Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Tag: process

What To Do Next

There’s always that moment where you stop and wonder to yourself, “Huh, what’s next?”
You’ve just wrapped a script and it’s off to the editor/artist brainhive, or your pitch is off to the publisher and you have to wait for a greenlight, and you know there’s nothing ‘next’ that needs your immediate glance.
So, what’re you going to work on? What’re you going to dream up?
I mean, there’s always revisions to do, snark to drop on twitter, fractions of something in your future in ideas and lines and fun, there is always ‘something’ to do but some days you gotta start prepping the materials for the next gig.
There’s lots of ways to break new ideas into your headspace but here’s something to consider.
Widen your scope. Stretch yourself. Be bold.
You just did a crime book, try a romance book. You’re waiting for art on that sci fi horror book, try some slice of life on the side.
I got thinking about this idea when I was considering the chronology of some of my favourite creative minds. Let’s have a look at the progression of genius. Because you don’t need to limit yourself, and maybe you don’t know how well you’re going to tell that steampunk bromance.

JOEL and ETHAN COEN

I love the Coen Brothers. So many of their films sit high atop my must see lists and I find it inspirational to look over their career path and see how insanely headstrong they quite clearly are. Look at the fact they never pander, they don’t make Oscar Bait – though I’m sure it seems that way these days but cast back to a time where they were the kooky uncles of quality cult cinema.

Look at how they would conquer a genre and then move onto another genre straight after it. It never felt like the Coen Brothers were colouring by numbers, they were telling stories they absolutely had to tell. Genre be damned. Audience demand be damned. Never let it be said they phoned it in, these guys delve right into their narratives like it’s Scrooge McDuck’s money bin.

The Coen Brothers started with a simple bang, a crime story. BLOOD SIMPLE put them on the map with this visceral noir punch. Brutality, death, terrible people. This was a huge stake to drive into the ground as a debut.

So, how did they follow it up? With a slapstick gonzo trip about babies, and a mythical bikie bounty hunter, and how far we’ll go for true love. While RAISING ARIZONA is centred around a crime, it is miles away from BLOOD SIMPLE.

It’s such an incredibly bold move to just go from this black crime flick to something that’s bright and innovative and zany. Consider this, Quentin Tarantino debuted with RESERVOIR DOGS, a darkly comedic straight crime flick. How did he follow this up? He made the darkly comedic straight crime flick PULP FICTION.

It’s natural to want to replicate success, and feed the beast, but sometimes you gotta follow your heart.

Now, the Coen Brothers followed RAISING ARIZONA with MILLER’S CROSSING which is a little closer in heart to their debut. But whereas BLOOD SIMPLE was very new wave, MILLER’S CROSSING is very much more classical. This is Dashiell Hammett opposed to Gold Medal paperback pulp – both crime, each different.

From here, we can see the common vein in Coen flicks – besides vomiting fat men – is crime. But the crime is always tinted with very different lenses, and even genres. The Coen Brothers like to study flawed people, which nearly always strays to crimes of various levels, but the way they attack these narratives changes so often in fantastic ways.

Look at BARTON FINK, there are certainly crimes committed but it isn’t a crime flick. This is a deconstruction of a creative mind breaking in its own heartbreaking way. Then they roll into THE HUDSUCKER PROXY – a flick whose title alone tells you these guys just don’t care – and the farcical approach to this flick is genius but almost defies definition.

It would take over a decade before the Coen Brothers would tell another story close in tone and theme to BLOOD SIMPLE as they allowed people to end up in woodchippers, and wives to be kidnapped. And with FARGO they finally cracked the code and were allowed into the winner’s circle. They became touted as something we’d known they’d been for years – genius.

They dial it back with THE BIG LEBOWSKI – the sort of tonal fall from grace that saw them once more shunned at the Oscars, despite making the flick that would now have the deepest and most avid fanbase. You’d think once the brothers got into the Oscar Auditorium they’d scramble to stay there? Nope. And not for some time.

O, BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? is kind of genre insanity in that it’s a loose adaptation of a classic text via the film tropes of the 20s. It’s Clooney looking weird and acting weirder. It’s so well put together and yet those who came for/from FARGO or even THE BIG LEBOWSKI were going to have no idea what would hit them. A film with layers, that’s aged well, but not the sort of surefire follow up to anything. Because what the Coens want to do is explore genres, which they then show with their next two outings.

THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE is straight up James M Cain (you can see them slowly go through all their favourite crime authors in good time) and in doing so it’s staying so close to the original tone of those flicks from the 50s that you know it turned some people away, but no doubt lured in the purists, who they have to have shunned by that final scene. It’s like they didn’t want anyone in particular to be the core for this flick, and yet the people they’d get, the few, would be there for life.

And as for INTOLERABLE CRUELTY, well now we can just see they want to play in genres that are about as close to box office poison as you can get without trying to replicate the magic of a GREASE2/TEEN WITCH double bill.

I guess we can all forget THE LADYKILLERS – which is a shame because a Coen/Hanks jam should’ve been better, but I guess all this navel gazing genre crushing fun leads us to…

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN – a film so far removed from the past five outings – count ’em, FIVE – that it’s like they were putting that cattle gun to the past decade and wiping it out. And it worked. Everyone forgot THE CAREERKILLERS and the golden siblings were back. This is nowhere near their best flick, and it certainly didn’t deserve to beat THERE WILL BE BLOOD, but it’s straddling that line of tight storytelling, brutal Coenesque world views, and commercial appeal without asking for it that this was the revival they needed/deserved. FARGO worked, so did this, the data shows the formula, and so then they instead stay true to heart and make…

BURN AFTER READING – because apparently every BLOOD SIMPLE needs a RAISING ARIZONA, in the same way THE BIG LEBOWSKI clearly cleanses the palette after FARGO. They go deep and dark, and then they become bioluminescent. It’s a wonderful skill, but I get their agent – trying to skim from profits and not street cred – hates it. This flick is another genre mess. Crime, yes, but totally wacky and weird and Malkoviched out.

The brothers sink really deep again for A SERIOUS MAN, a flick more towards BARTON FINK in that it defies genre or audience expectation or dollar drive. And you could never foresee this flick leading them towards TRUE GRIT, a Western, a remake of a classic, an adaptation of a classic. Or by now, maybe we should see that coming. Maybe we should know when we are in the weird calm before the bombastic storm. Because this is what the brothers do, they defy you to guess their next step. I guarantee no one saw INSIDE LLEWELYN DAVIS coming.

And true, they haven’t done horror, or war, or every genre, but you can see each project stretches them in new ways. That’s clearly a good thing when you look at the quality they produce, and that there’s no burn out on what they do. You can barely compare flicks because they’re all so different.

Whereas if you look at the godfather of ganster crime flicks, I sometimes struggle to compare because they’re all playing strings on the same harp. But let’s try, just quickly, to look at the diversity of:

MARTIN SCORSESE

You’d think Scorsese’s flicks would all be the same, and so many of them are. After some rough and tumble early indie credits, Scorsese lands on the scene with MEAN STREETS, a very street level view of crime on the streets of New York. And while he follows up with the dramatic romance of ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, he’s back into the NY filth with TAXI DRIVER. He’s tried and been shown that his dark NY crime flicks are going to work, and going to work exceptionally well. So how does he treat the news of having a guaranteed successful genre on his hands?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK might reference his useful location but it doesn’t hold the same flavour at all, even with the screen stand in of Robert De Niro yet again taking the lead. You could call this flick a mistep and not many would argue. From perfect crime to some music/romance/slice of life hybrid, the flick just didn’t register as the usual Scorsese goods and so it flopped. From there, we get nearly the whole decade of the 80s with Scorsese hiding inside the genre that works.

Sorta.

Scorsese packs a lot of crime into the 80s, but it’s skewed through different genres. RAGING BULL is certainly a step removed from the mean streets, a boxing flick with black heart, and it’s a raging success on all levels. THE KING OF COMEDY defies expectations and reflections, a genre Frankenstein’s monster that’s ultimately a failure but stands proud because it shows Scorsese was happy to play the game, but on his terms. He’d do dark people – none of this saxophone playing anymore – but he’d still be trying out new irons on the green to see how to get the ball to move.

AFTER HOURS is the black mirror version of NEW YORK, NEW YORK, and while again a flop, it’s certainly worth its place in the back catalogue. It just also marks the end of the slide for Scorsese, as he accepts a sequel, THE COLOR OF MONEY, and while it’s good enough to land him his next flick – the very personal THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, about perhaps man’s greatest crime – it all swirls inevitably towards the next flick that will define Scorsese’s name for an entire generation.

GOODFELLAS.

This flick is the obvious next step from MEAN STREETS –> TAXI DRIVER, and yet Scorsese took a decade and a half to get there. Those many years were spent looking at romance, and sporting flick as introspective downfall, to the Greatest Story Ever Told. Scorsese didn’t rest on his laurels, he didn’t go back in for the easy beat, he worked his ass off to do things that mattered to him. Maybe this is why he came back stronger and defined the genre with GOODFELLAS?

CAPE FEAR follows, then we dovetail into THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, before hitting GOODFELLAS-lite in CASINO. Scorsese knows how to game the system and he delivers one for them so he can do one for him. KUNDUN is his exploration, BRINGING IN THE DEAD, and to some lesser extent GANGS OF NEW YORK is what we expect but it’s not a carbon copy. He’s pushing niches into the crime genre he now owns. THE AVIATOR is for him, then he gives them THE DEPARTED and by this stage he’s doing the same genre but in a totally different way. It’s not the 70s anymore and this flick is the clear signifier of his growth.

SHUTTER ISLAND is such a fun pulp paperback, dropping down to HUGO which is a beast unto itself, and WOLF OF WALL STREET is something new in a myriad of ways – tone being a huge slice of it.

I know I think Scorsese just did crime flicks, with a few personal puff pieces between, but upon inspection you soon see a Coen level of differentiation.

And these are just two examples. You can look at so many creatives and see them stretch themselves constantly.

