Image Month continues going strong here at TFAW.com, as we continue to highlight great titles and creators from one of the largest independent publishers in the industry.
We recently chatted with writer Nathan Edmondson about his survival-horror comic The Light, the writing process, and “coincidence by design.”
TFAW.com: You’ve jumped from Greek mythology in Olympus to survival horror in The Light: did you experience any difficulties making such a drastic leap in genre?
Nathan Edmondson: Not really. I was inspired to work with Brett, of course, and I enjoy the research into a new genre. It’s more exciting than anything to move into a new world and start writing about it.
TFAW.com: Coyle in The Light is a pretty unusual hero. What inspired you to create such a troubled protagonist?
Edmondson: The story dictated it. I knew that the lead character needed to be a darker figure than the darkness around him, so that his struggle produced a stronger gravity than the supernatural events he’s struggling against. It felt right; and a lesser evil here would have gone unnoticed.
TFAW.com: You’ve set The Light in Astoria, Oregon, a few hours from Portland (where Things From Another World has its headquarters!). How did you make the decision to set the story here? There are lots of nice details locals will recognize, such as not pumping your own gas. Did you visit Oregon to research the setting?
Edmondson: I was in Oregon whilst plotting the book. In fact Brett and I conceived The Light to be set in Ireland, but for a variety of reasons we directed our thoughts stateside, and the ambiance of the Oregon coast fits the mood of the book perfectly.
The book begins in Astoria, but readers will find that it quickly crosses inland and hits other cities, like Corvallis and Portland. There will in fact be a great many recognizable landmarks to Oregonians (and visitors alike). Brett is a Portlander himself right now and he had the opportunity in issues 4 and 5 to illustrate some of his current hometown.
But, in all honesty, we set The Light in Oregon really just to get a special interview with TFAW. Success!
TFAW.com: One of the themes in The Light is the sinister path seemingly benign technology can take. Will you be further exploring this idea in later issues, or will the story remain focused more on the characters? And will readers eventually learn where the virus originated and how it is transmitted through light?
Edmondson: That concept is a thread in the fabric of the story, indeed, but its prominency as a theme depends upon the reader. There are a number of ideas at play in The Light and the ‘brightest,’ in fact, becomes visible only at the end of issue 5. (Hope you like it!)
TFAW.com: There are some intense issues of trust at play here, as well as symbolic imagery of the characters’ inner traits. How important a role does symbolic imagery play in this story? How much of what is there is intentional, and how much a happy accident?
Edmondson: The line between what is intentional and what is organic in this (and any) story is quite blurry. Tolkien advised his readers not to look too closely for symbols, but to feel instead the overall effect–though the symbols are certainly present in his work. I do agree that The Light is rich in imagery and metaphor, but I think that if you focus on any one image you will lose the effect. The same is true of writing. Some imagery is intentional, some incidental, some coincidental, but it should come out in the expression of the grand story. If you focus on it too much in the writing process you risk losing the forest for the trees. So to answer the question (yeah, I was getting there!), I suppose I would call it for the most part coincidence by design.
TFAW.com: Do you find it difficult to fit this kind of story into only five issues?
Edmondson: Not particularly. Once I isolate the story that I want to tell: this specific tale, and not, for example, what’s happening on the other side of the world, I start with a skeleton of an idea: a father must protect his daughter while traveling inland. At that point it’s a matter of crafting the environment to fill the space around that basic idea. Adding elements until you’re filled to the top and then backing off a bit and giving the story some breathing room; editing things out that really aren’t necessary.
TFAW.com: The Light brings to mind another great character-driven survival horror title from Image, The Walking Dead. Were you inspired at all by Robert Kirkman’s work? How do you feel the two titles complement each other in Image’s line up?
Edmondson: I wasn’t directly inspired by Kirkman’s work, no; perhaps more Cormac McCarthy, if I can put a finger on any one writer.
I do think that The Light and The Walking Dead compliment one another terrifically–if I dare say so! Kirkman proved with his book that Image was the most appropriate home for a story like this, and the success of Dead certainly aids The Light.
TFAW.com: You’ve worked with some really talented artists on this and previous projects. Are there any artists you’d particularly like to work with in the future?
Edmondson: One I can name with certainty is John Paul Leon. He and I have knocked story thoughts back and forth and hopefully we’ll land one in the goal soon enough. I’m an enormous fan of his style and his portfolio and just JP as a person.
I’d also be thrilled to work with Greg Tocchini. His work is vibrant and really beautiful.
TFAW.com: Tell us about your creative process. Do you start with the idea for the story and then develop the characters? Or do you start with the characters and see what story unfolds?
Edmondson: It all depends, really. With The Light, it was the concept first: a light-born infection. Then, how to make that a story? The most important part of the process to me is giving it time. Spending a few days just thinking, just letting it gestate. I’m not sure where the thought of an abusive father and his daughter came from, but I ran with it. I sketch some outlines for the overall arc, and when I feel I have something I begin to break it down into issues. All of this in consultation with Brett, and his thoughts were at every juncture quite valuable.
TFAW.com: You often talk about the great classic works of literature and encourage people to read them. Do you view yourself as a literacy advocate? How do you think comics fit into literacy advocacy?
Edmondson: I’m happy to be called a “literacy advocate.” I encourage reading as often as I can. I think comics are a wonderful medium and I am always ready to recommend a title to anyone.
I believe comics to be a wonderful opportunity for new readers and bibliophiles alike. I don’t think readers should confuse comics and classic literature; the mediums ultimately have each a different purpose (with many exceptions) and comics should never replace books completely in any reader’s catalogue. Ideally both mediums should compliment one another and fuel an overall love for reading.
We can only hope.
TFAW.com: You’ve got some tantalizing “Coming Soon” banners on your website. Can you give us a peek at what’s coming next for you?
Edmondson: Hm…well, here’s a little teaser from my next project. That’s all I can share right now.
TFAW.com: In the past you’ve described yourself as coming into the comics industry as an outsider. With the critical acclaim given to Olympus and the first two issues of The Light selling out in record time, do you still see yourself as a relative newcomer, or are you feeling more at home?
Edmondson: Maybe I’m no longer standing in the doorway, but I’m not sure I’m eating from the table yet. Maybe I’ll have more to offer if I’m never quite at the table.
TFAW.com: Thanks for your time, Nathan!
Looking forward to future issues of The Light? Did you read Olympus and what did you think of it? Let us know below!