Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Tag: Justin Greenwood

RKL Annotations – CHUM #2

CHUM #2 lands with a sickening thud as we scrape our characters through the middle of the story, taking all their promise, their possible glory, and ruining it by issue’s end so there’s nowhere left to go but down, further.

This little #surfnoir that could has gained some great attention, and I’m floored by the amazing readers and retailers and reviewers all getting some sand between their toes and enjoying the ride. I’ve also enjoyed watching the sunset love that is Mark Dale colours over Sami Kivela inks, with a soupcon of Nic J. Shaw letters, bringing this all to life. This issue is a haunting poem to the shit we do for desire.

For those new to the game, these annotations are a little look into what I was trying to do when I wrote this comic, and it’s also a place for me to praise my collaborators. In the end, I hope you get a little something out of it to make you smile, or give you thought for your own writing.

Also, if you haven’t sampled CHUM yet, here’s a free Digital Ashcan with covers, preview pages, and other art process stuff for you [LINK]

Okay, let’s talk #surfnoir!

COVER

Sami’s cover game is crazy. This white cover, putting Summer under the waves, the ever churning waves, is gorgeous, and heartbreaking, and everything I know I want to see on the stands. That blood trail, aw, yeah. Just a designed delight.

Sami has a long career ahead of him doing covers, and I hope they continue to be on my comics.

CHUM_Cover_02

VARIANT COVER

I mean, everyone already loves Joe Mulvey, surely, but this cover will make you L O V E him. Hardcore. His inks on this are so crisp, the idea and composition are so eye-catching, and then he brought in Jules Rivera on colours and she took this to a whole new level. That red/orange [I don’t know other colour names, sorry] sky is so inviting, and the water pops, and it all plays with the logo, and this is just one of my favourite pieces of art to look at. The colours make me think this’ll be a fun one, but then you see what’s going on – with that subtle splash of Summer’s hair down the bottom dragging it all together, and it’s beautiful. Truly beautiful.

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PAGE ONE

Bobby Level got his name because of Brian Level – RKL: stealin’ names from Twitter since about 2014.

Though look at that first panel. Soak it up. Now imagine you are tasked with hiding that behind your stupid words. Getting the lettering draft ready for this script was arduous because I was staring down Kivela/Dale glory and just trying to hide.

And this story Summer tells is something an old girlfriend once told to me that a friend of hers did. She told me that in 2001 and here it is on the page. Because time is a flat circle, and all conversations are narrative fuel for writers.

I really went back and forth about whether to have Summer’s sister’s dialogue come out of the phone, but in the end I didn’t want to clutter, and I assume the reader can keep up, so this is how it plays out.

But the point of this page is, who is Summer? Issue #1 was a whirlwind, so I wanted to slow down and just unpack Summer for a second. It’s not much, but it’s also a whole hell of a lot. She explicitly states it: “I am what I am, never what they think I am.”

I’m glad to have started the story putting Summer front and centre, and we don’t know what she’s doing, right before …

PAGE TWO

I love the way Sami takes my script and interprets it structurally. Those tiled panels are not called for by my but he throws it in there, leading the eye across, down, and right, so we then bounce back down-left to pass through Summer and into the sharks. That’s the kind of thing I’d never script visually myself, but it works so well.

Though that sunset against Summer’s line of “Where am I going?” is so very specific for me. The sunset the horizon, is the endless possibility of the world. It’s this little panel that says the world is about to completely open up for Summer, but first she’s gotta take care of some shit – like taking the chopped up body of Swampy and disposing of it.

I also have to take a second to point out just how amazing Mark Dale’s colours are – that rusty water is just an insane choice and is so glorious. It emotes oppression, it represents the place Summer needs to leave. I love it.

PAGE THREE

Look at that bird right up front in that top panel, look at it. What a choice – and I feel like your eye runs across the bird’s wingspan in a straight line to the right, and then you duck down to the bottom left by following the diagonal line of its undercarriage. Sami, killing it as always.

I also really dig the way Sami tiled the panels to show the pieces of Swampy washing up on the beach.

Did anyone pick up on the fact John Marsh is called Swampy when he’s undercover? Marsh —> Swampy. Anyone? Bueller?

