My name is Theo, and I am a writer. I have been since I can remember. Memory is a funny thing, and I am convinced that it is vain. Like a model looking into the mirror, memory focuses only on what it likes, what makes it happy, what is beautiful...but if you look deeper then you can see what it is really seeing...
My first memories are of stealing paper out of the kitchen at my Grandmother's house, taking refuge in her spare bedroom behind the sofa, and drawing my own crude version of what I called a 'comic book'. These stories focused on one character in particular, an Ultraman type character named "Gripperman" who fought giant monsters and saved entire cities from burning to ash. These 'drawings' were little more than stick figures covered in red crayon, but to me they were God.
As a child I grew up under a sheltered existence, and unlike most fully functioning children I didn't even have access to others my age outside of my younger siblings. Being home-schooled didn't help much, and when I did try to converse with the children on my street, the only people I'd meet that were my age until much later, they automatically marked me as a 'weirdo' and sent me home with plenty of black eyes and bloodied noses to show for it. Believe me when I say that it doesn't take that happening to you to many times before you learn to keep to yourself.
So with a social life out of the question for the time being I decided to escape into my own head, and into the world of the characters that I had created. I would sit in my bedroom and watch whatever horror film my parents would provide, and from there I drew my earliest influences. "Pet Cemetary" mesmerized me, "Halloween" underwhelmed me, Freddy Krueger scared the living hell out of me, and I couldn't get enough. It's funny how masochistic children are when you really think about it.
I didn't stop writing, and to tell the truth I never really have. One Summer I remember I had devised an all new story, completely separate from my magnum opus that was "Gripperman", and I spent an entire day sitting at the kitchen table drawing copy after copy of the same mock flier over and over again until I had enough to wallpaper half the house. My "advertising campaign" was short lived however, and my mother scolded me for "trashing the house", but I didn't care. In my mind I was Stan Lee and people everywhere would one day love my work, revere me, love me, talk to me...The way I figured it there was no way the other kids would pass up a chance at being friends with someone with such lofty aspirations. Little did I know that these things I was so proud of were the things that made me the outsider.
Once I was old enough to understand what REAL literature was I decided to pack up the serials and focus on a more 'respectable' line of work. That was where my best work started, and I spent my adolescence the same way that I had spent my childhood: in front of a keyboard. I wrote everything from novels, to short stories, to poetry, to song lyrics. At one point I even began to study screenplay writing. For someone who had always found themselves chained to the confines of a small bubble locked inside of a panel, having the freedom to write whatever I wanted was far too enticing to pass up. In a lot of ways I owe everything I am to this point in my development. This key moment in my life where I was able to let my mind free itself onto the written page without restraint.
Several of my stories were published in magazines, poems made their way into coffee table books of different sorts, but nothing felt right. Then I started thinking bigger. One day I decided, mostly out of morbid curiosity, if me novels were good enough for something more stand alone. So I sent script after script, draft after draft, to publishers everywhere. There were rejection letters at first, mostly it was because I was trying to feed a genre that, at the time, was dead unless your name was King or Koontz. But then the phone calls came. I had several offers, and I even came as close as sitting down in a diner in Chicago to talk about contracts. But in the end none of these things felt right to me. For me writing wasn’t something I wanted to do in this capacity, and truthfully I didn’t view my work WORTHY of such an official piece of paper.
But life is nothing more than a circular path, and sooner or later I knew I would find myself coming back home to the genre that had started my obsession eventually.
“Late Sunsets, Early Sunrises” was a story, like many, that I had originally gone into as a screen-play idea, and not a comic book. The story seemed to write itself overnight, and the visual imprints it left engraved into my skull were causing me to lose sleep. (Though I’m speaking purely from a creative standpoint, but if this story causes you nightmares then I suppose my work has affected you, and for that I will feel somewhat fulfilled.) But then one day I made the decision to walk into a comic book store for the first time since I was a child. I remember looking down at the horror titles (at this point horror was in the middle of making its booming comeback, so these titles were now at a premium) and finding myself intrigued all over again. But for me there was something missing from these stories. Perhaps it was my time spent writing deeper characters for sake of making a mildly interesting 300 page novel, but I didn’t find anything to LOVE about these characters I was looking at. Instead I found myself feeling the same sense of emotion that I did whilst watching a “Friday The 13th” film. It was fun, but I couldn’t care any less about any of these people or their impending demises.
“Why don’t horror stories have anything to say? Why can’t a horror title tell a sweeping metaphor anymore? Why does horror have to be a lesser commodity story wise than anything else?”
This was where the idea of converting “Late Sunsets” into the illustrated format came from, and this is still the battle-cry that I carry to this day. Horror is blood, horror is gore, horror is dead teens and naked girls, but horror is also something DEEPER. Horror is the chill down your spine for a reason you can’t pin-point, horror is the dread in your heart for subconscious scars that will forever haunt you, HORROR is REAL. It is around us all, it is in our backyards, in our workplaces, our schools, our hearts…Simply put: horror is in every facet of our lives, even love.
I’m not saying that “Late Sunsets, Early Sunrises” will change anything. No, I can honestly say that this title will not change anything on a large scale. But that isn’t the point. I’m only trying to prove a point, and that point is that horror can be just as heavy, just as layered, just as emotional, as any drama out there. The problem is that most people are afraid to try nowadays since it is against some preset ‘formula’ Hollywood America has put forward. I say fuck that. This is our genre, this is the genre that WE made, the genre that inspired thousands of film-makers with nothing but a camera, a bunch of friends, and a dream to go out and make things like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. I’m tired of hearing the line “Well…it was good…for a horror movie.” Why should anyone put up with that? I know I’m not going to. Not without a fight. So if there is a mission behind this project it is to show at least one person that these ideals are more than just fantasy. I am going to make people see these things or I will die trying, because...well...that seems only right.
I’ll end this now before it gets any longer, but I want to sincerely thank everyone who has stuck around to read my rambling. I’m not trying to use giant words to impress you, not trying to teach you some sort of impromptu theory on horror or Hollywood, and I’m sure as shit not trying to bullshit you. No, we are saving all that for the story itself. All I am doing is talking to you one-on-one like I do with my friends on a daily basis, because in my opinion if you care enough to read this (and hopefully the book that we are all putting together as a team) then I consider you more than just some random hit on a counter somewhere.
You’ll be hearing all sorts of ramblings from me, usually on a weekly basis, for a long time. A lot of it will have to do with “Late Sunsets, Early Sunrises”, which I could go on about all day, but that’s not the point. I am writing this so you know where I stand, where my team stands, and where this story will stand. This isn't just some story to us. It's our damned lives.
To Quote A Man Far Greater Than Myself,
“Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride”