When it comes to the great horrors of the world, darkness ranks high on the list of what people are scared of. Children fear the monsters lurking within the shadowy abyss beneath their beds and in the depths of their closets. As they grow older, they dread what they can't see through the cold black night. Some folks are completely incapable of sleeping at night without the aid of a nightlight, bedside lamp or some other light source.
But what if this collective sense of terror is misplaced? What if it's not the darkness that should be feared? What if the greatest nightmare of them all lurks within the light?
Writer Nathan Edmondson ("Olympus") and artist Brett Weldele ("The Surrogates") are shining the spotlight upon that very possibility in "The Light," an upcoming horror tale from Image Comics. The five issue miniseries kicks off in April, chronicling the plight of a father and his daughter as they fight through the night to avoid an enigmatic electric light that kills anybody who gazes directly at it. CBR News spoke with Edmondson and Weldele about the project's origins and what fans can expect from the survival horror series.
"'The Light' focuses on two characters who try to escape the sudden onset of an incomprehensible virus, one that infects its victims by way of electric lights," Edmondson told CBR of the book's core premise. "In their escape, however, the protagonists see that the virus has made the landscape a very complicated course to run."
At the core of "The Light" are Coyle and Avery, a goggle-wearing father and blindfolded daughter duo that must work together to avoid the light and navigate the dark. "Coyle is the primary protagonist, and he is a character of significant faults," said Edmondson. "He lives with his mother and his daughter, who is the secondary protagonist. She resents — scratch that — hates her father, but when the threat of the virus engulfs their home, they are forced to confront themselves and consider what they actually hold dear."
While figuratively illuminating their personal relationship with one another, Coyle and Avery have to avoid making direct contact with the literal light. Edmondson was tight-lipped on what happens when somebody looks into the infectious glow, but based upon currently available preview pages from the first issue, it appears that the virus' victims are subjected to a fatal electrical impulse of sorts. Ultimately, the infection's origin isn't terrible important to the book's characters, Edmondson suggested. Instead, it's how Coyle, Avery and the other survivors have to deal with the ramifications of the light's effects that matters most.
"I beg the [book's prospective] readers to imagine — what if light became deadly?" Edmondson posited. "How careful would you have to be, and what kind of domino effect would it have? The book at least touches on these questions. More importantly, however, will be the personal and moral fight between the main characters and within them. In Coyle's case, he is his own obstacle."
Of course, Coyle and Avery are contending with more than just the light — they also have to deal with the other survivors of the infection, which causes a whole slew of unexpected dilemmas. "I don't want to spoil anything, of course, but we're going to see some more survivors," said the writer. "And those survivors will further amplify the problems that Coyle and his daughter Avery are enduring."
Coyle and Avery's problems are unique, to say the least. Although he wouldn't discuss the specific nature of the light, Edmondson did reveal how the story came together. "I had this seed in my head for a while, but it germinated and grew when I got in touch with Brett," he recounted. "I contacted him about working together and simply said, 'I want to work with you. What do you want to do?' He mentioned something more along the lines of horror, and this came back into my mind. From there, the outline dictated itself to me for the most part."
For Weldele, part of the attraction to collaborating with Edmondson on "The Light" was the visual challenge presented by the book's central threat. "People burning from the inside is both grotesque and kind of amazing at the same time," the artist said of the story's visual hook. "In order for the light to look like light, there has to be a fair amount of dark to contrast it. It's much easier to show the effects at night. … Plus, most of "The Light" takes place in a very foggy and atmospheric coastal [region] of Oregon, which gives the book a sense of dread."
Despite being a survival horror tale filled with death and despair, Edmondson insisted that "The Light" wouldn't be gratuitously gory. "[It's] not too brutal," he said. "While there are horrific moments and shocking images in the book, they appear only at intervals. What it shares with a film like '28 Days Later' is the idea of an escape journey that is simultaneously physical and psychological. With '30 Days of Night,' for example, it has in common [Steve] Niles's fantastically crafted sudden onset of mortal danger against which the characters have no way to be prepared."
Even if the lights do go off for Coyle, Avery and the book's other unidentified characters, that doesn't mean that "The Light" as a series can't continue. Edmondson said that while there are no active plans for a sequel, he has an idea for such a story if fans prove interested in the initial tale. "It is conceived as a self contained story, but in my head I can imagine what the story's universe may look like beyond the bounds of the book — as I must do to make the contained story convincing," he teased. "So if the story and the sales push us in that direction, I think I indeed have another story I want to tell, but it would be quite surprising to readers if I were to take the route I'd like to take."
For now, Edmondson would only offer some cryptic advice for the readers that are brave enough to journey towards "The Light" once it's unleashed.
"Think twice before you turn on that bedside lamp tonight," he warned.
"The Light" #1, written by Nathan Edmondson and illustrated by Brett Weldele, ships out to stores on April 14, 2010 courtesy of Image Comics.