Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Tag: sami kivela

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Ferguson – Horror DNA

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

Ben Snyder – Comic Bastards

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

Bob Bretall – Comic Spectrum

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

Carrie McClain – Black Nerd Problems

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

Chuck – Chuck’s Comic of the Day

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

Craig Neilson-Adams – Big Comic Page

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

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

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

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

Rowan Grover – Multiversity Comics

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

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

Sami Kivela; My Co-Pilot, My Mate

I love making comics with Sami Kivela.

We’ve been putting out comics for nearly a decade, and our latest story, EVERFROST, lands in June through Black Mask Studios.

Way back when, Sami and I first worked on a pitch for a comic that would become CHUM at ComixTribe. I loved the character acting and clear page layouts he brought to the project, and I loved how he made everything I wrote work better on the page. I was writing a surf noir story and Sami made every pulp trope I wanted to play with, and invert, come to life on the page.

Imagine being a nascent comic book writer/creator and getting this cover in your inbox? I was so deeply deeply in love.

While I pitched CHUM around, I talked to him about building a weird sci fi world with me and Dan Hill and so he co-created and illustrated the first issue of CURRICULUM. His work on this story is phenomenal, and it’s one of life’s great failings for me that we never managed to get this story completed [that’s a whole other post, sadly, and it mostly focuses on my ineptitude].

I loved this opening panel so much it was the back of my phone case for the next 5 years.

Dying to keep working with Sami, I pitched him on the idea of doing a one-shot and taking it to Kickstarter. He was down and thus DEER EDITOR was born. I’d written this script on my phone as I wandered my neighbourhood late at night, trying to keep my kid asleep in a Baby Bjorn while letting my wife rest at home, and I was so excited when Sami trusted me to go on this journey with him. This is still one of my favourite comics I’ve created, and Sami and I ended up rounding out a trilogy of connected one-shots that were super successful on Kickstarter, and I still plan to collect in a trade paperback [one day].

CHUM was made and Sami just continued to level up, so I asked him if he’d be again willing to swing for the fences with me on a pitch. Legend that he is, he agreed, and within a year we cooked up BEAUTIFUL CANVAS, pitched it, got it picked up at Black Mask, and it started hitting the shelves.

Sami’s work on BEAUTIFUL CANVAS really showed his ability in a new light. Perhaps it was the colours of Triona Farrell, perhaps it was having more people read this book than any of our stories before, or perhaps it was just the right time: but Sami knocked this one out of the park. His page layouts continued to become dynamic and full of narrative, his character designs jumped off the page and kicked you in the guts, and his star went on to shine as he made ABBOTT with Saladin Ahmed, MACHINE GUN WIZARDS with Christian Ward, and UNDONE BY BLOOD with Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson.

But all along, Sami and I had yet another collaboration cooked up and now it’s finally appearing – EVERFOST is coming.

This might be our greatest work yet. Some of the pages Sami has dropped in this series are shockingly electric, and he’s illustrated all 4 issues, so I’ve seen it all. You are going to love Sami as much as I do, and that’s going to fill both your heart and your eyeballs.

I get the privilege of seeing Sami’s character sketches, his ability to capture characters out of my brain and get them onto the page perfectly. I get to cruise through his thumbnails that show the amount of class and emotion he’s going to put on the page – and the fact he can show that in thumbnails is just astounding. I get the pencils, and the inks, and the thoughtful notes on story. I see where Sami explodes a page, or alters the flow, or [usually] improves every scene as it transitions from script to art. The guy is a stone cold genius, and working with him to create a world and tell a story is one of the most satisfying things I’ll do in comics, or in my life overall.

But mostly, I’ve just enjoyed working with one of my best mates to tell a huge story. From every cover thumbnail, to script edit notes, to these small moments he drops all over each issue that made me hold my breath while reading emails, this comic has been a true labour of love.

It took about 4 years to get this comic onto the shelves, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to finally share all of Sami with you once more. If you’re a fan of beautiful art, or nuanced moments, or great comics, then I have to imagine you are a Sami Kivela completist [I know I am]. So if you want more Sami Art in your life, this is a good year for you. ABBOTT 1973 has been coming out, he’s drawing the next volume of UNDONE BY BLOOD, and we’ve got EVERFROST landing for you in June. I’m just lucky to be writing that last one, but I’m pushing all of them constantly to mates.

I know we appreciate your support, and the best support is telling your comic shop you want them to order a copy of the comic before it hits shelves so they definitely have one for you when we hit the streets on June 02. Here are the details, you know what to do!

