Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Tag: owen gieni

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 #4 Review Round Up

negative space 4NEGATIVE SPACE #4 landed a while back [and this post somehow got lost in the queue]. It seems people were happy with how we closed this tale and there’s a huge weight off my chest knowing that people dug what was a hard conclusion for us to come to – it’s not an easy place to leave your main character, or the audience, so it means the world that people allowed us that much rope.

The reviews were ace, and it’s just nice to still be getting some ink/pixels on the 4th issue of an indie comic.

Andrew McGlinn at Big Comic Page gave us 5/5, saying “an unstoppable tour de force that must be both read and experienced” – [LINK]

James Ferguson at HorrorTalk gave us 5/5, saying “This cements Ryan K. Lindsay as an expert storyteller capable of truly incredible character work.” – [LINK]

Chris Beveridge at the Fandom Post gave us a Grade A, saying “get into serious discussions with friends about [it] as there’s a lot to peel away and dig into with it. Very recommended.” – [LINK]

Jack Johnston at We The Nerdy gave us a 9.5/10, saying “a perfect send off for Lindsay and Gieni’s twisted tale.” – [LINK]

Johnny Hughes at the Comic Crusaders gave us 3.5/5, saying “the conclusion serves as its own metaphor about depression and mental health.” – [LINK]

Ian Dawe at SequArt gave us a thoughtful write up, saying “It does what not enough comics do: it leaves you thinking.” – [LINK]

And now the series is done. The tpb collection will be out on the 6th of July with a glorious Foreword by Christopher Sebela. Tell your LCS to order 1 million of them.

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.

RKL Annotations – NEGATIVE SPACE #4

With #4 hitting the stands, NEGATIVE SPACE comes to a close and this is an amazing and emotional place to stand. This story means the world to us all here at Kindred HQ, it marks the second full creator-owned miniseries I have completed, and it is a work I am crazy proud of in all ways.

It’s been a rocky ride, it’s taken us a while, but in the end we stand by every single page, every single word, and we’ve created a story we think means something. And we hope it means something to all of you.

I hope you read this issue twice, I hope you’ve picked it apart, because now it’s my turn and we’ll leave no stone unturned. This post is all about how we made a book about unrelenting emotion and kept ourselves from falling into the void. We hope it helps you in some respect.

negative space 4COVER

On more than one occasion I’ve seen someone online recoil from this image. It is pretty visceral, I’ll admit, and that reflects the inside of the comic quite perfectly, really. This was yet another cover image that was easy to select out of the thumbnail options. The roundtable of emails very quickly sounded off that this was the one to go for.

For me, it’s the little fact of all those little Evorah in his braingoop that gets me, plus the circular arc of the blow out zone. And the END on his chest. I had considered, very originally, having a different slogan on his white T every time you saw him but that got tossed out at some stage, sadly.

PAGE 1

I didn’t script that Owen should use the original Cover #1 Evorah for this splash but he totally did and it’s totally rad. As are the little Evorahlings clinging to its back.

That line, “Everything goes back in the box,” was something I stole from a podcast, or a TED talk, and it just stuck with me right before it was time to write this issue and it held so true for this issue, and so many stories, and life.

PAGE 2

Having a stolen line from a podcast suddenly morph into this opening monologue was fun to have happen. This idea, this mantra, that everything’s okay because in the end, win or lose, it’s going to just go back the same, and to flip it into this depressive and scary mantra was fun to explore. Because sometimes it’s the words you use to help that hurt the most. Parenting taught me that shit real quick.

Having this page show us the real outcome from Guy’s emotional outburst last issue was a cold hard open I wanted to do. It also meant we didn’t have to show it all go down, because the output is nasty enough on its own. I’d actually wager some people shouldn’t linger too long, I know panel 2 kicks me but it’s actually the consideration of panel 3 that really gets to me.

Writing another vertical panel for Owen because he nails that shit hard every time, and sneaking in a ‘stop’ bridge from caption to dialogue like it’s smooth though I’m actually no doubt transition sandpaper.

PAGE 3

Guy starts this page so gung ho, so full of certainty, he’s really engaged and active, so of course I’m going to flip it by page bottom and seed doubt which we will capitalise on in this sequence. And Rick slips into snake oil salesman mode far too easily.

