Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Tag: dark horse

NEGATIVE SPACE TPB Review Round Up

negative space 1 logoThe NEGATIVE SPACE comic from Owen Gieni and me [with Ryan Ferrier letters and edtied by Daniel Chabon] gets one last pick at the cherry as the tpb collection came out this past week.

The book has been a dream gig for me so it was nice to see it score some solid reviews on the bell lap.

Chad Waller at We The Nerdy gave us a 9/10 [LINK], saying “Perhaps the best part of Negative Space is its ending, which is absolute perfection.

Robb M. at Brutal Gamer dropped a 95% score on us [LINK], saying “We have a winner.

And we also got featured on Wicked Horror as one of seven horror books deserving of a tv/movie adaptation [LINK]

If you picked up the trade, thank you, I hope this book becomes an evergreen little piece of my history because I’m so proud of the work we did on it, and remember:

if you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

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NEGATIVE SPACE #3 Reviews

negative space 3NEGATIVE SPACE #3 landed on Jan 27. The penultimate issue in our mini at Dark Horse from Owen Gieni, Ryan Ferrier, Daniel Chabon, and myself, we were super proud of this issue and so elated that the press/reviews were just as glowing.

If you haven’t got a copy yet be sure to ask your LCS, or hit us up on ComiXology [LINK]

Jack Johnston at We The Nerdy gave us a stellar 10/10 [LINK], saying “Negative Space issue three barrels out of the gate and with a dense atmosphere and memorable characterisation, immediately proves to me that Negative Space will be my top series of 2016 as it was 2015.

Ian Dawe at Sequart gave a glowing review [LINK], saying “Besides everything else, Negative Space is its own form of therapy. And one heck of an entertaining read.

Andrew McGlinn at Big Comic Page gave us a 4.5/5 [LINK] saying, “Negative Space is probably one of the most emotive comics I have ever read.

Ed Garrett at TMStash gave us 9/10 [LINK], saying “NEGATIVE SPACE is beautifully strange and wonderful, with excellent artwork by Owen Gieni.

Chris Beveridge at The Fandom Post gave us an A- [LINK], saying “I find myself just wanting to pore over [Owen Gieni’s] artwork across far larger forms to really soak up the details and colors.

Benjamin Bailey put us on the Pull List over on the Nerdist site [LINK], saying “Bizarre, monstrous, and oddly heartfelt, Negative Space just might be the sleeper hit of the year.

Autin Lanari at Comic Bastards gives us a full 5/5 [LINK], saying “The fact that what will probably amount to the MAJOR plot point of this entire story revolves around a goddamn bottle opener is excellent.

Dan Seitz at Uproxx listed us at #3 of the Top 20 comics for the week [LINK], saying “Never has a story with the moral “think positive” been so outright disturbing.

Gregory Paul Silber at AIPT! gave us 9.5/10 [LINK], saying “I never would have suspected that a comic that takes depression so seriously would make me this happy.

Johnny Hughes at Comic Crusaders gave us a 4.5/5 [LINK], saying “Ryan K. Lindsay continues to excel in this character driven type of story.”

Bhavna Bakshi at Comic Wow! gave us 10/10 [LINK], saying “This is a damn good issue that adds to an already amazing series. Trust me, you’ll love it.

As always, thank you for digging the book, for tweeting about it, for waiting for it. It means the world to us, and also:

If you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

RKL Annotations – NEGATIVE SPACE #3

NEGATIVE SPACE #3 is late. There’s no two ways about it. It’s a new year and a whole month in and you are only just getting your mitts on this beast. We are all crazy proud of this issue so we thank you for holding on and dipping back into the waters with us.

negative space 3Owen Gieni continues to drop serious A-levels of game and heat in this book so it’s an eyeball feast, and Ryan Ferrier is the letter we need AND the one we deserve.

This is a process post where I try to open up how we broke the eggs for this omelette but it usually devolves into my just gushing about Owen’s work. I hope my weepy collaborator love helps you somehow, let’s dive in.

COVER

Love the fact this is so crucial to the issue/story and yet doesn’t really exactly spoil what’s going on.

Also love the crazy violence peppered throughout the whole thing. We went from one very central image for #1, to a smattering of subtle word things for #2, and now this is just a visual buffet the more you dive into it.

PAGE 1

There’s a joke on this page, you see it, right?

It’s not even that good a joke but I really just wanted to keep it because it’s beyond absurd and so it’s a hint to the whole tone of this thing. Even when it’s serious, and bad, there is time for this moment to occur.

It’s also totally a SAGA style opening splash, no bones about it. Complete swipe.

PAGE 2

Beta makes with some serious James Remar info-dumping to open the issue. Womp.

Poor Guy, so sad, so committed to talking out loud to himself to keep us all on track.

PAGE 3

The way Owen handles Guy’s expression completely sells this whole ‘using a tentacle on a mask to mimic putting a hand up to someone’s mouth to shut them up’ moment.

Pretty much just every way Owen handles this weird landscape and the Evorah in it proves he’s worth more to this book than I ever was or could be. He’s playing with a lot of pieces and he’s making it all work like crazy.

PAGE 4

I’m worried this sequence is plodding but I’m realising it’s just metered tone when taken as part of the whole story. This is my ebb before we get to some serious flow right into the finale of this issue.

