Anthony Sand absorbed the world around him like a sponge. He was only eleven, but very precocious. He lived in the middle class neighborhood of Stygian Heights in New Jersey. His mom and dad owned a small video-rental and TV-repair shop. They worked long hours to provide for little Anthony. The boy was never satisfied – he always wanted more. Mom and dad were rarely home – TV was the boy’s baby sitter. Anthony loved watching TV – he loved the bright colors, larger than life actors, toys and other products that were advertised. He was addicted to a TV lifestyle that was fed to him like Pablum. Anthony especially loved crime shows. He identified with tough guys and mobsters who appeared to take whatever they wanted. He was only eleven, but realized he lived in a “dog eat dog” world. He didn’t want to be eaten. Consequently he developed a huge hunger. Part of that hunger was from a need to be loved and cared for by parents who were never around – but Anthony didn’t know that – all he knew was that he was always hungry and always wanted more. At school he was a bully. He enjoyed watching the look of fear on the faces of younger kids he subjected to verbal and physical abuse. Bullying was fun, but it only provided short-term satisfaction. Food helped. Anthony slowly grew in girth – like a fat cherub. His size and weight served as armor and also as a weapon of intimidation.
Anthony reached puberty early and that added to his insatiable hunger and desire for a more extreme lifestyle. He wanted everything: clothes, cars, sex, money. He stole from his parents (they didn’t notice or seem to mind) and spent the money on remote-controlled toys and computer games. He started to hang out in the projects with tougher kids. He gave them money just so he could be part of something bigger than himself. It didn’t help. No one respected him – they just wanted his money. Anthony had fantasies – he was encouraged by images of murder and rape that were standard in TV shows with warning labels TVMA. He was strictly forbidden to watch TVMA, but that made the shows more exciting to watch. After awhile, he became bored with TV – it wasn’t real and it was never enough; then he became depressed. Sometimes he felt life was a lost cause – the odds were against his ever winning … and that’s when he started to dream. Anthony had amazing, realistic dreams that provided every sensation and thrill he could ever want with more violence and mayhem than he ever imagined. His dreams were soaked in blood and Anthony was in total control. He was a king and master in a world that only respected brute force. When he awoke he had to face the boredom of mediocrity. He couldn’t abide by all the rules that were made to obstruct him from getting what he wanted. Anthony was hungry and he always wanted more. Eventually, even his amazing dreams were not enough. He reached a crisis by the time he was twelve – that’s when he met Mr. Hamm.
Hamm was not an ordinary man. Anthony met him outside the schoolyard one dreary, winter day. Anthony was immediately attracted to him. There was an air of mystery and aggression that seemed to crawl over the man’s body like lice. He could have been some sort of pervert waiting to abduct a child, but Anthony didn’t care – the attraction was too great. Mr. Hamm appraised Anthony like a dealer in a pawn shop estimating the value of an object some unfortunate person was required to pawn in order to live another day. He smiled at Anthony and moistened his lips like a lamprey. “I have a surprise for you,” he said to the excited boy. “Oh!” Was all the child could muster. Hamm took Anthony by the hand and walked him across the street and into a dark alley. When the boy returned from the alley, he was no longer young and he was no longer in New Jersey. He had no memory of being a child named Anthony. His name was Ransumm Rotobar and he lived in the Red City. He believed his father was Mr. Hamm. He was raised as Hamm’s servant, student, and whipping boy – raised in the tradition of the Red City to accept pain and subjugate the weak. Mr Hamm taught his adopted son the skills used to fill an insatiable hunger – and he gave his son the tools necessary to do the job. Ransumm ascended in his role as a minor overlord, he inherited Ruby Mansion, and he subverted his own adopted son, Rangle Ditmouth. Time was quickly drawing to a close. Rangle was finally returning from the Red Desert after searching for the Harlequin-beat Angel.