PAGE 4

This is Rick’s page. Because he’s a massive douche bag, a complete asshole, but he’s also 100% right. This is his moment and we finally peer through the bravado curtain and see the man pulling the strings when he says, “If I didn’t laugh, I’d cry.”

It’s the coping mechanism of the damned because it’s the person who’s either given up or been shown there’s no hope.

PAGE 5

This is kind of me taking a shot at armchair extremists, if you think about it. Even though I am one half the time. But it’s that idea that you can’t go off half-cocked about an idea you only know a quarter of the information about. You see people do it all the time, they take some nuggets of info out of context, they blow up about it, and then they wonder why nothing has changed because in reality they were trying to move an ocean liner by throwing a pebble in the water and hoping the ripple would carry them onto a new course. In short, they’re fools.

And here we see Rick isn’t really the answer, but neither was Guy. Not like we wanted him to be.

PAGE 6

Basically, this is just Owen cutting loose. He’s having fun destroying the world and I got out of his way.

My favourite little moment here is in the bottom right we have an Evorah throwing a person up into the mouth of the crazy-ass thing in the water. It’s like they have a system for doing this.

PAGE 7

In which Guy tries to cling to these new beliefs and has them shot down by more information coming to light – in flashback mode. How good are Owen’s flashback colours?

Also, I wanted to cut into the flashback here, in this page, so the transition wasn’t split between pages, and also so we get that establishing shot here, now, and can launch into the business in the next page.

PAGE 8

This sequence took me ages to write. I knew the idea I had to get across but I also didn’t want to spend a big amount of pages in this final issue looking back. But it was important info to obfuscate so far because we didn’t want Guy, or you intrepid reader, to know about this side of Kindred yet.

And, yes, this sequence is totally just JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING with an Evorah on a boat.

PAGE 9

There were initially a lot more captions here, spelling things out, but I got the page in and realised I was overselling and overexplaining things. You got the idea and the feeling and that is all you need.

And I think that final panel was a splash page at some stage in the edits. And it would have been glorious, but it got shuffled as we did right by some of the last pages of the book, from memory.

PAGE 10

And so we enter the emotional echo chamber and it’s all winding into the final act from this page on.

That final panel of Guy’s eyes all black, oof, man, that’s Owen just putting on yet another clinic.

PAGE 11

This page is simple, Guy doesn’t move, it’s a slow down if you read it right. It’s realisation sinking in, it’s the end of the line, and it would have been easy to overwrite but instead I found the one word I needed to bring Guy’s thoughts all together.

Giving that much space, and negative space [hai-yooooo], for the final image here of two guys and one word and all those emotions was a nice beat to reach. I could have done this page in a 25 grid, paused every movement, every breath, but I’m happy with how this comes out. We never let panels have this much space in this book so I think readers will take it for the open and empty air it is due to the rarity of such a layout.

PAGES 12

Keep rereading this page, start on Guy’s face repeatedly, come back to it, feel its emotion, then read the page, then go back to his face, read the emotion now knowing that he knows what he’s about to do, now read the page, now go back, and feel that emotion again, because you know he’d be living it a million times over before it happened.

That Rick’s face is right below Guy’s is amazing. The juxtaposition of emotions, the mirror between the two, this was not in my script at all. Damn, look at all that white in Rick’s eyes. And just consider, we know Rick now, we know he doesn’t deserve it, but by this stage if you were Guy would you feel any need for clemency?

That’s what I thought.

PAGE 13

Guy asking for help and Briggs jumping straight to his aid, yeah, I’m messing with you. She’s been quiet the whole time, waiting, and she just seems so lovely, right? So I give her this final moment with Guy, this beautifully easy exchange, because she knows she’s won, Guy will go in the echo chamber, and she’s not like Rick, she handles this totally differently. She plays it smart.

Then the moment between Guy and Beta. Man, that took a while to write. I had to sit back, and consider what someone like Guy could and would say in this moment. I kept it short, because of course he does, and I gave him complete honesty. He’s wishing for Beta something he doesn’t understand and really doesn’t even believe in. What words would not ring hollow? Well, the truth; he honestly does wish the best for Beta.

PAGE 14

Guy disappears to wallow in his doubts and fears and right outside his room they come true – the world is a piece of spherical shit.