BKV did weird sci fi/travel/growth story, while doing political cape book. A masterful slice of life anthropomorphism allegory on war (PRIDE OF BAGHDAD), or the slice of life book about comic creators and what it is to create (THE ESCAPISTS). Now he’s doing romance as sci fi and dystopia sci fi as a PI commentary on social media on the side. You can see his throughline, sci fi, but it’s always something new, always pushing himself.

RICK REMENDER is currently doing a hard sci fi book, a weird school of assassins book that’s navel gazing into his teen years (and is absolutely brilliant), an underwater sci fi journey tale, and an upcoming weird looking sci fi book. This is all on the side of a mammoth Marvel event. Again, see the throughline, but see how it’s constantly different. BLACK SCIENCE might be a true sister title to FEAR AGENT but DEADLY CLASS is like nothing else.

MATT FRACTION is writing SEX CRIMINALS, to defy genre because it sounded like some warped sci fi time stopping tale but is really one of the sweetest relationship breakdown stories going. He’s also writing some crime homage to the early days of television, and a Marvel book that’s really just this lazy PI tale, and he has upcoming Odyssey meets sci fi book coming on. And all this atop a history of a talking gorilla, the greatest superspy fu comic ever, and a variety of Marvel books from wacky to straight up cape style. He’s constantly expanding his horizons, and is always better when he is.

The exception that proves the rule, for me, is ED BRUBAKER. He’s writing crime fiction, always crime fiction. He has a dash of spy in one of them now, and in the past injected capes into the mess, but otherwise, Brubaker, mostly with Sean Phillips, just rocks the mic for crime and rightfully so because he’s become a master of it.

So while looking at all this, I consider myself. What’s next?
I’ve just done this sci fi/thriller mash up, as well as an anthropomorphic/journalism/crime tale. I’ve tackled fatherhood, as well as a sci fi/Australian political/thriller mash up. I did boxing noir for my Vertigo short. So what’s next?

A PKD-sci fi/thriller about depression

An all-female Viking ghost story

An intergalactic espionage sci fi

An all ages sci fi romp

A hard sci fi journey periodical

A straight up lady kung fu bonanza

I hope an Australian warped historical thriller

And hopefully more anthropomorphic/journalism/crime, too

Maybe eventually that beach noir surf crime tale…

There’s other stuff, but let’s not prognosticate beyond our abilities.

My point is – I have a throughline, but I’m constantly poking what I can get away with. All ages, hardcore fight fu, devastating ghost tales, depression. I have a lot of sci fi, but it’s nearly always a different level of it. I’m also interested in looking into different emotions, themes. I’m not necessarily doing it perfect, the Coen Brothers are the true masters of diversification, but I know I want to knock about a bit, try lots of everything before I, hopefully, settle into mastering one or two of them very well. I’m keen to continue to ape that PKD style I dig of tone and a warped reality but I’m also excited to see what else I might do well. I have yet to do war, or cape, though I have a prison take in the works, and I’d love to try my hand at a western of sorts. All in good time, just gotta make sure I don’t get bogged down spinning the same wheels I am now.

Lord knows I’ve yet to get deep into my Cronenberg romance book. Yet.

tl;dr version – as a creator, are you trying brand new genres, or mash ups, or takes on genres, or are you doing the same old formula every time? Expand your horizons, most of your heroes do.

Writing Splash Pages

Splash pages are tricky beasts. Used right, they can be amazing beats. Used wrong, or at least with little effect, and they become placeholders, structural ticks on a checklist of formula, turgid, ho-hum, forgettable.

I don’t write a lot of splash pages. I don’t decompress so rarely find I have the space for a splash page. I say that like I’m bragging when in reality it can be a fault at times, it means I’m trying to cram too much in, I want too many little beats, I want my words all over everything. Sometimes your story needs time and space to breathe.

And splash pages add both – time and space.

Used right, they slow the reader down, make them feel the moment, bring them in and invest them on an emotional level – whether that emotion is awe or infinite sadness or extreme guttural horror. The splash page is the signifier that the reader needs to stop and soak it in for a moment, or maybe three moments.

I’m not here to preach which splash pages are the best and the worst – though I would like to write a future post about which splash pages have hit me hard in the past few years as a writer/reader – for now I’d like to point you to a link and make you think about it in regards to your writing, and illustrating (though I usually speak from the writing/writer’s perspective because there’s no way I’m lecturing about art).

75 ICONIC PHOTOS TO DEFINE THE 21ST CENTURY SO FAR

Yep, this is click bait, but it’s got 75 pics that are pretty good, and I want to highlight a few that might make you think differently about how you’ll write splash pages in the future – however, as always, ymmv.

Classic Majesty

nyc skyline

Look at this shot. It’s beautiful, right? Haunting, emotional, inspiring, and all just with a cityscape. You can use your environment to do this to the reader. Do it.

CHARACTER POSE

bush mission accomplished

Have your character doing something dramatic. Post them with their environment, frame it real pretty like. Have everything point to them and their message, and make it so their message points to them, and they are the central point of their message. Extra points for making their pomp a true farce.

