Monday, August 20, 2012
Stan Lee Rotted my Brain.
If you've been following this blog series, you must have figured out by now that I love comic books. Insert your very own duh here if you feel the need. Comics really have rotted my mind. Seriously, they haven't. Besides, teaching me the proper way to get bitten by a radioactive spider, they've taught me most of what I know about writing. That might sound funny to you considering that I don't write comics, but the fundamentals of writing is the same no matter what medium it might be in.
If anything comics give you a firm grip on some writing tools that normally wouldn't come so easily to a writer. The greatest of these is the cliffhanger. Nothing sucks worse than a really good cliffhanger. Then there's the chapter break cliffhanger. In my own warped mine I see chapters as issues of a comic. You start off either quiet, or in the middle of a buttload of trouble. Then by the end you slap down some OMG! Before kickstarting it all over again, until you get to the last issue, uh, I mean chapter.
That's just one trick, but who are these writers who trained me in the ways of writing? Did they know the trouble they'd be causing? Of course, not. I doubt that would have made them stop writing. Lord knows, it didn't stop people from selling me comics. Back to where this thing was heading. Comic writers who inspired me to write.
I'm going to kick this off with the writer who held me in his thrall the longest. Alan Moore is a British author who first found fame in America working on Swamp Thing for DC Comics. Single handedly he changed the face of comics. He turned them from a kid's genre to making the medium grow up. He took a so so horror comic and blew it up dragging the world kicking and screaming with him. He introduced John Constantine to readers, who to this day is one of the most popular characters in DC's Vertigo line. Revolutionizing Swamp Thing wasn't enough for him. He took on superheroes in the title Watchmen. Not only did he make readers turn a scrutinizing eye on what we thought we believed about our super heroes, but he addressed political issues that most writers would have shied away from. I could go on and on about this important figure in comics, but that would take more blogs than I could write in a lifetime. Let me end this with a short list of movies made from his works. Constantine. From Hell. V for Vendetta. Watchmen. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Each of these movies are pale imitations of his genius. He must be read to be truly appreciated.
Neil Gaiman comes in next. Sandman is perhaps the best comic series ever conceived. Winner of a Bram Stoker Horror Award, Sandman made people outside comics sit up and take notice. The series follows Dream of the Endless as he frees himself from imprisonment on man's world. For over 75 issues Gaiman thrilled readers not with in your face horror, or super human storytelling. No, he made us face the truth about humanity through stories that rival anything you might have read in the pages of novels. It comes as no surprise that his novels are bestsellers.
John Byrne is an artist turned author that really had an affect on me. First with his art on X-men, then with his long run on Fantastic Four in the Eighties. Amazing stuff.
Paul Levitz's work on Legion of Super Heroes gave me the foundation for working with a lot of characters and keeping them straight in my head. Believe me, this comes in handy. His Great Darkness War is one of the finest storylines in comics.
Len Wein has literally worked on everything in comics. He helped create Swamp Thing and The New Uncanny X-men. Both books are among the best loved and longest lasting titles in comics. For that alone, he deserves to go into the hall of fame of genius.
Walt Simonson worked the same magic Byrne did on Thor. His run on the title made me fall in love with Norse Mythology and the thunder god. His artwork was almost as amazing as his writing. It does hurt that he created one of my all time favorite characters, Beta Ray Bill.
Marv Wolfman deserves the same. If it is a comic, he's worked on it. Trying to list all his credits would be like trying to name every comic ever put out. For this though, if you want to see him at his best check out The New Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths, with amazing artwork from George Perez.
Frank Miller. Okay, this guy is so great that I'm only going to list the books his written. Daredevil. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Batman: Year One. Sin City. 300. Elektra Assassin. Martha Washington. He along with Alan Moore are among the godfathers of comics. To bypass reading any of those books should be a crime.
Okay, you know who's next. Stan Lee is the ever loving man. Nuff Said! If you don't know who this man is, shame on you. In 1961 Stan Lee along with the artistic genius of Jack Kirby rewrote the book on comics. Stan has created nearly every comic character you've spent the last 10 years going to the movies to see. Fantastic Four. Spider-man. The Avengers. Iron Man. The Incredible Hulk. X-Men. Daredevil. The Mighty Thor. Black Panther. Silver Surfer. That's just the tip of the iceberg. There isn't enough room on this or five blogs to go into all the stuff that's exploded from his mind. Not to mention some of the greatest comic villains ever. Doctor Doom. Green Goblin. Galactus. Namor. The Lizard. Mole Man. The Red Skull. I mean this man's brain should be bronzed for prosperity. How could he not affect the growing mind of any beginning writer? He made me dream that I could fly, swing on spider webs, shoot lightning from my finger tips. More importantly, he made me believe enough in myself that I could create new worlds and characters would love as much as I did. Isn't that what any great mentor is supposed to do?
Granted I have never met any of these amazing writers, but through their works I feel like I have. Now, through me you have tasted a bit of their genius and what they meant to a boy who had more fun living in their worlds and his own rather than in the one outside his door. Now, if I could fly in that one, I'd be one happy camper, despite the fact I'm afraid of heights. Go figure. A super hero afraid of heights? Now that's a comic I can get my teeth into.
That's it for this week. Join me next week as I wrap this sucker up with a blog so mind blowing I can't get give you the title. Mainly, because I don't have one yet.
Can Jmo figure out a title?
Does he even know what he's going to write about?
Will the voices in his head take over and write a scathing blog about butterflies and unicorns?
Stay Tuned to find out in our next thrilling issue!