When you control a story, and you get to decide what happens, well, I could have given Beta a getaway, I could have allowed her a nice ending.

But, honestly, where’s the truth in that?

PAGE 15

“I begin to weep.” was a line that came in the final draft, maybe even after letters. It works because it’s not belaboured, it’s short, and it speaks to the heart of the matter. No amount of purple prose about Guy’s feelings and depression were going to be more effective here to showcase the fact he’s a weapon now, and a damn fine one.

But we want to leave you, dear reader, hanging for one final moment, because you can’t be certain it’ll all work. Kindred are assholes, they could be gaming something, so we hook you along with a family man in a car because if you’ve seen the movie of THE MIST then you know this is shorthand for ghastly feels, and…

PAGE 16

…the day is saved. Or, one slice of it, because it’s the new world, same as it ever was, and the queen is dead, long live the queen.

You might have a good day, but I guarantee twenty others don’t, and the scales probably tip away from you daily, except on the days where you tip with the scales.

We see victory, Guy knows it’s the beginning of a long defeat.

PAGE 17

And when all you feel is defeat, but you can’t give up because you already did, which is why you are defeated. Guy is trapped in a purgatory of depression and can you imagine anything worse?

PAGE 18

One year later and it’s all sparkly roses and you know you can’t believe that shit. Hell, the interview is even on Fox, man, do not believe this shit.

We start our ending on a TV interview because that’s always great exposition fuel.

PAGE 19

As you consider this page, I do want you to think about that ‘one year later’ caption and truly consider living in your own emotional filth for a full year, no distractions. Now look at Briggs and how beautiful and happy she is.

This page wants you to know you are alone in your problem.

PAGE 20

And this page wants you to know what it feels like to be alone with that problem.

Guy treats his body like shit, he orders Pay Days which he loves and yet then doesn’t eat them, because that’s even harder on his mind. He endures, because it’s not living, and it’s not giving up, and it’s not easy. It’s such a loaded word. Loaded with the pain of cutting himself, of reading only the most depressing fiction, of listening to the music that guts him [really, music that guts ME because it’s so tied to my history], and then finally writing a thousand suicide notes. And knowing they will go nowhere.

Though, and I didn’t realise this until this week, but one of those notes just says “Run away with me” 3 times. Guy is in there reliving his last moment of attempting to be happy. The moment with Woody he never took – and, yes, you’ll notice Woody doesn’t turn up here. In the end, I wanted to leave him off the table for us as well as Guy because now Guy has no idea what happened to Woody, and he never will, and that’s going to eat him up inside.

PAGE 21

And now Guy is part of the machine, a big depressed cog, and he’s treated as such. It’s the worst.

Briggs puts on her glasses, like some kind of ‘deal with it’ meme, and she gets to live in a world where this sunrise touches her face, and it means something to her, and she’s the new Rick, always was. She serves a purpose and doubles down to believe in it because that’s what you do.

That what we all do, every day.

PAGE 22

Firstly, lemme say “And the man who wants to end his life suddenly feels immortal” is the pull quote for this book that you can’t use because of the spoilers it brings, but it summates this conclusion perfectly for me. THIS is suicide noir, this is the worst thing I could imagine doing to a suicidally depressed person, putting them in emotional stasis to dwell on it.

Guy is defeated, he’s done, there’s nothing he or anyone can do. Except for the tone with which you read his final lines. Are they sad, are they acquiescing to the darkness in him, or are they challenging? Is he staging one last power surge to break the cycle?

And if he is, then why’d you close the book trapping him inside that darkness forever more? Why are you complicit in boxing him away, why does that black page, the endless sea, face him eternally now?

I pushed hard for this extra page – the black page is Page 23 – but I wanted it for just this reason – it adds a layer to the narrative. Poor Guy, I hope you all think of him often, and consider him forevermore.

And that’s a wrap. Man, I don’t wanna go. But all good stories have an ending, and I am telling you this tale is done. There’s no resurgence for a sequel, there’s nothing more to be said. The world goes on, but Guy doesn’t, and he forever won’t.

I can’t thank Owen Gieni enough for bringing this gonzo emotional claptrap to life, and so beautifully and haunting. This book is Owen’s calling car for what he can do, and boy can he do it well.

