Comical Influences

Friday 13 January 2006

Every so often, I tend to mention what comic books I read on a regular basis. It's that time again. Comics these days are like novels, and can contain far more advanced themes and issues than "Spider-Man" did in 1963. Believe me when I say that the Adventurers stories you read would not be at the quality and frequency you are used to if not for my comic book habit. Here's my reading list as of January 2006:

Conan - Several years ago, Marvel let their license for this character lapse, and Dark Horse snapped it up. Then they hired one of the best writers in the business to script a new series that would adapt Robert E. Howard's classic stories. I was dubious at first - after all, I've read the originals as well as most of the Conan output from Marvel in the last two decades - but I gave it a shot, and it's actually very good. This series helps keep me rooted in a fantasy mode when I write.

Planetary - There have been some scheduling problems with this one (it's taken 5 years for them to put out 23 issues) but it really is worth the wait. Imagine alternate dimensions, aliens, Godzilla monsters, ghosts, and an evil Fantastic Four conspiracy - all hidden beneath the surface of a super-hero world. This comic was part of the inspiration for the Xusia gateway mega-arc.

Punisher - Old character, fresh take by hot writer. I said that five years ago when Garth Ennis started writing this character, and I have yet to be disappointed. It's a bloody, violent, and gritty portrayal of a highly-trained and -motivated vigilante's one-man war on crime. Reading this always inspires me to write more Belphanior stories.

Supreme Power - A re-telling of the classic 1980s "Squadron Supreme" story, this really focuses on what would happen if a very few super-powered individuals started popping up in a normal world...and the government tried to control them...and then the super-powered people realized that perhaps they had a greater calling than obeying a government made up of inferior beings who don't really want what's best for the population of the world. This book has started to put similar ideas in my head for certain characters in the Adventurers.

Tales of the Night Stalker - This is based on the "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" TV series from 1975-6. Not only was that series the inspiration for "The X-Files" but it was also quite good in its own right. This comic series, featuring new stories by various writers, is generally faithful to the look and feel of the old TV series. Comics like this gear me up for occasional horror or mystery writing.

Ultimates - Several years ago, Marvel invented the Ultimate universe, with modern-day takes on superheroes originally invented in the 1960s. Ultimates is a modernization of the Avengers and features plenty of politics mixed in with the super-hero action. I also read Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Fantastic Four, and Ultimate Iron Man plus certain limited series. If you like the classic versions, give these "alternate takes" a try. Like "Supreme Power", this series inspires me to mix power and politics, in other words, what happens when powerful individuals (the Adventurers) start to dabble in the affairs of cities or nations.

Walking Dead - imagine a George Romero zombie movie turned into an ongoing TV series. This is like the written version of that. Oddly enough, the surviving humans often pose more danger to each other than the zombies do. Since I don't do "living dead" stories in my writing, this has no direct influence on me, but it helps me stay in a writing mood.