Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Category: Uncategorized

D&D Level 1 Character Sheets for Download

D&D character sheets are wild arcane artefacts of text/number alchemy. I love reading them, and creating them, and doing so on DnDBeyond is a really effective way to do it, which helped me greatly recently.

I run a D&D club at my school, and this year I decided to generate a variety of character types and their full sheets on DnDBeyond – this way the students could just have the character made and then work on how to read and use the character sheet. It’s important to figure out the things you need the kids to know/do and the things you can do with/for them. I want them to use a great character sheet to play in great ways, so I might as well do the first half so they can focus on the second.

I tried to make a variety of interesting characters, so some of them are mashed up a little so they can be role played well. I feel like a huge dragonborn barbarian is played, but a halfling barbarian will give you room to roleplay like a boss. I also tried to make combinations that were exciting.

The interesting thing about this was I couldn’t seem to find any sheets already made out there on the internet. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough, I’m certain they do exist, who knows, regardless…I had a blast making these 16 characters and I know they’ll serve a specific educational purpose in my club. As such, for educational purposes, I thought I’d share them with you so you can use them in your own games, or school clubs. Anything to share the bounty and halve the workload.

I originally posted this on my Patreon – click here to view and support my writing of all things weird.

I think it would be amazing to look at all 16 and work out how they all click together in one town. That would be a fun writing prompt.

Click here to access a Google Drive folder to download all 16 character sheets in PDF form.

A Bit of Focus and Gratitude

I write a weekly newsletter about my writing and brain and D&D and thoughts. If you dig me as a writer/person, the newsletter in your inbox every Monday is a decent way to keep up with me because it’ll go deeper than my social media ever will.

At the end of each newsletter, I have a Post Credits section where I normally just wing it 2 minutes before launch. Last week I sprayed out some words that swirled together a lot of my thoughts/feelings in a decent way, so I thought I’d share them here. If you dig the following, be sure to check my newsletter out:

Post Credits on a Homeopape

Reading about climate catastrophe. Learning a friend is about to face a very hard time in life. Getting a set back in a project. Feeling like a failure.

All different shades of shit.

But also a chance to search for gratitude.

Hunting down those moments in each day where I can be thankful that I get to have that moment.

Seeing my kid help another kid. Holding my wife/being held by my wife. Writing that perfect sentence. Laughing.

Sounds wanky to appreciate the little things, to write a list of gratitude, to be thankful for what you’ve got. I know it does, but it also helps. It makes me want to find more of those moments. A minute with a good book. A good coffee in the morning. A plan to do it again.

The bad shit happens by accident, but the good shit doesn’t always seem to. Inversely, sometimes the bad shit happens because you didn’t have a plan, and the good shit happens when you plan for it.

Then, sometimes, shit just happens, and you gotta wear it before you know if it’s good or bad.

So if it’s gonna happen regardless, I at least don’t wanna miss the good shit because the bad shit was in my eyes. I wanna get every moment I can to build that highlight reel I’m determined to end with. I wanna make as many good times in this life as I can, and sometimes that means you need a reminder.

How many moments in a day? Least I can do is choose which ones I’ll dwell on, right?

What Is Best In Life? – 2020 Edition

A new decade – didn’t really start like we imagined, but I’m still gonna try and find the good amongst it all…somewhere. Here’s some list action: let’s roll!

Comic

Hmm, I’ve read some really bloody good comics this year, and it was a hotly contested run to the top of the pile.

Okay, so not from this year, but I did make time to read MISTER MIRACLE by Mitch Gerads and Tom King and I really did love it. It’s a superhero comic that plays with the intergalactic when it’s really just about the family unit, and fatherhood in particular. Completely up my alley, so that was cool. And at the very start of the year I read LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell and Mariko Tamaki and it’s a bloody masterpiece. It’s just a high school romance story about a young woman who keeps falling into a toxic relationship, and then she slowly starts breaking out of that. I read someone mention that it’s a lesbian story that isn’t about coming out or prejudice, and how refreshing that is, and that seems like a nice take on it. I also dug the book because it has some absolutely stellar pieces of comic work going on in it.