I really want to thank Ryan Ferrier for making every page look gorgeous, every SFX feel considered, and really bringing this book together. And then there’s Daniel Chabon who took this story, this idea, and whipped it into the insanity you just finished here. I can’t stress the importance he had on shaping this story with me, on guiding me, and on making this as good as it is. This team was an amazing heist crew and I think we got away with it all.

But in the end, thanks to you, fearless readers, for stepping out, telling your friends, linking reviews, and making this book a huge emotional success for me. It’s been a wild ride and I hate to step off but I’m sure we’ll all meet again sometime soon. I hope.

If you haven’t convinced a friend yet, give them one hard push for the NEGATIVE SPACE tpb in stores the 6th of July, or just start stocking up for Xmas if you want to really bring the tone down on that sad ass meat coma Boxing Day. Ask your Local Comic Shop for details on making sure they get you one.

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.

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.

NEGATIVE SPACE #2 Review Round Up

negspace2coverNEGATIVE SPACE #2 is on the streets and some people seem to be digging it. here are some reviews of the issue, and I want to thank everyone for taking the time to even side-eye this book. Thank you.

Greg Silber at Adventures in Poor Taste gave us 9.5 outta 10 [LINK] saying “This is one of the most thematically rich pieces of sci-fi that you could hope to read.”

Polo Lonergan at Nerd Undergound gave us a perfect score of 10/10 [LINK] saying “Negative Space #2 is all the more exciting for the blend of eerie artwork and bizarre story and these two creators have found a wonderful balance.”

Wicked Horror gives us 8/10 [LINK] saying “When all is said and done, this is going to be a special comic, I think. One that horror and sci-fi fans shouldn’t pass up.”

We the Nerdy give us 8.5/10 [LINK] saying “I will continue to laud it as one of the most interesting comics out right now”

Amy Brander over at The Frog Queen enjoyed the issue [LINK] saying “The inner monologue of our stories unlikely hero gives this story a more personal quality than most science fiction stories are afforded. ”

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

Ed Garrett at TMSmash gave us 8/10 [LINK] saying “NEGATIVE SPACE is one of those rare things in comics – a truly unique premise, one that is highly entertaining.”

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.”

Dan Seitz at Uproxx proclaims us the #1 comic of the week [LINK] saying “There’s nothing quite like this on the stands right now, and that makes it a must-buy.”

The Rorschach Rant gives us 8/10 [LINK] saying “that combination of misery and comedy produces an excellent black comedy with depth and emotional resonance”

Chris beveridge at The Fandom Post gives us an A- [LINK] saying “this issue pays off in spades and ups the ante in a great way.”

Karcossa at Graphic Policy gave us 9/10 [LINK] saying “This is a comic where the sum of its parts have created something that is a much greater whole.”

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.” – which is about the highest and most shrewd compliment I can think of.

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.”

James Ferguson at Horror Talk gave us a perfect 5/5 for all aspects [LINK] saying “Negative Space can scare you and then make you want to go out and hug someone.  It’s a weird feeling at first, but you just kind of go with it.”

And The Read Pile over on YouTube made us Rick’s Pick of the Week – yay [LINK] – slide on in 16 minutes, or just watch the whole thing because it’s ace.

We also scored an ace interview with James Leask over at Comics Alliance where 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.

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.

PAGE 22

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.

RKL Annotations – NEGATIVE SPACE #1

negative space 1 logoNEGATIVE SPACE has landed. With a wet depressed thud. Owen Gieni has slaughtered the game of gorgeous sequential pages with his own coloured magnificence. Ryan Ferrier is our letterer supreme. The story wouldn’t be anywhere without Daniel Chabon editing my brain into shape. And only Dark Horse Comics could take a chance on something this wild.

If you bought this book, dear dark lords, thank you. Creator owned books are hard, and I have no doubt reading this book was a little hard, or at least I hope it was, even if just for a panel.

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

Man, I said probably more than I need to say about this cover here at the [LINK]

I will reiterate, this cover is killer. So killer. Look at that design, and those colours. The. Best. And there are 3 more where that came from :] [LINK]

PAGE 1

negspacepage01colourOpening panels, they are important. This one here, the hand, the words failing, the rejected words chosen. I always say, pay close attention, don’t forget too quickly.

I also just love the way Owen drew Guy’s thumb, and his nails. This panel captivated me when it first came through. So good.

