Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Tag: black mask studios

EVERFROST #2 Cover Reveal – Preorder Now!

EVERFROST #2 is up on Previews – click here for the details!

You can preorder this issue with your LCS – or just ask them to set aside all 4 issues as they come in – and I guarantee after everything we lay out in the first issue, you are going to be dying to come back to see where Van and Eight go off to.

Here’s the cover from Sami Kivela!

So. Gorgeous.

I could make comics in the snow with Sami all day long.

Here’s the official solicit info, just to wet your whistle – at this stage, I’m just having fun writing these things.

Van and Eight have stepped back into the bustle of the Precinct to discover her son is still alive, there’s an epic war between the Bloom and the Warlords bubbling over, and time has become a little fluid since she went out to live on the ice. She needs a whole mess of answers, so she goes to the one person she thinks might be able to help…her mother.

Join us for a tale of echoes through time we could only call ‘Bootleg Fidelity’ as two key characters meet untimely deaths!  

Ryan K Lindsay, award-winning writer of ETERNAL and NEGATIVE SPACE, teams again with Sami Kivelä, the artistic juggernaut behind ABBOTT and UNDONE BY BLOOD, alongside Lauren Affe, the colourist of THE WITCHER, STRANGER THINGS, and FIVE GHOSTS, as they drop an absolute bomb of sci fi insanity and heartbreaking emotion in the grandest Black Mask tradition.

EVERFROST #2 hits shelves July 14 – you know what to do.

EVERFROST #1 – 5 Page Preview on The Beat

We have an exclusive 5 page preview of EVERFROST #1 up on The Beat

CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW WE OPEN OUR ISSUE AND INTRODUCE OUR STAGE AND THE PLAYERS UPON IT

The start of an issue is the Opening Contract and it establishes everything the creative team is about to attempt across and throughout the story. We give character, the world, the tone, the style – it’s an indication of the ride you are in for, the way we wish to connect with you.

In these 5 pages, you will find awesome page layouts from Sami Kivela, beautiful world building colours from Lauren Affe, the balanced and thoughtful placement of lettering items from Jim Campbell, and a flow of prose and ideas from my writing.

If you dig what you read, then you’ll need the subsequent 21 pages when issue #1 lands on June 02 – talk to your comic shop about securing your preorder, they will finalise their orders on May 10.

For now, enjoy the free taste, have a great day, and we’ll see you on June 02 for more :]

Here’s the second page because I love it so much – Sami nails it, natch. The angle, the moon, this is Van Louise. Lauren Affe gives us this haunted feeling of cold and isolation. And look at those captions from Jim Campbell. Utterly perfect in alignment with the art and the tone.

What They Say About Me & Sami – BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #1 Review Quotes

Sami Kivela and I have a new comic coming out in June – EVERFROST is being published by Black Mask Studios – we think you’re going to dig it!

The last time Sami Kivela and I made a comic together, it was also through Black Mask Studios, and it was called BEAUTIFUL CANVAS.

This was a comic about a hitwoman who is contracted to kill a small child and in the same week finds out her girlfriend is pregnant. It’s an emotional tale soaked in blood and Sami and I loved making this comic with Triona Farrell, Ryan Ferrier, and Dan Hill.

We were given many amazingly thoughtful reviews, so I thought I’d pluck out a few key quotes that will prepare you for what you are in for now that Sami and I are back together again for a new comic – EVERFROST launches in June.

Here’s what they said about us last time in some reviews for BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #1

“Aiding and amplifying this is Sami Kivela’s artwork, which is nothing short of fantastic.  It’s not just the great details and exquisite imagery. – While Lindsay definitely creates some relatable characters, it’s Kivela’s artwork that makes them real.”

James Ferguson – Horror DNA

“What really sets the art apart is the scenery in the scenes, the half splash panel of the ferris wheel with a half buried animatronic clown head look beautiful and reminiscent of something that was once vibrant”

Ben Snyder – Comic Bastards

“Sami Kivela shines on the art.  He takes a scene I’ve seen hundreds of times and makes it sublime; I’m talking specifically about page 4, where Lon enters a house to carry out a hit and Kivela’s staging of the scene, page layout with the inset panels, and the discrete moments in time he captures on the page really emphasize the artistry involved in telling a comic story.”

