I was ‘forced’ to do more reading, though.

I have no clue what 2022 has planned, but looking back on 2021, there’s a lot of good so I’ll spend this space celebrating some of that good stuff. Here goes…


As always, I manage to find awesome comics to read because people keep making pretty awesome comics.

My brain took in a Joe Hill Double Bill.

PLUNGE was one that stood out for it’s John Carpenter vibes and beautiful Stuart Immonen art. I dug the book, it’s a very fun ride, and does what it says on the tin with its 80s horror flick vibes.

I followed it months later with A BASKETFUL OF HEADS, which was one I didn’t know anything about, and I’ll be honest that the cover was giving me the wrong vibes for it. I thought it was some kind of eerie gothic slasher book, and it’s anything but – open it to find it’s another 80s throwback, maybe even late 70s, honestly, about a young woman defending herself against some escaped criminals, and she randomly uses this axe from a house display, and it’s a mystical blade that doesn’t cause death but instead life. So when she chops someone’s head off, it remains living.

A great premise, and a really enjoyable book!

My mate Paul Allor teamed with another mate Paul Tucker to create HOLLOW HEART and it really was something else to touch your heart. A brilliant tale of love and monsters and captivity. Seeing Paul write the kinds of emotional and esoteric stories I wish I could fills me with joy.

TRESPASSERS from Breena Bard was one my kids picked up, but I instantly devoured. A really fun middle grade romp about a forgotten mystery and some kids who think they’ve got the right thread on the sweater to pull. I really do love stories about kids investigating crimes. There’s just something about it as a kid I always loved, and as an adult it still fills me with joy and inspiration.

DAREDEVIL continues to be a comic I enjoy, but I gotta admit I’m getting lost in the monthly churn with it. There’s a chance I might transition to trades on this soon, as I have with most things, because my monthly buying and reading has gone to guano since these last two lockdowns, and I find myself constantly lost in where I am up to, or what’s been going on and for how long.

If this also means books need to pivot more towards graphic novels, well, I’m all for that, I guess. The more they make them, the more people will buy them when they come out, and then the more stores will sell them, and then we’ll better get into the habit of buying them, and around and around it will go. I hope.

Speaking of people buying graphic novels as they drop: RECKLESS from Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker dropped another 2 volumes this year. I read the first [which is the second volume] and it suitably kicked ass. I actually have but have not read the 3rd volume, as I’m holding it off as some kind of New Years treat, alongside a few other things, like NOVEMBER Vol. 4 from Elsa Charretier and Matt Fraction. I had to hustle through two different reporting periods, and then I’ve been reading stuff for next year, so these two are waiting for me and I cannot wait.

Transitioning to another Brubaker book, this time with Marcos Martin, I got myself straight into their collaboration with FRIDAY and found myself loving it more and more as each issue slowly wound its way around this very awesome mystery plot. This book is just the definition of beautiful, so I’m looking forward to more.


Did a cheeky run of rereading and ploughed through DOUBLE INDEMNITY by James M. Cain, FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley, THE GUNSLINGER by Stephen King, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEAS by Ernest Hemingway. All good and interesting reads.

I read THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O’Brien that’s a short story collection/exploration of the author’s time in Vietnam during the war and it’s a fascinating study. The circuitous way the stories are constructed and present certain key moments, it’s really quite beautifully done.

Benjamin Percy’s THRILL ME is a collection of his essays on fiction and it’s been instantly added to my mental curriculum list of things you should read if you want to be a writer. It takes a lot of his presentations and essays and makes them easy to digest, with examples, and a really strong and engaging authorial voice.

But it was WARLIGHT by Michael Ondaatje that captured me the most. This brilliant story about two kids after the war in Europe struggling to discover themselves, as well as the truth of their family, is a phenomenally well told narrative. The aspects of duality in life, the two sides we have, the truth we never know, the cause and the effect are all explored and brought to light [and hidden in the dark] in this really thoughtful and gripping read.

