Over the course of the last two weeks, we've been teasing a new series from Zenescope Entertainment and writer Raven Gregory. The Theater teasers featured art by superstars like Artgerm and Sean Chen, amongst others, each tackling horror tropes that are familiar to anyone who has ever read a horror comic, novel, seen a horror film, or otherwise ingested fear-based entertainment.Today, we exclusively reveal just what The Theater is. Gregory stops by to tell us what makes this different from any other horror he's worked on in the past, tease the story's unique structure, and even show off some exclusive interior art from Martin Montiel! Newsarama: So Raven, we've seen the teasers for weeks. We know this is a horror book. Just what the hell is The Theater? Raven Gregory: The Theater is the story of an old-fashioned movie theater which holds a dark secret that threatens the lives of those who dare enter it. And when an unsuspecting couple decides to visit the old movie house to watch some horror films, they soon find that something full of horror is also watching them.
Nrama: The teaser images make this look like its an anthology of sorts – will this be multiple stories, or one big through line with one set of main characters?
Gregory: It's really a mixed bag. For fans who read The Gift way back when, when that series first started it feels like an anthology with a single main character threading throughout the series before becoming much more linear. This one is kind of the opposite of that. As the story unfolds you're meeting the main cast of characters each issue whether you realize it or not.
Nrama: You said this is the horror comic you were born to write. Is that because of the concept, the characters; what is it about this that is so different from any other?Gregory: It's a little bit of everything. I've never written characters like this before. I remember reading a comic called The Eaters way back when and was amazed that the writer told this great story following a family of cannibals that just felt real. Not because they were eating people but because they really felt like a family...that happened to eat people. And while there's no cannibalism in The Theater there is definitely a strange main cast who lies at the center of the story.
Nrama: Your other new creator owned book, FLY, is a deeply personal story; is this personal in any way as well, or more of just you having a bit of fun?
Gregory: My creator owned books are always personal. They're always me trying to work something out in my head or dealing with some personal issues. It's just kind of the way I'm wired. They are more therapy in-the-works that just happen to become stories along the way. The Theater definitely falls into that category.
Nrama: The teasers show several different horror tropes, from torture to the undead to the classic ghost. What horror styles will you actually be exploring in the book?Gregory: When I first brought this to Zenescope one of the biggest concerns were that we really thought The Theater was something special and part of what makes it special in our eyes is how unique it is. With that in mind it's hard to actually talk much about the story without spoiling it for readers. But I can say it's a much different horror story than anything I've done before. While there are zombies, murder, existential dimensions, betrayal, and some pretty brutal individuals at work behind the scenes with this story in particular we really would like to have readers leaves their expectations at the door and be pleasantly surprised by what they find within.
Nrama: For the reader or viewer of horror, one of the most important things is to be able to identify with the main character(s) and imagine themselves in those situations. What are you doing to make that happen in The Theater?
Gregory: These characters feel real to me so hopefully they'll feel real to the reader. They feel like people I know or could know and I think that goes a long way in the horror genre.
Nrama: What is it about horror that draws you to it more than any other genre (if that's a safe assumption to make)?Gregory: It used to be because horror that scares makes you feel more alive than anything else but after a while I realized that everything I write scratches this strange itch that seems to creep in my brain more often than not. I don't know where the itch comes from and I've tried to figure it out for some time. I could blame it on working through personal issues and turning it into a story like with FLY or my fears as a parent with The Waking but then I think about the good times and the stories that come out of that are just as horror driven as the ones that come about during the bad. If I had to put a label on it I'd say at the end of the day it's how I deal with fear. If you're afraid of something you can't run from it. Any zombie movie will tell you the zombies will eventually catch you. Eventually you have to stand and face your fears and writing is my way of doing that. Writing is a scary thing. You can be scared of not being good, scared of what the fans will think, scared you won't do as good of a job as your last book, but at the end of the day you have to put all that behind you and look the monster right in the face and just hope for the best. And for whatever reason horror is that monster for me.
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to tell readers about The Theater, or about Zenescope's recent efforts to expand in general?
Gregory: You've never seen horror quite like this.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!