All of this is set up for what happens ahead and so I’m glad I took my time here.

Also, look at Beta turn nasty and almost burnt in her blackness in that middle panel. That’s some colour as storytelling stuff going on right there.

PAGE 5

You should get a sense of just how pig-headed and stupid and doomed Guy is from this page and how he handles himself here.

The way this random Evorah shuffles into the room but then doesn’t quite see Guy yet is so superbly well placed and handled by Owen. This sequence was hard to write, and I thought I might’ve blown it, but he really brings it all home. That transition between the final two panels really sells the split second moment Guy has before he’s completely screwed.

Also, that child’s skeleton on the table is totally all Owen. Blame. Him.

PAGE 6

Pretty certain that first panel of Guy wrapped up by some tentacles is completely all Owen and it’s so damn effective. Makes it look like he’s been stitched up, but then you see it’s a showdown…and he’s being saved by Beta. The way she holds him down and leans right over the table is just pure perfect Gieni body language. This is masterful in every sense of the term.

Also, take in them Ryan Ferrier scribble balloons. So ace.

PAGE 7

Beta is so confident, so forward, and she’s literally dragging Guy into it all. And there’s no small metaphor that he’s being taken into and down an unknown black whole.

And that bottom panel of Guy swimming forward to this unknown is one of my favourite panels of this book. If ever there was a Depressionaut, this is he.

PAGE 8

Guy is lost, Beta is too quick, and we all quickly see just where this is all taking place and that the unknown is a scary and ridiculous place.

It’s also so cool to know that when you ask Owen for bioluminescent bubbles then it is exactly what you are going to get. This is an example of writing right into the strength of the artist.

PAGE 9

This is the false beat before the real BOOM.

Wish I could’ve tweaked the dialogue some more on this page, it just doesn’t pop as much as the others.

PAGE 10

This, man, THIS is just far too much fun. Owen obviously throws himself headlong into every square inch of this book and this is wild proof right here. Look at this thing? I had an idea, linked to a YouTube clip, I gave some suggestions, but this right here is beyond my brain. Look into those eyes and despair. Owen Gieni just drained your soul.

PAGE 11

This turning point for Guy was one of those sad gags I had to throw at him. The fact he’s about to die and instead one of these giants is going to just suck on him like an emotional everlasting gobstopper and could you imagine anything worse in your life? This is why my characters would gang up and mutilate me if they ever gained independent sentience, I’m no good for them at all.

Owen took that Evorah hugging panel and just gave it everything, didn’t he? This one panel is just pure high art right in the middle of the page. And if you look closer, you’ll see Beta struggling to open it up and her body language is again on point.

PAGES 12 + 13

Double page spread klaxoooon.

An emotional vista, and I wasn’t sure it’d work, but then Owen just comes along and slays it like it ain’t no thing. It’s almost like a picture book for just a moment, a dark, haunting, terrible book for kids about why life sucks. From top left to the promise of life to the bottom right and the ‘real’ promise of life, the only promise it can offer, that it ends, and this page actually gets to me a little.

Though I didn’t realise how well this spread would go down. The reviews loved the shit out of this and I thank them for it.

There’s even this weird little colour scheme thing going on that makes me think/feel INSIDE OUT a little and that’s just too damn fine.

I’m also quietly proud of the device at the bottom where we see the happiness bomb charge and it’s exposition but silent. You still have to piece all of this together, keep thinking, keep up.

PAGE 14

The layout on this page is nuts, the colours, the way we move through the motions. Guy smiling is weird enough but this cropped image of him makes it even more ghastly, a rictus of depression.

I love Guy’s body language as he tears into this beast, he’s so victorious. And the colour draining from the Evorah as they change emotion is something Owen just completely nails.

As for the echo of lines in this page from the last, where I flip the meaning, yeah, you know I’m quietly proud of that – though not silent, I’m still gonna tell you.

PAGE 15

This is a page of complex human emotions. I want you to still hold them, feel them, and yet still not fully understand. Because who actually understands human emotions, we are insane, erratic, flippant. That’s what makes us so beautiful sometimes, and it’s really something I want to try and write.

PAGE 16

“This is how angels must feel.” is one of those lines I wasn’t sure would get through but I knew I’d fight for it, though this was completely unnecessary. It stayed through every draft, never questioned, and I’m still really glad with how simply it sums up Guy’s feelings as he essentially annihilates a bunch of creatures.

And how good does that annihilation look against that green? Bloody ripper.

PAGE 17

War is hell and we all lose. Guy’s boot hitting that dead Evorah shell kinda says it all for me. And that Ferrier SFX in there is perfect to make you feel the split second moment.

Beta’s dialogue is so much fun to write, but even more fun against the droll sensibility of Guy. He never reacts or gives anything away and tone doesn’t play on the page against a back and forth so you need to bring a lot to it but if you do, and you get it right, then these two are so fun against each other. Beta never seems to pic up on Guy’s feelings, which is hilarious for an emotionally charged species. I guess happiness drowns and blinds you – which is completely true, btw.

PAGE 18

Owen’s layout on this coda page for the battle just makes me smile. It’s all a pause, a breath, and it leads into that final beat of the issue. These pages are important because you get interplay, you get set up, and you get to slingshot into what comes next.

PAGE 19

Because of course Rick is a mansplainer. And these two are just as much fun to write as the Beta/Guy pairing and that’s been really fun in this book, figuring out how to pair characters up to bring out the best in them all.

This page is filler, kinda, but it’s insight, and it’s also a pause, but it works because we gave Guy/Beta the pause so now Rick/Briggs get one too right before the end. I like getting these pages when I can, to let the characters play and shine. You can’t always show them within the action so you find the beats.

It was Owen who brought the sight gag of Briggs trying to pry Rick off the tablet, which I think plays well to show how absurd this all is. It’s weighted, it’s dark, it all means something, but it’s also batguano absurd, which you have to be fine with.

PAGE 20

It was important for me to have Guy stand up to Rick, and Kindred, verbally first. This isn’t a sneak attack, this is him really stepping up and doing what he is doing. Cutting Rick off came as a happy accident because I couldn’t think of a good Bond villain entrance for him but then realised Guy wouldn’t stand for it anyway, he’s got to do what’s coming.

PAGE 21

And here comes the realisation for us all, the reason Guy survived down there was because the thought of dying just filled him with such goddamn happiness. There was glee in the thought he was so close to the end. It kinda backfired when it killed the creature that would kill him and so then he’s actually not going to die, but it’s what awakens in him the knowledge of how all this emotional malarkey works, and he’s going to go out with a bang, and that kind of agency is important in a suicidal person. It certainly is in Guy.

It was always really important to me that even at this stage of the tale we have Guy still be suicidal. He’s not cured, this isn’t him fixed. And then we have him use this weird happiness over his own death emotional whirlpool to attack Kindred. This is where his arc is going.

PAGE 22

This is just a page to behold. I was initially going to hold it over until the next issue but Chabon convinced me to have it here and he’s so right, it’s a killer ending. Because – and I cough out some clickbait – you won’t believe what happens next. We still have one full issue to make all of this count, and count it all certainly does.

But, again, look at this page. Just…thank you Messers Gieni+Ferrier.

And this is where the final chickens come home to roost for everyone. One. Issue. To. Go.

Thank you for getting down on this issue. I hope you dug it. Though if you’re reading this I doubt you’re the kind to go this far into hate-reading a comic. I guess.

Indie comics live and die on readers caring, so thank you for taking the time. It means the world to all of us at NEGATIVE SPACE HQ. Stick around, see what drops next month to wrap all of these shenanigans up, which I guarantee you is a worthy and gut-kicking finale to the whole mess.

And remember: if you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

Order NEGATIVE SPACE tpb and CHUM #1 now!

Please :]

Screenshot 2016-01-23 16.02.33NEGATIVE SPACE gets a tpb collection of the whole mini from Dark Horse, feat. my writing, Owen Gieni’s art, and Ryan Ferrier’s letters. It’s the entire story for $14.99 the order code is JAN160171 and I think you’re going to like it. Hell, you might even love it.

NEGATIVE SPACE made the Best of 2015 list at Comic Bastards and Loser City, and reviewers have said:

Greg Silber at Adventures in Poor Taste gave us 9.5/10 [LINK], saying “Negative Space is the most promising new science fiction series I’ve encountered since Saga.”

James Ferguson at Horror Talk gave us 4.5/5 [LINK], saying “Negative Spaceis a damn near perfect first issue.”

Jason at Brutal Gamer gave us 9/10 [LINK], saying “Dark Horse’s newest foray into the world of horror and the supernatural comes along with one of the most interesting main character’s and plot lines that I’ve read pretty much ever.”

Raisa at Florida Geek Scene gave us 9.7/10 [LINK], saying “One of the most engaging, creative, and well-executed books I have read to date.”

Ian Dawe at Sequart stepped in with some love [LINK] saying “I’ve rarely seen a braver book about depression.”

Austin Lanari at Comic Bastards gave us a mighty 5/5 [LINK] saying “I can’t think of another book where the art is this unique and aesthetically pleasing.”

Emma Houxbois at The Rainbow Hub gave us 9/10 [LINK] saying” What they seem to understand better than most is that truly effective horror storytelling isn’t about succumbing to nihilistic impulses, it’s about how harrowing it can be to resist them.”

Gregory L. Reece at Pop Matters gives us 9/10 [LINK] saying “In the midst of all that sadness, however, I find myself laughing through the tears.”

I’m wildly proud of this book, it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done, and I hope you can get out there, tell your LCS how good it is, or how much you dug it, or how much you want it, and that would be greatly appreciated.

And if you want to know more about the book in detail, scope these interviews about it:

I chat with leo Johnson at Multiversity Comics [LINK]

I chat with Cardner Clark at CBR [LINK]

I chat with Polo Lonergan at Nerd Underground [LINK]

I chat with Alexander Lu at Comics Bulletin[LINK]

We also scored an ace interview with James Leask over at Comics Alliancewhere I got asked some very on point questions, enjoy [LINK]

And remember:If you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

Screenshot 2016-01-21 15.22.04CHUM #1 begins my surf noir miniseries at ComixTribe with Sami Kivelä art, Mark Dale colours, Nic J Shaw letters, Dan Hill edits, and a reg cover by Sami with a variant cover by Vic Malhotra —>

It’s a 22 page debut issue, with back matter by me, for $3.99 and the order code is: FEB161340

This book is my ode to old Gold Medal crime paperbacks and the sort of things Phillips/Brubaker, and Swierczynski do so well.

