Jamil Scalese: Final judgement first: It may have not been exactly my favorite flavor of milkshake but Negative Space #1 firmly deserves its place on the rack.
Per the suggestion of my Bulletin brethren I gave this ambitious, brave and soulful book a digital spin through and I came out the other side oddly affected. The story opens with with a young writer on the cusp of suicide, the only thing holding him back is the inability to produce a satisfactory suicide note. (Jeez, writers, am I right?)
The next twenty-something pages delve deeper into this melancholy, particularly the source, which is apparently driven by some type of reality manipulation in the vein of The Truman Show. Our protagonist Guy Harris is repeatedly chopped down by this unseen axe who initiates a series of terrible events spearheaded by a frat boy-type employee who is both indifferent to Guy and somehow also completely invested in his destruction. Things compound as the issue scuttles towards it’s end; what seems like a one-off story (literally where one offs himself) is catapulted into some weird myth and sci-fi realms with a creepily curious last page reveal.
Negative Space #1 is a great debut. I had some problems here and there with the story and art but given that I can’t remember reading anything like this I am compelled to toss some major praise in the direction of writer Ryan K. Lindsay and artist Owen Gieni.
Mark Stack: I just really liked this book. Jamil lays it out pretty well, we’ve got Guy on the verge of suicide as an organization with ties to some sort of misery-loving elder god tries to push him over the edge. What starts off as oddly comical with the suicide delayed by writer’s block, quickly turns into one of the most affecting books I’ve read this year.
It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I am a writer guy who sometimes struggles with the way his brain makes him feel so this book was practically made for me. But I was still struck by how resonant Guy’s story was as you experience a night in his life with what feels like the whole world out to get him. The narration is strong but infrequent, allowing the quiet moments where Gieni’s beautiful, empathetic art does the talking to truly sink in. Linday’s script and Gieni’s composition and figures are so strong that they make a case for this issue (outside of the control room sequences) could have been an effective exercise in silence.
Guy is both fat and depressed but is afforded a dignity that so few characters with his physical or mental characteristics are given. There are people attempting to profit off of his misery but this book is not one of them. To say too much about this book would be unfair to the people who haven’t read it.
Ray Sonne: This book was completely insane to me from the very first page because:
I swear, that is what the inside of my brain looks like. I don’t know how Lindsay and Gieni got in there without me knowing, but the replication is spot-on. Even when you hide your depression well enough that your home looks immaculate, your brain feels strewn with garbage.
I would not say, however, that the book is entirely unique. Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo’s The Life After has some stark similarities with the corporate powers-that-be, which exist to torment people and decide their fates. Is this the new method of anti-establishment in comics books or merely a continuation of creative freelancers’ fear of being trapped in corporate purgatory? Either way, these figures make some interesting meta commentary because ultimately, creators are the powers-that-be that decide to offhandedly antagonize and manipulate their characters for the sake of some abstract goal.
That squid, or whatever it was, on the last page threw me for quite a loop. It makes a fantastic cliffhanger, but I’m less intrigued about how it serves the plot and more about what it symbolizes. More depression? Emptiness? Parasites?
I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue.