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Interview conducted by James Ferguson

This July, Ryan K. Lindsay and Owen Gieni are going to sell your emotions in a new mini-series titled Negative Space from Dark Horse Comics.  I had a chat with Lindsay about the book, writing comics, and Daredevil.

James Ferguson: First off, just to confirm, Negative Space is not a sequel to your recent mini-series Headspace, from Monkeybrain Comics?

Ryan K. Lindsay: Ha, yeah, I knew this would be coming. I need to round out a trilogy of 'space' books. I joked on Twitter I'd just call the next one Kerning. But, seriously, no the titles don't interconnect or are related at all. Headspace, my Monkeybrain Comics book with Eric Zawadzki and Sebastian Piriz on art, which is collected by IDW, might unearth some similar feelings as this book, but I guarantee readers will not need to know a thing heading into Negative Space except that Owen Gieni's art in this is phenomenal.

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JF: Negative Space delves into some deep concepts.  If you had to describe it in one or two sentences, how would you do it?

RKL: Guy Harris sits down to write his suicide note and gets writer's block. He goes for a walk to clear his head and instead stumbles into a conspiracy involving a giant corporation selling our emotions to a third party, and that third party is scary as hell.

JF: Guy is far from your typical protagonist, as he's so deep in depression that he's on the verge of suicide.  Did you have any difficulty delving into that mindset?

RKL: I want to say yes, because I am not depressed and certainly not suicidal, but realistically, we all have down thoughts. The difference is those of us who can come up from that abyss and those who can't. But getting deep down into that hole wasn't as hard for me as you'd wish it to be. Then once you write a few drafts of a character, you start to really feel their voice and how they'd react to things. Once you've written enough to have it locked down, then you go back and redraft/tweak so the character is real on the page.

I certainly want to do Guy well because as you say, he's a non-typical protagonist. He's suicidal, and I don't mean as in we show him contemplating suicide at the start of the story to build an archetype and then we forget it, no, his mental state is crucial to his thought process and repositions plot elements throughout the story. So the big thing is to ensure people still want to follow him down the rabbit hole. Reading about a depressed lead could be draining, so I worked with my editor, Daniel Chabon, for a long time to ensure we didn't bring people too far down with the feels. Some big aspects of that is making Guy still a man with a wider heroic heart, and making our visuals of our creepy creatures intensely awesome and eye-catching, and making our major human antagonist, Rick, a character you'll definitely want to read.

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JF: As emotions are bought and sold within Negative Space, what is the most powerful or valuable?  Happiness?  Sadness?  Anger?  I'm thinking of all the various Corps in the Green Lantern comics.

RKL: Ah, that would spoil our seven book deal [kidding]. In this story, depression and melancholia are the currency of choice to be sold. There are some...things around some other emotions but I can't reveal what because of [SPOILERS!]. Though now you've got me wondering what we could do with curiosity, or nostalgia, or maybe the Schadenfreude Corps.

JF: How is the collaboration working with artist Owen Gieni on this book?  There are some pretty terrifying images coming from these pages.

RKL: Owen is an art monster. His character designs are so fluid and expressive that he then really informs my writing. Then his actual pages are phenomenal. I look at my script descriptions, and then I look at what he actually draws, and I get tired by imagining writing a new scene description for what he actually puts into the picture. Owen is dropping liquid science into his work with this book and he's going to turn heads in a major way.

And as far as those scary creatures go, yeah, that's like 104% him. I gave loose ideas, a Rorschach smattering of words, and Owen came back with instant success. I am loving having that brain synergy with someone on a story that is so important.

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JF: You provide a lot of helpful tips to aspiring creators on Twitter and through your newsletter.  What is one main piece of advice you'd give to anyone interested in making comics?

I'd call myself a Blowhard Supreme who thinks he knows something but is closer on the sliding scale towards knowing only enough to be a danger to himself, but thank you, that lead in was flattering.

As for my number one tip – it's probably just work at it every damn day. That's the tip of the pyramid with things like: study, imbibe, and edit right below it, but the top slot has to be work on it every day. Because you are going to have to stumble blindly through acres of rotten scripts and dying ideas before you get anywhere near good.

Write/draw/make comics every day. In a few years, you'll be alright. Yes, just alright.

JF: As a big fan of Daredevil, if you were transported into the Marvel Universe and were able to meet Matt Murdock, what would be the first thing you'd say or ask him?  

RKL: “So,” pours Matt Murdock a nice strong coffee, “Man-Bull, am I right?!” Grins.

Horror DNA would like to thank Ryan K. Lindsay for taking the time to speak with us today.  The first issue of Negative Space will be released at your local comic shop and via Dark Horse Digital in July.  It is currently available for pre-order at your local comic shop with the code "MAY150012" or via the link below.  The collected print edition of Headspace will be released on April 29th, 2015.

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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