Summer Stanwyck is trapped. She tends bar on the island she grew up on, the local cop is about to become her ex-husband, and she’s wasting time screwing the local reefer kingpin. But when a bag full of cash and drugs appears, she sees a way out… and anyone who gets in her way is shark bait.

CHUM is “Pulp Fiction on the sand,” a surf noir story straight off the drugstore paperback rack that will ruin your faith in people.

If you are curious enough to check out more about the book, you can download a Preview Digital Ashcan that’s 24 pages of CHUM glory, feat. 7 story pages, all the covers from Sami, some process pages about inks, and other fantasticality that’ll prove you need this book in your life.

DOWNLOAD THE CHUM PREVIEW ASHCAN NOW – LINK

Plus, and let’s get personal here, ComixTribe is a nascent publisher, and one with a quality foot in the door with AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE… and OXYMORON: THE LOVELIEST NIGHTMARE and EXIT GENERATION among their back catalogue. I’m excited to forge ahead with them, and make new ground, and if we do things right I stand to become the best selling ComixTribe book in history. Please help me make that happen.

Get on the horn to your LCS, tell them that ‘surf noir’ is an insta-buy for you and your mates, show them pages of Sami+Mark on art and make them understand this is some pretty business. Or just preorder your book which gives your LCS enough information to know that if one person like it enough to preorder then 2 might dig it on the rack, so they order up.

Indie comics are a game of small numbers, and every damn reader on this book matters to me, so have a think, a cup of tea, and then know you will want this story of a femme fatale doing anything to get off this island.

RKL Annotations – NEGATIVE SPACE #2

NEGATIVE SPACE #2 is a little late. We do apologise though we hope the quality of the tale has been worth it all.

negspace2coverOwen Gieni hasn’t compromised a single panel and the letters from Ryan Ferrier continue to be some of the best in the business.

If you bought issue #1 and you are now back for more, oh sweet Odin’s beardjuice, thank you. Creator owned books are hard, and sustaining an audience is hard in a speculator driven drop off market but I can only hope you dug #1 and had to know what comes next. And now you know.

Below, I present my thoughts on what I wrote, why, how, influence/inspiration, times Owen just nailed it, and any other mental fluttering verbiage I can pin down for you. As usual, I hope you dig the process peep.

COVER

This cover was one of the first things Owen came up with for the series and I just looked at it and realised how smart and invested my copilot was. I love the idea here, visceral as it is, and can only hope the THEY LIVE subliminal messages don’t actually work ever anywhere.

Oh, and the bookshop is Bauby’s because THE DIVINGBELL AND THE BUTTERFLY has made me cry. Twice. So I couldn’t think of anything more depressing to seed into this scene than his name.

PAGE 1

I couldn’t even conceive how insanely rad Owen’s Viking game would be until this page turned up. Hot damn, that opening panel is fornication on a whole new level for my eyes.

It’s also a perfect example of why writing is way easier than illustrating.

I thought this would be an interesting way to open the second issue after we ended on the cliffhanger of Guy finding Woody in this compromising situation with a dead Evorah. A total space/time jump, and it’s exposition but it’s goddamn pretty so no one can complain.

It also gives you Evorah info straight up because I knew people would want it after the dry rub we gave you after #1. I figured it best to lead off the bat – and many reviews responses proved this after #1 landed, they hoped the info was coming. It always was.

PAGE 2

Look at those little Evorah worker bees scurry around, sapping the depression out. This page is genuinely disgusting to look at, the colours, that texture of their little termite mounds. It feels icky to look at.

PAGE 3

That first red panel, all Gieni. Love the red.

I wonder if people will get that’s a handshake. Should’ve gone for a more Schwarnzeneggar/Weathers fist clutch from PREDATOR.

The third panel I just said was Kindred in MAD MEN and now we need to write this spin off because can you imagine?

I must’ve written a dozen or more examples of things Kindred have manufactured and then brought it back to those 4 examples. We had Robin Williams, and 9/11, and a few other things. I’m glad we cut what we did and kept what we did, for various reasons. I certainly cut 9/11 quickly because it felt…I dunno, weak to appropriate that. Especially as a non-US bloke. So I dropped it because I’m a scaredy cat like that, and I assume it’s better to err on the side of respect at all times [not to say I wanna disrespect those I included].

That kid stuck in the storm drain was an Aussie news story right around the time I was writing this issue. Ghastly. And the toddler punching viral video is actually a riff on a Stephen King short story I neglect to remember the name of but it’s recent and it’s nasty and it stuck with me.

PAGE 4

This is one of those pages where I’m clearly setting up what I think are clever little word play things. I love BKV, and I’m clearly aping him [and he’s def not the first to do this malarkey but he’s my fave] and yet I’ve seen him do it poorly, and usually early in his career, and I worry constantly that’s me now.

Can only hope people are looking at that cracking Evorah shell and severed Evorah brain and won’t even notice me straining for your attention in the balloons.

PAGE 5

“I doubt you want a science lesson after a history lesson.”

This is me being lazy. But it’s also me being honest. I’ve info dumped enough, let’s move on.