Bob Bretall – Comic Spectrum

“The first action sequence in which Lon encounters conflict and she has to make use if her gun is very short, but also very effective in showing you 1) Lon is good at her job and quick with her hands, and 2) artist Sami Kivelä masterfully pulled this short burst of action off using one entire page and it’s a testament to an artist who knows their way around some damn panels. Throughout the book, Kivelä is manipulating panels and cutaways to really maximize the action scenes and ensure the pacing is good enough for the scenes with more emotional weight. He also has a really solid art style that helps keeps the reader stay invested visually.”

Carrie McClain – Black Nerd Problems

“The issue is written by Ryan K. Lindsay and drawn by Sami Kivela, and both turn in excellent work. The script is smart and always one step ahead of us, and the art shows great design skill, with strong characters and vivid environments on display.”

Chuck – Chuck’s Comic of the Day

“Sami Kivela, whose slick, expressive style sizzles alongside Lindsay’s story, creating an effortlessly cool aesthetic.  A little bit David Aja, a little bit Tyler Boss, Kivela throws in some fantastically inventive panel layouts, including one particularly brilliant page where snorting drugs off a carrot leads seamlessly into a brutal ‘hit’ from Lon.”

Craig Neilson-Adams – Big Comic Page

And this is a big beautiful slab of love for Kivela!

“Sami Kivela delivers tasteful, sleek modern art that fits the issue’s tone perfectly. The first page, which may very well be the single best page in the issue, is a great example of the blend of normal and strange that is yet to occur in the book, and Kivela blends the two elements like they were simply meant to be. Kivela includes telling details in the background of the room – things that indicate a normal, modern household like small plants by the window, a bottle of vodka, star-patterned cushions and a desktop computer. Yet, at the focal point of the page, a body lies dead, with blood splattering from a bullet wound to the eye. Lon herself sits on the couch next to him, looking just as astounded as you, the reader, are at this visceral scene. It’s a perfect opener, giving readers the low down on what to expect from this book.

“Kivela draws refreshingly normal looking humans, like David Aja’s style if you read his seminal “Hawkeye” run a few years back. Lon displays a wide variety of emotions as she reacts to all the strange events during the issue. A scene occurs in which she talks to her lover Asia on the phone, and a panel depicting each person sit opposite each other. Each panel can only show one emotion, but are drawn with subtle detailing that make them feel more real than they are. The way Kivela draws Lon looking down her shoulder, the way her eyes look away in doubt, and her just-ajar mouth are more telling about her emotional state talking to Asia than the words themselves are. Contrasting to this, it’s almost funny how Kivela draws the bad guys with the fashion and looks of models and super-stars. Milla, the limb-gardening psychopath, is a slender blonde clad in makeup and a bold red dress. It’s a reversal of roles that makes the portrayal of these characters so engaging.

“Kivela’s sequential action is great when established. A sense of movement is always established when necessary, so that the flow of the comic is easy to follow. Right from the start, Kivela guides the reader’s eye around a boxing ring with multiple camera angles as Lon moves around it. It’s a small touch here, not noticeable only because it makes the reading too smooth to make it obvious. The first scene in which Kivela’s talent is immediately obvious is during the shootout with Julie, in which reading time is slowed down to having three seconds play out over three panels. Each big panel is intersected by smaller close-ups of each sudden movement – the carrot flinging, the gun firing, the collision of objects – it’s so wonderfully constructed that you can’t help but stop to take it all in.”

Rowan Grover – Multiversity Comics

If this is what they thought a few years back for BEAUTIFUL CANVAS, then I know you’re all going to love the level up we’ve got with EVERFROST.

Speak to your LCS now to preorder before April 18 so you’ll have a copy waiting for you when we hit shelves on June 02.

EVERFROST – Meet Van

I love creating new characters with Sami Kivela. 

In EVERFROST, we’ve created a leading character in the mold we love. Van is battling herself inside, she’s looking backwards as much as inside as much as forwards. She’s driven and determined and absolutely destined to make some bad choices, but they’re the best choices she can make in any given moment. She’s never going to stop, and she’s going to fail, and the beat will march on.

I think you are going to love Van and what she does throughout all we put her through in this comic. 

Going back a step, it’s important to think about why Sami’s characters are so good. His designs are always so visually engaging, they are well thought out. He puts emotion into every face and into every line. 

