Negative Space #1 Review

Written by: Ryan K Lindsay

Art by: Owen Gieni

Published by: Dark Horse

I went into Negative Space not really knowing what to expect, my experience with Dark Horse Comics is limited at best and was unaware of either creators’ previous work in comics. My interest was piqued with an outburst of, ‘Oh, Nito!’ when Dark Horse aligned Negative Space alongside Locke and Key, a series which I love dearly for its complex characters and truly evil villain. I must point out that I went into reading this issue completely blind (not looking at the blurb available on Dark Horse’s website) and so was quite unaware what the overarching plot of the story will be although hints are dropped throughout the issue but not so much that it falls heavily onto your toes.

The story follows Guy Harris, a writer who used to be successful and celebrated but has recently fallen on hard times with writers block and depression. We join Guy just as he is writing his suicide note but is unable to get far due to his writer’s block and so goes for a walk to clear his head. We see Guy talk with his friend, Woody who runs a mobile coffee place and the dialogue between the two is one of my favorite things in the issue as Woody is very up-beat and life affirming which seems to be the opposite of how Guy feels. In the interaction Guy later has with Woody it seems as though Woody is one of the few people that Guy has that resembles a friend, although they don’t seem close, they only meet when Guy is getting coffee. In the book Guy’s isolation is pushed very strongly; he gets ice cream by himself, he goes to the cinema by himself, he lives by himself, but at the same time he is shown to be very sensitive and easily moved by the simple gestures of others like Woody supporting him in taking chances or by films such as 500 Days of Summer. A large section of the dialogue of the book is just Guy thinking to himself, explaining his problems and how he sees the world, and every time it happens all I can think is, ‘I love this, this is so good.’

I realise that it may look like I’ve gone off topic here, talking so much about Guy (although there is more i’d like to say but don’t want to go on too long) but he is the primary focus of this issue and of a series that will comprise only four issues it is immaculately paced and efficient in presenting its characters. The reason I like Guy as a character so much in only one issue is that he feels alive, he feels real, and I believe that everyone will be able to identify a part of themselves in him and emphasis with him because of that; If you’ve ever felt alone, if you’ve ever felt that everything is against you or you’re lacking the self confidence or courage needed to take a chance, you will connect with Guy Harris. The only other character that I can think of that is as believable as Guy is Shylock from The Merchant of Venice.

We do find out that the world really IS out to make Guy’s life miserable, or rather a world-wide company based in Kindred Tower is. Not much is really known about these guys but I’ll assume that more will be said next issue, what we do know is that they seem to be collecting emotions in order to placate something called The Evorah (think of them like the secret organisation from Cabin in the Woods) and they collect emotions by making people’s lives miserable through the actions of various agents they have in the field. So why are they targeting Guy? Well apparently, Guy was a better known writer than originally assumed as his suicide note will produce such a profound sadness in people to satisfy the Evorah for a long time.

Overall the story seems quite interesting although some of the path has already been tread before I’m looking forward to some Lovecraftian-esque horror and think that Ryan K Lindsay deserves huge congratulations on his characters.

The art of the book is unlike something I’ve ever seen before in a comic, each panel looks as though it were originally done in a caricature style but later come back to repeatedly until it was perfect, removing what was not. Each character;s face has some somewhat bizarre proportions as a result which I enjoy as in the lighter moments of the book it makes characters appear similar to political cartoon characters while in the more eerie scenes they seem dark and unsettling.

The first splash page is by far my favourite moment in the book, where we see Guy’s aparment. I like this part simply just for the huge attention to detail and how much we can learn about Guy just from this panel, from the obvious noose on his desk to the more subtle trophies, that he was awarded for his books, lying dejected on the ground.

Finally I’d like to say that this issue managed to successfully set expectations for itself at the beginning then shatter them by the end for me. I’d highly recommend this series to anyone and I highly look forward to reading the rest of the story as it come out.