If you’ve been hanging out here on the blog or on my twitter feed, you know by now that I am a huge comic book geek. I once had a monthly habit that was the equivalent of a car payment. Not a nice car. Not even a good car. Probably more like an ‘ok’ car, but you get the point – I put the comic book store owner’s kid through college (he actually said that. Bastard.).
Thanks to comics, I learned a great many things; spiders are not only our friends, but, when dosed with certain kinds of radiation, they can pass their powers on to us through a bite, also, if you’re rich enough and determined (or drunk) enough, you can finance your own superhero persona(s), Norse Gods are still around and they like to fight crime, blind men can kick your ass, aliens are here and they like bright, primary colors and earth chicks, when properly focused, speed equals power, being a cop is cool – being a SPACE COP IS FREAKING AWESOME…
Also, people like to build giant robot suits and then fight each other in them, genetic mutations are cool, flying aircraft carriers are also FREAKING AWESOME, you can survive being frozen in ice for decades, thaw out and still kick some butt, if you’re rich enough and insane enough, you can finance your own supervillain persona(s), the kids you pick on in your youth WILL COME BACK and try to take over the world/steal your girl/kill your girl/humiliate you / cause you pain.
When my Grams lived with us, the afternoon was filled with soaps; Guiding Light, Young and the Restless – that sort of thing. Having had to watch some of that stuff while waiting for the blessed 3pm and with it, Scooby-Doo, I always felt that later on, when I started to read comics, that they shared a certain serial/cliffhanger quality. Things were rarely ever ‘wrapped’ up, no matter what the hero said at the end of the issue; the bad guy or gal always came back, the drama with their personal life didn’t go away and the cliffhangers kept right on coming.
“You’re not Peter Parker – you’re his CLONE!” DUN DUN DUN! (tell me that doesn’t sound soap operaish!)
That sort of serial drama can be fun to play with in my own writing, so I guess it was a big influence on me.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus
How do I explain this?
I was a computer loving, comic book reading, Star Trek quoting, Dungeons & Dragons playing kid; all I needed was that one last bit of nerdtacular street cred to ensure no girl ever talked to me in high school again.
…and along came Python.
From the first time I saw the Ministry of Silly Walks, I was hooked. Who the hell were these absurd guys and why were they dressed as women? A dead parrot? Really? A cheese shop that had no cheese? A man with a tape recorder up his nose?
My sense of humor owes a lot to these guys; it comes through in my twitter feed (I think), here on this blog and most definitely in my writing.
But they were really only the jumping off point. Thanks to the Python’s, I discovered all sorts of British comedy that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise even known about. Like the Blues, there’s just something about that type of comedy that appeals to me. I once wrote a piece that people compared to Douglas Adams and I could not have been more flattered.
There is this kind of absurd intelligence the comes through in British humor; it’s funny, sometimes absolutely ridiculous but at the same time, you realize that a lot of thought went into it – it’s not a pie in the face, it’s a soliloquy of humor that tickles the funny bone and fires those little synapses in the brain that make you laugh and think.
I can’t imagine writing without this sense of humor coming through.
And, to try and bring this week long extravaganza of influence pieces full circle, I really can’t imagine writing without pulling from all of these different influences; the humor, the fantasy, the scifi, the drama, from my own experiences with family and friends. We are the sum of our parts and our writing reflects that.
…which reminds me, I should probably be writing.