And this speaks to a greater method I use when writing. I don’t care about the science. I love when it can inform something cool in the story but I don’t want to be beholden to some rule, I don’t want to know if it would actually work. I don’t care about this anywhere near as much as I do true character moments, good narrative. I’m never gonna be the guy that writes real steampunk that I know works because I built the bagpipe gyrocopter hat in my backyard.

I remember plotting HEADSPACE and wondering how they all got into and stayed in Max’s head. I came up with some wifi hivemind thing and that’s pretty well how it was explained in the book, too. Because I’m not writing a textbook, I’m telling a story. And I know that’ll horrify some purists but it’s the kind of sci fi I love. Just get on with the show, no need to expose the reams of research you did. Tell the bloody story and make me care.

I feel like someone like Warren Ellis is smart enough to do that research, and show you, and still make the narrative sing. Me, eh, I dunno.

I love this almost golden ratio spiral Owen drops as the panels decrease into the corner. That’s all Owen.

PAGE 6

And, meet Beta.

Wanna know the dirty secret? She would not exist without Daniel Chabon. He said at some juncture that Guy should get some kind of sidekick and I instantly fleshed out this backstory and concept for Beta and now I love her and I desperately hope you love her, too. She’s wickedly  fun to write and Owen’s design for her is bananas. I mean, she’s kinda wearing this long white dress, it’s nuts.

And, yes, Beta’s love for M*A*S*H is real, as is mine, and when it’s sad it does make me happy. I grew up with reruns nightly before dinner for years and the show is just burnt into my psyche.

PAGE 7

This Rowdy Roddy Piper THEY LIVE line swippropriation suddenly became topical. Vale.

Owen’s design of this page is all kinds of frenetic. Look at that really little panel with the full figures. Insane that this is even possible.

The SFX are all Ryan Ferrier, I believe. They aren’t in my script. Maybe Chabon touched them up. Anyway, SPLUTCH is divine.

This nasty Cronenbergian turn from Beta is all Owen. Like you didn’t already know. How do you even script something this nasty? Owen is clearly disturbed. Send help.

PAGE 8

The fact our love interest barista suddenly pulls down the visor and starts smashing heads makes me excited to be able to make this comic. This is all you really even need to know about this comic, surely.

PAGE 9

It’s on this page that I justify why Guy is even still moving along with any of this. I really had to think long and hard through his lens to understand that this is scary as shit, but he wants to die so that’s not his main concern. Here he’s thinking that his life has been grey gruel for years now and this night just got hot pink exciting. Be scared, be uncertain, be angry, but at least it’ll feel like living. Guy is happy to do this because it’s something new to feel.

I hope I haven’t dropped the ball on this reaction from him but it feels right/real to me.

Also, Beta dropping a FRENCH CONNECTION reference makes me smile. Also makes me wonder if the strange fish-out-of-water character with the snarky/funny pop culture references might not be something very played already. Only one way to find out…

PAGE 10

That Kindred can come in and murder a house of people and then have PR instantly work to cover it up isn’t really in the realm of CRAZY sci fi, I don’t think. I won’t say it’s ripped from today’s headlines but it feels like something probably going down right now.

PAGE 11

Rick calling Woody and the Strangers hipsters, which is essentially exactly what he’s doing, when Rick has that haircut and is just a buff hipster, is what we in the bizz call irony.

And I’m happy with Rick’s little speech about doing the work we love. It paints his picture in completely, though we had 90% earlier, but it also hopefully ramps up the dread.

PAGE 12

That elevator shaft panel is just one of my most cherished things. I scripted one of those tall Frank Miller establishing panels and Owen comes to the game. Golden.

I really hope this dialogue plays on the page for others. I know how people are supposed to sound, where the sarcasm lands, where the nuance doesn’t translate, but it’s a tricky page. Ugh, here’s hoping.

PAGE 13

Really tried to pack this page so we could get to the next action page quicker. That is my way.

Also, yes, every single person with a Smile sticker, your barista, Free Hugs peeps, the cute girl at the secondhand book store, they are all freedom fighters, they are all for the cause, they are all bad ass.

PAGE 14

I actually did script for Owen to use crazy speed lines and stuff for Beta striking out and he nailed it. Beyond nailed it. Then he went further and had Beta wrap up this bomber with all those little tendrils around the mouth and thumb. Because it’s those little things that matter/count the most.

By the time we get to the final panel, Owen has gone full John Carpenter’s The Thing and it is creepy and glorious.

PAGE 15

Huh, again, this page rockets along. I don’t want to bore myself or you with the long exposition. I am certain you can keep up. The Kindred logo is there, they are using the hand, you draw the connection lines, yeah?

PAGE 16

Really love Owen’s design for this Kindred chopper.

Beta says down and hopefully you start to notice the use of the word. Hell, it was the original title of the book. It’s all about being lead down. There’s never treasure down there, only your grave.

PAGE 17

I wish I could have shown them getting into the vessel from that boat but I also hope you can make the connection. We know Kindred has money, they have resources, and they’d have some of this stuff hidden from public eyes. Beta knew where to go, they got it, and they slip away.

Also, that red lighting. They’re down to mood lightning.

Oh, and in that first panel, no, Beta isn’t actually talking to Guy :]

Down.

