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review 2016-11-04 01:47
America Sucks
Negative Space - Ryan K Lindsay,Owen Gieni
We Stand On Guard - Brian K. Vaughan,Steve Skroce,Matt Hollingsworth

In these two comics we take a look at an alternate America.  


Negative Space conjectures that a tentacled...species of creature (which no doubt will be compared to genitals) are disturbed when man encounters them at the bottom of the sea.  These creatures feed off of negative emotions and they can't get enough.  In fear we decide to monetize this relationship by creating a company whose mission is to find 'empaths' (or emotional people...but seriously, who isn't emotional? Let me post a digression here:

I was recently at a speaker event where the speaker talked about how hard the world was on sensitive people.  The speaker compared themselves, and other sensitives, to the canary in the coal mine. While the rest of us non-feeling insensitive people go on with our lives unaware of turmoil, the canary withers, trying to warn us that the pain of the declining bee population will soon be our pain.  They suffer, while the 'normal' population is ignorant and happy.  Sensitives are necessary to show what poisons our world and get us to realize we need change.


I can't say that I was enamored of this theory,that, in my opinion, was very discriminatory.  I, personally, am the type of person who prefers to keep my emotions under the surface.  I am anti-canary, you'd never know by looking at me what I was feeling, my heart is decidedly not on my sleeve.  Does that make me the opposite of sensitive?  Does that make me insensitive?  Does that make me less likely to recognize things that are poisoning the world?  I don't think so.  I just means that I choose to feel things and react to things differently.


If I wail and cry about something, does that make me more emotional, or does it just make me more visibly emotional?  Do I need someone else to witness my emotions to validate them?  If I cry about the dying bees, does that help the bees?  What if I don't cry about the bees or the polar bears or the eagles or the whales, but instead donate time or money to causes to support changes?  While the canary sits in it's cage emoting, I elect to act instead.  End diatribe.

(spoiler show)


Sorry about that, that's been in my head for a while and this comic spurred it to come out, because I think many people have had a similar idea that informs the plot of this comic.  The idea that someone out there has it out for you.  That someone out there is causing crappy things to happen to you.  I think many people have had that thought.  I used to blame stupid crappy things that happened to me on a guy I made up called Hans, whose job it was to drive me insane.  In this comic it is only sensitive people who are targeted by a group that is quite plainly paid to drive people into despair.


That's the basic premise here, plus some tentacled monsters.  The tentacle monsters find human grief, depression and other negative emotions very tasty.  If we don't supply enough they will rise from the deep and wreak havoc upon the world.  So a company was created to find especially emotionally resonate people, empaths, and make them miserable, the desired end result to drive them to suicide.  Objects involved in emotionally fraught times, (such as means of suicide, bomb fragments, sunken planes, etc.) are valued by the tentacled beasts.


So our main character is a Native American guy, who is pretty depressed because among other things, his father killed himself, he's all alone, he hasn't written anything good, and his life is a series of bad jokes.  All, of course, caused by this unscrupulous company.  He's finally chosen to end his life, but of course, he's got writers block for his suicide note.


Then he gets caught up in a revolutionary group that wants to detonate a happiness bomb in the citadel of the tentacled creatures, thereby destroying them.  He just needs to think of one happy thought.  (Like Peter Pan).


It wasn't bad, but it wasn't particularly good either.  Also the design of the evil monsters was a bit insultingly a toothed vagina.  Can't dudes come up with anything more original?


We stand On Guard on the other hand was really more about an alternate Canada than America.  War has been declared on our neighbor to the north and Canadian citizens must flee into the Northern Territories to escape.  Our main character has been living in the woods on her own for years, ever since her brother saved her life by surrendering to American forces while she ran.  Living near Yellowknife (the capitol city of the Northern Territories) she's been left in relative peace, until now.  Now in a few short hours she meets up with the last of a rebel force and takes on the might of the American military forces.


What is this war about?  What is it always about?  Resources!  It turns out that the real reason behind the American invasion had little to do with terrorist threats.  And did I mention the giant robots?  There are giant robots, virtual reality torture and slavery is back!  Isn't the American future just the greatest...(too bad it's actually not that easy to emigrate to Canada, you actually need a reason beyond, "I don't like who got voted into the Oval Office.")


I loved the strong characters throughout, though the character development wasn't great across the board, but still most characters got at least some depth added to them.


Overall, very well done.  Something to read on Guy Fawks day.

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review 2016-01-30 07:54
Negative Space
Negative Space - Mike Robinson

Continuing the Twilight Falls series with Negative Space.


And, frankly, at the start it felt like I was reading something completely different. The premise of this book was even better than the last. A promising LA artist uses the faces of missing persons in his paintings, as to give them some kind of place. However, when he recognizes one of 'his' faces in the street, things are about to change.


It started of really good, but soon it got crowded with lots of different characters and story lines that didn't always seem to make sense. (Did the lawyer one really need to be included?) And that was before all the Neo-Naturalism things and before the very long passages on art that just weren't that interesting.