I wrote a little about it on my Patreon


TED LASSO dropped a second season. Wherein the first looked at Ted slowly winning everyone over, this season went a whole new route – it’s basically just everyone on a journey to combat their inner demons, or sometimes the outer ones. A season of people trying to kick depression in the nethers sounds…ethereal, but it really built and built. It’s hard to compare against the brilliance and surprise of the first season, but I feel like this one stands alongside it as a perfect companion – not a clone, mined for similar but diminishing success, but a new step into something just as challenging and emotionally true as the first.

I really enjoyed WANDAVISION – a superhero show that kinda made you think. It was unlike most anything else from the MCU, and for that alone I was happy. I’ve watched them all, and found FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER to be fun, but that was about as far down as the show could dig, and LOKI was as charismatic as its lead, and WHAT IF…? definitely scratched an itch for me. Good to have one I could watch with the kids, too.

HAWKEYE was a little up and down, but Hailee Steinfeld really grows into the role for me. Yes, another quippy, snarky superhero, who knew?! But she’s so good in the role, I’m happy to see the entire Marvel film franchise end up in the hands of her, especially when paired with Yelena as their scenes in the show were absolute dynamite for chemistry. Give them the reins of the show alongside Captain Marvel, and Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Scarlet Witch, and Valkyrie, and whatever other younger heroes I’m forgetting, or they continue to amass.

ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING was a fun crime show whose premise and structure was really well put together. Getting to see Steve Martin, and Martin Short, both get decent roles to play and show they still know how to chew up some scenery was a delight.

Feel like I watched more, but specifics elude me.


MITCHELLS VS THE MACHINES has to be movie of the year, right? I could watch it once a week and still find myself laughing my absolute ass off. So effortlessly constructed and genuinely funny as well as moving. Just a masterpiece of family cinema.

BO BURNHAM: INSIDE was a complete earworm of a show, but I thought it was just the right balance of poignant against the esoteric. I found myself genuinely captivated, which for something shot by one guy in his house is very impressive.

I can’t remember what else I saw this year…


I discovered THE KINGSLINGERS podcast, wherein two fellas started reading THE DARK TOWER books, but one has already read them all, and one is completely new to it. As they go through sections they discuss what the newbie thinks is happening and what certain things mean. It’s a great way to unpack certain elements, and was fun to listen to alongside my reread for the first novel, and then to listen to their thoughts on the second one because it’s probably still my favourite of the series.

They’ve moved onto other King works, so I’m going to listen to the ‘SALEM’S LOT eps while I reread that book this month.

I also discovered SMARTLESS where Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes interview random Hollywood guests and it’s a fun show. I usually get a solid laugh out of it each time.

It’s been a good year for fun stuff to enter my brain. Here’s to 2022 bringing more good entertainment vibes, as well as creative ones. Keep the brain spinning and swimming!

Top 10 of the Decade 2010-2019 – TV

It’s been an awesome decade in many respects, so I wanted to look back and see some of the stuff I’ve really enjoyed the most. As such, here’s a post of my thoughts and lists of some top times I had imbibing some content that gave me inspiration and joy.

May it find you the same, or remind me of that which you already got.


At first thought, I’d not have labelled this decade anything special in the realm of TV, but maybe that’s just because I had 2 kids and wasn’t glued to my glowing screen, and maybe also having kids makes you forget things on the surface level, because when I look down this list I see some belters that absolutely stand out as some of my favourite television of all time.


This show went from strength to strength and that’s largely on the rising star of Donald Glover’s brain – both in front of and behind the camera. HIs presence is amazing, but his scripts on this show are phenomenal. The first season has the invisible car joke, an absolute fav, but the second season brought some thunder with episodes centred around social media and racism that completely blew my mind.


How nice of people to gather their collective abilities and resources to make 3 seasons of a show that were just purely aimed at me. Especially when you consider I heard about this show and instantly thought, “Oof, we do not need more Hannibal Lecter things in this world.” And then I avoided it, or just forgot it existed. Imagine my surprise, late late one night when I’m up with a baby who won’t sleep and I stumble across this and my life is forever changed. I was glued for all 3 seasons after watching this one episode and I’ll forever be thankful something like this even got the chance to exist. It’s horrific and heartfelt and I cannot wait to rewatch it in another decade.