We first put together the pitch for CHUM, and his clear understanding of who these characters were sat me down in my chair. This was a guy instantly as invested and intelligent about our story as I was. Looking back at his Summer Stanwyck, I still love how he nailed the pulp paperback femme fatale I was going for. 

He rounded out the cast with the blood simple cop, and the shark cunning dealer, and the simple sad muscle. 

Next up was DEER EDITOR, and his design of ol’ Bucky still sits behind my con table at every show. I wanted Robert Redford in the news pool with antlers and Sami nailed it. The book lived on that keen eye for detail. 

When we made BEAUTIFUL CANVAS, I wanted someone I could understand within the layers of the complex lead. Lon Eisley is a hitwoman struggling to know if she’s creator or destroyer when she’s contracted to kill a small child in the same week she finds out her girlfriend is pregnant. Sami brought every facet of thought and life into her design. 

Now, here we are, nearly a decade after making some pulp archetypes and I’ve asked for something different again. 

Van is a brilliant mind. That intelligence comes with a cost: she sees the world for what it is. She’s lost all hope. But that hasn’t stopped her. Brutal determination is her food. Not giving up is the outcome. But she wasn’t always this way, so we hint at this past, right before it slams back into her.

After working in isolation for a long time, Van finally finds a way off planet. Success. With one task left to complete, she is distracted when she sees her son again. And she hasn’t seen him since he died in her arms as a child. 

Things are going to get a lot worse before anything gets better, but the question is: what’s the worst that can happen?

Well, you’ll find out some of that on the final page of the first issue. 

EVERFROST #1 is in Previews Magazine for a June 02 release – Order Code: APR211533

Talk to your LCS about preordering the comic, and ensuring you get a copy set aside for you when it hits the streets in June! This is our fifth book together, and we just keep getting better, that I can promise.

EVERFROST – A New Sci Fi Comic In Previews

EVERFROST is a brand new sci fi miniseries from Sami Kivela and Ryan K Lindsay, the smash hit team behind BEAUTIFUL CANVAS, CHUM, and DEER EDITOR. And I gotta tell you, it’s great to have the band back together again. I’ve been making comics with Sami for nearly a decade, and it’s always exciting and makes me a better writer.

This futuristic story follows Van, a scientist who retired to the ice coast to die, who has finally figured out a way to escape from Earth. Here we will find her walking through the snow, and she’s carrying a big sword, and even bigger loss in her heart. But first she needs to work out how and why she just bumped into her son who she hasn’t seen since he died in her arms when he was a child.

Everfrost is a 4 issue miniseries published by Black Mask Studios

Artist: Sami Kivela [Abbott, Undone By Blood]

Writer: Ryan K Lindsay [Eternal, Negative Space]

Colourist: Lauren Affe [The Witcher, Stranger Things, Five Ghosts]

Letterer: Jim Campbell [Giant Days, Wasted Space]

Editor: Dan Hill [Beautiful Canvas, Metropo]

#1 is in Previews for a June 02 release – Order Code: APR211533

This comic is a mix of icy Frank Frazetta imagery over Blade Runner science and is a perfect fit for readers who love SAGA, ODY-C, BLACK SCIENCE and DESCENDER.

Everfrost has interstellar giant alien skull-whales, emotional flashbacks, sky fights, clones, and a giant fucking sword. It’s wild, it’s absolutely stunning, and it’s designed to also make you feel a little, too.

If you read ETERNAL or BEAUTIFUL CANVAS or NEGATIVE SPACE, then I think you know what I’m aiming to do with this one. Each of those comics sold well, gained stellar reviews, and got me to a place to write EVERFROST. I’m trying to marry the scenery of big epic genre pieces with the heart of weird smaller character studies, and hopefully find a sweet spot in between where your new favourite comic lives.

Talk to your LCS about preordering the comic, and ensuring you get a copy set aside for you when it hits the streets in June!

ETERNAL Hits Best of 2018 Lists

2018 saw me publish only a small amount of comic work, but it was inspiring to end the year with one of those books getting a lot of attention in people’s lists of favourite work from 2018.


