One of the things I have been most intrigued with in reviewing comics are the different creative dynamics involved. Sometimes a creative team might work very closely, spending time together and plotting their course as a cohesive unit. But sometimes, logistics prevents this, and they are forced to work by zoom or email. That will happen when you are almost 9000 miles apart. However, despite that, it is amazing how well these creative teams can function. Turning out high quality projects as if they were sitting in the next room.
Such is the case for Mad Cave Studios creative team behind their new book Speed Republic. Writer Ryan Lyndsay hails from Australia while Artist Emanuele Parascandolo is in Italy. But judging by how Issue 1 of Speed Republic turned out, it proved to be no problem for the talented duo. Seeing this, it made it a necessity to talk to them and learn about their beginnings and their work on their project. So, let’s welcome the creative engine behind Mad Cave’s Speed Republic, Ryan Lyndsay and Emanuele Parascandolo.
GVN: Thanks for sharing a bit of your time guys. I hope things are going well for you. So, let’s begin with you Emanuele and start with a bit of background for our readers who might be unfamiliar with you and your work. When did you take an interest in art and comics specifically?
EP: I think it’s safe to say that, like most comic artists out there, I’ve been fascinated by art since I was a child. Everything I saw would amaze and inspire me to turn it into a drawing. As for my interest in comics specifically, I can pin the exact moment in my life that I thought “This is what I want to do when I grow up!”. When I was seven, I had already read a few comics here and there, for sure, but nothing had struck me like that first Spider-man comic my mother got me. Everything about it was breathtaking to me, every character, every fight scene and every fun line. That’s when I started re-drawing some of my favorite panels and trying to make my own comics with…questionable results.
GVN: Been there, done that. Same question for you Ryan. What started your interest in writing and comics in specific?
RL: I’ve been writing stories since before I was 10. Little short stories, and they were always terrible. But I knew at that age I wanted to be a writer. So, I spent the following decades reading a lot, watching a lot, and writing a little. It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I started taking writing seriously again. I then proceeded to write 4 novels, over a dozen short stories, and about 60 comic scripts for various ideas. I was just over 30 when I then self-published my first comic, a one-shot called FATHERHOOD.
It took me that long to make a comic because assembling an entire creative team can be quite the journey, and I knew I could not draw it myself. I didn’t make my own comics as a kid because I tried once, and the art was so terrible that it put me off drawing for life. But the lure of comics as a storytelling medium was always there. I’ve been surrounded by comics my whole life, and I love the magical energy that is a well-crafted comic page. There’s something about the way pages and panels and gutters and colours and everything works to come together and make something truly beautiful and inspiring and perfect. Now that I’ve made comics for nearly 10 years, and experimented in many ways, I know I’ve followed the right path.
GVN: What comic works inspired you in those formative years? Let’s start with you, Emanuele.
EP: This answer probably should take pages and pages, filled with names and dates and reasons. But I’ll try to narrow the list down to a couple of names. The first one is connected to the previous “How I got tangled in comics” story and that would be John Romita Jr. He was the artist behind the first Spider-man issues I bought as a child, and I’ll never forget the impact his drawings had on me. Later on, at the age of ten I got acquainted with works by Brian Michael Bendis and I was completely captivated by his stories and how real all the characters would act in them. It wasn’t easy to select only two names, but I thought it would be best to keep the list short. An artist and a writer, because there’s no good comic book without a good story.
GVN: Good Choices. I was a huge fan of John’s Dad, John Romita Sr. How about you, Ryan? Which creators inspired you?
RL: The creators who helped me step up and actually start making comics were an essential community for me at the time. Kurtis J. Wiebe wrote one of my favorite comics of all time, GREEN WAKE, and he was a huge support and inspiration for me as I made my first comics. He’s still one of my closest friends in comics. I also found a great network of creators who were putting out their own comics, and hustling to get their work seen, and generally loving the medium and the community. I think without Jeremy Holt, Ed Brisson, Paul Allor, Ryan Ferrier, Owen Gieni, and Eric Zawadzki I might not have been able to push through and persevere. Their talents inspired me greatly, but their kind words and actions meant a lot to me as I put myself out there.
GVN: You have both worked for several publishers in your time. As far as you are concerned Emanuele, does your workflow change any depending on the project you are working on? Also, do you work traditionally with pencil, paper, pen and ink or do you dabble in the digital field?
EP: Since my previous works were published a few years ago now, I would say, yes, my workflow has definitely changed over the years. My first comics were all made with pencils and inks, but later on, I discovered the many wonders of digital art and I’ve been working digitally a lot since then. There’s an undeniable comfort in deleting a drawing multiple times without destroying the sheet you’re working on. But that doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned the old Pen & Paper technique. I’m planning to go back to it for future works.
GVN: Your turn, Ryan. Do your writing methods change any depending on the publisher you are working for or is it up to the publisher to know what they are getting with your talents, and it is all about the work in question?
RL: I think, mostly, I remain the same. I don’t know that this is a positive, I probably should alter myself more to fit the publisher, but I know my limits and do my best to work with what I’ve got. I tell stories that are skewed versions of reality, and that are deep character dives into strange places. It’s usually been a publisher finding something in my wheelhouse they want to partner with, rather than me completely altering my style, and to their credit, no one has ever asked me to do that.
Inspiration for Speed Republic
GVN: So, let’s mix this up and start with you Ryan. Your newest book with Mad Cave is Speed Republic which mixes a number of different genres, not the least which is an intense auto race. What was the inspiration for Speed Republic?
RL: This series is so wild, and it took many an inspiration to fuel this vast engine. The initial elements are the obvious ones: “Mad Max”,”Battle Royale” and “Death Race 2000” spring to mind. But then I felt around further into the dark and drew inspiration from the slow dread of Stephen King/Richard Bachman’s “The Long Walk,” and the inter-character connections of John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” Not to mention little vignettes of strangeness from “The Big Lebowski” and “Inside Llewyn Davis from the Coen Brothers.”
GVN: That is a lot of inspiration. Now, when it’s all said and done, what would you like your readers to take away from the series?
RL: I hope readers of “Speed Republic” come away from our story thinking about what kind of course our own society is on. I think any time you write about a future dystopia, you need to be drawing out threads from the present day and hoping the audience connects it all up. Perhaps even taking those thoughts into their conversations with friends, and into their actions to make the world a better place. I won’t say “Speed Republic” can save our future, but I will say I definitely want it to feature in our meaningful conversations for today.
GVN: Great answer, Ryan. Back to you, Emanuele. As you started work on Speed Republic, had you drawn cars before this and what kind of direction did Ryan give you as the project proceeded?
EP: When I learned that I was going to make pages for “Speed Republic,” my first reaction (right after an indescribable joy) was of crippling fear: drawing cars, along with a few other things (like drawing horses), was something I felt I wasn’t very good at. But those fears were to be swept away very quickly. Ryan has been extremely helpful since day one, giving me cars descriptions, from the exact name and year, down to little details I might want to use to make those cars unique.
Working from a Distance
GVN: I had mentioned in my opening the distances between you and how you apparently circumnavigated those logistical issues. What brought the two of you together and if you could, please explain who that collaboration worked? You first, Emanuele.
EP: Before starting to work on the first issue, Ryan and I hadn’t had a chance to talk yet. “Speed Republic” had to be one of my biggest jobs so far, so I was kind of nervous at first and one of my biggest concerns was the language. I would have to read and work on my first non-Italian script. Although I understand English pretty well, I was afraid that a script would be somehow entirely different from anything I had ever read or heard before. I was wrong, of course.
Ryan’s script and all the world’s lore he had prepared all came to me easily. I could see every scene and every character in my mind as I read. And so, the whole team (Chris, Ryan and I, and Michele) functioned like a well-oiled machine, that’s how I felt the entire time. It was work and of course work is hard, but I remember wishing it could go on forever!
GVN: I didn’t even consider the possible language barrier. How about you Ryan? What was working with Emanuele like?
RL: Emanuele is an absolutely phenomenal storyteller and artist. Mad Cave partnered us up, and it was love at first sight for me. Our collaborations have just been emails and me marveling over his art in my inbox. His designs and pages are just so perfect for the kinetic and yet personal nature of this story. I’m thankful that the scripts seemed to come alive in his mind and resulted in exceptional pages that I cannot wait for people to get lost in.
The Grand Race
GVN: We really appreciate your time today, Guys. For our final question…just for fun. Let’s say that both of you have entered the Grand Race. What kinds of cars would you drive, and would you be the aggressive, go all out type of driver or would you lean more toward caution…and survival? Also, who would win between the two of you? You’re up Ryan!
RL: I’d have to represent my Australian roots and enter the race in a Holden Datsun – an absolute classic! I’d definitely be a driver looking for side quests. I cannot fathom a way I’d win this race, so I’d be looking to get lost somewhere interesting along the way. I could see Emanuele winning, for sure, but I’d probably try and distract him and end up somewhere fun off the beaten track. Some place where we could have a pint and chat about comics and art and life!
GVN: Nice, how about you, Emanuele?
EP: First and foremost, if I ever were to compete in the Grand Race, I would probably find myself there by accident. Maybe because I was too embarrassed to tell the Autocrat I was just asking for a friend of mine; I wasn’t personally interested in racing. And I can see myself driving a sturdy pick-up, because it looks practical, right? It’s big, it’s got some storage space and it should protect me from dangerous racers’ attacks, at least that’s what I would hope for. So yeah, cautious driving, avoiding unnecessary fights and hoping I don’t run into Ryan towards the finishing line. I mean, he looks like he would know his way around cars, I could only see myself winning because he’s so kind he lets me go first!
Thanks once again guys for sharing some time with us. Mad Cave’s Speed Republic #1 hits stands on February 2nd, 2022. Plus, look for our review of Issue 1 on December 20th. Be sure to check out this great new series when it is released.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 18 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.