Then we cut to the splash and holy cats does Owen Gieni introduce the world to him, to us, to Guy, to everything we plan to do here in scope and depth and emotion. Look at everything in this panel and think of the life Guy must have had up to this point. I believe in one shot Owen delivers a lifetime. That’s skill and I still love looking into the corners of this panel.

We have one caption in this panel and then as you look down, waiting for more, there’s nothing. Guy is stuck, he’s pausing, he’s screwed.

Welcome to NEGATIVE SPACE.

PAGE 2

I gotta admit, coming up with substandard ways to start suicide notes was a weird task. What the hell would you put in yours?

[please don’t reply to me with your answer to that question…]

Guy wanders the town, because Owen really wanted our location to feel and breathe and then we drop what has long been my shortest high concept pitch of this book – “Who the hell gets writer’s block on their suicide note?”

Guy is so alone in his panels. This floating orb of unhappiness :[

PAGE 3

That opening line here is some dramatic irony breaking your heart. People need to check their words, for reals. Also, look at Ferrier buttonhooking that balloon tail into the truck. That’s today’s masterpiece theatre for sure.

Woody is Guy’s love interest, and is completely Owen’s design. And I love him so much. That haircut is aces. Hell, everything about him screams ‘barista in a coffee truck called ‘HEY MAN, NICE SHOT of caffeine’’ – totally my name, just sayin’.

I wanted this scene to pop because it’s going to produce some feels later on as we move forward in the issue. It’s rare I write relationships in books, especially nascent ones, or flirtatious ones, I usually just look back at the rubble, so to tease out this tendril of a human connection for Guy, but it’s not yet enough that it’s keeping him afloat, was something I wrote lots of times and hope we came up with something that’s a strong foundation to move us all forward on.

PAGE 4

Excuse me while I say I love this page. Writing Rick and Briggs is the release part of this book, their words just spew out of me, whereas getting Guy right is hard, probably how he chooses his own words, too.

This opening panel is insane. The tone on display is off the charts. In my head, I just wanted something that made me ‘feel’ like I was viewing the Tyrell Building for the first time. In a perfect world, this would be a splash. But it’s not, deal with it. Then look at the Kindred logo – Owen is my mainest of main men.

Now before I get into the words, look at the room and colours from Owen. I love how he built this building and brought it to life. Because of course the company making you sad would have a blue scheme rocking, ha.

I tried to introduce these two characters, tease what they are doing to a mild degree, set it up at least, and then end on Rick throwing us into the next page. Love the expression of exasperation Owen gave him.

And Rick is eating an apple.

PAGE 5

More exposition, more character in the way Rick addresses it, but otherwise a pause before a sequence that’s a little more hi-octane. This is something I still don’t know if I’m doing consciously or not [which in itself answers the question, right?] but in writing annotations for HEADSPACE I’d notice that I’d write a dense smaller scene right before things ramped up. Because apparently I’m still learning pacing, and landing ass backwards into its effectiveness from time to time.

I also love Rick’s nose in panel 3 and his build in panel 5. Owen’s created this block of dude that’s just never existed before and that kind of alchemy always fascinates me.

PAGE 6

I’m in love with coloured bars in my pages. It’s my go to hack move now. I’ve written black ones, red ones, and I have an orange one maybe coming up. I love them because they can mean plenty. Here, this grey means silence, but more on point it’s this weighted silence right before the storm breaks. Metaphorically speaking on the weather and the silence, obvs.

Is anyone else writing coloured bars? I bet they are, and doing it better than me :[

I actually just saw a big black bar from Level/Brisson in THE MANTLE. Bastards.

I honestly have no idea what ‘artisan ice cream’ is and don’t even wanna google it because what my mind fills in is way cooler than the truth could ever be.

8 panels of manipulation, we came up with all sorts of stuff for this. That I snuck in a slushie bathtime was either genius or will have people instantly burning their issue.

Owen was the craftsman to put that statue in the front of Guy’s apartment block in the first place so shrewd eyes would instantly get what was going on. And I got all the love for the way Guy flies out of frame. It’s almost this Looney Tunes moment of chaos and this makes me want to laugh which is the worst possible reaction to Guy :[

PAGE 7

We finally drop a splash and Owen fills it with this gorgeous fire. Perfect call.

