Tuesday, September 07, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 34

This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as a fantasy author.

Captain America #226
by Roger McKenzie

Right off the bat, let me say that I realize comic books are a collaborative art form. The writer is not the only one steering the wheel. Often the artists, inkers, editors, etc. have major influences upon the story. But as a writer myself, I'm focusing on the writing aspects alone for the most part, which is why I only list the actual writers and not the others involved with the work.

Next, one might ask ... comic books? Really?

Yes, really. Comic books had a major early influence upon my young self, but even back then I wanted to be a writer. When I was a kid, I spent hours and hours and hours drawing and writing my own comic books. I wish I still had those comics today, but alas, I do not.

But what was special about issue #226 of Captain America?

A few things.

For one, when I was a very young kid, I had read a lot of the good Captain's early tales, but I had gotten away from reading him. In 1978, when this particular issue came out, I was 9 years old. And I got back into Cap with this issue, and continued to follow him through my early teen years.

What made me pick up this particular comic book?

That's an easy one. The writer lived right down the road from me.

I met Roger McKenzie through a garage sale. His own. He was selling tons upon tons of comic books. Discussing comics was how I got to know the guy a little. We never became best buddies or anything, he was a grown man at the time and I was a kid, after all, but I did get to go inside his house and see his gigantic collection of comics (literally wall to wall) and comics artwork he had hanging on his walls.

Even at that tender age, I knew I wanted to be a writer of some sort, a teller of tales. So meeting an actual writer was like a dream come true, and he lived just down the street from me!

Roger didn't stay in my neighborhood long. I believe he moved away just a few months later. But I always remember him and his run on Captain America.

But concerning the actual story of issue #226? Briefly, the Captain is aboard a spaceship and loses his powers while having to fight a gigantic robot. Simple straight-forward comic book stuff, right? Yes, but there's also lessens to be learned here. The Captain wins, of course, because he's the hero and the comic goes on for hundreds of more issues, but this issue showed me at an early age to kick your protagonist when he's down. Then kick him again. And again and again and again. Then let him work his way out of his troubles with his own skills, abilities and sometimes even just plain old willpower or smarts.

Thus, I was learning about writing at an early age.

Up next: Hellblazer #63

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I read almost no comics as a kid. As a young teenager I read some FAntastic four and Spiderman. NOt much else. Then I got away from them for many years before in the last few years coming back to pick up the occassional graphic novel.