PAGE 18

I had to convince Chabon to let me keep DEEPSTAR SIX in there and you’d think I had better edits to fight for but that line meant the world to me, it had to stay. I’m beyond happy it’s in print for you all to enjoy.

I like the beat at the end of the page because by using the word terrorist, and placing it all into Beta’s hands, I am hoping maybe this seeds some little doubt in your mind as to how things are playing out, and who is right and what is wrong. Because so far, Guy is just going off what he’s been told and that’s not always reliable stuff.

PAGE 19

Owen was thoroughly disgusted that I wrote this hot dog order. My idea is Rick orders more condiments than actual food, and this reminds me of The Narrator in FIGHT CLUB only having condiments in his apartment. Rick is the same, but he steers into the skid and just lives off them.

Wow, that’s a lot of text for one panel. Owen drew it sharp and Ferrier nails the balloon placement. And I’m lucky I’m not fired off this book by this stage.

PAGE 20

Guy is being set up to do something a lot more serious than he thought his night would go. Perhaps the adrenaline is wearing down, perhaps he’s really thinking about this in real terms. I hope the readers are.

Almost a ‘what would you do?’ situation. Almost.

PAGE 21

LOVE the way Beta throws up her hands when she says “HAPPINESS!” Beautiful Owen Gieni moment right there.

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This final splash is just bananas. Look at all these little things everywhere. I scripted some but this is next level. I lost a good ten minutes, nose to my screen, just soaking this in when it first arrived.

In Owen Gieni we trust.

And we hope this cliffhanger again lures you back for more next time, because this issue set up a lot of the forward moving narrative but it’s the stuff in #3, the very creepy and weird stuff, that I’m really excited to show you. Like Dan Aykroyd hoping you’ll lean into the dark so we can show you something really scary, yeah, I’m hoping we get you next issue.

With the first issue a full character investment, here we really play with our toys and move them on the board. We delve into more action, we ramp up the insane. We bring the sci fi to this weird sad little tale. For this, we hope you dig. In #3 we marry the two vibes, so I think if you’ve come this far then the rest will be gravy for you.

Thank you for getting down on this issue. I hope you dug it. Though if you’re reading this I doubt you’re the kind to go this far into hate-reading a comic. I guess. Indie comics live and die on readers caring, so thank you for taking the time. It means the world to all of us at NEGATIVE SPACE HQ. Stick around, see what drops next month, and remember:

If you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

Why You Should Be Buying NEGATIVE SPACE

NEGATIVE SPACE is a creator owned miniseries illustrated by Owen Gieni, written by me, with letters from Ryan Ferrier, edited by Daniel Chabon, being published by Dark Horse Comics this year.

Screenshot 2015-07-17 12.56.01Our story is about Guy Harris, a depressed gay American Indian man who sits down to pen his suicide note and gets writer’s block. From there, he goes for a walk to clear his head and stumbles across a large conspiracy where a megacorporation has been mining people for their emotions to give to an unknown and very scary underwater culture of monsters.

The first issue was released in July and below are some reasons why you should preorder/buy the entire series, or really wait to stock up on the trade, whatever floats your boat [shout out to my digital peeps on the Dark Horse App, where we are $2]

Reviews for #1 were through the roof, as we averaged a 9.0 on Comic Book Round Up [LINK] — and I catalogued a lot more reviews here [LINK] and here [LINK]

Most reviewers praised the book for Owen Gieni’s gorgeous and evocative artwork as well as our respectful and intriguing handling of depression and suicide issues.

Many readers drew comparisons from the book to LOST, THE TRUMAN SHOW, ALIENS, Spike Jonze, and Philip K Dick. Many also called it one of the strongest debuts of the year, hailing it an important read in the way the themes were woven into the narrative.

If you have enjoyed books such as GREEN WAKE, LOCKE + KEY, ASTERIOS POLYP, or even PHONOGRAM then you’ll dig this book or be able to sell it to a friend with a grand success rate.

#1 sold reasonably well and was also featured within the Comic Block service for July which means there are many thousands more readers now intrigued in the series and looking to continue. I would like to funnel them into comic stores to find the next issues, or the trade paperback collection when it prints.

#2 will be in stores in August, #3 will follow in September, and #4 in October, which will then close out our tale. And our tale does close.

We hope you consider preordering/buying the rest of NEGATIVE SPACE. It’s been fantastic to write something that means something and we want people to stick around to the very end. Tell your mates, tell your LCS, make the noise that you want/need all of this title.

And don’t forget: if you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

NEGATIVE SPACE Issue Titles

negative space 1 logoNEGATIVE SPACE is coming. In July, Owen Gieni and I are going to bring the sombre tones and wild trombones with our tale of Guy Harris, the poor sap who sits down to write his suicide note and gets writer’s block.

You can find more information about this book here [LINK] and you can preorder this book now at your LCS using this order code: MAY150012

While you wait for the book to finally drop, I thought it might be nice to gaze ahead – but not into spoilers – so today I’m bringing you a little discussion about comic issue titles, and the ones I came up with for the 4 issues of NEGATIVE SPACE.