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

EVERFROST – That Cover

I took a few moments to record some commentary about the cover Sami Kivela crafted for EVERFROST – both for issue #1, but also as a launch image that’s beyond perfection.

This kind of video is a new kind of hype promo material for me – I filmed my screen using Screencastify, and dropped in some edits with its video editing software. I’m interested to see how else it could be used. Anyway, enjoy.

EVERFROST – Meet Van

I love creating new characters with Sami Kivela. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EVERFROST – A New Sci Fi Comic In Previews

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

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

Everfrost is a 4 issue miniseries published by Black Mask Studios

Artist: Sami Kivela [Abbott, Undone By Blood]

Writer: Ryan K Lindsay [Eternal, Negative Space]

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

Letterer: Jim Campbell [Giant Days, Wasted Space]

Editor: Dan Hill [Beautiful Canvas, Metropo]

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

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

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

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

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

CURRICULUM is live – sci fi webcomic 3 times a week!

Exciting times to be alive [and reading comics on the internet].

CURRICULUM is the story of an intergalactic class trying to get home from a field trip that goes, well, it goes pretty bad.

It’s got a wide cast, big ideas, and a rotating roster of writers and artists. The world/cast was created by me, Dan Hill, and Sami Kivela, and the first issue has Marissa Louise on colours and Ironbark on letters.

After us comes a cavalcade of talent, including: Danny Djeljosevic, Josh George, Ben Rosenthal, Daniel J Logan, Bryan Coyle, and more to come even after that. This comic has been years in the making, bubbling on the back burner a long while. Now, it is free.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE OPENING PAGES OF CURRICULUM

This comic is a love letter to old EC Sci Fi comics, with hints of Runaways and other insanity mixed in. We hit the ground running, and we’ve done our best to constantly throw new things at you, have fun, and give you every reason to return 3 times a week for new pages, or sign up for email blasts on the sidebar of the site.

CURRICULUM – a sci fi periodical slice of madness. Enjoy.

RKL Annotations – BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #4

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

Issue #4 is on shelves right now and it’s our final issue. We started a tale, and now it’s done. Read the Murder Book rap sheet below.

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

THE COVER – SAMI KIVELA

You’d almost be fooled into thinking this cover was simple. There’s so much black, and white, and only 3 real elements, but it’s all about the composition of this one for me. Lon’s body language is, as always, perfect. The flame trail just represents so much, and we went through a few colour scheme to get this just right, and this is definitely just right. Then the skyline caps it off, the city she’s saving now something behind her. It’s saved, but she’s walking away.

And that skyline is gorgeous, got shades of Frank Miller in my heart, and I love it so.

This cover might just be my favourite; it’s up there with #2.

PAGE ONE

This opening panel was so easy for me to write, and I’m a bastard, but hot damn it’s worth it to see Sami draw his own version of a helicarrier. That design, Tree’s amazing colours on the vehicle as well as the sky, and then that one caption, and this panel stands alone as something I think we nailed 100%. It sets a tone I’m really happy with for the events of this issue.

We then cut to Milla in a moment where she seems like she’s breaking the fourth wall. She’s not, but I love that it seems that way. Because she’s right, we are indeed entering the final act of the main narrative.

The reveal of Milla in her ship with Asia and Alex was a time jump I know is a gamble. We left things with Lon shooting Alex and now we’re moving forward in time. We explain what happened, in rough terms, but this is my big fear that it’ll throw people off. But I like playing with time. Issues #2-3 actually went back a few seconds between the end of one, and the start of the next, the flashback notwithstanding. But this jumps hours ahead. I hope people don’t mind missing the “action” in between, because it was actually just boring stuff and as such i didn’t want to write it. Showing your pieces move across the board isn’t always as exciting as revealing the pieces in a dangerous situation.

These fluid filled tanks from Sami/Tree are gorgeous. Milla would absolutely have this weird stuff on standby.

PAGE TWO

I had to get across the idea that Asia is there keeping Alex alive by subduing his mind while the fire has just about consumed his body. I do this by having her monologue at a comatose Asia. I should have had someone else in the room with Milla. Another wolf soldier. Someone to ask pointed questions as to what they could do, so I didn’t need to have Milla stating things outright, which I really tried to not do here so I know it’ll be oblique to those not reading deeply.

I love Ferrier’s balloon tail in that second panel. Subtle, but amazing.

Panel three has Milla continue her monologue ,which I do enjoy, and she lays out her plan. This is everything she’s going to do. Simply because she’s nuts. Like some kind of Willy Wonka Bond Villain. Hence the “We will be the makers of music.” line.

PAGE THREE

I scripted new dialogue over this page a million times. Literally. I hit 999,999 times, and then did one more pass.

This was more fear that readers wouldn’t get what had happened with the time jump. This was in response to reviews saying the book was great, but wasn’t laying out answers with clarity. So I squeaked some info in here as to what’s happened since the last issue, and I wonder how it’ll land.

This page is Lon and Eric in the midst of it. Everything is jumping off and they need to launch into the final fray. Eric knows how to do this, which becomes really clear in the coming pages.

PAGE FOUR

Eric triggering some new marks is the big play on this page, but the underscore is Lon’s look at him, and the look on his own face. She doesn’t trust him right here, and he’s beyond caring. He’s enjoying the road as he feels like it’s maybe leading towards an end.

PAGE FIVE

I know there’s a lot of violence in this book, and maybe we’re desensitised to it, but Eric killing these two is a complete dick move. Lon’s reaction is my reaction, she’s the only person left in this story who’s still a normal functioning human, which is funny because she was a hitwoman not long before this.

Time changes you and your outlook on life. Sometimes you don’t even see the change sneaking up on you.

And Eric drops an open sentence for the page change two in a row…

PAGE SIX

The dropship coming down is an opportunity for narrative movement. Eric’s way of handling entrance to it is a character moment. The wolf soldiers coming out of the dropship is a gonzo moment.

I like that they loom at the bottom of the page, bringing such weird threat with them, and then we deal with them in one big moment next page.

PAGE SEVEN

Eric using his power here to throw the car isn’t an insight to us, but it is to Lon. We have to remember that. This is a moment where not having captions left me out in the cold a bit, haha.

This whole moment is Eric’s Raiders of the Lost Ark moment where Indy shoots the guy with the sword. Why drag shit out when you can be efficient and effective. The look on Eric’s face at the end sells it all. Good ol’ Sami and his facial expressions, always the best in show.

PAGE EIGHT

Okay, this page is a masterpiece. This is the sort of thing that comes from knowing your collaborator, and collaborating with Sami Kivela. This page gets me excited to read comics, no less make them.

Realistically, there was a lot to unpack here, and showing lots of intricacies was going to clag up the whole works. So I asked Sami if we could do something fun here and he’s always down to be the best creator on the page, so he ran with it.

The overall layout is a thing of beauty, but it’s the little things, the details that prove Sami is the GOAT on this one. The panel with Eric using his hand wave to twist a wolf’s head around is genius, and the panel of the wolf being shot back and we see the cockpit behind it is insanely good. Sami is always thinking. His geography is flawless.

Our two leads then step into the cockpit and Tree changes the lighting, and thus the mood. Spectacular. And here, finally, Lon decided there’s a moment for them to talk and work out where they are standing. She’s been put onto uneven ground and she needs to get stability back to her world.

PAGE NINE

It’s interesting to note that Eric starts off by telling the truth. That stuff is all real. Then he starts to swerve, obfuscate, and straight up lie. But we do learn that the hit troupe from #1 was orchestrated by Eric, so that’s one Q A’ed. Then Eric gets back into the truth, that Alex represents a beginning, he’s the fuse, and it’s all about to get big.

The final line is really the summation of Milla’s plan. People looking deeper won’t find anything, this is just her expressing herself. As humans want to do, and are usually allowed to.

PAGE TEN

I love the geometrical design of this page. It’s kind of an inverted triangle, but the point at the bottom is an explosion of Milla’s full form. And the top is actually not a straight line, it’s wiggly, it’s erratic. It all reflects Milla getting things sorted, getting her place in line, and then it all points to her. It’s all for her.

This page IS Milla Albuquerque.

By this stage of the story, I’ve truly doubled down on Milla’s propensity to monologue to herself. She thinks theatrically, she lives that way, despite the lack of an audience, because she is her own audience. This is all for her, no one else. So you can’t silence a voice that doesn’t need to be heard, and you can’t hide her away or muffle what’s coming out because that’s not the point. Milla is all about doing it and enjoying it, the expression means much more than the reception.

Which is actually a good way to create art. Being dependent on the reactions of others is a dire way to put things into the world, but being able to be satisfied yourself in what you’ve done is wildly liberating. It’s insane, and also misses the point of art on so many levels, but it would also be so so much easier.

As Lon and Eric fight closer to her, she waits and honestly looks forward to it all. She has no idea what’s going to happen, but she’s down for whatever.

PAGE ELEVEN

I packed so much into this page and Sami handled it all like a boss.

Milla is honest, she really does love what she’s created with these two.

Then she lets slip the big news moving forward – she can’t be allowed to die because it’ll awaken every pyrokinetic sleeper agent on her books. Which we know is a lot.

The escalation from entrance to the shot nearly hitting Lon’s head is too quick, I think, but it’s what we’ve got, and the rest of the pages all flow a lot better, so it gets us where we need to go and be.

PAGE TWELVE

And Eric finally reveals himself a little more. He’s not just here for the good times, he’s here to turn on Lon and kill Alex. Initially when he pinched off her suit he was going to crush her arm off and she’d be left with a bionic arm at the end of the story, but it didn’t work well for this scene to have her bleeding out insanely from the loss of a limb, so I scrapped it.

Then we end the page with the truth all tumbling out. Because Milla knows all about it…

PAGE THIRTEEN

Eric’s daughter is already dead. He’s lied about her. And if you paid attention to when Eric searched for his daughter, Eve Robinson, in the camera, you now know why he wanted to drop everything and watch that footage so much.

Was it worth discovering this now and then a reread will play that scene differently? Well, I hope so, ha.

Milla gets words and Panel Five is clearly too wordy, but I liked all the words, so bugger it – in they remained. So Milla explains it all to Lon in a page, and she also drops the fact that Eric’s daughter is also her daughter, and the way we do that means, yes, I want you paying attention. Read. Every. Word.

The final panel is all about Milla finally making a connection with Lon – she’s hinting that Lon’s daughter is a sleeper agent also. Again: I’m not gonna have her state it all in so many words. I just can’t bring myself to do that, but I hope people jump into this with me [my rally cry since issue #1 – I want people interrogating these pages].

Also, that negative space in the bottom is the best. Love how empty it is, and where Ferrier drops the caption.

PAGE FOURTEEN

Eric slings the bullet away and reveals his inner truth – he feels like they’re all damned. He feels this because Milla made him something else, and that caused the death of his daughter, and I was never ever gonna show you what happened, because the idea of it should be enough to give you chills. What a horrible turn of events, and I hope it sticks in your guts.

At this stage, Asia has awakened – presumably the shooting at Alex jolted him which caused reverb back into Asia, so she’s here, and she leaps at Eric’s back like Voorhees coming outta the lake in Part I and she floods Eric’s mind with Eve. This is what pauses the whole situation, which also allowed the pause off Alex. Unfortunately.

Lon screams for Asia to return to Alex, because she knows this will kill him, and she’s torn on that front, but Asia is resolute, and she’s making the bigger decision that Lon hasn’t been able to.

PAGE FIFTEEN

All points converge through Lon’s POV as she sees the three things before her, and must choose what will live and what will not.

Excuse me, the FOUR things before her.

Then Lon makes her decision, in as few words as possible. Again, trying to keep things clean and not overexplain. Let her actions speak more than anything else. So into the uncontrolled fire goes Eric. And so too does Lon, hoping she’ll survive.

The thick white section is time passing and that’s the kind of thing you can script all you want, but the whole team has to work to pull it off. Thankfully, Sami changes up the angles on the shot for the next panel, and Tree dominates with her colours, and the result is a very clear transition of time.

That movie caption came very late in the game. I wasn’t listening to the song though, I promise.

This final panel is so well laid out, so much space around the characters, so much world still out there hogging the frame. And their words are going to be true forever and for everything moving forward.

PAGE SIXTEEN

I scripted this page as a conversation. I had to get it all out. Then I edited it. Then I broke it across panels. Then Sami wanted to kill me. But then he came around on this stupid over-panelled idea. And then, once drawn, I edited the script again. Thinking about the truth of the moment, the stuff that was Capital N Needed, and also thinking of Ferrier on letters, ha. These are the beautiful moments of collaboration.

I also dig how that final panel runs full down into the bleed, as Lon looks back into the zephyr. That’s art storytelling well beyond my pay grade.

PAGE SEVENTEEN

This kind of summarises how to combat trolls, and how to fight against the world, and how to stay upright through the resistance. Tl;dr – fear is for fools, and fear is their tool.

Lon is completely resolute here in this sequence. My idea is that ever since she found out she’d be a mother, Lon has grappled with violence. She wanted to step away from it, she wanted to rise above it, be better than it. A parent protects.

But, the thing is, protection can be a violent game. Retribution can occur, and you can’t always remain passive. We hope and wish for such a thing, but it’s just not true. It sucks, but it’s not always an option. Lon finally understands that, she realises violence doesn’t mean you aren’t protecting, and parents aren’t a passive shield. So she steps up to make the world a better place, for her kid, but also just in general.

This page is the culmination of Lon’s growth.

The zig zag of the final tier of panels is glorious as it focuses on Lon, and the movement, and not the actual violence.

PAGE EIGHTEEN

And so Milla becomes the one with the metal plumage now. That whole throne, her death, everything was built to this moment of flipping the intro.

The rest of the page is Lon dealing with the cathartic pain of what she’s become, and the world in which she has to become in. And Sami handles it all perfectly. The absolute carnage of Alex and Eric, and her one delicate hand says it all. She’s accepting, but that’s still a painful internal transformation to undergo.

Beside Lon, always with her, is Asia. Accepting, supporting, they are a team. As good parents should be. While the world twirls around them, they must hold fast. Their one true goal is the same, and becoming violent, seeing the world vastly change with these sleepers awakened all around, this changes nothing for a parent.

A parent protects their child, that’s the job. Protect, teach, lead, love.

PAGE NINETEEN

The future is safe. It’s unsafe for man people, but the actual concept of the future, the time ahead, is safe now. Things can still be amazing.

That part is probably just wishful thinking from me. I’m happy to cop to that.

This final image is the close of the story, really. The zephyr floats above, the city burns below, and will only get worse, and our two ladies are allowed a moment. Because if you pull back enough, you’ll see the world is a melting pot of emotion and action, and yet we endure. We find a way to move forward and find a way. We have to, there is no other option.

You search it out, you carve your own space, and you make a little piece of the universe yours. This is what Lon learn and hopefully we do, too. Keep moving and defend yourself, your ideals, and your love forever. Because on the horizon, you’ll find your island.

PAGE TWENTY

Okay, Coda time.

I always love a good coda. And I came up with the brainchild that because it’s a coda, we could use a different storytelling method. So we were allowed to use captions. But not just any captions, we could go crazy, use big arcs of words like BWS did in WEAPON X. man, I loved writing these pages.

This coda is Lon applying her lesson, showing us she’s going to be alright, she hasn’t forgotten.

It also teases out what’s happened in the aftermath of this mess: people are hunting the names of the sleeper agents, because some have managed to go dormant, and that scares people. But should it?

Isn’t acceptance the key, much like Lon told Milla. Fear is the problem, so remove it’s teeth. So Lon wait, ready to act, if needed, but happy not to if she can avoid it.

Also, dig that bear design, obvs influenced by Weapon X as well.

PAGE TWENTY ONE

We get the time frame now because we see Asia’s belly. We can see months have floated by, and the world is still there. Lon and Asia are still there.

Asia gets to describe the flipside to Milla’s beautiful canvas, which makes the title of the story take on a new meaning now, I hope. Every person’s beautiful canvas is the life they create, that they foster, and respect, and love, and craft for the future.

As these two bicker, as lovers are wont to do, we see Alex as a spectre, but a rather content one. This is the personification of Lon’s state of mind. She’s able to come to grips with her past, all of it, and understand it all in a broader lifelong, worldwide context.

Which builds us to the final page…

PAGE TWENTY TWO

I love playing the end against the beginning, and I’m 100% happy with how we’ve done it here. This is a wheel turn, but the wheel has advanced, so it’s the same, but it’s different. This is life.

I also can’t overstate how much Tree’s colours bring this whole moment home. They are such a difference from the opening page of 31 – and that blue horizon behind them calms me and makes me smile every damn time.

The book on the table is another Argento jam. I’ll let you google it, but know it’s not chosen for specific reference to story moments here, but more as just a neat bookend, and important because Lon has put that book down. She’s moved onto something new, a little less violent and horrific. But the book is still there, ready to be picked up, if needed.

Ending with “This has been THE BEAUTIFUL CANVAS” was something I thought up and then couldn’t not do. It brought it all together for me.

And that’s the story. Many have asked if I will do a sequel, and you can see here that people survived, so I really could, but I don’t have anything to say as yet. Lon’s lesson is so important, and is so complete here that I’ve certainly closed the door on this. But I’d be interested in coming back to the characters a decade later, as the wheel has turned many times, and see how they are coping, how the world has transformed as it’s moved on, and what their daughter is like.

Hell, I’d give her a sibling, without this curse, and see what family drama that breeds.

Now that I think about it…hrmm…

BACK MATTER

Truth, Beauty, Erudition – choose one

Fun, as always. And always nice to gush about your amazing team when they so clearly deserve it.

JAM SESSIONS

Okay, this one was a beast. I don’t know what I expected when Dan Hill and I entered a room to talk about Matt Fraction. Maybe we should have limited ourselves to just 1-3 books. Maybe. But probably not.

Matt Fraction looms over most of my work, and not always in ways you might expect. I just dig his work ethic, his devotion, the fact he’s busy as hell and manages it, and his quality. I don’t specifically want to write books like him – I don’t think I could, nor should, nor would. I want to write RKL books, but I want to always strive for more, so he helps me think of what that ethereal more might look like.

There’s too much to cover, but this might be my favourite Jam Session we’ve done yet. Or maybe it’s the worst, I don’t know. But I enjoyed it, and I hope you dig it, and if it gets you to try out one Fraction book you hadn’t before, then it’ll have all been worth it.

Also: daaaamn, that Kivela illo. Love it, as always.

THE TRUTH

Fraction took all the space, so we scrapped this. But I have one written. Maybe we’ll put it in the tpb.

And that’s us done. How sad, how wonderful. If you came this far, especially with the annotations, you are wonderful. Thank you.

There will be a tpb collection of BEAUTIFUL CANVAS at some stage. I know when, but can’t confirm just yet – set phasers for 2018 and some present buying for your smart friends, though. I will tell you when I can, because you should buy 5 and give them out at birthdays and for Xmas and such because it’s probably a safe bet your friends didn’t get it already, and if they are your friends then they are probably smart enough to get it and good looking enough to love it. Just like you are.

But until then, thank you.

BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #4 – Out This Week!

And so our beautiful tale ends.

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

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

Illustrated by Sami Kivela

Written by Ryan K Lindsay

Coloured by Triona Farrell

Lettered by Ryan Ferrier

Edited by Dan Hill

Published by Black Mask Comics

Enjoy.

RKL Annotations – BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #3

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

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

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

THE COVER – SAMI KIVELA

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

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

PAGE ONE

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

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

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

PAGE TWO

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

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

PAGE THREE

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

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

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

PAGE FOUR

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

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

PAGE FIVE

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

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

PAGE SIX

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

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

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

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

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

PAGE SEVEN

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

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

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

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

PAGE EIGHT

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

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

PAGE NINE

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

I’m sure colourists hate writer, too.

Basically, writers are dicks.

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

PAGE TEN

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

PAGE ELEVEN

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

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

PAGE TWELVE

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

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

PAGE THIRTEEN

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

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

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

PAGE FOURTEEN

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

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

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

PAGE FIFTEEN

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

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

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

PAGE SIXTEEN

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

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

PAGE SEVENTEEN

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

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

PAGE EIGHTEEN

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

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

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

PAGE NINETEEN

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

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

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

That goddamn dragon and all it symbolises.

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

PAGE TWENTY

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

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

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

PAGE TWENTY ONE

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

How far apart are we, truly?

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

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

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

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

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

PAGE TWENTY TWO

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

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

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

BACK MATTER

Truth, Beauty, Erudition – choose one

Starting to get into a swing writing these.

JAM SESSIONS

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

THE TRUTH

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

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

BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #3 Out This Week

Tipping into the 4th act, this issue brings some madness, and some answers [and more questions].

Illustrated by Sami Kivela

Coloured by Triona Farrell

Lettered by Ryan Ferrier

Edited by Dan Hill

Presented by Matt Pizzolo

Written by Ryan K Lindsay

and published by Black Mask

This issue is near and dear to us all. I think the opening page, and the character insight it brings, builds a tension to the melancholy that escalates in a horrific way into the final sequence. After this, we wrap it up, so you know we’re going to end with some bloody emotion on the page.

I’m also truly exceptionally proud of the back matter Jam Session Dan Hill and I roll into. I won’t spoil the topic yet, but it’s a favourite flick of mine that’s a part of me, and now I wanna make it a part of you. Plus: another spot illo from Sami Kivela that’s just gorgeous.

BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #3 out September 06 at all fine comic emporiums. Hook yourself up, and if you need #1-2 then I’m sure you can just ask.

 

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