And these captions were an 11th hour addition/change and I guess they are new enough that I’m still super in love with them. This is the moment Guy breaks, our narrative breaks open wide, and there’s no turning back. There is only some kind of metamorphosis.

PAGE 8

The actions of Blair on this page should start to sell you on the insanity of Kindred, and their people. It might be mildly confusing still, I guess, maybe, but the intent and tone behind it should be clear. These people are nutz and no good.

Pretty certain Briggs is sneakily smirking as she points out what Blair is doing.

And I didn’t notice the arm flying out of that car collision at first. All Owen.

PAGE 9

We left Guy in a certain state and now we just throw him into reaction mode. He’s acting before thinking, really. Because when you drive someone down, and then still need them active in the plot, I figured the only way is to give little moments, little reasons to be prompted to movement. The collision jars Guy into action, thoughtless action, and then the baby in the car prompts angry reaction. Guy is being thrown into these moments and we have one more emotional turn for him coming up to control his strings.

Ping – Louie CK cameo seeded for the film adaptation – Ping.

I really wanted to sell Rick’s frantic reaction and he’s the sort of guy to react with his mouth, so that’s always fun to script.

PAGE 10

The tone on this page is perfect. Owen Gieni strikes again. I swear, my office gets colder every time I turn to this page.

“Strange how being consumed by fear makes you fearless.” – this is only true in your very last moments alive, I dare say. And even then, it’s usually just making you stupid, ymmv.

PAGE 11

negtest3And here Guy finally sees his so called fearlessness for the stupidity it is.

And that crusty homeless face is #nightmarefuel

PAGE 12

When you finally see death, it’s never like you might think, or want or fear. It’s finally real and we so rarely see that. This moment is powerful for Guy, it’s him looking at the end of the lane he’s running down. It’s always going to make you pause.

PAGE 13

“It’s a nasty business living, but it’s a nastier time leaving.” should be my next neck tattoo. It should also rattle your bones no matter what you’re thinking or feeling right now.

Page turn build…

PAGE 14

…and we turn to find nothing. And that itself is the problem. If you paid attention to what Rick was saying when he lost Blair, you’ll know straight away what’s going on here. I wanna seed doubt, especially in Guy himself, but we all know. At least, I hope we do. I always like to assume you’re all paying attention, and if not, well, I lay traps to see if you are. I think that’s the teacher in me coming out.

I’ll admit, getting Guy to go from suicidal, to angry, to utterly confused, and then having him walk out of this page back towards Woody was something I put a lot of thought into. I want my lead to be making his own choices, to be doing things for himself, not just because I need them to happen for the plot. To me, in the state of mind he’s in, I can see why he’s doing this. I mean, his apartment blew up, he just saw a dead body, and his world is flipped, but all that happening to someone in his mental place was eventually just going to break him. So instead of going to the cops, like you or I might think about, he’s off to say a proper goodbye.

PAGE 15

Guy overthinks things as much as I do.

The first time we see Guy and Woody touch, they’re passing a coffee. Now there’s no pretense. We get this human moment…so of course I break it…

PAGE 16

…because Guy finds the words. And then these spooks find Woody.

Everything on this page from panel layout, facial expressions, that lack of background. Owen might come up with crazy designs and really world build in dense ways but here he shows insane emotional chops that I hope build to break your heart.

PAGE 17

Guy waits and Rick loves it. He’s a complete bunghole of a human being.

That final look Guy gives over his shoulder in panel 6, man, he’s just cruising his peepers around, poor bastard.

PAGE 18

I love the simplicity of this page, and that Owen broke it into more panels than I had scripted. So simple and that’s all it needed. I think I’ve finally learnt not to overwrite over rad art. I trust the reader to have their heart broken if they have any soul.

PAGE 19

Why this movie? Because it’s one of my favourite rom-coms of the past decade. Because it’s about futility as much as it is hope. And because Guy has a mad killer crush on JGL :]

Release.

I think this might be my favourite page in the book. It’s simple and does so much for me.

PAGE 20

Guy shatters his soul into small enough pieces he can toe down the drain and Rick just kicks back and eats cereal.

PAGE 21

Yes, Guy wanted to deliver his note to Woody. From there, well, it wasn’t going to be fun or pretty.

