By Ryan K Lindsay, Eric Zawadzki, Chris Peterson, and Marissa Louise
Departing from conventional story structure can be greatly rewarding for readers and it can also be immensely frustrating. Ryan Lindsay’s Headspace #1 is certainly a unique story. It may start off with some familiarity, but it is only a matter of pages before readers will be aware that something is amiss. Flashes of famous distorted realities like Dark City come to mind as the lead character, Shane, lets readers in on a little secret. This place, Carpenter Cove, is like no other place.
Headspace #1 certainly warrants multiple reads. As the story progresses, the understanding of the universe continues to shift significantly. Add in alternating stories, paired with their own unique art styles, and readers certainly have their hands full with this first issue. Shane and Gavin discuss whether there is a place for criminals in Carpenter Cove before sending a suspected criminal off in a boat across a major body of water. The page that follows is harrowing. Strangely enough, taken out of context, this panel should be serene and almost calming. Instead, the narration from Shane overlaying such stark vastness has the opposite effect. And with multiple reads, the panel’s effectiveness only grows.
The story credits two different artists contributing to Headspace. With each storyline’s distinct art, it is reasonable to assume that each artist is responsible for one of those two pieces. This certainly helps the reader follow along, as the story of Headspace expands rapidly in the following pages. Shane, the sheriff of Carpenter Cove explains that he does not quite remember how he came to be here. Though he establishes that he was not suddenly here, he can recall a vague sense of a time before this island. In that sense, it is no mystery that there is something very odd about the circumstances of Carpenter Cove. The world goes from off-putting to bizarre rather quickly and the jarring nature of these changes may strain some readers ability to process the story.
As Shane attempts to come to terms with the reality around him and the events unfolding, the story cuts back and forth with a slightly more grounded plot. A man name Max, wanted for murder, is on the run from law enforcement. Someone is telling him what to do and where to go. It may not be on the first read that those following the story understand just how these two plots are connected. It takes some patience for the stories to sensibly be sharing the same space. In that way, Headspace is a challenging book. Readers will need to give this world room to breathe and reveal itself on its terms in order to really appreciate what Lindsay is doing. However, those willing to take the challenge will be rewarded. Upon further examination of the pieces at work here, Headspace #1 is magnificent. It is strange, and at times seemingly random in its direction and choices. There are so many strange elements introduced in succession that readers attempting to solve the riddle aggressively will find themselves fighting against Lindsay’s very deliberate delivery.
Stories that look to deviate from the norm take a significant risk with attracting an audience. However, if they are able to do so successfully, the audience they maintain will be all the more engaged and invested because of the experience they have been provided.