Oh, and I borrowed from my school library all of the “Sunny” series, and the third instalment is SUNNY ROLLS THE DICE, and it is really superb. The comic is about Sunny, a young girl in the late 70s just trying to figure life out. In this volume, she plays D&D, and thinks about where she fits in socially, and how she thinks she should operate, and finally how she wants to operate and what she wants to become. It’s got a lovely message, is a joy to read, and I really love this series a whole bunch.

Okay, but actually from this year: my good friend Paul Allor was doing the lord’s work with GI JOE alongside Chris Evanhuis, making the franchise feel fresh and epic, but also zooming way in on PTSD for one masterpiece of an issue. I dug the scope of Alex Diotto and Curt Pires [with his father Tony Pires] on the Kirby inspired OLYMPIA, and the world-building rule-breaking of Justin Osterling and Kurtis J. Wiebe on DRYAD. We got the completion of BLACK STARS ABOVE from Jenna Cha and Lonnie Nadler and it was a beautiful and emotive piece of fiction, which stood in quality contrast to another Lonnie book, this time with Zac Thompson and Sami Kivela, making a brilliant Western cerebral puzzle with UNDONE BY BLOOD, or THE SHADOW OF A WANTED MAN. HEDRA introduced me to Jesse Lonergan and his beautiful and intelligent page design, whereas FAMILY TREE reminded me what geniuses Phil Hester and Jeff Lemire are. Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber made me care about SUPERMAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN for a minute in a 12 issue maxi series that was smart, genuinely funny, and the kind of thing that can make you a better creator just from having read it. Gerads and King reunited, with Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner, to tackle a personal fav, Adam Strange in STRANGE ADVENTURES – and the results so far have been very intriguing. Mike Huddleston and Jonathan Hickman intrigued and delighted me with the cerebral sci fi wildness of DECORUM.

Phillips and Brubaker released a new book, PULP, that’s naturally amazing, but is that rare chord where I can see the masters at play, and yet understand that this one just wasn’t for me. It’s better than most everything else from the year, but it’s not me seeing the two play at their peak while also being in my wheelhouse from them – I’m more of a Kill or Be Killed and Fatale guy than I am The Fade Out or Pulp.

I must cop to being thoroughly stoked that DAREDEVIL is a top tier book at present. Chip Zdarsky is a funny/goofy guy, but he writes painful really damn well. Pair him with Marco Checchetto and other artistic friends and the result is something that plays Matt Murdock exactly how I like him, down.

I really bloody enjoyed Elsa Charretier and Matt Fraction delivering more volumes of NOVEMBER. It’s a well thought out, intricate, delicate ode to women in crime fiction that feels pieced together just exactly right, in every single way. I love that this got pushed to four volumes because it means there’s just more for me to enjoy next year.

But the book of the year is from the same team that gets it most every year from me, and that’s RECKLESS from Phillips/Brubaker. A crime OGN about a criminal handyman that’s equally gorgeous as it is brutal is something I just need more of in my life. This book really tickled me in every possible way it should, and feels like something I’ll definitely come back to in the future. Not to mention they’re making this a series character, so the next OGN lands next year.

Novel

I don’t read with lightning speed, nor can I elect to only keep my reading current as there’s still a whole world of books I wish to catch up on, so this year I’ll have two top choices:

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

I’m slowly working my way through certain masters that I dig – I don’t want to rush them, so I drip feed them into each year. I finally got to this masterpiece and it really is a brisk and diamond tipped read. Sam Spade takes the case and from there the narrative hurtles along through twists and violent turns. By the time you hit the end, you barely trust anyone anymore, and you’re left exasperated and empty-handed, like many of the characters.

I can see why it stood out at the time, and has stood the test of time. Now I just need to make the time to watch the Bogart flick.

The Elder Trials: The Raven’s Prophecy by Marc Lindsay & James Lindsay

Yeah, my brothers, they’re novel writing superstars. I really enjoyed this young adult fantasy novel that puts our lead character, Astrid Mace, into a series of trials to prove her worth. The friendships forged, and obstacles overcome, made this an instant favourite for me from their immense catalogue.