The bottom half of the page is a great moment between Standard and Hannah. She’s stuck straight into him, and he just walks off silently. I had something scripted for him to say, but when the art rolled in I just cut his line, the walk off is perfect to continue to show how these two operate.

PAGE FOUR

This page exists because I wanted Gus to come back and instantly know he’d fucked up, he’d hitched his wagon to the wrong horse. So Summer and Gus get down to it, and I rewrote the shit out of this page. I wanted it clear Summer has the power in this scene, she has complete agency and control, and I wanted it to give us a look into Summer a little bit. Every page needs to earn its keep, and every page needs to do something, so I rewrote this page until it was more than just set up for the next page. Summer lays herself a little more bare for us, and we also see Penny for the broken man he is. I didn’t want him to be a guy in control of himself, he has to know that’s he’s mentally problematic due to the drugs, and so we seed this here in a real moment that Summer just completely shrugs off.

PAGE FIVE

This is a slow page, three panels don’t happen a lot for me, but I wanted this whole lead up to Gus to really mean something. I wanted to give the emotion the space on the page I felt it deserved. If I respected Gus’ feelings then perhaps you’d feel and understand them, too.

I like the lines here, because you might think that it’s her and Penny ending so her and Gus can begin, and that’s certainly how he sees it, but this is really her not caring that Gus was obviously planning to come back and she didn’t respect that, or him, and so she needed that relationship to end now. Gus had served his purpose, he was barely a piece on her board anymore. There’s dual purpose to the page, and anytime you can do that with meaning, I say run to daylight, Barry.

I also ran this page past three females I know – some writers, some readers – and asked their thoughts because I didn’t want to write her sexuality as hollow, or salacious, or anything else that I possibly wouldn’t see but a female reader would.

PAGE SIX

Here, Summer flat out lies to Penny, tells him what he wants to hear and it’s the polar opposite of what she thinks/feels. And it shows a little in her face.

Then we get to the bottom and Gus echoes the line – because I can’t help myself. It’s a trick I attribute to BKV in my head, not because he invented it, but because he’s done it so much in front of me that he’s the first connection I make to it, and it’s a call back where the same thing is used again but with a different meaning. I know, I’m being obvious in explaining this, and derivative in using it, but…yeah :]

Also, I’d totally cut her “GAH!” line if I had my time over again.

PAGE SEVEN

First of all, I love how Nic’s caption tips just behind Gus’ back, that’s awesome. I love the way Nic layers the page sometimes.

Okay, so this page – it’s a woman being attacked, and it’s tense for a few panels, and that’s the point, because we don’t hold the tension, we release on that final panel as we take in Summer’s reaction. This isn’t an exact part of the plan, but she’s powerful enough to roll with it and work it. She’s certainly not worried. I could only write this scene knowing she was like that and could and would handle herself.

PAGE EIGHT

That moment where Summer hears the footsteps and instantly steers the scene into a different place where she can own it is a pure summation of Summer in my mind. She is born from Linda Fiorentino in John Dahl’s THE LAST SEDUCTION. She is malleable, but she is never what you think she is.

The black balloons as she just slices into Gus, and then the four panels for the one line and how Sami changes Gus’ face across them. That’s all comic synergy from the entire team.

PAGE NINE

I gave Standard this full page, a build up page, because he’s the hero of the story and we need to see inside his head, and marvel at his reaction time, and also ensure he sees the slap, so when we turn the page…

PAGE TEN

Summer has already taken care of things. In fact, she timed it perfectly so Standard would see the slap but she could take care of business before he got in the room.

And yet Standard has the temerity to say he’ll be the one taking care of it. Yeah, that look on Summer’s face is her way of saying “Bitch, please!” right behind his back.

PAGE ELEVEN

Here, we give Hannah a page because she’s not been unpacked a great deal yet. We’ve only gotten to know her through how she relates and reacts to others on the island, so I did want to delve into her – especially because of how she plays out in #3 :]

This isn’t the most EXCITING page, but it’s a brief moment and it builds to the page turn. It was a pain in the ass to write, and it’s not perfect, but I like that everyone on the island is getting something for their time.