PAGE 22

But instead we get this. We finally make good on the cover, and we hopefully propel you into the next issue because Guy most certainly is not dead, or dying, or even knowing what to do next. I mean, look around this room, there’s little to really make Guy think this was his next stop for the night. Poor bastard.

And I didn’t realise how this page/idea would be taken by some people. I won’t spoil it by laying out exactly what’s happening here, Woody will do that for you at the start of #2 but needless to say, peeps took this page a different way than it’s intended and them getting it wrong suddenly makes the start of the next issue way cooler. I did not plan any of that at all. A happy accident.

negtest1Now I’ll close by saying this – we crafted this issue as something that built character and drew you deep in. We want you to care, we want you invested. I always strongly believed the best horror stories were the ones where you cared if people lived or died. If you didn’t care, where was the tension, the drama, the engagement?

This issue has been slowly getting drawn up that steep climb at the start of the rollercoaster. From here, we go to some insane places. The second issue drops some history, it sends us on a spiral, and by the end, man, you’ve fallen through that initial drop and are hitting the first bend on the coaster, wondering if maybe your bar isn’t on tight enough, wondering if maybe it’s possible you’ll slip out and say goodnight. Or maybe you do slip out, but not until the end of issue #3. Or by that stage, are you climbing out?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, 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.

NEGATIVE SPACE Cover Gallery

Owen Gieni is an art monster. And while pretty well everything he’s done for NEGATIVE SPACE has proven this fact, I want to take a moment to talk about the covers.

Y’know, these beasts right here.

Negcover1colour

negspace2cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

negative space 3negative space 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s 1-4 right there and it’s insanely gorgeous. With #4 now in Previews, all our cover art is live in the world. It’s a cool thing to have, like we’ve reached a little milestone on our trek up the arduous and thorny mountain.

From weird, to sad, to hinting at redemption, to just a flat out END to it all. Tonally, these pieces tell the story in broad beats, they hint and entice and draw, but they also leave well enough off the table so there aren’t really any spoilers. There might appear to be some but I know the story, this isn’t really ruining anyone’s reading experience.

Looking over these, I like the colour variation, there is no real ‘theme’ on our covers. We go from hot pink to muted around orange to a weird sea of blue to this dead pink explosion that actually relies on a lot of negative space [truly only realised this on typing this up right now].

I think maybe our theme is portraits, because 3 of these covers are kinda waist up shots of people. An Evorah, Guy, and Rick, whereas 3 isn’t but it’s kinda a portrait of Kindred and their peeps. That’s actually pretty cool and it makes me happy.

That cover to 1 is so damn eye catching. But I spoke enough about that here [LINK]. As a lead for our series, it is everything.

2 is one of the first things we came up with for the book. Owen’s idea for the subliminal message was and remains genius. My only input was the name of the book shop. Because THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY absolutely floors me every time, so I couldn’t think of anything sadder to reference.

3 is wicked for all the little details. The nearly POV aspect of it with the gun up the front, the broken mask screens and brutal violence within it all, the circles around Guy hinting at…something. Hell, just his pose, I dig it. Owen brought that kinetic action with such a subdued palette that it makes me smile every time.

As for 4, yeah, this is nasty. Out of all the thumbs he sent in this was my beauty from the very first instant I laid eyes on it. I don’t even think I need to explain it, though I hope people have all looked closely to see those aren’t brains flying around, yeah? Good, there’ll be questions at the end of this tram ride, kids.

As a whole, it’s a glorious thing to see all the covers for this book come together. It’s an art alchemy the likes of which I’ll never understand. I am no good for cover ideas, I babble when I give notes on them. They are just these magic illos that make my life that little bit brighter.

I think covers are important to a book and having a tight cover gallery can go a long way to holding interest right up until the end. We only have 4 issues but it’s still a long period of time with scores of other comics lining those shelves so you do wanna stand out as best you can. I believe Owen has put the best NegSpace foot forward into the world we could hope for. This gallery excites me and amazes me and Owen deserves a victory lap atop the shoulders of giants as we all look up and sigh.

To Owen, mate, I love you, and thanks for providing my world with the 4 images above. Our book is rad because of you.

To those who dug #1, thanks a trillion, and I hope you’ve all now got #2-4 on your standing order at your LCS. Drop them a line, confirm it, and enjoy the roll on into the pointy end of 2015.

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.

 

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