CHARACTER POSE – EMOTIONAL EDIT

reuinited family

Drop that emotional beat. Character posing in maximum emotional mode, tears on display, or anger, or whatever. This is the action shot of their soul. But also, look how this mother’s body frames around her daughter, and the colour juxtaposition, the interlocking human pieces that fit perfectly, this is a pretty shot that also manages to evoke so much. Don’t rely purely on the shown emotion, just because I see tears doesn’t mean I’ll care. Draw me in, use your craft. I also think the business pants guy clearly just walking on by says so much, this lady is melting down, he’s just looking for some java before making his connecting flight. Sometimes these heightened emotional moments are just yours, and no one else cares, we are pockets of hyperfuel for whatever we are feeling and rarely do others get burnt by our flames. That in itself is a fascinating concept about empathy, and time in the day, and just how much emotion we have to give the world and still function.

This shot also goes well with this shot below:

bridge suicide

Look at that body language. Ooof. Masterclass right there from the real world. Capture something as real as this and I’ll read your book.

SCOPE

virginia tech

Use scope and numbers to your advantage. Whether it’s an army, or a family, or mourners, or protestors, make us care because you’re bringing a thousand peeps who care.

Now, this won’t always work – sometimes it feels like saturation and can be numbing – but when done and framed right for the very perfect moment, it can stop us in our tracks.

THAT ONE CREEPY MOMENT

boston bomber

Look at the lighting on this one. If you wanna think about mood you think about the shadows, but only as they juxtapose against the light, and as they differentiate because this pic has pitch black, but also weird greys, with multiple light sources. This is just great.

INNOVATE

kiev independence

Be bold. Tell your moment in a way you have not seen before. Damn the rules.

FIND THAT ONE MOMENT YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE AND NO ONE’S THOUGHT OF BEFORE – BE FIRST

vancouver riot

Because if you think something is preposterous, or will feel like a contrivance, or not plausible, or will be laughed at, just know something crazier has happened in real life.

But if you can capture those moments, and think about them first, and present them with a modicum of craft, respect, enthusiasm, and talent then the world will love you for the opportunity to share that beautiful moment in space and time.

So the next time you go to write a splash page, consider why you are writing it, what do you want to make the world feel? How are you going to evoke that feeling? Scope of size, or body language, or by bringing something new and worthy of study for just a moment. Because the world has plenty of pages of the Spider-Buggy zoooming through the air, and of cape teams launching inexplicably through the air, but they don’t have enough moments of soul searching on a bridge or macking out in the middle of a riot.

If you are going to stop the reader and make them slow down, give them reason to do it and make them feel that page for hours later.

Comic Structure is Your New Fantasy

If you are writing comics then you absolutely must be thinking about comic structure.
The whole idea of page construction, panel layout, gutters, page turns, etc is why comics is so exciting as a medium. That idea of control is like so few other media. I always say comics are like a sonnet in iambic pentameter and this is why, the structure of it is key.
A comic with superb structure is usually indicative of an artist and writer being on point.
So, I can only assume structure is something you are thinking about a lot. You’ve no doubt read McCloud/Eisner/Bendis (which are my trio of start up #makecomics guides) and now you’re branching out, finding your voice/style, becoming a comic structure citizen of the world. As such, let your thoughts be informed by much, read plenty, dissect it all, and if you need a hand, start here:
HAWKEYE by David Aja + Annie Wu + Matt Hollingsworth + Chris Eliopoulos + Matt Fraction, from Marvel.
This book is an insane structure dream come true. This book is must read material if you are looking to level up the ways in which you make your comics – and don’t worry, I was beyond ambivalent about the character of Clint Barton before this title started up. In fact, I wasn’t even pulling the title at first and then reviews dropped and so I had to sample and now I think it is the best book craft-wise being put out right now. So if you even downright loathe Hawkeye, still consider dipping into this.
As an example, I offer up HAWKEYE #20 – a Kate Bishop tale of her taking on Madame Masque. Read the issue.
Now read it again.
Now marvel at how Wu/Fraction use time. They bounce all over the place, from locations, to times, and back again, and around, and they never tell you how, when, or where, they just do it. They assume the reader is smart enough to get it. They don’t pander with non-diagetic captions for reference, they believe half the fun, half the beauty, is just making you do the work. They play a conversation across two pages, the first page, and the last page, and you only get one side of the conversation on one page, and then you wait until the final page to get the other half of the conversation – and everything in between informs what Kate has to say. It’s a brilliant move and one that made the process junkie here start salivating.
Moves like these takes guts, and precision like you’re shaving someone on the moon with a laser from earth. You have to be bold, and sure, and you certainly need to plan like you’re invading Russia in winter. Structure doesn’t just happen, you do it, you make it, you force it into the world like you won’t settle for the standard mediocrity.
Now read the issue one more time…
…and start to think about how you structure your comics. I’m not saying you need to play fast and loose with time like some drunk wizard, but I am hoping you’ll think about the myriad ways you can tell your story. A-B-C-D storytelling might get the job done, but if I want someone to get me from home to the holidays I guess they can drive me in their beat up Datto, or they can sling me into a private jet and let me sip G+T while listening to ELO while I’m pondering my ETA, you down with OPP?
And this should come as no shock, Matt Fraction has been an out and open process junkie for years. He tears apart the work of others so he might drink from its soul and redefine his own process. Think about his Reverse Engineering script activity, or the things he wrote about BORN AGAIN. It should come as no shock that Fraction thinks this much and this hard about comics and then his books are just this good (and for the quality debate I lay at your bare feet: CASANOVA, IMMORTAL IRON FIST, SEX CRIMINALS, and HAWKEYE – argument over).

