The Origins of REDemption Part 1

As you can tell by the title, this is going to be in multiple parts. I have been torn between whether I should go into the background in blog form or via our Official REDemption YouTube Channel, but I guess it should be here. After all, it can get quite lengthy. No one wants to sit at their computer and watch a “talking head” for that long!

At any rate, the story begins back in 1993-1994. I took English AP with a wonderful teacher named Linda Fowler. (For every year of school, my English teachers were always my favorite…except for junior year, when the curriculum was British literature. I can’t explain why, but back then I just didn’t enjoy that period.) The class wasn’t strictly English work: we also mixed in some learning about various schools of art, like Surrealism.

This was my first exposure to a man named Max Ernst, whose art had a profound impact on me. I found him to be more talented than the granddaddy of Surrealist painting, Salvador Dali. To some that might be sacrilege; to me, it’s simply a matter of personal preference. While I did enjoy Dali’s work, Ernst’s hit me on an emotional level.

At that point in my life, my artistic expression had been limited strictly to writing. I used to draw when I was younger (elementary school age), but as I got older, I abandoned that. The only time I drew in middle school was when I was in art class. When I got to high school and I did not have to take art, I stopped drawing completely.

Max Ernst’s work inspired me to give drawing another shot. I set about composing many bizarre, surreal images using regular and colored pencils. In fact, the other day I was cleaning out a desk at home and found several of them. (I think some pictures are in order!)

So you may wonder, “How did Max Ernst inspire you to write a zombie comic?” Well, I’m getting there.

After a brief explosion of Surreal creativity, the fire died down a little for me. I wanted to keep drawing, but I didn’t feel any inspiration to create anything whacky or nightmarish anymore. Then I thought, “Why not draw something that actually tells a coherent story?”

This wasn’t that farfetched of an idea for me. I believe it was in 8th or 9th grade when, after reading Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, I really wanted to draw a comic book. So I came up with a character who was a blatant rip-off of Batman and drew several “issues.” (I bet I have these embarrassing things lurking around somewhere too!)

As an interesting aside, I wanted to mention that here we stumble upon something else that has been a key feature of every form of artistic expression in which I have engaged: when I first start out, I always rip off whoever inspired me to get into it in the first place. With writing, my initial novel attempts ripped off Stephen King. (There was a vampire story a little too similar to ‘SALEM’S LOT, and another story about cyclical evil in a small town that was very close to IT.) In music, I wrote a lot of overly complex, meandering songs that completely aped the Smashing Pumpkins.

Anyhow, I don’t remember where the idea came from, but I decided to compose a “mini-trilogy” comic, which I called “Of Forces Beyond.” The name implies that the story might feature some kind of Lovecraftian monster from beyond our dimension, but it doesn’t, so I can’t explain the name. It sounded good, so I stuck with it.

The story concerned a group of four American soldiers in Vietnam. In the opening they get into¬†a firefight, which they win. Upon examining the corpses of the enemy, they realize these soldiers have injuries that are much older than the wounds they just earned in the shootout…FATAL injuries. In other words, they just had a battle with men who should have already been dead.

Some time later, they are ambushed again, and one member of the group gets killed. However, shortly after this second fight is over, their killed comrade RISES UP FROM THE GROUND and attacks them. They shoot him…stab him…bludgeon him…but he keeps coming at them, until one member of the group puts a bullet through his head, and he drops like a stone. (Any good horror fan will recognize a Romero inspiration there: “Kill the brain, and you kill the ghoul.”) From this point on, the surviving soldiers become obsessed with discovering just what the hell is happening.

I drew the comic in 3 “acts” or parts. Each one was 8 pages long. Looking back on it, I didn’t do too bad. I’m no Johnny Carruba, but I did pretty good just the same. *wink*

Well, that’s enough history for now. Please, go back to the main page and enjoy the show!


~~~~~Steve G.