PAGE TWELVE

That look on Summer’s face, even in such a small panel, is perfect/

The way the bottom panels thread together, each being part of a larger image of the woman on her side, was something I scripted and Sami just smashed out of the park. I wasn’t even sure I was making sense, but he thumbed it out perfectly, and it plays well here because it’s subtle but it’s definitely there. Especially with Summer’s head breaking through and over Hannah’s panel, giving that sense of layering.

I also put in a line where Hannah acknowledges all of the Gus stuff so we can then timestamp this scene because I didn’t use any non-diegetic captions to explain how much time skipped after the whole scene before this.

And everything in between was just housekeeping, the hospital for Gus, the paperwork for Summer and Standard, all that, who cares? I zoomed on, because the genre demands it.

PAGE THIRTEEN

This scene was about pushing Summer into that corner again, but this time she knows she’s leaving the island, so she’s reacting more openly. I mean, this is a stupid move. It’s a move that has to be part of an endgame.

The panel in the reflection of the sunglasses, yeah, you know I’m not smart enough to concoct that level of game myself. Nor, seriously, would I probably ask an artist to do that. It’s so specific and something I wouldn’t want to force on someone else.

PAGE FOURTEEN

I love the tilt on this panel, the way the horizon doesn’t match the car. Then you put Mark’s colours into that sky and it’s just the best, completely moody.

The whole “They would leave when they were expecting // But all they could expect was heartbreak,” was probably the closest I came to breaking the purple prose in half. It’s so close to being on the nose, but it’s also exactly what is true for the scene.

PAGE FIFTEEN

I love a good splash with a novel written on it. There’s something about that juxtaposition that relays feelings and thoughts well – the time on the page stands still, but the minds are whirring.

Then, and I bang on about this, you get that Kivela/Dale marriage on the page and it’s just jaw-dropping. And it plays perfectly into the duality between Summer and Standard. She got a small horizon, a quest of infinite possibilities laying out in front of her. He gets this wide horizon, an endless ocean, and it looks like everything, but it’s just all the things he won’t have. This is him looking, trapped, and knowing he’s being encased in amber.

Shout out to Ryan Ferrier’s caption placement on here, building to that small last one.

PAGE SIXTEEN

This back and forth between them is frosty. She’s trying to big out – drugs and money in tow – and not get caught with Hannah assaulted elsewhere. He’s drunk and just assuming she’s being her usual cranky self towards him.

This page is continued interaction and character interplay for them, but it’s also cranked up a bit so when she turns, trying another tactic, it stands out.

PAGE SEVENTEEN

Then Standard has this big conversation with himself, all the stuff rattling in his head since he got drunk in front of the horizon he’ll never touch, and he wants to vent it on someone. So he lets it out, and Summer lets him. She gets out of the way, she’s obviously used to dealing with this bullshit from him. I find her reaction here – to be silent and absent – says so much about them both and their relationship.

PAGE EIGHTEEN

We cut to a 3 panel page, something I don’t usually do, because it’s a three pronged turn.

Panel One – Standard gives up.

Panel Two – Standard sees the board, and the narrative shifts into the final reel.

Panel Three – Summer isn’t going to get off as easy as she hoped. So, what’s she going to do about it?

And look at Summer’s face, and that burnt orange background, this is the moment Standard fucks himself over. Poor bastard.

PAGE NINETEEN

In the first panel, Summer is so unemotional, she’s detached from the story she’s remembering. But in the second panel she sells it with sexuality. She can run diversion on a drunk guy long enough, you’d assume.

Then Standard gets his own burnt orange moment to stare, and it’s with final clarity. He’s no fool and he knows this isn’t about anything she’s saying it’s about.

PAGE TWENTY

I love the cross panel handcuff reveal. I actually did script that – a rarity for a visual moment.

Then Standard starts babbling, like a rat scurrying after the scent of cheese. He’s knows he’s supposed to want it, and he used to be able to get it quite simply. But now he’s old, and drunk, and confused half the time. He rarely even gets a whiff and yet here he is doused in the fumes. He needs a moment to consider what it all means.

PAGE TWENTY ONE

A moment of truth from Summer. That’s the moment you should be scared.

It’s a diversion tactic that works better than sex.