ETERNAL was created by me and Eric Zawadzki, with Dee Cunniffe on colours, and Dan Hill editing, with Black Mask Studios publishing it and it obviously stuck in people’s minds:
Paste Magazine lists us in the Top 25 Comics of 2018
Villain Media lists us as the best comic of 2018
Pipedream Comics lists us as one of the best comics of 2018
Big Comic Page gave us some end of year love
DoomRocket lsts us one of the best comics of 2018
Comicon puts us near the top of the list of best graphic novels of 2018
The Off Panel website rated us as one of the 20 best comics of 2018

If you want a copy you should talk to your local comic shop, they can still get it in, or it’s here on Amazon. Or if you dug it, drop it a quick star rating on GoodReads :]

Thanks to everyone who already bought a copy, loved it, or told a mate – this book is something I’m really proud of and it made 2018 a memorable year.

ETERNAL Study Hall Guide

I have finally done something in that cross section of comics/teaching/learning/process/nerdy/insane in which I desire to live.

I have written a Study Hall Guide for ETERNAL, and you can buy the digital copy right here!

Screenshot 2018-06-29 22.42.01

This guide helps you unpack the comic I created with Eric Zawadzki, Dee Cunniffe, Courtney Menard, and Dan Hill through Black Mask earlier this year.

I want it to be used by teachers, but also by interested readers, and by people who want to write and are considering how much thematic stuff to layer into their work.

I’ve really enjoyed making this study guide, and there will plenty more to come. Hold onto your butts, because we aren’t finished delving into the curriculum of comics just yet. But I hope you’ll start with me here, and maybe have a little educational fun.

ETERNAL OGN from Black Mask in January 2018

I’m insanely excited to announce my latest project, a shieldmaiden ghost story ogn one-shot with Eric Zawadzki at Black Mask.

This book is a serious milestone for me because it’s completely something different. It’s an oversized one-shot – both in page count and page dimensions, with it running oversized like a bande dessinee album – and it’s another chance to collaborate with Eric Zawadzki, from our HEADSPACE.

Here’s the official solicit copy for it:

Order Code: NOV171290
(W) Eric Zawadzki, Ryan Lindsay (A) Eric Zawadzki

A group of isolated shieldmaidens protect their village against a tide of men who think they can take their land land from them. Vif takes her band of women off viking to quell the advances of a loitering mystical scumbag, Bjarte. But some battles rage on inside us long after the field is empty, and some opponents won’t ever stay down. Eternal is a haunting story of how vulnerable you make yourself when trying to protect everything around you.

This oversized bande dessinee graphic novella is a love letter to brutal violence and eternal emotions. With hyperdetailed art and gorgeous fluid motion from artist Eric Zawadzki [hot off THE DREGS], this story will be one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking things you will read this year. Written by Ryan K Lindsay, known for marrying emotion to genre in BEAUTIFUL CANVAS and the award winning NEGATIVE SPACE, this self-contained story is aimed to be a boutique item for your shelves, and a gateway gift to others you know and love.

The book is running a super sweet price of $7.99, and it’s hitting shelves January 31st, 2018.

SCOPE OUT THE COLOURED PREVIEW PAGES HERE!

This is perfect for your shelves [we have a spine], and for you to buy for friends, and stow away as that awesome and affordable stowaway present for when celebrations arise. This is a book to be absolutely adored as Eric’s art is completely wild in it, and Dee Cunnife colours it all with mood and intent and this book really is going to look something special.

Tell your LCS to preorder a stack of them now, because this is going to be 2018 opening with a bang.

ETERNAL – a shieldmaiden ghost story – enjoy.

BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #4 – Out This Week!

And so our beautiful tale ends.

Lon Eisley has come a long long way, baby. This issue sees the end of our story, and I guarantee there’s a tonne to chew on in this issue, as well as one hell of a satisfying final page.

For those who have followed us on this journey this year, we thank you and hope you dig the book on NCBD.

Illustrated by Sami Kivela

Written by Ryan K Lindsay

Coloured by Triona Farrell

Lettered by Ryan Ferrier

Edited by Dan Hill

Published by Black Mask Comics

Enjoy.

RKL Annotations – BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #3

Beautiful Canvas is a comic from Sami Kivela, Triona Farrell, Ryan Ferrier, Dan Hill, and myself through Black Mask Studios.

Issue #3 was shifted back a week, but distance [of time] makes the heart grow fonder, right?