TV

An absolute banger of a year for quality TV, and I really struggled to make one choice, so let’s look at the short list first:

#BlackAF – now this was a show I did not see coming. My wife put us onto it, and I was hooked from the first episode. I think what I loved most was how much of it was them being parents on screen, in the open, like most of us are behind closed doors, or at least behind our kids’ backs. The brutal honesty of it, and yet still the immense love, was the truth that made me respect this show, and then there’s the fact it’s genuinely laugh-out-loud funny stuff.

One show that very very nearly took the top spot wasn’t something I knew was coming, or existed…

Ted Lasso. Another show that’s hilarious, well structured, scripted, and just flat out honestly emotional. I never would have expected so much raw soul on the screen from the ads for this show, but what we get here is a deconstruction of a man, and many of the supporting characters, in a way which makes you examine your own life and path.

This was the sleeper hit of the year because I had no warm up to it, most others didn’t seem to watch it because it’s Apple+, and because it is so excessively good. I desperately want to rewatch this show, to study it, to feel those emotions again, and to laugh. That’s all I needed from 2020 – creative fuel, laughter, and the ability to draw out emotions and then stab them with a sword until I’d leaked them out everywhere.

And while I loved this show, I think it benefits from that new apple shine, which is why I couldn’t place it above the other emotional laughfest I spent the start of the year knowing would appear right here on the list:

The Good Place dropped its final season, and it wrapped up everything so perfectly. It did everything Lost thought it was gonna do, and I love this show for being absolutely perfect. Also; it hit right in the sweet spot of global Covid collapse and personal mental collapse, and as such the final episode just turned me to water. I hadn’t had a cry like that in a very very long time [if you are wondering which exact moment, it was the Chidi moment].

For a show that kept its quality at 100 the entire run, and actually maybe improved itself over that time, I couldn’t not place it here where it deserves to be in that final victory lap.

Movie

I didn’t get a lot of time to hit the cinema this year, but there were some things I caught in the home Netflix Screening Arena that I really enjoyed.

THE OLD GUARD

Genuinely loved this flick, and anyone digging on action flicks needs to get down on this, stat. That it’s build from a comic is gravy, and that comic scribe Greg Rucka got to write the screenplay makes me near on giddy, but the flick itself is the show, and it’s a good good show. Unkillable warriors, across time, taking on jobs to fix things in the world, when what they really need to fix is inside them all along.

ONWARD

This was the winner for me from the year. A Pixar flick that’s a take on fantasy/D&D world building and is used to tell a story about trying to get one more day with a deceased father – yep, totally my jam. I thought this flick had a lot of laugh, a lot of really clever and awesome moments, and a whole lot of heart. Another thing from 2020 that made me bawl. I think the script suffers from some underlying sexism – the mother isn’t named on screen, is she? And the boys don’t consider that the mother would also want to see her dead husband [though the fact she’s moved on and is dating Officer Colt says a whole lot about her mental health, which is actually kind of nice].

I really enjoyed SOUL, also, and the themes in that are spectacular, but ONWARD gets me for rewatchability, and for that specific dagger of emotion that got me right between the ribs. Which isn’t to say Soul isn’t probably the “better” flick of the two. It’s interesting because it’s got some laughs, but not as many as Inside Out, nor does it have that visual flare…in fact, this feels like the most adult thing Pixar has ever done. Which is probably a damn fine thing, because kids need to see content like this.

Give me every emotional Pixar flick over a Cars flick any day of the week – and I dig that franchise, but it’s comfort food for those who already eat pretty mushy food.

And I’m still trying to work out if THE MIDNIGHT SKY might be the “best” movie I saw all year. This George Clooney pieces sees him act and direct his way through an emotional sci fi concept where the world has already died, and he’s just about the last man standing, in an Arctic ice station, awaiting his own death, but not before he warns a returning space shuttle to turn around because there’s no point in landing.

The genre aspect of it is handled with erudite simplicity – more along the lines of Contact or Sunshine – and the emotional core is made of pure plasma. This is the kind of flick that’ll make you take as much stock of your life as Soul does. The themes about humanity, and quality of life, and what we do next are all expertly and deftly presented. The narrative is mostly pretty simple in its arc, but the way Clooney shoots most of it kept me captivated the whole way through. This is a beautiful movie that will haunt you long after it ends.

I think this year was a tricky one – ONWARD is the one I’ll watch the most, but SOUL might be the one with the best fuel in the engine, and then THE MIDNIGHT SKY is the one executed the best for what it’s going for.

Podcast

Podcasts took a hit this year due to lockdown meaning I lost my commute for a few months, and from there my listening never truly recovered. There are some classics I’ve kept up with, Off Panel, Word Balloon, ComixLaunch, but I’ve also lost some steam with old faves like This American Life, The Constant, and DragonTalk. I don’t know why, some podcasts just weren’t grabbing me this year.

But there were two I put into my list that kept me going through morning exercise sessions and school trips on my own and they are:

YOU’RE WRONG ABOUT

A show that looks into history and the things we think we know about, but we only know the one sentence sound bite, and there’s so much more below the surface. It’s fascinating and I recommend the eps on The Stepford Wives, Sexting, The Challenger Disaster, and Alpha Males.

It also led me to realise that capitalism is the reason and the cause of all of life’s problems. Interesting.

And the other show I’ve really enjoyed having in my world is:

CORONACAST

Aussies Tegan Taylor and Dr Norman Swan discuss Covid news daily, debunking things, fleshing out things, and helping me form opinions that I can walk into every day with knowing they’re better informed.

If this is what I’ve been able to excavate out of this cursed year, I can only imagine the quality that awaits us all on the horizon of the blessed 2021…

Learning From Reading – RECKLESS

I recently read RECKLESS from Phillips/Brubaker and absolutely loved it on every level.

Rather than write a review about it, which I don’t have the time to make good enough, I have written a very shirt piece about one thing I learned from reading it and I shared that to my Patreon as a public/free post.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE POST ON PATREON AND DISCOVER WHAT LESSON I’LL BE TAKING WITH ME INTO MY OWN WRITING

It’s a bloody good book, so if you haven’t yet indulged yourself, might I suggest you drop some post-Xmas money on this beautiful hardcover and the art and story you’ll find within it.

SHE is Coming to Comic Shops

SHE is the sci fi hardcover comic from me and Chris Panda being published by ComixTribe which you will be able to buy through your local comic shop in 2021 – click here for preorder info

The team behind this book ran a hugely successful Kickstarter earlier this year, and now we’ve solicited the book through Diamond so you can ask your local comic shop to preorder it for you if you didn’t get in earlier.

Shops can use order code: DEC201383

The book aims to land on February the 24th, 2021

I loved making this comic, and it came out as one of the most gorgeous items I’ve ever had a hand in creating. Chris and Tyler [the publisher at ComixTribe] cooked up a die-cut cover where the mask faceplate is a hole, and there’s a vellum page with She’s projected face mask, and then the first page is her face in close up. Makes for a serious entry to the book, and also a selfie opportunity if you shove your mug in there.

Preorder SHE: AT THE TOWER OF ALL THAT IS KNOWN Vol. 1 right now from your LCS and I’ll stay right here and continue work on Vol. 2

The 12 Days of Patreon – Coming!

I’m very excited for the next 12 days, because I’m involved in something very very cool:

The 12 Days of Patreon

This event sees 12 creators [I’m one] share each others’  awesome Patreons, and also share gifts for everyone in each post – the only thing is, you gotta be a Patron to get your hands on it all. It’s all coordinated by the creators of the Conceptual Heist comic, Jay D’ici & Jenny Godin.

I’m giving away a bunch of PDFs of my comics, as well as a D&D adventure, and Noirvember, my book of noir essays.  Everyone else is also offering similar levels of awesome, and you can have it all, just be a Patron to one of us and you see all the posts and the links.But once you’ve sampled this fine array, hopefully you’ll dig in and become a Patron for more than one of us.

