There's no doubt about it: comic book readers aren't afraid of "The Light." Well, they might be afraid of the story of "The Light," but seeing that the Image Comics miniseries has experienced back-to-back sellouts of the first two issues, there's no question that fans are enjoying the horrifying ride laid forth by writer Nathan Edmondson ("Olympus") and illustrator Brett Weldele ("Surrogates").
"The Light" provides readers with a familiar landscape of bleak survival horror, but with one truly unique twist: instead of a lethal zombie outbreak or some kind of poisonous gas driving folks crazy, Edmondson and Weldele are plaguing their characters with an infectious light that burns its victims from the inside out once they gaze upon it. The story follows Coyle, a deeply flawed man who is forced to rise to the occasion and escape his Oregon hometown alongside his daughter Avery before the light eradicates them both.
As "The Light" heads towards its midway point with issue #3, CBR News tapped Edmondson for a status check on the miniseries, how he feels about the success of the book so far and what he has in store for the remainder of the story. Plus, check out our exclusive preview of "The Light" #3!
CBR News: Nathan, it looks like readers have seen "The Light." The first two issues have both sold out and a bumper edition is on the way. How does it feel to know that people are really latching onto the series?
Nathan Edmondson: It's gratifying and exciting. I'm anxiously awaiting the reaction to issues 4 and 5 especially...
From what you've read on blogs, seen on message boards and heard from fans, how do readers seem to be reacting to "The Light?" What are the things that your audience is enjoying the most, from what you can gather?
At the very least, I can say that those with bad things to say about it are not chiming in. All of the fans - both those whom I know personally and the internet incognitos - have been supportive and enthusiastic and vocal about both. As far as what folks are enjoying most, I'm pleased to find that it's all of the things that occur naturally in the series: the pace, the character interaction, the mood, and there is a positive response, also, to the deeper meanings, and I am getting a lot of insightful feedback and discussion. These are secondary, of course, to the art and Brett's fantastic execution of the entire story.
One of the things that surprised me the most in reading the first couple of issues is just how effective the light works as an antagonist. It really sets up for some horrid, grisly situations. When you were conceiving the initial setup, what made you think: "Oh, a killer light. That's going to work!" How did the idea come about and, just as importantly, what made you confident that it could work in a story like this?
Brett is what makes it work, and the idea of working with Brett is what made me believe that it could. I've been asked countless times where the idea of light as an antagonist came from, and I really don't know. I remember only sitting in my desk chair trying to think of a horror story - and then this [happened.]
While we don't know everything about the light quite yet, we know certain facts. For one, it doesn't seem that every light source is bad, like car headlights. Television signals, on the other hand, aren't so great. Is there something we should glean from that disparity - something connected to a network like a TV broadcast tends to be lethal, as opposed to something more isolated like a car's headlights? Will some of the "rules" of the light become clearer as we go?
Yes, I'll go ahead and confirm your assumptions that the "grid" is infected - it's not just any light. As for a further explanation, there are a few clues already devilishly hidden in the available issues. Keep a sharp eye out for more!
Another surprise is that your central figure, Coyle, isn't the world's most likable guy. There's definitely a risk involved in having your main character be something of a, well, jerk. Were you ever nervous that readers might have trouble liking the character and rooting for him through this crisis? Or was that really an integral part of the story for you - this deeply flawed man and his broken relationship with his daughter, struggling to survive and repair the damage in this surreal horror situation?
The latter. Coyle's broken moral compass and failed fatherhood were part of the conception of the story for me. I as much - if not more - wanted to tell his and Avery's story here than the story of deadly light-born virus. It comes second to Coyle's journey.
Of course, it's no surprise at all that Brett is knocking the art out of the park on this. How's he feeling about the success of the series thus far? And what sort of horrific monstrosities does he have in store for us going forward?
Some horrific monstrosities, indeed! Brett's art here is indeed good and it's consistently good, as well. The scale of the story increases some with each issue. Brett will be illustrating his current hometown in issues #4 and #5 and the scope of those issues will be larger than any before it. I can't speak to Brett's feelings, but Brett has had a long and distinguished career in comics and competing with his past successes is no easy task.
"The Light" hits the halfway mark with issue #3. At the end of the last issue, the woman that Coyle and Avery rescued was about to burn up before she was shot and killed by some unknown gunmen. What can you tell us about these gunmen and how they're going to factor into the future of the series?
You get some of their role in these exclusive preview pages. They are, in fact, the catalyst in this rapidly burning reaction that will erupt in the climax - that will become clear very quickly.
Let's talk about these preview pages. As much as you're comfortable telling us, what are we seeing here?
These are the first pages in issue #3. This will make sense later, but the introduction of these characters is indeed the beginning of the end - whatever end that may be. Coyle and Avery will become more real and their faults more clear against these other survivors, and a few new facts about the infection emerge. There is talk of some who aren't quite dead from the infection, but spoiler alert: this is still not a zombie book!
Johnny and Simon are brothers, a bit rough around the edges, but with a knack for survival. That much was in my head when I wrote them, and then from Brett came these two very distinct and alive individuals. But they are strangers, and didn't your momma ever tell you not to talk to strangers? Whether or not they are dangerous, or worth being afraid of, I guess we'll have to wait and see, but this much is true: the light illuminates the monster in all of us.
We spoke a few months ago, before the first issue hit stands. Back then, you said you had ideas for how to take "The Light" forward past this initial miniseries. Now that you know there's an audience here, are the wheels turning? Are you starting to consider further bouts with "The Light" in the future?
We have no immediate plans, no, but if you want more, tell your friends to buy the issues up! We want to execute this one as best we can, then we can think about what lights may shine at the end of the tunnel.
With the success of "The Light," I'm sure it's a bit difficult to focus on too many other projects. That said, what else do you have in the pipeline right now that fans of your work and this miniseries should look forward to? Where else can they see you?
Over the past few months, I've finalized and revised a novel, and hopefully that will be out before too long. But certainly before it will come a couple of very exciting comic projects that all can look forward to. I can't talk details yet, but I can point people to my website - and, of course, when the news is out, you can read it at CBR!
From the success of the book to the story itself and everything in between, do you have any last comments or thoughts you want to share about "The Light?"
I would like to urge readers to look carefully at the end of the series - there is a second metaphor lying beneath the book and it rises to the surface in the last pages. I hope that it will spark discussion and you'll have to link the clues in the books to pull it together.
"The Light" #3, written by Nathan Edmondson and illustrated by Brett Weldele, hits comic book stores on June 9 courtesy of Image Comics.