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“Almost all of my records are conceptual, but this one is more so. I wanted to do something that was along the lines of Something Wicked This Way Comes. The idea was great: The circus comes to town, and for a certain 16-year-old kid, the circus offers him everything in the world.
“Of course, the metaphor was almost Jesus being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. I wanted the Showman to be Alice Cooper. When they put the comic book together, I worked with Neil Gaiman on the idea that everything this kid sees on the outside is really sparkling and enticing – everything a 16-year-old kid would want. But in the comic book, when you see it from the back, it’s all rotting away. The face value of it only went so deep, and behind it was something really evil. It was amazing how they captured that.
“The point of the album was, a 16-year-old kid doesn’t have to buy into everything the world is selling. You can say no. The shocker at the end, when the kid finally says no, is something that the Showman can’t understand it at all, and he has to leave. The kid saying no is the holy water and the cross to the Showman – it drives him away.
“It was a great conceptual album, and they did three fantastic comic books for it.”