Mar 05 2014

Review: Headspace #1

Headspace #1 (Monkeybrain)

A new digital comic takes a trip into a town that has a very unique frame of mind. The only question is: who owns the mind that’s framing it?

Headspace #1 (2013)

Headspace #1 (Monkeybrain)

Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay

Artists: Eric Zawadzki, Chris Peterson, Marissa Louise

Publisher: Monkeybrain

Rating: 9/10

More info | Order online

It’s difficult to put Australian writer Ryan K. Lindsay in a box, such is the nature of his diverse portfolio. While international readers may know him from the My Little Pony Micro Series: Rainbow Dash, his locally produced comics span the batty fun of Captain Human the Robot to the far more personal emotional tale Fatherhood and a collection of essays on Marvel’s Daredevil. With Headspace, Lindsay explores not only the blues of a small-town cop, but the fringes of the human psyche that dwell within it.

In the town of Carpenter Cove, the town has always felt something was a little off. After all, there’s a robotic dog bartender. It soon becomes apparent to Shane, the town sheriff, that everything within Carpenter Cove is actually a construct within the mind of a killer. However, as he begins to search for a way back to his normal life, he begins to realise that there is imagery in the killer’s mind that links to some darker moments of his past.

Sitting somewhere between The Truman Show and Twin Peaks, Headspace instantly distinguishes itself by setting up how broad the titular headspace will be.  After an intriguing opening about a woman being ‘exiled’ for murder, our de facto Shane is introduced in a sequence that involves a hover bike, a dragon and a patrolling ogre in the distance. What at first seems like a series of non sequiturs gradually begins to make sense within the clever structure, which once revealed as the inner workings of a killer, immediately demands a repeat read. Doubling as a way of expanding on exposition, the flashes into the killer’s mind offer not just an insight into the madness of the “town”, but an entire parallel storyline as well.

Eric Zawadzki’s pencils creatively skirt the lines between grounded small town sheriff and the fantastic in fairly rapid succession. Those already familiar with his webcomic The Ghost Engine will immediately fall in with the style, a genre-blending line art that is just as comfortable in a seedy run-down bar as it is in the clouds with dragons. Fully realising the vision are Chris Peterson’s inks and Marissa Louise’s colours, a very modern blend of restrained colours, a busy minimalism, using dominant blues for Shane and yellow for the killer. It’s our access point into the world, and we can envisage it getting more outlandish as the series progresses.

Just as as he did with the magnificent The Many Harold Holts of Space & Time (for the Home Brew Vampire Bullets anthology), Lindsay plunges face-first into the surreal and brings us something fresh and engaging. Offering just enough to hook new readers, Lindsay and the art team lay out an intriguing world that may have a familiar scent, but offers a vibe that is entirely its own.

Headspace #1 is available from 5 March 2014 from Monkeybrain.