Are you scared of the dark?
Well now you’ve got a good reason to be scared of the light.
In the recently debuted Image miniseries The Light, writer Nathan Edmondon and artist Brett Weldele turn their spotlight into a horror tale of an infection spread by light itself. You know, that same light coming from that lightbulb up above you, that TV beside you – even this computer monitor you’re reading it on. If you see the light, you get infected and die shortly after by burning up from the inside. It’s a modern take on infection stories, and at the center of it is an unlikely protagonist – an abusive father and his daughter. When he finds out about this light plague, he blindfolds her and attempts to escape the light by heading into the night’s darkness.
Apparently comics stores have seen the light as well, as Diamond Distributors sold out of the first issue of The Light this week – just one week after its release. Copies of that first issue are still available in select comic book stores, and The Light #2 is scheduled to come out on May 12th. With news of this distributor level sell-out, Image Comics has provided Newsarama an exclusive of the full first issue for our readers.
After you’ve read that – or if you just can’t wait – settle in as we talk with series creators Nathan Edmondson and Brett Weldele to find out what’s coming up and what they were thinking in creating this electric plague.
Newsarama: I just got word across my desk that the first issue sold out. What’s that like for you, guys?
Nathan Edmondson: Gratifying. It's a nice boost to ramp up the book's attention, of course.
Brett Weldele: I haven't seen any numbers yet, so I don't know what it actually means. If it means a large check, I'll be happy.
Nrama: The first issue is out and in comic stores. So talking with a little knowledge here from me and the readers at home – what’s going on with this Light infection?
Edmondson: It's spreading. It's nearly instantaneous, it's mysterious, and it is violent. The reader learns only what the characters learn, and to the characters, this is a cataclysmic event and the victim's thoughts rarely extend beyond "Don't open my eyes. Don't open my eyes."
Nrama: The lead character in this, Coyle, seems like not your typical admirable lead character. Yeah, he grabs his daughter in an attempt to save her – but before that he’s laid out as an alcoholic, abusing husband and not a great father or son there. What’s it like writing a lead character that people may not immediately like and admire from the start – without turning him into a villain of some sort?
Weldele: "Typical admirable lead characters are boring. Coyle is a flawed character, probably more flaws than most, but that's what makes him interesting. It's not about what his life was like before The Light happened. It's about what decisions he makes now.
Edmondson: I noted elsewhere that these days in order to make a character appear bad, he must be truly despicable. Audiences are desensitized to moderate immorality. We must paint with vivid colors and speak with loud words in order to
This is important here because the story is about Coyle and Avery. The light is an environmental element. They are the story, and integral to it is Coyle's personal climb out of the pits of his lousy nature.
Nrama: Brett, your art style on this book plays up the electrical nature of the threat, resulting in some great visuals of people burning with electricity from the inside. Can you tell us about developing this idea – and the larger color scheme of the series?
Weldele: I've been a big fan of how light interacts with the world, and you can simulate that very well in Photoshop. It glows, it reflects. It's very much its own character. In order to make light really shine, you need dark and muted to really make light stand out.
Nrama: Nathan, this is quite different from your first series Olympus. What led you to the fertile grounds of the horror genre?
Edmondson: My desire to work with Brett. He was interested in working on something in the horror vein, and this idea--pun certainly intended--clicked on over my head like a lightbulb.
Nrama: Although quite different from Olympus, I can’t help but compare the Light affliction process with that of the mythological Medusa – you look at it, you die. How’d this concept of a fatal look come to you?
Edmondson: I applaud the comparison--I hadn't previously considered it. I'm not really sure exactly where the idea came from. Maybe the fact that as a writer I spend a great majority of every day staring into a glowing light of some kind.
I was looking for something unexplored, and a dynamic that would be fun and challenging to explore.
Nrama: Reading this first issue – and the second, which you provided an advance to us for – I see a real survivalist story here, much like the best zombie or “infection” movies. Can you tell us about what you’re going for here?
Edmondson: Again, the heart of the story is not the death, it's not the "virus," nor is it some social commentary: it is the relationship between an abusive father and his daughter. As I note in the essay behind Issue 2, part of what is explored in this book is the psychology of how people react to the pressure of a cataclysmic event.
Weldele: It's Maximum Overdrive....only scary.
Nrama: In those kind of plague movies, the survivors are sometimes just as threatening as the plague itself. What’s your thoughts on that, in general and specifically with this book?
Weldele: People have different ideas about how to survive in an apocalypse. There are many great examples of how society breaks down in a catastrophe. Day of the Triffids is one of my favorites.
Edmondson: In horror and other survival fiction, it's necessary. Whether it's a story about sea monsters, mist, zombies or tiny insects, the audience identifies ultimately with the human element. This is the great conclusion in John Hawke's work--he asks "how do we bring the real into the fantastic?" The answer is by finding the human story. Making, as you put it, "the survivors...just as threatening as the plague," the audience has something grounded, something with which they can easily identify and the horror of which is far more easily recognized--in an innate way--than whatever fantastic element is also at play.
As for The Light specifically, I don't want to give anything away, but it may be obvious that the greatest threat to Coyle is himself. Look forward to that coming into play.
Nrama: Before I let you guys go, I have to ask – how’d you two hook up to do this?
Edmondson: After donating a pinup for Olympus, he and I stayed in touch, and upon hearing that he had some downtime between books, I jumped on the opportunity. It's a testament to my salesmanship, not my talent that he joined me.