Ergo: you also need to think this hard about the books you are reading, and then the things you are writing. Again, good quality is no accident.

Structure, it’s the difference between a one-bedroom basement dwelling and a liquid labyrinthine Hogwarts dorm-frat funhouse.
You wanna make something as good as HAWKEYE, think about the structure.

Words about WORDS FOR PICTURES – and Breaking In Links

The subheading for this book by Brian Michael Bendis is ‘The art and business of writing comics and graphic novels.’ And that is exactly what you get.

words for picturec over

I get asked at cons a lot about what sort of things can help you write comics. I’m not asked this because I’m anything special but more that I just talk about process so much that people assume I know what I’m saying. Jokes on them but it whiles away the hours on the con floor.

So when people ask me for tips and advice and whathaveyou, I invariably tell them to get Scott McCloud’s stuff and simply devour it. Set up the bbq, decant the HP sauce at room temp, and imbibe those pages like your future career writing Spider-Man depends on it. Because it most certainly does.

There is no denying the dominance of McCloud and his complete coverage of the comic medium structure and the accessible way he lays it all down. That layer and level of craft has been owned and so I was so pleased to see Bendis’ book is not an attempt to go this path. No, Bendis instead delivers the perfect partner volume to McCloud’s work.

WORDS FOR PICTURES treads water in a few ponds and all of them really important.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say this is ‘must read’ stuff for people right when they make the decision that they want to make comics and break into comics. I wish beyond belief that I had this book a decade ago. It’s full of the little tips and tricks about breaking in that I had to hunt around and find or stumble across over the course of years of living the life. Here, this book presents it all to you in one handy weekend read.

I’ll repeat this – WORDS FOR PICTURES IS MUST READ FOR THOSE EMBARKING ON THE JOURNEY OF MAKING AND BREAKING INTO COMICS.

There is no way around this, there are lessons here you need to learn. There are lessons here you have no doubt been told by someone else already but you weren’t sure if it was right. It is right. It’s here in this book, please read it a few times, learn it, love it, and then jump into the four colour waters, it’s always warm in here.

To give a quick rundown – this book drops knowledge and science on some of the early tripping blocks creators, and especially writers, face.

The editorial round table on how to meet editors, stay in contact with them, and not be a pest is worth its weight in gold.

The artist round table about what they dig and loathe in scripts is fantastic. Learning how to write for your artist is super hard – and a lot of that is because nascent writers don’t have many artists with which to collaborate and experiment so we have too many scripts written in a vacuum and not considering the collaborator. This chapter breaks down a lot of what you need to hear and the sooner the better.

The page with Kelly Sue’s pitch docs on it is just glorious. These are the sorts of things we don’t see anywhere near enough of. Trying to find, share, download, hack, ask politely for, and imagine pitch docs is hard so here we get a peek into some good ones – especially because Kelly Sue is irreverent in hers and that will free your mind – it did for me.

If you need to learn the art of comics, read McCloud, if you need to learn the art of making comics, read Bendis. I think it’s that simple.

Now, I know the book isn’t without its faults. It almost felt a little too quick to read. I would have liked to see more process about script breakdowns and real craft – though once you start talking about scripting gutters and the like then you run into McCloud territory so I see why this line was drawn. This book might not be perfect in the way McCloud is but I don’t know of anything better, and I know Bendis drops enough knowledge I wish I had five years ago that I know this book is completely worth it.

So the next time someone asks me what they need to help them make comics I am going to send them to this book, in a heartbeat.

——-

If you dig this book, or want to know more about the things you need to be a writer with a level head, click these links.

Bendis runs a process blog – dig it – http://bendiswordsforpictures.tumblr.com/

Bendis also runs his own tumblr where you’ll get a stack of comic art to adore but he often goes on jags of answering tumblr questions and some great stuff can be found therein – http://brianmichaelbendis.tumblr.com/

I have delivered a comic writing workshop before and you can download the presentation here – https://ryanklindsay.com/2014/05/18/comic-writing-101-at-comicgong/

I also run the Process Junkie tumblr with Dan Hill – it wants to be Bendis’ page pretty badly – http://processjunkie.tumblr.com/

The Comic Writer Services 2.0 page, curated by Dan Hill, has enough process links to fill a month – and I heartily endorse you calling in sick for a month and just getting your read and your learn on – seriously – do this – http://comicwriterservices.com/

