Comic Creator Interview: Ryan K. Lindsay and Sami Kivela of Beautiful Canvas

In Comic Books, Interviews by Iron SquidLeave a Comment

Okay, Yes I’ve interviewed these two guys before with Deer Editor and a few other books…but they are fun, and they like me and I like them and now they are making headway with their beautiful new book from Black Mask Studios: Beautiful Canvas, it’s the legendary duo…Ryan K. Lindsay and Sami Kivela! 

So, for the readers who don’t know, what is Beautiful Canvas?

RKL:  Beautiful Canvas is a 4 issue miniseries from artist Sami Kivela and myself coming out through Black Mask. We are joined by Triona Farrell on colours, Ryan Ferrier on letters, and Dan Hill editing.

It tells the story of Lon Eisley, a hitwoman who is contracted to kill a small child and in that same week discovers her girlfriend is pregnant. From there we explore her first career moral quandary, and what that means about her as a person. Then we throw in animal/human hybrid hit troupes, and reactive pyrokinesis, and plenty of other dark weird stuff.

I figure if I’m going to explore the question of whether the type of person we were dictates the parent we will become, I might as well do it through some gonzo pulp sci fi, sliced into a little hitwoman crime.

Was there a challenge when it came to blending the elements of mutants and hitmen?

RKL: Nah, I like mashing up crime with other stuff. I find it opens the scope of things in spectacular and totally insane ways. It means you can write without inhibitions. I love it.

The hitwoman aspect of the story is right in the highlights, but really it’s just a way into Lon’s psyche. It’s one of many aspects of set dressing to bring you a character fully rounded, and hopefully completely engaging.

Sami Kivela’s art is sketchy and a lot darker, what was it like to change up your artistic style to fit this series? (Odd question but Sami when I see his art has been cleaner, love this art too.)

SV: I don’t think that my artistic style is that much different from the other stuff I’ve done lately. But I usually try to adapt my style a bit for every project, because I want every comic book to feel somewhat special.  

In my opinion Beautiful Canvas doesn’t actually look that dark, but there are definitely some dark scenes in it, especially in the first issue.

Where did the concept of animal hybrids, hitmen/women, and pyros derive from?

RKL: When I’m breaking story, I try to look at what the character arcs are, and what emotions each scene needs, and then I try to send it all skyrocketing up. My first instinct can sometimes be boring, plain, cliche. So I get those out, and then I work on them because they’re a decent enough framework, a solid foundation.

The animal/human hybrid hit troupe was just complete fun to come up with, and see Sami execute. The pyrokinesis is a concept I’ve loved since a kid, since Firestarter, and here it plays into this idea of manifestation of what we feel inside. Lon is worried about what she feels, and what she’s done, and what that means about her. Then pyrokinesis shows us a visual, and violently dangerous, version of what our insides look like on the outside.

I want my sci-fi and weird stuff to often speak to internal themes of the book.

What’s it like working for a company that pushes the envelope when it comes to comic material?

RKL: Black Mask were the dream home for this book, and they’ve certainly played out that way. They’ve supported us in getting funky, they wanted us to come in and tell our story our way. They, and I especially mean Matt Pizzolo, have been great to work with.

It’s also nice to know that the Black Mask readership is the kind of crew to be completely down for this kind of book.

When developing the characters like Lon and Asia, was there ever a question on how their relationship would be as a normal person and a hit woman? 

RKL: Oh, yeah, I put in a huge amount of backstory in my planning as to how they operate, and have previously operated, as a couple. I had to get that locked down to truly know how they’d react to each other in all of the situations that arise.

All of my information might not make it to the page, but it’s all there to inform completely real interactions between them.

How will the story unfold after…issue 2?

RKL: Brutally.

I’m really proud of the arc #2 takes, and I think we end that issue insanely strong. #3 starts to bring the emotional and the action oriented together in a way where we end on a gut-wrenching moment.

Then we stick that landing in #4. I think a miniseries should be made to end, not to be a lame duck movie pitch, and not to hold out hope for continuing into a 3 book deal. A miniseries implies you have a whole story, and a story is about a character arc, and that means change and growth. I don’t want a soft landing of a reset at the end, I want things to conclude. So in #4 we set things up and knock them down in a way that says we’re done. Drop the curtain.

I feel like this is the best work of my career so far, so I really hope people follow us beyond #2 and into the end of the whole mess.