I wanted to watch this because of Damon Lindelof. But I couldn’t find a way to watch it legally for free anywhere, so I bought the book, and devoured it, and really loved it, so I finally bought all 3 DVD sets with some present money. Then I smashed those 3 seasons and was left feeling like I’d witnessed something truly amazing, and personal, and spectacular. The concept intrigues, but the delivery, exploration, and extrapolation went places I never could have hoped for, and this whole affair got me right in the Emotion Place.

The fact it adapts the novel in S1 so well, but then goes further for 2 more years is so interesting. The themes Lindelof wants to explore constantly get my attention, whether he succeeds or not. He always seems to be reaching. And that scene of Theroux on the bed, with the plastic wrap, is something I thought was such a perfect character moment done in such a bold way.


Another show I didn’t know about, and was happy to avoid on Netflix, until my wife popped the first ep on and then called me into the room 5 minutes into it. From that moment on, I fell in love [yes, with the show, but with my wife a little more, too]. The balls on this show, the ideas and scope, and the tip top cast from leads to background made this one of my favourite experiences of this decade.


Utter genius masterpiece on every level. Once the wheels got turning, every piece of this noir clockwork was finely tuned. Watching Walter White break bad, while Jesse Pinkman proved himself unbreakable was a morbid delight.


Every season plays so different, new cast, new tone, and yet each one is a masterpiece in its own design. The ability to do that is wild, and I love every single season so much for that warped Coen Brothers sensibility that feels informs but not beholden.


Just one season. The world wasn’t ready for this pure bliss and genius. Slacker beach PI shows, may we be blessed with more in the future.


Really loved this show, it’s a fun time to watch, and Timothy Olyphant is a great lead, all around an Elmore Leonard inspired story/approach. I dig it on every level I have, and then I never finished it because the guy who plays the boss cop [sheriff? whatever] came out super-hard on twitter as a troll/bigot and it just made me sad and I couldn’t return. A shame this show gets that mental shade from me just because of one bad actor, but here we are.


I’ve still only seen one season, but that’s mostly because it isn’t on Netflix and I’m lazy and cheap and don’t have the DVDs. I should find somebody with the DVDs.

Anyway, this show is awesome, I love the tone and scripts and characters, and I look forward to the day I come around and finish it.

These are my shows, as always, know that I missed whatever masterpiece you’re thinking of because it’s not aimed at toddlers and I just didn’t have the time last decade. Cool.

What Is Best In Life? – 2017 Edition

I love a good year end list. And this list is very much about me, and my year, and what works for me. If you dig what I usually dig, then seek these things out.

Oh, and this just means things *I* did/imbibed in 2017, not necessarily things *from* 2017 because I’m crazy behind on things all the time.

Okay, roll the thing!

Read the rest of this entry »

What is Best in Life? – 2015 Edition

2015, I believed.


DEADLY CLASS by Wes Craig and Rick Remender

Just loved every single panel in this crazy messed up book. It’s a wild idea, wrapped up by a wide array of intriguing characters, in a $10 intro trade, with some of the most nuanced and superb comic making I’ve seen in a while. Just an utter joy to behold – well, in a sense of how it is made…most of the actual narrative is as bleak as leftover coffee the next morning.



Just the best in show for everything, really. This year was S3 and it closed out the show and did it so masterfully that I’m still in awe. This is one of the few things I just keep bringing up to people and gushing to them about. It’s a show I want to share because it represents so many things about storytelling I love, and I wish I could do.

I’d love more seasons but I also love how tight and wonderfully this is all stitched up. This year, everything else paled in comparison.



And I mean hands down, best flick of the year. I crazy loved the idea but the execution was better. With a simple narrative throughline, they then explore emotions in such a deliberate and delightful way that my 5yo man dug it but I was floored by it. I cried twice in the damn flick and then when I got home and tried to explain it to the wife I started tearing up again. She thought I must’ve had a stroke. So good, and who knew we needed HERMAN’S HEAD the kid adaptation so bad?



Yes, a new Sarah Blasko album dropped and she’s still amazing. ETERNAL RETURN has fuelled some words in the last few months.



Every time I listen to this podcast about using Kickstarter for making comics it inspires me to make some more comics. I just get the fire in the gut again. You need to have that fire, and stoke it, and shift it, and kick it, if you’re going to survive this stupid ride we repeat again and again making comics.

The ComixLaunch podcast is just gasoline all up in my bonfire of life. I was also on an ep, dig it, it’s all about kickstarting DEER EDITOR and doing a digital only campaign from Australia [LINK]



This ebook was like two bucks or something stupid and it was a tight, short, very interesting read. And I’m finding it hard to hang on to novels because they are taking me crazy amounts of time to get through so short novella stuff is just right and this book was aces [LINK]

Are there other best things from this year I should be considering? No app jumped out at me this year, and no way could I single out all the cool art I’ve been able to scope in my travels with collaborators, so I think this is it.

2015 was a building block year, and it built in me patience. Hopefully I can use it to calmly slaughter 2016.

NOIRVEMBER 026 ~ Breaking Bad

The idea of ‘breaking bad’ is to really embrace and fuel your own noir narrative. You are choosing to do the wrong thing, you are delusional, and it’s just always going to travel in one direction.

I mean, no one expected Walter White to come out of this rich, in remission, and happy, did they?

breaking bad

I like the ambition of this show to take someone so milquetoast and make them a noir lead because it really comes down to the core of the fact that all people have the propensity to be the bad guy – some hidden, some just restrained – and we can all end up in situations where this is what we see as our best, and sometimes even only, choice.

It’s very reminiscent of the Joker’s concept in THE KILLING JOKE [a brutal Batman novella by Brian Bolland and Alan Moore – that despite being a classic has not actually aged well at all with its rape and nastiness] and in it the grinning villain believes anyone is just one bad day away from cracking. From breaking bad. And so he sets out to do this to the best man he knows, Jim Gordon [incidentally, a character Bryan Cranston would voice in the BATMAN: YEAR ONE cartoon adaptation].

Walter White’s villain is cancer. And an indescribably average life. From this dull warm ember, Walter rises like a dark phoenix to become something horribly monstrous. because any villain is just a confluence of unfortunate events and a handful of poorly judged choices. And they so rarely set out to become a villain. The good villains, the really flawed things, set out on their downward path with good intentions.

Watching Walter slowly push himself further and further was always the clickbait for your eyes. Every season, every week, he pushed his own boundaries. And more galling, he found reason to push his own boundaries. But the man we know at the start, sullen, moustached, walking wallpaper, slowly steps into the darkness. He attacks. Then he kills. Then he slaughters. It’s a study in the progression of noir, what pushes you into it, and what pulls you into it from the other side.

As Walter grows in drug making stature, the legend of his prowess spreads but so does the fear of him. He transmogrifies into a genuine drug lord and soon there is nothing he won’t do. There is no scene of human horror he won’t orchestrate to serve himself.

And that’s exactly what he’s doing.

Initially, the whole reason to break bad is to provide for his family – a pregnant wife and disabled son. But after a while, you know he’s done enough and yet he’s always finding reason to do more. It’s fascinating, but it’s sad. And it’s so very real. Especially when, at the end of the whole mess, Walter admits to his wife, Skyler, that he stuck at it because he was good at it.

He was pushed into it by perceived necessity but then he was pulled into it by the sense of self-esteem he took from it. The wallpaper was finally seen, and appreciated, and he could not go back to being so dull. All of it was sidelined because of his fear that he had prolonged his life and the reality was he had prolonged the life he had lived previously. A life barely worth living. A noir paradox.

And so Walter marches into the final spiral curve, ready for what is to come, and in his final moments, as he dies, he smiles. He smiles because it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees. To try and steal another Batman line and then horribly paraphrase/adapt it [this from the brilliant Nolan adaptation THE DARK KNIGHT], it’s better to die feeling like a hero than to live long enough to have everyone make you feel like the villain.

Because Walter knows he’s the villain, that’s fact, but he doesn’t have to feel like it. He doesn’t need to see it reflected at him where from the inside he still held some pride for what he did and how he did it. He still feels most of those steps down were the right ones to make, or at least the best ones. They gave him some months of good times instead of years marking time.

Then the beautiful thing about the show becomes Jesse Pinkman, in a career making role from Aaron Paul that is going to be insanely difficult to top because he is so supremely good in it. Pinkman is a junkie, a fool, but almost a savant at making drugs which means he’s malleable for Walter’s needs. Both chemically and socially.

Pinkman just shouldn’t care, he shouldn’t be noir because he’s already fallen, he’s already living his unhappily ever after. He gets high, he gets paranoid, he gets mouth favours from unsavoury ladies in the night and none of it comes anywhere close to fulfilling him. He should be the opposite kind of wallpaper to Walter, he’s the dirty, greasy stuff you don’t lean on, the gross surface you know can only be torn down, it’s the only way.

And yet Pinkman refuses to be stripped and tossed aside. He refuses to lie down. At first, he’s a pushover, Walter has it over him, and through this he’s bullied into some stupid places and decisions. But they’re nothing worse than the way he was already living so it doesn’t matter, right?

Wrong. Because while we watched, and fawned over, Walter’s transformation through the spiral, we neglected to fully realise that we were witnessing the opposite of noir: redemption.

Jesse Pinkman slowly starts making more moral choices despite the fact the world is giving him every opportunity to also break bad. Or break worse. He is put in danger, he still takes drugs, the new love of his life dies, he is beaten, and the hits just keep on coming. His life is made so terribly unmanageable once he falls in league with Walter and yet he never yields. Perhaps seeing one fall makes him want to rise up. Perhaps he knows where Walter’s journey ends and he doesn’t want to join him.

Finally, he is held hostage, brutalised, and forced into slavery. But even this doesn’t break him. By the end, he has become mentally strong. He has become unbreakable. His body might be making meth in the worst conditions for what might feel eternity but his mind is free, he imagines he’s crafting a fine wooden relic, something to be proud of. He has the mental strategies to survive.

In the final moments, after all that has transpired, so much bad, you’d not forgive him taking this out on Walter, you’d understand him lashing out and making the wrong choice for what might feel like the right reasons. But he doesn’t. He is not going to slide down.

Jesse Pinkman ends the show free, and he uses his freedom to drive off into the distance, his future preserved, his soul purified. Beyond us or society or anyone else, to himself he is redeemed and that sense of true worth is all that really matters. That we know we are right, no excuses, is the litmus test of the soul.

BREAKING BAD is that rare study of noir that perfectly showcases, in excruciating and slow detail, how the spiral works, and also how to escape the pit and ride valiant into the light.

NOIRVEMBER 020 ~ Hannibal

From the outset, you know you are watching two broken guys circle each other through the chum of life until they eat each other. And in doing so eat themselves. Which they’ll do slowly so they can continue to spiral down and down until they drill into the bedrock of the human spirit.


But Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter aren’t the only things plotting their own demise, there’s another man. And each week he laboriously carved out his name on a tombstone until it read BRYAN FULLER.

The above might be slight dramatic hyperbole, but there’s no doubt Fuller – who created the TV version of events – gave zero fucks when it came to anyone else’s thoughts or vision on this show. The fact it got cancelled after three seasons is heartbreaking but the opposite fact that it lasted such a goodly timeframe is insane. We are left with a perfect storm of longform storytelling, character dissection [sometimes literally], and a unique vision that could never last but would always burn brighter than it would exponentially.

And I’ll admit, I didn’t care about this show when it was announced, nor when it launched. Really, who the hell wanted or needed more Hannibal Lecter in their life? I’d read the books – right up until HANNIBAL when Thomas Harris somehow forgot how to write human people or dialogue – and I’d seen the movies. The RED DRAGON novel was adapted twice for the big screen so to hear it would get the small screen treatment filled me with nothing but rock solid meh.

But then I watched the first episode anyway. My daughter was born, and seemingly allergic to sleep, so I’d pace the house with her on my chest and eventually I stumbled across the show in some late night programming. I was like a slab of meat in a freezer – I was hooked and chilled. From here on, I looked forward to my daughter acting the midnight loon. I was all in on this show I never knew could touch me like this. The tone of the show, the style of the narrative, the class of the experience won me over.

Hell, with the way I was watching it, the whole performance was even improved. I was bleary-eyed, disoriented, a little emotional, and pretty unsure what was awake reality or dream fugue just due to the lack of sleep so all of that made the viewing hold more impact because it was tenderising my subconscious and staying with me for days in stomach churning and unsettling ways.

So it was with little shock to know that with something this good, it was destined to fail.

By the end of the first season, you got that uneasy feeling this couldn’t last. The show was horrific, grotesque, erudite. It was the sort of thing that would grossly turn away many while so desperately appealing to the few that they’d see it as a tome to study. But deep inside you knew this was televised suicide. There was no way ABC would ever commit to more of this sort of thing. Antlers busting out of people, blood spilling like Cronenberg was at the hose, human totem poles, and the goddamn girl who couldn’t see faces. It wasn’t just eerie, it was graphically intense on an iconic level – and it’s the ones you remember that soon you’ll never forget.

Hannibal was often shown as The Stag, a ghastly all black creature with long antlers. This figure haunts the show’s more visceral moments and it stands as a fine representation of the noir streak within Graham/Lecter as they can’t stop their descents. It’s heady stuff when you dig in, and there’s really no other way the show allows you to watch it.

This was high literature nightmare fuel on a standard station and it could not stand.

After that brilliant debut season, I was certain the team at HANNIBAL HQ could not and would not keep up this breakneck twist. If they wanted to live, they’d evolve and adapt.

Instead, Fuller came back more determined to deliver his vision of events. He wasn’t going to touch much of the Harris novel for the second season either. He was going to spearhead a campaign of horror and brutality unlike most shows would ever dare to envision, but he wouldn’t do it in a slasher manner to appeal to the gore crowd, instead he’d couch it all in delicious scenery and delicate interplay, so we would never forget this was a character study. A goddamn character study, right to the end. It’s a ballsy move and one that also failed them in the end, as was perhaps their design.

William Graham says this a lot as he inspects crime scenes through the eyes of the killer. “This is my design.” It’s a phrase that soon brings a hollow gut whenever you hear it because you know you are about to see the kind of act that lays waste to brains and innocence. And the phrase works for the ethos of the show, also. Everything, every piece of fabric worn, every intricate death tableau, every camera angle, every choice to harder knock the wind from your torso was all by the design of Fuller and his team. And they would not ever yield.

There’s something perfect about the opening sequence of Season 2 where we are dropped in media res to observe Hannibal Lecter and FBI’s Jack Crawford fighting to the death in the future and then we spend the season building up to that moment. Because a sense of impending dread and death is exactly what the show needs looming over it. You have to feel the tension, in your jaw, across your shoulders, as you wait each week to uncover more of the jigsaw that builds to two of the lead characters attempting to destroy each other.

Season 2 is one long and large noir spiral because both characters want this resolution. They need the conflict to come, no matter the personal cost physically and mentally. It appears that each gets the upper hand at times, but realistically they are both sinking. Each relying more on the other in a toxic symbiotic relationship that finally comes to a head in the third and final season. A season I didn’t expect to exist and I’m not certain how Fuller made it happen. But damned if I’m not over the moon that he did.

In Season 3, HANNIBAL doubles down on what it is. Dr Lecter goes to Europe, Will Graham all but openly pines for him. There is no jumping on point, no easy access. Even if you’ve watched every episode, you still need to pay attention. Fuller knows the show is going to die and he doesn’t care. In fact, I am certain if the show took off and got 6 seasons, it would have become rubbish. Though let’s all be real and acknowledge that Fuller never would have let that happen, he would have kept pushing the boundaries until they had to take him off the air. As it was, the baby in the pig in S3 is a moment where I paused and thanked the many lords above that I hadn’t tricked my wife into watching this show with me because I’d now be divorced.

By the final sequence, you are watching two people descend and you realise this has all been about them doing it together. Neither wants to fall alone because they plan to embrace, literally, into the very final plummet. As they hack and tear at Francis Dolarhyde, the Great Red Dragon, and his blood spills and his life flickers out, this is a noir crash of violence as a sex scene. Hell, it’s more personal and passionate than much of the fornication you see in media these days. This is the noir crescendo as orgasm, complete with post-cuddle, and then the curtain fades. In short, it’s brilliant and is so wonderfully satisfying that Fuller and co were able to wrap the show up with such a thematic and beautiful send off. Graham and Lecter choose their end and it’s satisfying for us as well as them. It’s a release of the tension of trying to be anything but their worst.

As rich as the tapestry of the story is, you’d need a separate book to do it true justice, so instead let’s celebrate the fact Bryan Fuller wanted to ensure the process of making the show itself was a noir tale. And every creative decision was a definitive stake in the ground that this was their design.

Late in the game, Hannibal says: “Have you ever seen blood in the moonlight, Will? It appears quite black.”

And that’s exactly what the lifeblood of the show was and for three glorious years we all stood in the moonlight and felt the energy consume us as it pulled us all down, down.


You can access every single tv script for all 3 seasons of the show at http://livingdeadguy.com/shows/hannibal/ – and it is well worth your time to investigate, imbibe, and enjoy.

Daredevil Reading — BOOKS

I can’t just tell you to read all of Daredevil [though you should] because that’s not helpful in the slightest.

And I won’t just tell you to read my favourites, because I’ve probably done that before, and it’s not helpful.

We are gathered here today because the Netflix Daredevil series is about to start. As such, I wanted to drop a few recommendations in regards to what will go well with the show [or what I think the show will be]. Without fear, let’s move forward:

FullSizeRenderTHE MAN WITHOUT FEAR – Frank Miller takes more than the issue Stan Lee and BIll Everett gave themselves to tell the origin of Matt Murdock and how he became Daredevil. With art from John Romita Jr, this book is pretty fantastic. In fact, Romita Jr is by far and away the star, and it’s worth reading along for the kinetic energy and iconic moments along. Because you’ll notice it’s one of the few books Miller made in a row not cited as a classic of the form. And it’s not as good as YEAR ONE or DKR but it is very cool [the more I think about it, the more the style and energy grows on me and I find myself forgiving the really fractured narrative structure that does not help things] and it seems like it’ll be hugely in line with the show.

FATHER – Joe Quesada’s slightly revisionist run at the character. After he’d reinvigorated sales with Kevin Smith in the relaunch [a fun tale but not something I’d recommend Daredevil_Father_Vol_1_5to go with the show], Quesada did this more personal mini dealing with Murdock and his father. There’s a lot of heart in this book, and a lot of shadows. Murdock is portrayed as this bruiser of a bloke – Quesada think that the son of a boxer might inherit that mesomorphic frame once he started working out. The visual, while not cannon, is very damn amazing and imposing. I think the tone of this book would inform the show well.

Lark and Brubaker’s run – putting this run before Maleev/Bendis because I just love it that much. Prison, old superheroes done modern but still goofy [which is how I’d see them on the show for sure – a mix of insane but still weird and wonderful and yet grounded enough to work]. This is noir, this is crime, this is what I really truly want the show to be. And this run has a lot of Kingpin, sans Elektra, and I think that’ll help inform the show. Just trust me and dive right in. Continuity, whatever, Daredevil is a blind dude, who fights, Page One, go.daredevil-116

Yes, the Maleev/Bendis run – okay, probably do this one first. It’s high crime [think THE WIRE before Lark/Brubaker get all Hammett up in Hell’s Kitchen], it’s gorgeous, and it’s one hell of a long story, again with lots of Kingpin. Lark/Brubaker also told one story, but broken into a trilogy of sorts. Besides some detours, this run is one epic mammoth crime tale. Which is pretty damn cool. I won’t be surprised if the show is as dark as this, as grounded, and as iconic.

Give some Stan the Man issues some love – just because. It’s the foundation and while the book has veered far, sometimes it’s interesting to note where it all started. You can probably jump around, not everything was awesome. Read the first Namor issue, get deep into that Mike Murdock insanity [I hope the show gives us a hint of how unhinged Matt Murdock is], there’s goodness to be found in random places.

As for Frank Miller, you can try his original run, but I’m not sure it’ll be good as lead up to the show. I don’t know, I keep flip flopping about it. In the end, I’d need to see the show to see if this’ll help. The show has Stick, which is in this run, and Kingpin is the big bad [as in the show] but the Kingpin arc heavily features Elektra, as well as some other weird stuff that I don’t think will get a run on the show. So I’m voting to wait on this one. It’ll be great for reading after this season, I think, but for now, let’s leave it off the table – or, know it’s amazing but won’t necessarily be the intro to the show you might want/need. I feel they might save Elektra  for Season 2 [feeling that = me hoping it real hard]. The tone will all be there but I don’t think content wise it’s for this season, to be honest, and I think it’ll work great post-S1 [pure speculation] so take this paragraph with a grain of salt.

dd-quesada-772aaAs for the elephant in the room, BORN AGAIN, I just don’t see that story hitting this season at all. It’s a masterpiece [until the final reel, Nuke sucks, come at me, brocetera] but I don’t see this influencing the small screen nearly as much as peeps like Lark and Bendis, et al.

But don’t let me stop you reading any Daredevil. You want to get into the San Fran days with Black Widow, roll on, soldier. You’ve heard gigantic words used on the Samnee/Waid run, shine on, brother. Wanna get down with the insanity of the Gerber run, aw yeah, do that. I would tell you to hold off on the Chichester run because I think Marvel would be crackers not to mine his use of Typhoid Mary for a later season [with obvious grabs from Romita Jr/Nocenti who created that character], but I guess only time will tell.

The above runs, though huge, will get you set up for the Daredevil show. I think. You can also hit my link farm to get the more didactic news on our man Murdock. Then just get ready for what’s sure to be blind good times.

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.

Baywatch Nights Musings – S01Ep01 Pursuit

If you dig crime fiction then you kind of have to watch this show. I am not kidding.

Staggers me that BAYWATCH NIGHTS is nearly 20 years old, first ep is 1995, and I’m just getting to it now. I thoroughly enjoyed this first episode, though don’t let that confuse you into thinking I’m saying it’s great, or even really good, but it is distractingly enjoyable.

BAYWATCH NIGHTS is clearly the Hoff’s play at diversifying his presence and trying something new. Spinning out of his mega-success on BAYWATCH, which is really just lifeguards on the beach going above and beyond into solving crimes and saving lives, the Hoff puts his iconic character of Mitch into an actual PI agency and has him solving crimes for reals.

If you are confused as to how this might come about just watch the opening minute of the show where Mitch breaks the fourth wall and tells us how his friend bought an ailing PI agency and how he can’t stop himself from helping everyone, including a friend in need. So, we get Mitch PI. Oh, and the Hoff tells us this while wearing a beach jacket with no shirt underneath so the hirsute chest segue from beach to darkness will make complete sense. Complete sense.

From there, we get an introductory episode that puts the Hoff in the middle of a model and her stalker paparazzo sleaze of a problem. Or so you’d think it all is. Where BAYWATCH NIGHTS succeeds is that it truly wants to be a crime show. The Hoff narrates like a grizzled penny dreadful lead, the night is neon soaked as he spends off hours nursing drinks in a local blues bar, there are foot chases and fist fights and salacious photos. Everything about this show is ripped from crime fiction standard tropes.

The most fascinating element is the fact the Hoff becomes the perfect crime lead because he is fallible. He gets punched, he makes poor decisions, he kisses the dame when he shouldn’t, and by the end of the episode you see he’s actually handled this case poorly. He isn’t the superheroic lifesaver decimating problems in slow motion anymore, he is human and he is new at this and he is making mistakes. There is a DNA thread of Sam Spade in this new Hoff incarnation – the genes have just been washed out a little so the quality is diluted.

It should also be noted that the PI agency is made up of the Hoff, his friend who is African-American, and some other lady (I’d know names and specifics but I was writing while this was on) and this means the diversity of the core cast is pretty good considering this is twenty years ago. Most core casts today don’t stretch this far. Though it should also be noted that the other two PIs barely get on screen as the Hoff is too busy chewing up the scenery like its sovereign German land.

For a terrible knock off sequel tv show, BAYWATCH NIGHTS brings a new spin on an old character, it borrows the right things from the right places, it’s amusing in a way you can still write with it on in the background, and it’s bookended by an opening theme and a separate closing theme both written and performed by the Hoff himself.

BAYWATCH NIGHTS is the crime fiction show you need to catch up on to truly round out your gumshoe knowledge of the world. Trust me. And enjoy.

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