I love comic issue titles. Though I find titles hard, titling an issue has less stress. It won’t be on the cover, it won’t even be noticed or remembered by a portion of your readers. It’s a thing where you can experiment, and go long, and steal, because it’s just an issue title, it’s nothing real/important, it’s an extra you don’t even have to do. Right?

I went for titles on this because they helped me handle the ever-shifting tone/scope of the story as we cook through the issues. So, here’s what I came up with, and a little on why – no spoilers.

#1 – ATLANTEAN HEARTS

This title is a huge homage to Stephen King’s HEARTS IN ATLANTIS, and by that I mean the novella with that title within the collected book also holding that title. The other stories aren’t superb but this story is one of my favourite things ever. It’s about this kid at college, and he’s wasting his time playing the card game Hearts, and he’s falling in love on the side. But like all things at college, it’s in flux and it’s transitory. Ugh, just thinking about the relationship in that story is getting me all weird right now. King might be the master of horror but he’s also really the master of characterisation and he uses that here to tell this amazing love story.

I chose this title for this issue because it reflects the aim of #1 – like any good horror story, like King himself knew perfectly, the terror only works if we care about the people being terrorised. This issue is here to set up our characters and then really make you care about them. We open on Guy Harris trying to write a suicide note, you don’t just then walk away from that and throw him into the shenanigans because, quite honestly, why would you care? His suicide isn’t shorthand to deliver a generic character cliche outline, it’s structurally important to the integrity of the tale right up until the last page. As such, Owen and I are working hard to seed it all throughout this issue so it matters and so you care.

King wrote some masterful things in his story and they are:

Hearts are tough, Pete. Most times they don’t break. Most times they only bend.”

Hearts are tough, she said, most times hearts don’t break, and I’m sure that’s right . . . but what about then? What about who we were then? What about hearts in Atlantis?

Damn story crushes me every time – if you haven’t read it, go, now, feel. And while NEGATIVE SPACE is a weird horror/sci fi, none of that matters if we don’t first make you care, so here, in this issue, we make you care, and we also mess you up. At least, that’s the plan.

#2 – THEATRE OF WAR

The title alone tells you we’re past the character introductions, we’ve hopefully made you care, and now we are going to put them, and by proxy you, through hell.

I mostly love the double entendre of this title/phrase. It’s mostly used to denote a specific playing field upon where combat and operations will take place. I wanted to allude to the theatricality of war. The stripes and bright lights we use, the shock and awe factor, the way it goes above and beyond anyone’s semblance of daily life. Or, at least, the war waged in these pages does. It’s all a big show, it’s all OTT, it’s all hyperreal.

This issue takes our grounded characters and throws them well into a subreality that should never be real.

#3 – THERE’S A REASON THEY CALL IT EXECUTING A PLAN

Again with double entendre. I am a hack. But this title came to me and I stuck with it. Because it’s true, sometimes you execute a plan, and sometimes you execute a plan. You never know what’s gonna happen because a plan by definition is theoretical. Practical application holds all kinds of rubbish variables.

But in short, this is the issue where things get real. There’s renewed focus, a level up right as we delve down, and things get crazy/nasty. This is some pay off as we expand scope and put people into the weirdest situations they’ve ever found themselves.

#4 – ALL THE PIECES GO BACK IN THE BOX

I had this title before I wrote the script. I heard it in a TedTalk, and it’s one I cannot for the life of me find [because my memory is about as useful as an open toed sock – and whenever people recall stories from decades earlier with crystal clarity I wonder if that’s even possible, or if they’re making it up, or if I’m just a guy with a noggin full’a cottage cheese and a fat lazy rat slowly consuming it all]. This title kinda sums things up nicely, and there’s still the idea that the pieces might go back, but they can be broken, their safety is not assured, we just know their final resting place. And if the pieces go back, in what state are the players left? It’s an absolute statement but leaves blank so many qualifiers. Much like any good story should.

This issue is where we’ve let the scope and sound expand for 3 issues and now it all rachets back in, like a star dwarfing. All good things must come to an end, and maybe all bad things go on forever and ever. I guess you gotta lay down the money to find out this year.

So those are our issue titles. They don’t spoil a thing but they maybe paint a blood splattered silhouette.

As always, if you’re going to follow us down the rabbit hole, I have to thank you. Independent comics live and die on the vine based on word of mouth and preorders. If you can tweet it to your friends, that’d be ace. If you wanna slip the title into your next care package to your off-shore accountant, go for it. Actual watercooler chat at work, aw, yeah. All good things are great things to us.

And finally, if you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

Horror Talk Interview about Negative Space

James Ferguson at Horror Talk had a chat with me about NEGATIVE SPACE [INTERVIEW LINK]

Jnegative space 1 logoames asks about my ‘Space’ trilogy, ha, and also delves into the depression inherent in this book/story. He also raises the idea of an emotional array like the Lantern Corp which made me laugh.

Have a read and get a sense of what I’m working towards on NEGATIVE SPACE.

NEGATIVE SPACE is a creator owned miniseries with Owen Gieni published by Dark Horse and the #1 issue debuts in July.

You can preorder the book through your LCS right now, or whichever other channels you score your four colour funnies through. The preorder code is: MAY150012, and all the details are at this [LINK]

——-

To those preordering the book, thank you. Indie comics live and die on the vine based on preorders so you are making a huge difference in our lives. The publisher sets the print levels to match the preorders and change.