And as for the words on the page – I like the “My apology isn’t for what I’ve done…” set up, but it feels a little played. Whereas the “You let a girl like Summer too close…and she’ll break your heart.” page turn is something I feel I can have more ownership over. It’s a little bit sad, even though you know people in these stories are built up to sustain damage at every turn.

PAGE TWENTY TWO

This moment feels like a good issue break. You don’t know who lives or die, and you have Summer handcuffed to her victim, and you know it’s all got one issue to resolve itself. I hope this leaves you really stewing on what happens Page 1, Issue #3, because this is exactly the point. I know every issue should propel you to the next issue, that’s Obvious 101, but this time I think I did it well.

BACK MATTER

I wrote about my Peach Pit noir fic, “90210h, God, He’s Dead!” and I’ll never write anything as good again.

Then I point you towards THE LAST SEDUCTION. Man, that movie did weird things to Teen Ryan’s dna.

Then turn up the surf noir jams as peeps sub in for 6 words at a time. Glorious. And this is a good bunch. But I think I’ll single out Shaun Manning for my hatred because his is so good: “Tendrils of seaweed and of leviathans.”

I love that. So emotive, uses two great words, and chunks it up using ‘of’ twice, but totally to effect. Totally how it should be done.

Two issues in and two thirds of the story down. We hope it’s been a rocket ride and you are ready for the crash landing.

If you got this issue, thanks, if you dug it, aw shucks, and if you wanna stick around for the end then we’d be mighty happy to have you..

Sami produced a cover for #3 that’s been my phone lock screen for a while now:

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And the Justin Greenwood variant is gruesome and so fantastic.

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We shall catch you all for our final spiral down in 30, until then, feel free to spread the word. Indie titles rely on word of mouth, and one red hot tweet don’t cost nothing but a smile.

Thanks for taking a dip, see you again some time.

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RKL Annotations – HEADSPACE #4

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Shane tries to do the right thing. He’s racing to protect someone. But he finds so often the world and many of us in it do not want to be saved. Then there’s Max, who doesn’t really understand what’s happening and here meets the woman who set him on this path, and what she wants him to do.

This issue is the midway point of the story, it’s a character study, and it’s also a place where the narratives of Shane and Max change gears, one going up, the other down a gear.

HEADSPACE #4 – get some

COVER

We finally get to the white themed cover. I like the way Eric laid out this Max composition. It’s nasty and oppressive, and feels like when Dave Johnson uses design to get across concepts present behind the story. Those piled bodies, man, damn.

PAGE 1

If you end the last issue with a cyclopean ogre creating some trouble you can be damn sure we’ll open the next issue with more cyclopean ogre shenanigans. Poor Shane here isn’t loving life. He should just be glad that club swing isn’t liquefying his bones and splattering his skull across the pavement. I love the way Eric has him breaking the panel wall – totally not scripted.

I keep looking at this ogre’s necklace and wondering if those little pendants mean anything? This is proof artists work harder than me, I bet Eric has a whole backstory worked out for that necklace.

PAGE 2

This is all just Gulliver’s Travels. The real one, not the Jack Black one…the Ted Danson one.

I’m also fond of that final line.

Oh, and this whole scene is to show that Max’s mind is busy, constantly, dealing with his demons. The Maxs here ignore Shane because they’re busy with something bigger. I wanted to have a moment where Shane sees he’s just a passenger in this huge opera.

PAGE 3

I think Eric transitions this page beautifully into the flashback but I’m still worrying I didn’t land this page just right in that structural way. I hope the emotion rings true, though. A man’s inability to cope with insane levels of feelings is certainly a real thing.

PAGE 4

That panel of Shane sitting and looking at his punching bag says so much and Eric slays with that body language. This is a man completely lost, completely helpless, completely stuck inside his own form which is unable to express enough to cope with what he’s got. All I can say is, I hope I never lose a kid, because I fear I’d be as useless as Shane is right here.

PAGE 5

Now we cut to Max’s story. I hope people don’t mind that rhythm. Some Shane story, another peek at Max, then back to the Shane narrative engine. I’ve crazily liked plotting out the story in such a manner, trying to find the right cut points. It’s been fun.

Do you know why I’ve named the bakery that? A No Prize for anyone who gets it – I don’t think it’s that hard.