Chuck Wendig is a guy who writes often and with passion about writing and all that craft jazz – I wouldn’t tell you to try to be like him, only so many people can get away with that sort of malarkey without alienating themselves completely, but he does drop some great grist for the mill – http://terribleminds.com/

Buy Scott McCloud’s books – http://www.bookdepository.com/author/Scott-McCloud

I like reading film scripts – I have scored many for download from this great flick site – http://cinearchive.org/

Stephen King’s ON WRITING could possibly round out my personal holy trinity of books about writing/making comics – http://www.bookdepository.com/On-Writing-Stephen-King/9780340820469

I like my writing craft books to have a personal tone. King’s author writing voice is something I could read for months on end – and I dig STORY (to degrees) and some of those other staples but if you want great ground level sensible stuff that has worked wonders for me, hit up the McCloud/Bendis/King triumvirate.

——-

That’s it, now go read something every day, and write something every day.

Go. Enjoy.

DEER EDITOR KS COMING SOON – RKL SCRIPT PDF

DEER EDITOR – a tablet crime comic about the editor of the crime beat who’s also a deer by Sami Kivela, Nic J Shaw, Dan Hill, Christopher Kosek, and myself – launches on Kickstarter in under a week.

I dropped the main beats on that yesterday – click through for the downlow, the basic book pledges, and a preview of some pages.

Today, we talk about one of my favourite pledges from the upcoming campaign:

$7 – WEEKEND PDFs

That’s right, TWO PDFs. One is the BROADSHEET PDF, and the other is the RKL SCRIPT PDF, feat. scripts of MANY of my other projects.

The extra PDF will contain scripts to:

HEADSPACE #1-3 — THE MANY HAROLD HOLTS OF SPACE AND TIME — LOVESICK — SURVIVOR — My shorts for the OXYMORON +SCAMthology books from ComixTribe — JONBOT V MARTHA – the guest one-shot strip I wrote for the SICBA award winning Colin Bell and Neil Slorance’s webcomic — LITTLE MAN IN THE BIG HOUSE #1 – a short story about a prison for supervillains that is in the works — YELLOW – a short story I have coming soon — CAPTAIN HUMAN THE ROBOT, both the All Ages Edit and the After Hours edit — CURRICULUM #1 – a forthcoming sci fi tablet periodical — and a few other projects, as well as whatever else I can find floating about that isn’t terribly embarrassing. It’ll be worth easily over 200 pages.

I love reading comic scripts, they certainly help hone my own writing, so I hope some process junkies out there really dig on this beast of a package. I know I have pretty much every script available to download online so I’m always keen to see new stuff pop up, I hope you are, too. And it’s been fun to read through these old time capsules of my talent (imagined, and nascent, and never quite real, ha). This PDF is going to be monstrous, and if you like it, you’ll love it. You also get a peek at things coming down the pike, so that’s exciting.

UNDER ONE WEEK.

You’ve got yourself under one week to get excited, tell your friends, ask me questions if you want, and generally bring the ruckus. We launch next week, on Monday/Tuesday (depending on your relationship to the international date line), and will run for a month. All updates will run here, some updates will run at the DE HQ, deereditor.tumblr.com. Tomorrow I’ll run details of a high end pledge level, one of a kind, some original art.

Keep up with the story, don’t get gored.

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Comic Writing 101 at #comicgong

This past weekend, I attended the ComicGong show at Wollongong. I tabled, had a bunch of fun, sold plenty of books, had some great chats about comics and life, and also ran a Comic Writing 101 workshop in the morning as we opened that was both well attended and well received.

My workshop looked at how to break story, how comic scripts are structured, how to keep at it, how to find collaborators, how to break in and have your work seen, and how to get future gigs and maybe even make some money. It was a lot of info for an hour workshop but I fly through it, I talk fast, and I kept each point to the point. It was delightful to see many people in the room taking notes and thinking about my suggestions – and they are all suggestions, if they were proven fact then I would have made more comics by now, natch. This is just stuff I wish someone had shown/told me a decade ago.

A few people asked me for a copy of the presentation so in the interest of sharing, I’m going to link to the presentation as a PDF below. I should, however, first state that this presentation is not pretty, I don’t distract with pics/gifs/blingees/really anything eye appealing at all. I put black text on a white background – my attempt at humour as this is all a writer ever deals with, black text on a white background. I should also say, these dot points are often just words and I know I’d flesh them out as spoken. To that end, yeah, you’re missing out and I refuse to type in the whole minute of what I’d say to that two word point. If you’re dying and must know, hit me up and I’ll chat with you about it. Otherwise, just enjoy the other more clear stuff. So, here goes – please take this PDF for educational purposes and do not pass off as your own:

COMIC WRITING 101 – by Ryan K Lindsay

Enjoy.

Riding Success Waves, Learning Lessons, and Why We Create: Favreau TruthBombs

Was listening to the Nerdist Podcast with Jon Favreau on it and it’s a superb listen as Favreau talks about craft and comedy and career growth as a creator. Truly fascinating insights and one caught me and really rattled me in all the right ways.