I was however, to some extent captured by their wild goose chase, even though it was not that realistic. It also took me ages to figure out the book was set 20 years ago, oops. Much like its predecessor, The Green-Eyed Monster, Negative Space gives up story for style, which didn't always work for me, although at times I really enjoyed reading it.


All in all some mixed feelings. It is certainly not something you read every day and a good concept but in places it became very chaotic and too crowded.


Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2015-07-18 00:00
Negative Space
Negative Space - Mike Robinson I recently read Negative Space by Mike Robinson. The story follows a painter named Max Higgins who is starting to become popular by collecting photos of missing people and putting them in his paintings. He feels he is giving these lost people a home in his art. His impulse to do this comes from dealing with people disappearing from his life as a kid. Among them was his father. One day someone recognizes a face from one of his paintings and he has to look into his past to find out why his father went missing.

Negative Space starts with a bang, leaving you with a mystery to figure out as you see mother and son try to defend themselves against some unknown attackers. At this point you get the impression that this story is going to have a lot of action. Then Mike Robinson throws you a curve ball and changes directions as he gets into the main character’s search for meaning after a tragic upbringing.

The characters in this book were great. I liked how it was set during the L.A. riots of 1992. I liked the use of metaphors in the story. A big part of this book is about describing art and the way everything is described in the story, you get the impression that you’re reading a painting. This book seems to really be about looking for a deeper meaning to everything that happens around us and you have to give the book points for originality. This is a good read but short, I felt that it could have been longer in order to explain more of what’s happening. All in all though it was an entertaining read and different from what I’m use to. I found at the end I was curious to see what else Mike Robinson has available.
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review 2014-01-12 01:24
Interesting plot, too much arty stuff.
Negative Space - Mike Robinson



*Book source ~ Many thanks to Curiosity Quills for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.


It’s 1992 and Max Higgins is a painter in L.A. He finds the inspiration for his paintings from missing people. After he is interviewed for an art magazine his whole life is turned upside down. For better or worse? Only Max knows.


The story itself about Max and his life is interesting, but all the art talk was beyond me. Everything that every character said about art went right over my head, so that’s why, even though I enjoyed the basics of the story, I gave this a lower rating. I’m just not that big a fan of art and art talk, I guess. Also the story is well-written, Max is a well-developed character and the secondary characters are pretty good, but I totally didn’t like the ending. I have a feeling this is one of those books with a ‘deeper’ meaning that I just don’t fathom. Ah, well. Give it a go and tell me what you think.

Source: imavoraciousreader.blogspot.com/2014/01/friday-featured-spotlight-curiosity.html
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review 2013-10-11 10:18
Negative Space by Mike Robinson
Negative Space - Mike Robinson

Negative Space by Mike Robinson
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication Date: 17 August 2013
Genre: Mystery

A little bit about Author
First story: Aliens in My Backyard, Age 7

Debut Novel: Skunk Ape Semester
2012 finalist on the Next Generation Indoe Book Awards
He is a managing editor of Literary Landscapes

Literary Agent Curiosity Quills

Why did I choose this book/Source:
I chose this book as part of the Author Promotions Program on NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

What is the book about:
Negative Space tells the story of a provocative Los Angeles painter named Max Higgins, on the verge of local fame. What is the secret to his work's haunting allure? He collects photos of missing persons and incorporates them into his paintings, giving the often melancholy faces, as he puts it, a "home in his work." This fascination stems from the bizarre disappearances of people he knew growing up, including his father. Then someone recognizes a face in one of his paintings, and he is suddenly thrust into a journey as surreal as anything from his brush, a journey into his past that will determine irrevocably his future

My Review:
I had such hopes for this book. I read the write up and was so excited as the story line sounded so inviting and was so different to the norm. The opening scene/prologue is very confusing when I was trying to connect to the story/characters. It took me a while to adapt to Mike's writing style, connect to the story and warm up to the characters. By the end of Chapter One I was very intrigued. 
I like the way Mike incorporated the meaning of the title of the book into the story. There were parts that were anti-climatic and confusing, as the story didn't flow very well. It almost felt like there were too many POV changes. Mike writes really well and I believe he could have done so much more with this original story line - it had such great potential. While thinking about this story line, I actually thought that this would make an intriguing movie. 
I enjoyed the parts where Mike describes the type of archetypes in a tribe discussed in the book: creators, destroyers, collectors and teachers. This was an interesting theme in the book. 
My favorite character of the book was Karen/Penelope - I just loved that she was comfortable with herself and what she did and the life that she led. My least favorite character would be James - everything about him irritated me. I also liked Max, but I found his character to be confusing some of the time. 

By the time the story came to an end, I was left with a few unanswered questions, like what happened to his necklace that he was so attached to?
The book holds your attention because you want to see how it all connects at the end -  it was not your typical ending, but I did like the way Max's story ended. 
Source: meanwhoyouare.blogspot.com/2013/09/book-review-negative-space-by-mike.html
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