Today's the day! The official launch of To Hell You Ride, the new comic series I co-created with Lance Henriksen and Tom Mandrake.
I've been trying to come up with something to mark the occasion. I haven't wanted to give away anything about the story, so I started a series of posts about apocalyptic prophecies in different cultures throughout time and around the world. The problem is that these posts took on a life of their own, and inevitably began to reveal too much about the THYR story. You see, my head is still in the game... I don't have the ability to be objective yet. Everything comes back to the enigmatic tale of an American Indian named Two-Dogs.
To explain: I heard the first notes of this story from Lance nearly three years ago. While researching Not Bad for a Human, I ran across a brief mention of it in a 1993 article from a Fangoria interview...
I asked Lance to tell me his stories. (I was, after all, writing a book about his twisted mind...) He was pretty dismissive of Tracer Pierce, but he shared the entire prologue of Telluride with me. Lance is a visual storyteller, so he described the scene shot for shot. You can see it for yourself if you pick up the first issue today.
From there, things took on a life of their own. At last year's San Diego Comic Con, Dark Horse president Mike Richardson asked Lance if he wanted to write a comic. Lance said hell yeah and pulled me into the mix. One week later, we met Tom Mandrake at a convention in New Jersey. Tom had done an exquisite illustration of PUMPKINHEAD for Lance's bio, but this was the first time we'd met him in person, and the three of us just... clicked.
Roughly twelve months ago, Lance and I put together a five-act script. The focus of Lance's story changed (from the character of Shipps to the character of Two-Dogs), and so did the title. Ever since then, Lance, Tom and I have been piecing this thing together, one detail -- one word -- one panel at a time. I have two thick binders full of research and ideas. We could never possibly use all of that material in our story, but it provides the backdrop of the world and the characters we're exploring. And that's really what this is: an exploration.
Even as the first issue goes public, we're not quite done with Two-Dogs yet. The end is in sight, that's for sure (and it's going to be a doozy), but this tale has a life of its own. It will keep evolving, right up until the very end, like a human life. We know the cycle of life, of course, but every day we encounter something new. It ain't over till it's over.
Today we enter a new phase. The readers (that's you!) become part of this world. As I've said elsewhere, what is a story without someone to absorb it and pass it on? If you happen to join us on our strange little adventure, drop me a line -- either here on this blog or on the THYR forum at Tribespace.org -- and let me know what you think of the first issue. I'm very curious to hear which details resonate and which ones fade into the background, waiting for their moment.
To Hell You Ride #1 is available at your friendly neighborhood comic store. While you're there, let me also recommend our friend Steve Niles's latest miniseries, Criminal Macabre: Final Night, a continuation -- and possibly the conclusion -- of Lance Henriksen's favorite vampire series.
In the meantime, here's a taste of things to come....