It all kicks off December the 1st – learn all about Boum, Marco Rudy, Laurence Dea Dionne, Caroline Layne, John Lees, Pegamoose pals, Conceptual Heist, Yves Bourgelas, Anouk, Jim Zub, and Aditi Mali.

Hopefully we’ll see you there, catch it all at my Patreon!

DEATH OF THE HORROR Anthology goes live!

There’s a new horror comic anthology you’re going to want to buy and it’s called DEATH OF THE HORROR, so click here to go get a copy on ComiXology in time for a Hallowe’en read!

There is a cavalcade of talent in this book, Vita Ayala, Kelly Brack, Steph Cannon, Melissa Hudson, Brian Level, Jed McPherson, Lonnie Nadler, Eric palicki, Emily Pearson, Pat Shand, Cody Sousa, John Ward, Rio Burton, Daniel Dwyer, Val Halvorson, Matthew Hann, Fracesco Iaquinta, Leonie, O’Moore, Raymond Salvadore, Chris Shehan Ariel Viola, and then there’s me partnering up with J Paul Schiek!

Here’s the cover from Adam Gorham and Cassie Hart.

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PLANET HEARTBREAK is the story I wrote with J Paul Schiek illustrating, and it’s really beautiful stuff from him that expertly brings to life a heartfelt and emotional tale that deals with some weird aspects of massive intergalactic ideas, and I think you’re gonna dig it.

Here’s a page from us:

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Everyone’s really brought something special to each tale, so go ahead and check it out. We all put a tonne of heart and soul and whatever other body parts we could steal into the mix on this one. Enjoy.

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE ‘DEATH OF THE HORROR’ DIGITAL ANTHOLOGY RIGHT NOW!

BLACK BEACON Announcement

BLACK BEACON is starting in HEAVY METAL #303 – out on November 25, with order code SEP201284

HEAVY METAL #303 CVR A BLANCHE (MR)

This huge sci fi tale from illustrator Sebastian Piriz [HEADSPACE, DISASTER, INC.] and writer Ryan K Lindsay [ETERNAL, NEGATIVE SPACE] will run through issues of the anthology magazine into 2021.

The story is about Earth receiving a message to travel across the universe to a location where a new level of connection and understanding can be forged. But when a team arrives, they find they are too late to the party and it’s all sideways, so it’s as if CONTACT took us to SAGA.

Niko is the historian of the group who lands on the Dyson Sphere and tries to piece together some kind of understanding of what’s happened, who is there, and why they should leave as soon as they can. Along the way, she’s going to meet some very interesting lifeforms, get into some deadly situations, and learn some truths that are absolutely intergalactic.

Sebastian and I are really excited about sharing this story as we think it’s beautiful, important, and deeply wild. You should have a blast reading this, but be left with a little something to chew on while you wait for the next instalment.

BLACK BEACON, a tale of intergalactic iniquity and universally unsettling truths. Starting this November in the pages of HEAVY METAL #303

We can also let you know that in March of 2021, BLACK BEACON will get its own release in single issue format at a $2.99 price, where the back matter will be filled with lore, extra material, art stuff, and it’s going to be awesome to put these out into the world. Hit up your store now with preorder code OCT201430

Here’s the unreal cover with the Heavy metal Elements dress design.

The Walking Reread Vol. 1

Precis. I’m about to embark on a reread of THE WALKING DEAD.

Why? Because this comic was my return to comics. I grew up reading whatever comics my big bro had around. Then I dropped off during university years, due to money and access. I started teaching, and focused hard on the job, but then a few years in the same big bro bought me THE WALKING DEAD Vol. 1 because we’re a huge zombie family and he’d heard good things.

Hooboy, did I fall in love. I got the next 2-4 volumes online asap, devoured them all, and would even reread them as each new volume came out from then on – a practice that lasted maybe 10 volumes deep. I then held on for about 22 volumes in total, from memory, then dropped off for some stupid reason along the way.

But now I’m back because I wanna reread those 22 so I can slowly chew through the remaining volumes until I hit the finale, which is somewhere in the 30s, I think. I’m excited about this because I dug the book, I’m keen to see how it ends, but I also remember loving these opening volumes and storylines so so much. I wanna see how they hold up, and if they transport me back to those days a little, too.

As such, I’ll slowly chip away at these, time permitting, there’s no hard schedule, but I thought I could jot down some thoughts and do it just for my own process brain food to unpack the story and what I can take away from it now.

Okay, here goes…this might take a while.

Volume 1 – Days Gone Bye

I still really dig this comic. That’s a good feeling. It’s still got that comfort food feeling to it, yay.

The first issue is just Rick. Just all Rick, all the time. We meet him, follow him, centre him in the response. For such an ensemble comic, that’s an interesting way to start. We follow him out of the hospital, through some danger, and out onto the road. In fact, it’s even fairly slow and quiet. Just pages of Rick existing, walking, looking around. I feel like this is all to make us invested in Rick as our lead, and I think it does that job. I mean, I’m not “in love” with him here, but I remember as the series wore on I definitely found him fascinating [even with his flaws – hrmm, Rick Grimes has that same broken man charm that Matt Murdock does…this is something to consider moving forward]. We see him get emotional at times, he cries maybe 3 times in this trade, and I like that. A lot. There’s always been something emotional about Rick’s journey, and his mental health along the way in the future, so to see it set up here that he isn’t the hardened cop is a breath of fresh air. In fact, the hardened cop is pretty much Shane, larger, squarer jaw, and he’s fairly toxic in the way he thinks he can control Lori, but it’s really just a manifestation of his own emotional bullshit that he can’t process properly at all. But more on that later.

Sidebar: I hate that there are no covers in these trades, so I cannot tell where the issue breaks are. A small pet peeve, and I assume Kirkman loves this as just one long run/soap, but I wanna know where the damn issue breaks are. Especially if I’m trying to pin point where events happen, or how sequences play out.

Lori. Where to start? She’s gotta assume her husband’s dead, then she’s reunited with him, and the elation that must bring would be through the roof. And still, she’s assigned the role of Resident Shrew, the fun police to her police husband, exceptionally quickly. We don’t get her point of view too often, and actions reinforce Rick’s ideas, so she really comes across as almost an adversary to Rick and his path forward.

It’s interesting to then note that Kirkman had initially planned for Rick and Lori to divorce later on, something I assume she wouldn’t have come out of looking very good. She’s a silent shrew, a combatant to his ideas, AND she cheated on him. So far as quality female characters in the book go, it’s her, the other unpleasant housewife Donna, the timid Carol with little airtime, and the sisters who don’t get much to do just yet. And, to be fair, that puts them against Rick, Shane is well put together as this dark heroic figure who is broken, Glenn gets a fair amount of action, and Dale feels a little more integral to thinks than Donna or Carol. Jim, the silent mechanic is more of a background elemental plot wave, and the other husband…bearded guy, well I can’t remember his name, so I’m gonna say he’s a wash. Even 7yo Carl is an idiot and yet still saves the day, twice. There are thin guy characters, too, but there are also guy heroes, and yet the female side of the cast gets…not very much. At least, at this stage.

When Rick meets Glenn in Atlanta, Glenn treats Rick like he’s new to it all and so explains everything to him, even though as default you’d have to assume anyone you met was just another traveller in this world. It’s a few pages before he asks where Rick has been, whereupon Rick confesses his very very unique situation. A small bugbear to focus on, but it stood out to me on this read – but never on the previous dozens of reads, so ymmv.

Rick takes a horse from a barn, admittedly, where it would probably die, and he rides it into Atlanta, which works for him, and then he instantly abandons it when zombies attack and the horse gets absolutely annihilated. This is some great foreshadowing for Rick’s ability as a protector moving forward, but also in how he uses others. He brings them into the fold, they can help him, and then he leads them to their demise.

