Sunday, August 23, 2009

Comic Book Influences

During my recent workshop experience, one of the other writers commented that several sections of my chapter read like they were intended to be a movie script. It was an interesting observation. To be honest, if there is a visual influence like that on my writing, it is probably due more to having read a lot of comic books over the years than to having watched a lot of movies.

You see, in addition to science fiction and fantasy, I also like superhero comic books. Among my favorites over the years have been specific incarnations of the Justice League, the X-Men, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Spider-Man, All-Star Superman, Invincible, The Authority, Planetary, Powers, Top Ten, Promethea, Starman, Shadowline, Hellboy, and the Suicide Squad.

As the above list will tell you if you're a comics fan, I don't consider myself a Marvel or a DC person. I've found that I'm also a little different from the typical fan in that I don't follow specific characters or teams so much as I follow teams of writers and artists. And even then I'm kind of picky. For example, I love Robert Kirkman's Invincible but I have no interest in his ongoing Walking Dead series. I've read two different incarnations of the Legion of Superheroes that couldn't be more different from each other--the Giffen Terra Mosaic sequence of the early 1990s and the more recent "DnA" (Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning) Legion, but never got into anything else. I have Marc Millar's whole run of Ultimate X-Men but didn't care for his work on the Authority. And Grant Morrison is totally hit or miss for me--I loved his All-Star Superman and his early JLA reboot, but didn't care for his Doom Patrol or his New X-Men that much. And I stopped collecting Ultimate Spider Man and Powers some time ago when I felt they were getting stale.

Also, I read comics when I was young, then had a long hiatus before picking them up again in college, then another hiatus after graduating. So although I'm familiar with the history of many iconic characters, I'm not overly wowed by a lot of the early writing or art. So a lot of my favorites are more recent.

My favorite comic book writers are:
  • Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (Legion of Super-Heroes),
  • Brian Michael Bendis (Alias, Daredevil, Powers, Ultimate Spider Man),
  • Warren Ellis (Authority, Nextwave, Planetary),
  • Neil Gaiman (Sandman),
  • Keith Giffen* (Legion of Superheroes, Justice League International),
  • Robert Kirkman (Invincible),
  • Mike Mignola (Hellboy),
  • Marc Millar (Ultimates Vol 1 and 2, Ultimate X-Men),
  • Alan Moore (Watchmen, Promethea, Top Ten, pretty much every thing else he's written),
  • Grant Morrison (JLA, All-Star Superman),
  • John Ostrander (Suicide Squad),
  • James Robinson (Starman),
  • Brian Vaughn (Ex Machina, Runaways), and
  • Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Astonishing X-Men).
My favorite comic book artists are:
  • Carlo Barberi (Justice League Adventures, Justice League Unlimited),
  • John Cassady (Astonishing X-Men, Planetary),
  • Keith Giffen (Legion of Superheroes),
  • Gene Ha (Top Ten),
  • Tony Harris (Starman, Ex Machina),
  • Bryan Hitch (The Authority, Ultimates Vol. I and II),
  • Stuart Immomen (Nextwave, Ultimate X-Men),
  • Kevin Maguire (Justice League International, Captain America),
  • Alex Maleev (Daredevil, Alias),
  • Mike Mignola (Hellboy),
  • Michael Avon Oeming (Powers),
  • Ryan Ottley (Invincible),
  • Frank Quietly (on some titles, like All-Star Superman),
  • J.H. Williams III (Promethea)

*I haven't read any recent work by Giffen that was particularly coherent, unfortunately.

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