Below are my annotations. An inside look into my brain as I reflect on our making of this issue, and a chance for me to unpack what I’m seeing in the work now, and how I feel it connects on a broader spectrum. I hope you dig, and find something that’ll help your mind think/make comics in the future.

THE COVER – SAMI KIVELA

Sami came up with a bunch of those little warning signs for the cover and eventually chose the best ones to use. I love that Sami’s brain is constantly cooking when you collaborate with him. He’s such a gentlemen, and a crazy genius to boot.

I love that the gorgeous exosuit Sami designed gets some play here.

PAGE ONE

This page didn’t exist for a few drafts. I cut straight to Lon launching out the window to open this issue, and I’m glad now I didn’t. This flashback isn’t much on narrative, but it sets a character tone, and we get to call back to it later, so it pleases me so.

That idea of having a wide white bar down the side and putting text into it is very obviously something I stole from Brubaker’s work on KILL OR BE KILLED. I won’t try and hide that influence. And I’m actually happy with the excerpt from the book Lon is reading – sometimes those words never come to me, and sometimes they work. These one work [for me].

Seeing the girl twice playing on this page, when you know she dies in a minute, gets more heartbreaking every time I read this page.

PAGE TWO

Dig that exosuit superheavy design by Sami, and Tree coloured the hell out of it. Writing this sort of stuff is the absolute best part of the job.

Also really love how Sami timed this page to match with the final page of #2 so it makes sense for it to have happened and worked out. Sami’s layouts are genius for this kind of thing. You can also see that ghost reflection in one of the shards of glass and realise that Sami is damn well capable of anything on a page.

PAGE THREE

Choreographing everyone on this page did my head in during the planning stage. Who was going to react, how, where, why, and what would it leave them doing and where?

In the end, I don’t think this is my strongest page. It gets Asia moving out of the scene. It gets Eric to see Milla in the chopper, but it doesn’t do much more. It’s a bit thin, really. I like the pacing of Eric’s lines, and the passage they take, but they aren’t doing much.

“I’ll do better next time” is all we can say, right?

PAGE FOUR

Whereas this page certainly does something. We reveal this idea of ‘sleeper agents’ that Milla has access to and can activate. This should answer certain questions the answer might have been holding onto. Does it grab their face and scream the answer into their retinas? No. I want you to piece it all together. But it’s all here, coming to light.

THEY BOTH YIELD is a prime example of the way I’m giving info out. That title clearly tells you what I think of both of these characters, but it won’t say it outright. I refuse, and I hope you don’t mind.

PAGE FIVE

This page reveals Alex has run away from Lon, but we don’t show you Lon on the car, coming to, without him until the next page. Again, just the way I like to roll things out. I’m sure it’ll throw too curvy a ball for 1 in 10, but I think the rest won’t mind.

That plant horse is just madness, right? I sometimes feel like I could throw anything at Sami and he’d nail it. Also love that pink background Tree dropped on the mayhem. Makes it pop in all kinds of funky ways for your mind.

PAGE SIX

This is an instance of a boring page – Lon wakes, she gets picked up by Asia, they move to where the action is going to be – and yet I’m completely happy with it, and here’s why.

I used the page to show a little more about Lon, and even Asia.

Lon stares down the ghost of the girl she killed, and she walks away mid-sentence. She’s trying her damnedest to move on.

And Asia has just stepped up to show herself as this rad sci fi bike riding lady of action who isn’t going to back down from the situation. She’s going to stand by her girl.

The way Sami paced out Asia picking up Lon is really well done, and that bike is just crazy gorgeous. I think flying bikes are my new trope.

PAGE SEVEN

Okay, we see that Alex is a super danger to everyone around him, we get Lon and Asia moving to the scene, and we start to connect Eric and Milla. This page does stuff, but I’m not crazy excited by how it does it. It’s perfunctory, it’s just doing what it has to do. I did struggle with this page in the script, because I had characters who needed to get into position, and I had to place them into position, and that’s kinda all I did.

The sfx of the helicopter being dragged down into the road was my idea – and I’m not certain I made the right call with it.

I didn’t notice Sami snuck a CHUM Easter Egg into Panel Three.

Also: don’t ask me the timeframe on Eric getting to the downed chopper just after Lon and Asia zoom away.