You get a lot of cool takes on Kirkman’s personal take on zombies. Their speed, their need of blunt force trauma to the head, their intellect, these are all fairly standard. The fact they spread fatal disease in their scratches and bites, and they they on even when incapacitated. That Rick wouldn’t eat a deer a zombie had been munching on. The whole “cover yourself in zombie guts and they won’t smell you so they won’t attack” schtick is interesting, though I can’t help it isn’t something that’ll become an overall “canon” outside of this book, it’s a touch goofy. There’s some “zombie world-building” done deftly throughout these 6 issues, and it leaves a lot of room for the soap that expands between all the people of the RV crew. There’s time for judgemental tut-tutting, and talk of washing powder, and it all sets up the idea this is a story about the survivors, not just survival.

Tony Moore really was a stellar start to this comic. A pity the contract/rights blew up between them, as that’ll no doubt leave a sour taste in the mouths of many. I didn’t remember Moore doing so many 9 panel grids as he does, and while his gore and zombies are great, sometimes it’s his quiet panels that truly stick with you after the book closes.

I was impressed that Moore does this thing where Shane eventually loses the detail in his eyes, he looks like the white triangles Batman has, and it coincides with Shane’s emotional state as the story progresses. But then there’s one panel towards the end where Shane really pops off and his eye becomes a perfect circle and it’s so jarring. I love Moore’s faces more than anything, usually. So much character on display.

That beef brewing between Rick and Shane is forced up out of nowhere, though, isn’t it? Dale mentions something well away from being asked, and Shane lets his shit boil over and show really damn quickly. Rereading this, I see the show did a better job with dragging it out to really twist the knife in every gut it could. Here, we go from Shane his friend, to Shane happy he’s back, to Shane brooding, to Shane going absolutely bananas at Rick constantly in about 3 issues.

But the speed with which Shane froths up works because of how quickly it’s also put to bed. Having Carl kill him is a hell of a hook for the end of a first volume. That’s a bold statement, and one I think has hooked hundreds of thousands of readers by this point. It’s a great scene, well set up for Carl to have the gun, and you know it’s great drama set up for what comes directly after it…once you buy the next volume. So as a strategic choice, not to bury the lede, it was the right thing to do.

It was such a joy to sit in the winter sun and devour this first volume. Hopefully I can carve out time soon to reconnect with the RV crew and see how they deal with the death of Shane. If anyone else wants to reread along with me, I’d love to hear your scattershot thoughts about this volume, so feel free to drop me a comment below. And if you don’t have a copy, hit up your LCS, or a local library, they’ll help you out.

Until then, good night, and good luck.

Note: this was originally posted on my Patreon, as a public post. If you wish to follow me there, or support my writing, it is greatly appreciated, though not necessary.

Story Clocks! Spiders and Lego

I love the Story Clock notebook from Plot Devices. I’ve got the notebooks, I’ve used them, I use the concept in my own storybreaking, and I read every single one they post on their site.
The concept is, you map a story from beginning to end on a wheel, and then you see how things line up, or space out, or get callbacks at certain times. Often, the best flicks have these great structures built in with symmetry of action and occasions.
I never like to be told a regimented way to tell a story, but I love beauty when it appears naturally in the world, and this is that. It’s not one way, it’s just celebrating the ways that got it right.
So tickle me webbed to find out they’d recently done SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE – only one of the greatest films from the past decade. I love this flick, and shocking no one I had actually just recently mapped out the story of this flick in my own notebook, but had yet to make it pretty, and then they drop this, saving me the effort. But the act of mapping it out was fun, i could see how everything lined up in special little ways.
And then they drop another one on us for THE LEGO MOVIE, and I have yet to sit down with this one laid out in front of me, but I know I dug that flick, and I like the creators of both flicks [the very same creators] so I’m down to check this out.
If it helps you map out your next story, that’s aces. I like it for that call back structure, seeing when things from the first act can finally come back in a way that’s got the most impact. It’s so cool.
Plus, while you’re on the site, scope out the other clocks, the DIE HARD and THOR: RAGNAROK ones stand out fresh in my mind as absolute *chef’s kiss* perfection.
If you’ve got any other structure style hacks you know of, please share them with me. I use this and a Five Act Struture breakdown and they keep me mostly in line and sane.
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