And to those who identify closely with the thought of depression or suicide, please HIT THIS LINK and see all the resources and places available to you. You are not alone. We are here to help you.

Preorder NEGATIVE SPACE from Dark Horse Now!

NEGATIVE SPACE is a creator owned miniseries with Owen Gieni published by Dark Horse and the #1 issue debuts in July.

You can preorder the book through your LCS right now, or whichever other channels you score your four colour funnies through. The preorder code is: MAY150012

negative space 1 logo

I spoke with Cardner Clark at CBR all about it [LINK].

I also chat with the Behind the Panels crew about it on their podcast [LINK].

NEGATIVE SPACE is about Guy Harris, a depressed man who sits down to write his suicide note and gets writer’s block. He goes for a walk to clear his head and soon uncovers a century-old conspiracy dedicated to creating and mining the worst lows of human desperation.

This miniseries is about depression, and the reality of emotion in a manipulated world, as well as the superdense core within responsibility. How much do you serve yourself over serving others, and vice versa?

This is an emotionally concentrated storyline wrapped up in the spectacle of wicked visuals Owen Gieni cooks up for our antagonists, and their underwater masters.

Like AFTER HOURS if directed by Cronenberg, if you dug my work on HEADSPACE [an emotional journey of fatherhood and responsibility amidst flying monsters, club-wielding ogres, government killers, and a fridge full of crows] then this book will kick you in the same places that story’s end did. Somewhere between a Philip K Dick book, a Hermann score, and a Polanski flick with del Toro visuals, NEGATIVE SPACE is something I hope will make you sit back to take in the scope while feeling the pinpoint white hot infinite feelings within it.

If you’re going to follow us down the rabbit hole, I have to thank you. Independent comics live and die on the vine based on word of mouth and preorders. If you can tweet it to your friends, that’d be ace. If you wanna slip the title into your next care package to your off-shore accountant, go for it. Actual watercooler chat at work, aw, yeah. All good things are great things to me.

And finally, if you are suffering from depression, please hit THIS LINK to see the access you have to support. No one has to suffer alone. We are here to help you.

Station 16 – A Study in Atmospheric Spatiotemporal Fear

STATION 16 by Hermann & Yves H. got its first English language release through Dark Horse and you should probably track it down.

station 16 cover

A Bandes dessinées horror book about a small Russian group of soldiers who receive a distress call from an abandoned station that hasn’t been active for decades. They send a small team to investigate and what they find is a spatiotemporal anomaly that thrusts them through time and in front of danger.

Considering the logline on the story, it’s nothing insanely inventive. It’s fun, sure, and it’s just enough to keep up with without getting lost, but it’s not reinventing any wheels. By about halfway through you’ll have guessed most of the turns in this path. I assume most people spent their youth filling their twisted anthology gourds with EC shorts and OUTER LIMITS/TWILIGHT ZONE episodes and if you have then this tale will unravel for you easily, and you’ll probably even predict the end by about halfway through – maybe even 5 pages in if you are really trying – something I rarely actually do, I’m happy to let a story play out for me rather than become my own Spoilers Man. But that’s not the point of the book. It’s not about knowing the journey ahead but rather it’s about settling into the way you feel on that journey, how your surroundings affect the temperature of your skin, and why the fact you can’t see through the copse of bush into daylight on either side is making your breath come in fitful spurts. This book becomes more about the page atmosphere than it does the plot mechanics.

The art from Hermann is the winner on these pages. The way he stacks and tiles each page so he’s routinely landing 9 panels per page, or more. He takes moments and beats and makes you feel the pauses and still have ample room to progress the story every time.

I’ve been reading some ASTERIX books with my kids recently so had been delving into that Franco-Belgian page style where 12 panels ain’t no thing. I’ve also been loving those reprints of THE SMURFS so to see that style, that page density, used for dramatic/horrific purposes was really cool. This is the sort of thing you can study because as much as widescreen comics are rad, sometimes just confining your characters tightly in a shot in a small panel can have some cool other effects. I found I felt trapped with these guys, and that the time was moving really fast. Each page rips along, propelling you into the next, and as time keeps changing, and the colours are sometimes the only signifier that something is amiss – until the character exclaims aloud what just happened – you feel a little like you’re blindfolded on a rollercoaster. It’s a breathless experience, and the ~50 page count on the tale also help that as brevity is a horror tale’s secret weapon at times.

STATION 16 is definitely worth your time if you’re into tone in your comics. If you like a little experience that’ll grip you for a short time and make it feel like a long time. It’s also helpful if you dig a little meaning in your four colour funnies.

There’s a visual used in the book that is the hollowing out of eye sockets. People are being experimented on and that’s one of the things. The look alone is eerie and haunting but it’s something else about it that slowed me down and gave me thoughts. It makes the book feel like it’s about how your country can sometimes choose to wilfully blind you from the truth, and the fact they literally have the means to do so is ghastly. To have it done to you, to see it done to others, none of these are good things. To forcefully obscure is an invasive and atrocious act and this book shows it as such.

There’s something enveloping about this book, and the art is something to really take your time with, so definitely do yourself a favour and pick up the STATION 16 HC so your diet can break free of the usual dreck.

If still not convinced, apply this trailer below once, or twice, as needed.

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