Favreau talks of his career and how he’s had his flops. He’s certainly had his high points – making SWINGERS and IRON MAN will hurt no one’s career – but he’s also made ZATHURA and COWBOYS AND ALIENS and those didn’t set much alight. So he talks about these low points and he says at least he learnt from them. At least they still helped him get to where he would go next. You could probably argue Favreau doesn’t get IRON MAN without making ZATHURA. And you can chart his career and show an always upward trend.

This got me to thinking about making comics. In my head, I want everything to be better than the last thing I do. I don’t want to falter and make a misstep. But maybe those missteps are going to happen and it’s not the end of the world. Maybe you need to try things and fail but learn from it all. Maybe it’s all going to be okay.

I don’t know, it was comforting to know that the guy who launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the stratospheric success it is did a dud after it, and is fine with that, and he gets back up and keeps on rocking. And will keep on rocking onwards and upwards for a long time coming.

It’s important to realise not everything you do will be great, and not everything will land well (or as well as you want it to), and that so long as you are generally trending up while also taking risks, then you’re probably doing it right.

Oh, he also says one really important thing:

Favreau talks about wanting to be happy with what he does. Because he creates because it makes him happy. That’s a real key point. If you aren’t enjoying it, then maybe stop. And if you want to keep enjoying it, do stuff that will make you happy.

Seems simple, yet is always so evasive.

I know all the comics I’m making right now make me extremely happy. Here’s to only doing that moving forward, flop or not, let’s learn and make more and eventually not suck at all (much).

RKL Annotations – HEADSPACE #2

I am really proud of this issue and happy with how it came out. We drop more knowledge and we further warp the world of Carpenter Cove. For as much as we want you to know more, we want to confuse and discombobulate you. Let’s do a little of both right now.

And if you haven’t read HEADSPACE #2, then head over to ComiXology right now and hook in.

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Cover

Man, when Eric dropped this one on me I was floored. Talk about capturing the tone of the issue and laying it out in one simple image. This cover is working on many layers and I’m in love with it. I like a good minimalist design sense and this uses it to drown Shane and really ratchet up the tension. The blood in his mouth is ghastly and really brings this to life. In a word: perfect.

Page 1

I wrote this page a few times. I knew what I wanted to get into, I knew the back story, but I was being passive. I wasn’t allowing Shane to really address the situation with fresh eyes. Once I got onto this final draft, I could see I was really baring Shane’s soul.

And it’s important to note, I’m theorising on this subject. I’m wondering how I’d feel if I were in his position. The closest I’ve come is what happens early on in RESCUE ME (spoilers).

Page 2

What greets you on Page 2 is indicative of how I want to throw this comic at you. I never want you to get comfortable, I always want to try and slip in the weird business as much as I can. And I am in love with Eric’s delivery on this piazza, and the dead men of Carpenter Cove are creepy as hell.

Page 3

That wave is crushingly good. Initially, I scripted what caused the wave but we didn’t really have room on the page so I wondered for a while what we could do and then I realised we’d just not tell you. It’s the Cove, man, anything can happen. Dead men having brunch, now a giant wave. It happens.

Page 4

Ah, Max’s brain cutting loose in the only way it knows how. It’s trying to cleanse his brain, it’s reacting but blindly and violently. This montage of sorts needed to feel brutal but also warped and with just a hint of the absurd. I think it ticks all those boxes.

Then there’s the captions. I like the flow of them, the slow pace of giving them out. I wondered if maybe the page might look and feel different with all the captions in the first panel, or in the last. These are the questions I ask myself forever and ever. In the end, I like words with images so I opt to put one in each panel. I’m not much for writing silent panels, pages, or sequences. It’s just not how I deliver narrative.

Page 5

Remember the alligator we show in the background and mention off hand last issue, yeah, CRUNCH. Which is not actually the SFX I scripted but Eric did his own thing and improved us as always.

Page 6

I found this page hard to script and it went through various incarnations. I finally settled on something I liked but sometimes, when you’ve drafted something a dozen times, you either end up absolutely nailing it or you just finally get to a place where you are happy enough. For some reason, this page was hard to write. I’m glad I went silent in that big panel. It’s not really a reveal but it is a lead up. And I dig how Eric makes the movement all work, over quite some ground, so quickly across a handful of panels.

Page 7

This is another turn point, another place where we fall further down the rabbit hole. These marionette Maxs were creepy to write but then Eric drew them and they came out even more disturbing. I love them. The puppets are talking about things, snippets into Max, and it’s important to his character what we see and more importantly hear here.

Page 8

The first panel is one of my favourite things in this book. The way everything flows together, the caption, the flag, the abyssal black behind them. It’s this brilliant quiet moment and then the gator destroys it again. I can only imagine this will slay in Guided View on ComiXology.

Page 9

Eric decimates this alligator with style and flair. And then we meet The Librarian. Does he look familiar to you? He was initially designed to look more like Mandy Patinkin in Homeland but then I had a vision and asked for him to be changed. Eric obliged. Also, that gun, I scripted it to look like that ridiculous beast Nick Fury comes with toward the end of SECRET INVASION. I dig how it looks on this dude.

Page 10

That little kid walking the marionette Max away in the background of Panel One was not scripted, and it’s so damn creepy. I love that Eric does things like this with the book. I also dig that he drew all those books. Note to self, and others: don’t script in a library because your artist will go nuts drawing shelves and filling them. And then you will feel bad, though the page will look rad.

Page 11

We get a talky page and Eric does well to make it work and mix up the angles. That reaction panel down the bottom certainly worked well.

Page 12

I love Eric’s reactions on the faces of his characters. Watching Shane break down a little is sad. That final panel could be its own splash, if I had more real estate and artists who would work for me on an unlimited basis, but I don’t think I’d ever write a face to say a line filling its own splash. That’s just not my bag.

Back Matter

I admit what a sick mind I have. I beg for forgiveness. You can see how behind on things I am as I read NORTHLANDERS and THE MIGHTY THOR while watching JUSTIFIED well behind the rest of the world.

Essay

Damn, Chris Kosek designed these pages too and he smashed them. I feel like we’re making some kind of online novel back here, I hope you all dig. Dan Hill is bleeding research and erudition on the page. These essays support the themes of the book as well as just fill a space with something I would want to read as a reader of this book.

So, thanks for picking up the book. I appreciate every damn sale and you are keeping my dream alive 99c at a time. By this stage, all the scene setting and first act malarkey is over. Next issue, we really get into the chase and broaden the scope of the comic. Next issue, it’s brutal, and Eric sends us out on one of my favourite panels of all time from a book written by me. It’s sublime and gorgeous and perfect and better than scripted. Stick around and you’ll see, and no doubt agree.

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, 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, or actually phone a friend to talk about Headspace, or gift the comic to someone. It’s all appreciated.

We’ll see you for #3 soon to take a TOUR OF CARPENTER COVE. Til then, be safe.

1982 Followers

Besides maybe 10k and 1mil, there’s only one twitter follower milestone I care about. 1982.

The year of my birth, my spirit number, this is the promised land.

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I’ve never been one to set a specific follower goal and goad people into getting there falsely so instead I wanted to organically celebrate this one highlight with you. So, for me hitting 1982 followers, please accept the following process swag:

I gift to you, the script to my one-shot FATHERHOOD and see how I communicated myself to Daniel Schneider and Paulina Ganucheau. You can buy the comic through ComiXology here, or as a PDF at Challenger Comics here.

Download: Fatherhood noir – Draft 5 – Jan 2013

I also gift to you a script to the best short story I have written thus far, trip into the mine shaft that is THE MANY HAROLD HOLTS OF SPACE AND TIME and see the love letter I penned for Louie Joyce. You can scope the finished tale in the HBVB Anthology here.

Download: Harold Holt – Draft 2 – August 2013

I hope you dig the scripts, maybe get a process tip out of them, and if you dig them share them around. There aren’t enough comic scripts available for download, especially because they are all so different, so I aim to be the change I wish to see in the world.

Maybe You Can’t Write It Today, But Tomorrow…

Three days ago, I had a scene in a script I didn’t mind at all. It wasn’t the shining gem of the issue but I had worked hard on this scene and I enjoyed much of it.

Two days ago, I realised the scene had to go and I was going to drastically rewrite it. I mapped out a plan and the five pages were planned loosely but in a way I thought was clear and would be fun/easy to write.

Last night, I started writing those five pages and found them incredibly hard. I managed to salvage much of the original first page so it cleared smoothly but the other four wouldn’t play ball. I found I could lay out the pages panel by panel but I could not fill them with anything except terrible terrible words. I hacked at these pages like I was taking a machete to the vines in the jungle and eventually went to bed annoyed that I didn’t nail any one of those four pages – and I also went to sleep wondering if maybe I had become a sub-par writer, y’know, maybe I had lost it. Maybe I’d never write a solid page again.

Note: seeing that the Page One still popped because it mostly used words written by a Ryan from weeks ago only seemed to reinforce the fact I had lost it for sure.

Today, while playing with the kids (cars and ramps and water pistols and snacks) I started getting little lines popping. I would periodically look at the woeful script pages I had and let them stew and then I’d get another little snippet. I’d race off and punch in a line, or a phrase. For some panels, I’d have 2-4 possible lines, I was slowly circling what I needed and how I needed it.

Cut to the kids having a nap/rest and I got half an hour to come into the office and so I quickly managed to string some lines together and now one page is nailed and the other three all sit very close. I just need another pass before they’ll feel cohesive and somewhat clever.

My lesson today/this week was; sometimes if you’re not able to write a scene then you won’t ever be able to write that scene…during that writing session. Work on something else, read a book, have a sleep, play with the kids, whatever. Admit defeat, retreat, reroute, and flank that script like it’s your job. Which, if you take this seriously enough, money be damned, it is.

This doesn’t work every time, I’ve broken scenes through persistence, but I also know scenes have broken me through my persistence so you need to allow yourself permission to walk away.

It’s like my knuckle tattoos always say: walk way and live to write another day.

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