Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Category: Uncategorized

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.

I Won Xmas 2019

I mean, ’nuff said right here.

I could list the killer paisley shirt, or the beard oil with gold flecks in it, or the EBERRON D&D source book, or the dragon/d20 short. All winners, but ultimately it came down to this pair of socks my sister-in-law got me.

Complete winners.

And now I want to put this character into a D&D adventure. Definitely has washed up barbarian written all over him,

The 2019 Holiday Bag Breakdown

Going away for a break is fun, sure, seeing family, hitting the pool/beach, relaxing.

But organising to pack your bag to go away is the real jewel of the adventure. As such, here’s a quick breakdown of my Go Bag for this end of year family quest.

I’d be cool and tell you what kind of bag it is, like Warren Ellis, but I honestly have no idea. A tag has CYBER on it, and I know it has zips and I think was labelled as a ‘laptop bag.’

My laptop is a Chromebook, because everything I do is online and I don’t game, so it’s being worked on tonight and in the morning will go inside the bag with its charging cord. Never forget charging cords.

On the table, I have my Bullet Journals. One for the first half of 2019, one for the second half of 2019, and one I’ll set up for the first half of 2020. I like starting the year with some clear goals and plans and lists to check off, so I aim to do that by night after days of craft beer, D&D, banter, and kicking the ball with my brother and our kids. These Bullet Journals are A5 Marvel notebooks I got from Target, in 3 packs for maybe $5, perfect size to just scrap lists into, and then tuck away with little fanfare or bulk.

Inside the bag, this is where the real prep goes, but first let’s talk about what’s not in there:

I have no novel or comics for this trip. My plan is to read my brother’s new novel, THE ELDER TRIALS by Marc and James Lindsay, so I’ll take that into possession as soon as I arrive, and then it shall be absorbed into this paper monstrosity. And there are no comics because I’m all digital on holidays, so the iPad has been loaded up with some of Jason Aaron’s THOR, and some more trades of THE IMMORTAL HULK.

Also not pictures are the two D&D books, the PLAYER’S HANDBOOK and XANATHAR’S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING which I’ve subbed into the suitcase as those are crazy quality paperstock of a few hundred KGs each, and I won’t need them in transit, just while we are there.

So, actually in the bag, top to bottom:

My D&D journal, a notebook I bought in Nantes, FRance in their mechanical animal festival. It catalogues the D&D adventures I’m writing.

A BAFFLING MYSTERIES notebook, part of a set of 3 notebooks with old EC-style covers on them, this one specifically has been chosen for its grid paper, perfect for drawing D&D dungeons. A quality mindfulness pasttime if ever there was one.

A composition notebook, cheap in bulk from Target, and this one’s for notes for [THE LONG ROAD PROJECT], which is currently unannounced, and I will be writing the script for issue #2 while away.

A notebook with a tiger’s head on the front, a gift from my sister-in-law she got from the National Zoo. It’s being used to track the insane changes I make in each D&D adventure as I take my kids through the ESSENTIALS KIT adventure book, DRAGON OF ICESPIRE PEAK, which is also found below.

D&D paper miscellania: character sheets [for my kids, and spares in case my brother or nephews want to play], a DM screen [the one in the Essential Kit is really light and thin], the map from the Kit, and some plain A4 white paper.

A plain pink notebook my wife found…somewhere, and it has my pitch and story for [THE MIDNIGHT MARS PROJECT], which I’m pitching, but think I might start scripting in 2020, so I want to break it down in more specificity so I’m ready to roll.

And then a ziplock bag with 5 copies of my latest comic, SKYSCRAPER, in it for family.

Not pictures, in the front pocket, is my pencil case with pencils, erasers, and D&D dice. Also a 7 pen felt tip set I got as a Xmas gift from a parent in my class last year which I use for the dungeon inking.

Chargers [iPads/iPhones, etc] go in the front pocket, maybe some Butter Menthols, and I’ll throw in a water bottle. It’s not too heavy, and I’m rarely walking with it full for long.

Once I pack the bag, I commit to what I’m allowing my brain to look at and focus on for the duration of the trip. I’ve marked what files I need as available for offline, and I know I want to focus, not crazy multitask, so this is the bag to see me through maximum relaxation, and minimum work flow as I glie into 2020.

The Last Comic of the Decade

As 2019 closes, so to does the decade.

It’s been a wild ride, and I like to commemorate events with comics. I can remember the night before my wedding I read THE ESCAPISTS by Brian K Vaughan, Jason Shawn Alexander, Steve Rolston, Philip Bond, and Eduardo Barreto. I’d bought it a few months before and saved it, and thankfully I loved this comic, but it also now always reminds me of my wedding day.

