Interview with Eternal Writer Ryan K Lindsay – Part 2
The path to becoming a comics creator is like a fingerprint—no two creators’ stores of breaking-in are the same. For writer Ryan K Lindsay (Eternal, Headspace) that path has taken him in vastly different directions. He’s done it all, from self-publishing books like Deer Editor on Kickstarter to working with established publishers like Black Mask Studios on books like the excellent Beautiful Canvas.
In part one of this interview, I talked to Ryan about his writing process and the then-running Kickstarter campaign for his book with Alex Cormack Stain the Seas Scarlet. In this second and final installment of the interview, Ryan and I talk about his comics writing journey over the last few years and his new book with artist Eric Zawadzki (The Dregs) and colorist Dee Cunniffe (Redneck)–Eternal–coming out this week from Black Mask Studios.
The Story So Far with Ryan K Lindsay
Last time we talked about your writing process, so this time I want to talk about your career so far. You’ve had some big breakthroughs over the last couple of years. Where do you view your career as being right now? Pro? Indie? Somewhere in the middle?
Ryan K Lindsay: I view myself as being further along than I was when I started, and in some ways further along than I thought I would be at this stage, and maybe even ever. But, also, I feel like I’m nowhere near far enough along in my career compared to where I want to be. I don’t know I’ll ever be satisfied.
But that’s a weird aggregate of always shifting the goal posts, and always comparing yourself to others, and always hating yourself on some granular level.
Realistically, I’ve managed to tell a miniseries a year since I really got the ball rolling, and each year also offers short-form work in anthologies and Kickstarter success, and I shouldn’t complain about the stories I’m so proud of, and the collaborators I love so much.
You were a member of the DC Writers Workshop in 2015. Can you talk a bit about that experience?
RKL: It was a chance to sit in a room [digitally] and learn from Scott Snyder for a semester. It was amazing. That workshop and that time are going to be a highlight for the rest of my life.
It was also so fantastic to make some lifelong friends in that group as we bonded and talked so much. I love them all a crazy amount and can’t wait to see the stuff they’re gonna do in the coming years!
You also had the excellent Beautiful Canvas come out with Black Mask Studios last year. What was that experience like?
RKL: I’ve loved working with Black Mask, and Matt Pizzolo. They’ve been exceptionally welcoming, and a real creative dream to work with. We were allowed to tell our story, and to make bold choices, and to create something we truly love and 100% stand behind.
I especially love that they don’t direct things from a ‘financial first’ kind of viewpoint–instead allowing us to use back matter pages however we like, and to also try out different things with marketing if we want to try for new audiences and responses.
Eternal, a Shieldmaiden Ghost Story
You’ve got a second book coming out from Black Mask Studios with Eric Zawadzki and Dee Cunniffe—Eternal. What’s the story behind the story? How did Eternal come to be?
RKL: I wrote this one-shot script for Eric, must be 3 years ago now. We’d wrapped HEADSPACE [collected by IDW] and I was dying to work with him again, so I put together this shieldmaiden ghost story and took the script to him. Thankfully, he loved it, and he started to noodle around with it and then two things happened – his book with Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler got picked up at Black Mask, and that’s great because now we all have THE DREGS in our lives, and the other thing is Eric decided he wanted to give some of the themes presented in our story space to breathe.
So, he rebroke pages and expanded panels, and he just about doubled the page count. Now, I initially scripted it as a single issue because I hoped Eric could find the time/inclination to commit to that. But with his growing passion, and need to be fantastic and perfect in most ways, he pushed the story out to a larger page count that I would have loved all along, but never would have dared strain the friendship to ask for.
So now we have this graphic novella, with a spine, and a page-count perfect for the story, and we’ve even been allowed to push more back matter into the experience because Black Mask are incredibly supportive and thought it would be a good idea.
Having seen the preview pages for Eternal, it’s not hard to see why you’d want to work with Eric. But what specifically about Eric and his art made him the best choice for this book?
RKL: I can’t even narrow it down to one, though I’ll pinpoint the one you might not be initially considering, despite it being one you don’t instantly think of when considering a collaborator’s style.
Beyond Eric’s ability to create motion on the page, especially in fights, and beyond his propensity to draw the best hair and eyes in the business, and beyond the insane page layouts that propel the story forward in both textual and subtextual ways – beyond all that, I was most interested in how Eric collaborates. And, more specifically, how he collaborates with me.
We’d already created nearly 100 pages together with HEADSPACE and I knew we gelled well together, and I also knew Eric wasn’t afraid to make a page his own, in all the best ways. This was a story about fighting and emotion and you can write all that one way, but sometimes it has to look a different way. I’d wager over two-thirds of the book looks fairly different from what I saw, and that’s mostly because I know when to get out of Eric’s way and let him do what he does best.
Eternal is using non-traditional comic book page dimensions. What influenced your and Eric’s decision to present the story this way?
RKL: Eric had this great idea. He wanted to let things breathe in a different way, and I never once considered I should get in his way for it.
With Eternal dropping this week, what’s next on the horizon for you? What do readers have to look forward to from Ryan K Lindsay in 2018?
RKL: I’m hoping to storm the gates of 2018 in all the best ways. Which is usually a cue for me to trip and plunge my own sword into my thigh. But I guess we can only wait and see.
At the moment, I have ETERNAL at the end of the first month, the BEAUTIFUL CANVAS collection won’t be far behind it. STAIN THE SEAS SCARLET might make a cheeky appearance at some local conventions. Then, beyond that, I have two miniseries greenlit that I’ve been writing and rewriting a lot lately to get just right. They might both debut during 2018, and I can’t wait for them to drop. They’re great premises, different from each other, and I’ve lured in artists I love.
I’ll also no doubt continue writing my weekly newsletter, THE TWO FISTED HOMEOPAPE, which people can subscribe to at tinyletter.com/ryanklindsay
Eternal from Black Mask Studios, with words by Ryan K Lindsay and art by Eric Zawadzki, comes out this Wednesday, January 31. Read Outright Geekery’s perfect-score review of Eternal here.
Frank Gogol is a comic book writer who dabbles in reviewing and interviewing as a way to learn his craft. His approach is equal parts critique and analysis. For more from Frank, follow him @frankgogol on Twitter.