PAGE EIGHT

Sami draws the best faces. His angry Alex is a sight to behold. That he can go from humanity to wild sci fi destruction in half a page consistently excites me. He’s an illustrator who is limitless, and writing for that is as much fun as it is anxiety inducing. You never want to waste what you’ve got.

The way Triona handles the building corner falling, and the pink background building to an emotional retaliation is lovely. Every panel always has so much feeling in it.

PAGE NINE

That big mess of rubble and a map is why artists hate writers.

I’m sure colourists hate writer, too.

Basically, writers are dicks.

But this page looks so good, and gives us such information, and it’s funky in a way only comics can do so beautifully. We get our guy saving himself, and then a showdown with Alex, and then fire across the page. There’s tension and time and space on this page. Sami did a great job with the duelling fire across the bottom, and we crosscut with Eric’s conversation with Milla just to layer in a bit more, and draw both scenes together a little bit.

PAGE TEN

People have wanted answers, and this page is what it looks like to get answers from me. Milla is somewhat oblique about it all, but she’s also laying a lot out on the line here. What she’s doing is clear, and the scope to which she is doing it. The rest of the page isn’t very razzle-dazzle, but you need to focus on these words. I need you to understand what’s going on.

PAGE ELEVEN

Milla gets one last dig in at Eric, about spreading who he is, and then we introduce Moore to the scene. Because things have to finally move on – you can see I’d be horrible at writing a 5 page sequence of talking heads because I’d constantly worry I was losing the reader. All i ever do is worry about these pages – is it too boring, is it too confusing, is it too lame…reframe, repeat.

Eric’s action against Moore is harsh, maybe not well thought through, but he’s operating from emotion now. Milla got under his skin.

PAGE TWELVE

Hot damn Sami and Tree know how to create pain and scope for their firefights. Especially with those inset panels, they make you linger, they drag you into the smoke and hold you there.

Asia drops a little more exposition – because the facts are rolled out slowly, and she has a plan. We also know she’s gutsy enough to try it, too.

PAGE THIRTEEN

I love the colours on this page, the heat of the yellow. You feel it all.

Then we get that panel, and Asia Prof X’s into Alex’s head. For me, she’s looking in there here and seeing a representation of what he feels. It’s not literal, how many of our thoughts and feelings ever are? But it’s the monster he feels he’s become in this short amount of time, it’s this horrible dragon he feels affinity with – which is a problem because he saw his mother as the dragon, too. He’s blaming her for what he’s becoming, which is totally unfair and untrue.

So Asia gets knocked down and we get yet more inset panels of Lon just looking at everything. She’s weighing up her options, she’s looking at what needs to be done against what she hoped was all she’d have to do. I needed to make Lon’s choice in this sequence difficult, so we build up her tension with the moments/panels.

PAGE FOURTEEN

“Kicking back the tide” is such a great saying. And so many of my characters will do just that, endlessly.

Eric is here to mess up Milla’s cabbage patch, and he openly tells her so. This is one of those ‘down’ pages, where for pacing you are setting up for the next moment. I just wish it did more for Eric or Milla rather than just a decent line for each one.

Though I do like that Sami seems to be driving the extra car, and he goes up in flames. That must’ve been fun, ha.

PAGE FIFTEEN

Those smoke clouds from Sami/Tree are just gorgeous. There’s such beauty in them.

Eric throwing Moore into that car is the end of his story, and what a way to close out. I liked Moore, but this was his abrupt stop, he doesn’t get a full looping arc like the others.

I like the angle Sami uses for the final two panels as we split Eric from the camera, we give that pause of time, that shift of focus. Sami’s an expert at making the physics of those moments work so well on the page.

PAGE SIXTEEN

This page is all about Asia giving up and Lon realising she has to take a new angle on things. The plan she’s been running with since like Page 4 of issue #1 won’t hold anymore, sometimes you’re a killer and you have to kill. So Lon has to make a choice, and act upon it.

That gun barrel inset panel, and the pink, and the sfx, is what collaboration looks like. Every person in the squad worked to make that moment pop like that.

PAGE SEVENTEEN

Lon approaches the scene, she’s cold now, detached from things. Asia is reactive and hustling, and all Lon can offer the solution is more bullets. She’s broken by now, and on a slippery slope towards the end of this issue. All roads are leading to this final page, now.

