COMIC REVIEW: Negative Space

Writers block can be a killer. Unless… Guy is one of the most empathic writers around but he’s really not happy. Which is a bit of an understatement. In fact, if he could only get past his block and find the words for his suicide note, he could finally end it all.

“They feed on your fear!

When one man’s writer’s block gets in the way of his suicide note, he goes for a walk to clear his head and soon uncovers a century-old conspiracy dedicated to creating and mining the worst lows of human desperation.”

Dark Horse present a new comic by Ryan K Lindsay (Headspace, CMYK) and Owen Gieni (Manifest Destiny, Shutter) called Negative Space. It is the story of Guy Harris and the enigmatic Kindred multinational company. We’re introduced to Guy surrounded by the paraphernalia of the desperate: scrunched up paper, half-eaten pizza, piles of records and a hangman’s noose. Guy heads into town after failing to write his suicide note. The employees in Kindred Tower are hoping to harvest the feelings it creates.

The story by Ryan K Lindsay is intriguing and nuanced. Much of what happens is told visually but the dialogue and narration are entirely fitting. There aren’t too many words cramming the panels. The narrative flows with little exposition but you’re never confused, even though this is a new world for us. I loved the exchange about spiders and fear. I suspect we’ve all had similar thoughts. The initial impression from the comic is nihilism. This is bleakness personified. But I think (and it is a relatively short book, to be continued…) that there may be some hope in Lindsay’s mind. Guy is alone but has a friend who cares. It appears that, via Guy, Lindsay is angry at the pointlessness and difficulty of existence. I suspect he’s mad as hell about corporations and companies whose mission is to use up people and damn the consequences. But is this about the consequences of living in the real world or a fantasy one that which might be manipulated by these mysterious overseers. And what of the odd characters who speak in a squiggles? And the evorah? The question, of course, is who are the monsters?

Gieni’s art is exceptionally detailed and not what you’d expect in the average supernatural comic book. There is depth and realism here. Guy is drawn like someone who has death on his mind. He looks like he’s really had enough. He has some pretty awesome emotion on his face – touching and intimate. There are lovely detailed touches in the art that move the story along (such as the way his hand touches his friend, Woody’s) while there is the inclusion of extra detail which makes it appear to be a well-constructed, lived-in world (Rick, Guy’s ‘handler’ munching on his apple). The action sequences are cool and the one-page shot on page 8 is stunning – a great depiction of fire and use of light. The Lovecraftian monster is pretty gruesome too.

Negative space is a term usually applied to the space both around and between the subject of an image. Negative Space is a comic full of imagination, wit and charm. Guy and his friends are as atypical comic book heroes as you could imagine and yet you warm to them – because of how they are written and drawn – and look forward to spending more time with them, despite the desolation. Lindsay and Gieni have set up an intriguing premise and left us some delicious threads hanging ready for the next issue. There is no wasted space here.

Title: Negative Space 

Publisher: Dark Horse

Rating: 4/5

Reviewer: Ian J Simpson

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