And now look closer at that paper. The first headline relates verrrry tangentially to the overall plot, but that second headline, well, that second headline is continuity, son.

Oh, and she totally speaks like Death’s Head, yes?

PAGE 6

Yeah, so this sequence is talky. I feel bad for Sebastian, you should see the script pages.

PANEL TWO

Lois talks.

PANEL THREE

Lois talks at max.

Etc,

It surely wasn’t fun to draw but I wanted this scene to be static. So many other scenes aren’t so I thought this one could really slow down because I want you to pay attention to what Lois says, and how she words it. This is all very important and it all comes to a head next issue where a huge bombshell is revealed. This leads up to it.

I love the way Sebastian created Lois. She’s a very good looking character.

PAGE 7

My Blue Heaven, ha, I couldn’t resist. That’s the sort of line I could never cut.

I’m a sucker for a silhouette on a clear background.

PAGE 8

I loved writing that Lois would be open enough to Max to admit she doesn’t care about him, this has never been about saving him, and that she wants to use him for his specific skill set. Lois is not very nice but at least she tells you upfront how she’ll be.

Who is Zara Blackwell?

PAGE 9

Quick, go open HEADSPACE #2 and look at pages 7 + 8. Notice some of the slick parallels Eric drew between this sequence and that one? Yep, that’s all him. He’s just that goddamn good.

I really hope people think I could and would kill a major character here at this point. I hope people turned the page genuinely not knowing what they would find.

PAGE 10

To be honest, I’m sure people got that the kid was Max pretty early. Thinking I’d obscured that was probably a little false hope, but I like this reveal, the fact it was a Max memory all along, and there’s nothing Shane can do about this scene, it happened before, will always happen, and that’s just the way it goes down. because, as much as we all knew it was Max, Shane has been on the run through this insanity for about an hour, I guess, so he wouldn’t have known. Shane genuinely was trying to save someone and now he’s thinking maybe he’s inside an unsavable man.

That face comparison between two panels was scripted, but Eric is the mastermind who made the father’s face so much wider and more imposing.

PAGE 11

This page for me is how good collaboration lifts the work. Eric nails that look of horror from Shane, as well as the red background. It’s very reminiscent of the first issue’s last page.

Those SFX really came out well and get punctuated by Young Max really enjoying himself in that final panel.

PAGE 12

I don’t script splash pages often, nor do I do silent pages often. This page clearly means I want you to stop, pause, put yourself in Shane’s shoes, get comfy, realise you can’t because Shane’s life is permanently uncomfortable for the foreseeable future, and then wonder what you would do next in this situation.

I also scripted that specific statue into the page. Who is he and what does he signify?

BACK MATTER

As always, all hail Christopher Kosek, Designer Supreme of Carpenter Cove.

HANNIBAL has become something I can barely stop thinking about. It’s enthused and inspired me to no end. And with so many TV properties gone four colour funny book lately I can’t help but think a HANNIBAL book cannot be far off.

Go watch OFFSPRING. Seriously, do this.

Barely any #headspacecomic tweets so I guess I can retire that thought experiment that only served to make me think I have no readership. Funnily enough, every time I put out the call for tweets, I’d get a 5:1 ratio of RTs to actual use of the bastard thing.

ESSAY

Dan Hill drops more narrative fuel on your fire, while also subtly hinting at themes of the book. The government can suck hard sometimes.

PIN UPS

Man, Sami Kivela has me wanting a Carpenter Cove sheriff’s badge so bad. I love his use of yellow here, the man is a master.

Then we get Justin Greenwood and Marissa Louise bringing some cover level insanity to the game. Justin really went full out on this one and he works so much into it. The man is great, so no surprise he’s doing so much rad work right now at Image and Oni.

Another issue down, and the halfway mark reached. I hope you are as excited as I am. #4 was our crowning achievement and I am so incredibly proud of it, but be prepared for #5 which will punch you straight in the gut, then on the bridge of your nose, and then repeat the experience until your eyes fill up with tears. It’s going to be a dark ride.

We’d also appreciate it if you spread the good word. Indie books live and die on the vine due to exposure and word of mouth. Hit up twitter with #headspacecomic to share your thoughts (ha), and possibly end up in the back of an issue, too. Chat with myself @ryanklindsay or Eric @ericxyz and let us know your thoughts. We love to chat about the stuff we create. Or just about other stuff. Tell your friends about the book on Facebook, or in person, actually phone a friend to talk about Headspace, or gift the comic to someone. It’s all appreciated.

We’ll see you for #5 real soon. Til then, thank you. If you’ve made it halfway, you deserve a pause, a beer, maybe a counter meal down the pub with us, and it’ll all happen, in good time. Thank you.

GHOST TOWN TPB on @ComiXology

Buy the GHOST TOWN TPB on ComiXology for $4 right now

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The 4 issue mini by Daniel J Logan, Brian V Dyck, myself, Dave Dwonch, and Justin Greenwood is available for purchase/download right now. And you can’t go wrong with 4 issues for $4!

The story is: terrorists steal a time machine and send a bomb forward through time that will explode in Washington DC, but they won’t say when. Rather than deal with them, the government evacuates its capital and Dan and I come in some time later where Nate Lawson makes his cash going into the possible blast radius and retrieving things left behind in a town now divided into ghostly fiefdoms. And on this trip, Nate is retrieving something bigger than he’s ever tried before. Business is about to get real.

It was a fun book/story to work on so I hope you dig it and give it a chance. If you enjoy, let me know, spread the word, all the usual amazing things comic people do.

Enjoy.

Ghost Town TPB in March 2014

The GHOST TOWN TPB collection hits stores in March 2014 for just $11.99.

It collects issues #1-4 of the Action Lab Danger Zone title about a bomb sent through time that will land in Washington DC but no one knows when. Issue #1 is oversized with Justin Greenwood/Dave Dwonch goodness and then Daniel J Logan, Brian V Dyck, and I jump in for #2-4 to tell a tight 3 issue tale of Nate Lawson, a man who extracts precious items out of the Rad and in this case has clearly not thought through his task. Scope the cover below for the trade by Justin Greenwood and Dan Jackson.

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This is a hell of a title, created from a concept by Rob Ruddell, beat up by Dave Dwonch, and then massaged into this tale of a man by Dan and I. We had a lot of fun on this arc and we hope you’ll think about letting your shop know you’d like a copy. Indie books like this survive on word of mouth so any help given is always mammothly appreciated.

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You can also buy all the single issues now on ComiXology for just 99c each – crazy quality bargain, GO!

As always, thank you for your consideration.

GHOST TOWN #1-4 Review on Bag & Bored

GHOST TOWN #1-4 gets a glowing review from Brad Gischia where he says, “Action Lab has a great book with Ghost Town. The future has not often looked so fascinatingly grim.”

Read the review here!

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I particularly like that Brad notices the difference between the Greenwood/Dwonch #1 which is concept and action to the Logan/Lindsay run of #2-4 which is much more character based. I thought that was one of the most fun and interesting things about our run.

If you want to check out all 4 issues for just $4 (that’s the same price as only one Big Two issue) head over to ComiXology now and snap them all up for 99c each. If you want the issues, hit up your LCS, and if you want the trade collection of all 4 issues it drops in March and I’ll post details very soon (but you can scope the trade cover above).

Thanks for the support.

Ghost Town #3 In July Solicitations

Ghost Town #3 is in the July Previews catalogue. The action thriller title by Daniel J Logan and me from Action Lab’s Danger Zone imprint hits shelves in October. It’s the middle issue of our introductory three issue arc on the title and it’s a great look into how Nate Lawson is going to get himself out of the terribly dangerous situation he arrogantly pushed himself into in #2. We’ve got gunplay, misplaced aggression, knuckledusters, one of my favourite comic pages of all time (seriously, Daniel nails this moment), and the end is a smasher.

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Speaking of issue #2, it hits shelves next month in August so it’s not too late to ask your LCS to hold you down a copy. Daniel J Logan and Brian V Dyck drop some rad art and colours and Dave Dwonch letters the hell out of my verbosity.

You also can’t beat these covers by the dream team of Justin Greenwood and Jordie Bellaire.

I’m really excited for this action packed thrill ride to kick off next month and I hope you’ll all join me in October for more of the madness.

Preordering your comics helps indie titles like this survive so your readership is massively appreciated.

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