The briefcase full of fish is something I now wish was just real and able to be bought in some local market.

PAGE EIGHTEEN

Eric is completely sucked in here. And he’s processing, pausing, and then realises he can search for his daughter.

I wish I’d build a buffer panel between the 1-2 here, just to give his thoughts a little more time, even just a white bar, something. Reading it, the moment feels quicker, and I wanted it to be him really pausing and then realising what he can do with this camera.

Milla sees what’s happening, and she wants it recorded – which should tell you so much about her, and what she does, and what she loves. And at the same time, Eric looks back at her and he’s just giving up. He’s got his daughter on screen, and he’s…well, it makes more sense next issue, but this reaction from him is totally in character here. For this moment, he’s beyond thinking about Milla.

PAGE NINETEEN

This is the tipping point for Lon, where she sees this whole mess fucking up her world. This is what makes her realign herself, yet again.

Sami and Tree did such an amazing job of showing Asia walking into Alex’s mind by walking into his panel – all an idea from an edit by Dan Hill. I swear, everything you love about this comic exclusively was not me, haha. Though I did purposefully make Alex’s repeated word mean two totally different things across those two panels. He’s telling Asia not to come in, but then he’s chasing it by telling her not to care.

Again, Sami’s inset panels electrify the pacing, the transition of things. They also make me subtly think about that cut back-and-forth you’d get in ALTERED BEAST when levelling up. I’m sure that’s not what Sami was drawing from, but it’s what I’m connecting to.

That goddamn dragon and all it symbolises.

Alex turns now, not pushing Asia away, but rather pulling her in. Holding her in close for the body blows.

PAGE TWENTY

Sami gives us Milla, and her movement, and the drones, and even a sign pointing to the Market Square 5 miles away. Damn, he knows how to get everything you need right in front of you.

The rest of this page is dedicated to Milla being a dick and just enjoying what she has created. She can hustle her ass somewhere AND take little moments to engage with the art of her city.

And the look on her face says it all, she’s enjoying all this far too much. Also: dig that green background in the final panel.

PAGE TWENTY ONE

I used the word beautiful in this comic at strategic places to show you what the ‘beautiful’ of the title is – and it’s anything but our standard definition of the word. It’s usually the opposite, and it’s ghastly, and yet it’s also completely what’s captivating on the page and in a narrative. We love seeing the shitshow in stories, and that’s just how Milla views the real world.

How far apart are we, truly?

Lon is alone now. Asia is trapped in the head, Alex is out, and then the ghost appears, making her feel more trapped inside herself.

It took me ages and ages to get the right rewrite to unlock what the girl said here. Man, it was like pulling teeth, but I really think we pulled it together.

When she whispers, you can zoom in and read it. I always hate that squiggly line that means you can’t know yet. It gets me every time, so I couldn’t do that to you.

And so Lon turns a corner. She is truly sorry, and she is honest when she says she didn’t know how to save ‘you’ – which could be Alex, could be the ghost, could be herself. In this moment, she doesn’t feel like a saviour, she feels like a killer, and she feels like she’s giving up. So she aims the gun, at the ghost, and on the other side, in the line of fire, we see Alex.

Will the shot at least save Asia, she doesn’t know, but dealing out death, yet again, is all she’s got.

PAGE TWENTY TWO

I’m interested to see what people think of this final page. It’s wild, and silent, and so beautifully illustrated. Sami shows that bullet getting closer and closer – yet another ending splash that plays with time. Triona nails the concept of the flames and the heat intensifying.

I did have a movie title caption on this page until the final lettering draft, where I realised we just didn’t need it.

This moment wasn’t the bombast, not really, it’s about being inside Lon’s head to feel this moment drag out slowly. This is her death, come what may.

BACK MATTER

Truth, Beauty, Erudition – choose one

Starting to get into a swing writing these.

JAM SESSIONS

Man, Sami continues to slaughter these illos for these pieces, right? This one right here is just glorious, really something of beauty and value. Just like the flick it discusses because THE RUNNING MAN will be curriculum viewing within the coming decade, you better believe it.

THE TRUTH

Weird, tangentially connected, a delight to write. I wonder if anyone is really reading these?

And that’s us for another month. Join us on the final Wednesday of August as #4 lands and concludes this wild wild ride, you’ll see it on the stands because it looks like this:

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