There are other comics that remind me of locations: GREEN WAKE #2 is walking from my hotel in Sydney to go find coffee to survive being in another town with my first child as a baby; Jason Aaron’s THOR run has only ever been read in trade, and seemingly only when on holidays; THE WALKING DEAD Vol. 1 takes me back to a house I shared with a mate when I first started teaching and my brother bought me that trade and got me back into comics; SLEEPER Vol. 1 is on a holiday to Brisbane, and Vols. 2-4 are back home to the first house I almost bought and reading them all on my bed in the sun.

As such, I like to plan ahead, and I’m wondering what comic i want to read as this decade closes, and as the new one opens.

Makes sense I should reread something to close out the decade, and then open the new decade with something new, something vibrant, something that’s a risk. Though, it also makes sense to do the opposite…

I’m thinking of rereading KILL OR BE KILLED #1 to close the decade because I *love* that comic, so it would be a fitting send off.

And to open 2020…I don’t know. Maybe I’ll get something for Xmas? I definitely feel like it should not be a Big Two book, it should be something more personal, something more specifically tailored to my tastes, perhaps.

RANDOM THOUGHT: if someone reads one of my comics to close/open a decade, well, that would be amazing.

Reading Piles

I should really be taking season photos of my reading piles.

Different from the reading shelf, where many things with pages go to sit and politely wait and watch everything else get read before them, the reading pile is for stuff being somewhat actively engaged with at the particular moment the photo is taken.

The reading pile is something special.

I recently had my end of 2017 reading pile turn up in my feed and t was interesting to see what I had been reading, and that all of that did indeed get read. Here it is:

This made me consider my current reading pile. Right now, it is:

Fascinating to stack up all of the things you’ve got going into your head at any one time.

I see I’m prepping a D&D adventure, I’m into a novel, I have two comics on the go, I printed off the PanelXPanel with my essay in it about NOVEMBER, and I’m chipping away at the PKD book.

A good pile reflects a good life, I believe.

Comic Critiques on Patreon

To start 2020 in a nice way, I’m going to offer a one page script critique to everyone who is supporting my Patreon at any $ level by the end of this month.

CLICK HERE TO SCOPE OUT MY PATREON AND JOIN

If you’re currently writing something, or the New Years Fog will lift long enough for a few script pages, then I’m here for you. Pledge by the end of December and any time during January, drop me a line, show me some script, and I’ll let you know how that opening page looks.

I love the Page One madness, that opening contract with the reader, so I look forward to helping a few people out with this one.

PanelXPanel – I Wrote an Essay About NOVEMBER

The latest issue of the comics magazine PanelXPanel is live and it’s all about NOVEMBER, the OGN from Elsa Charretier and Matt Fraction. I was honoured to be brought aboard to write about NOVEMBER, and I looked at a recurring visual which was a chainlink fence and how it represents the many lives that exist in a city and how people constantly affect others, and we get some agency, and sometimes life just happens to us.

The comic is great, so to get to write about it was a joy. There was so much to chew on, and everyone should go check out this issue, and then buy every PXP there is. It’s great brain fuel.

YOU CAN BUY PXP #29 RIGHT HERE!

The Comic Scripting Process

I can never speak in absolute truths, but I can tell you I have gone through the process of this comic writing cycle scores and scores of times, and it never ever seems to change.

I don’t know if I find comfort in it anymore or not.

Wherever you are in your cycle today, know we’re all getting tumbled by this, constantly, and sometimes in our own personal and specific hell way.

CRONE #1 – Get it.

This is a comic worth buying. Then reading. Then thinking about for a while. Then studying and pulling it apart to see how it works.

The story from Dennis Culver is a cracker. The cold open on our leading lady in battle, in her prime, and showing how epic she is. It’s perfect in how it sets up character, a threat, a world, and the tone all at once in just a handful of pages.

Then we cut to the title double page spread, shown above, and it’s so beautiful. All that negative space, on the left side of the page, so Bloody Bliss [as she was known] is looking back over it, a showcase of an empty past. There were battles, and people, and heroism, and adventure, but at the end of her life, looking back on it all, there’s not much that’s stayed with her. Certainly not much of good worth remembering. It’s a genius element of the layout from the team, and Justin Greenwood absolutely nails the emptiness in which we find our character.

From there, the story takes us into a hero’s journey, with a great ending to this issue that has me very excited to dive straight into #2 as soon as I can get my hands on it.

If you’re looking for something new at your comic shop this week, lay your heart and soul down on this one, I really enjoyed the balancing act of a huge D&D style world with this aged Red Sonya type, set against the amazing art and captivating story.

CRONE #1 – go buy it.

%d bloggers like this: