Influences 2

I was a massive Marvel comics fan (never DC) when it was definitely not cool to be so. Even now, my friends would not know I once collected them. Long before special effects brought comics to life, my mind did the business for me.
I embraced comics, I think because I was a dreamer — still am. As a little kid, I'd save my pocket money and choose with relish from the few shops that stocked the original US imprints. One supermarket even packaged three Marvel comics for 15p, which tormented due to the fact they were wrapped so you could see the front and back but never the middle issue. What would it be?
My biggest joy was always the Avengers — I took great pleasure in choosing my own team — Spider-man, and later the X-Men. However, despite being overjoyed at purchasing (when I could) the aforementioned comics, my favourite issue, and appropriate now due to the Netflix series, was an Iron Fist one.
This particular comic had every element I dreamed of: fantasy; mysterious realms; cool characters; a taste of the Orient; snow. Even better than the mythical aspects of the Thor comics particularly a storyline about Ragnarok, the death of the Norse gods, the Iron Fist story involved K'un-Lun, an alternate take on Shangri-La (a major player in my later writings). I still treasure it even after almost forty years of ownership. Here it is:

Not many folks will have one of these.
PS. To any youngsters reading, that strange device in the top right corner is a bicycle. We used to ride them in the past.

I believe comics to be one of the most underrated mediums for creative expression. This doesn't apply quite as much as it used to, but there is still a snobbery attached to them when compared to books. Thank goodness for writers such as Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore who have readdressed this imbalance.
I still own hundreds of comics all packed away in storage boxes. It is one of my few regrets at leaving employment to write full time that I can now no longer afford them — sacrifices and all that.
I believe we should encourage kids to read anything (within reason) they can get their hands on. Stimulating the mind through reading, pushing the boundaries of the imagination, will bear more fruits to a child's development than ever being force-fed a computer game or TV. That's my opinion, anyway.

I hope you enjoyed this and as always thank you for reading.

Richard M. Ankers
Author of The Eternals Series
The Eternals
Hunter Hunted
Into Eternity (Soon!)

24 thoughts on “Influences 2

  1. I liked to get my hands on a US original comic once in a while because usually the UK reprints were shorter collections of several stories in each issue (they tended to end just as you were getting into it).
    The first comic story to totally blow my mind was Alan Moore’s re-working of Captain Britain with Alan Davis doing some incredible (& tongue-in-cheek) artwork. At the time they were barely known in the UK industry, never mind the US, but both went on to massive success on both sides of the pond.
    Check this out:

      1. I was never a fan of his weird mask with his blond hair flopping about. The 80s reboot was much more up my street & played Brian as a fairly flawed bloke (wants to do the right thing but sometimes cocks it up; occasionally pompous; often awesome; likes a nice cup of tea). I can’t recommend the Fury/James Jaspers storyline highly enough. If you can beg or borrow a copy of the full compendium you may well change your mind:

  2. I loved comic books as a kid, too. My brothers and I had hundreds (seemed like hundreds) of them in our cabin as kids, a stack that we’d read over and over again. That treasure was one of the tragic losses when the place burned down. I agree that any kind of book that invites a kid to turn the page is good reading 🙂

  3. The Avengers, Spider-Man, the X-Men— I too spent a lot of quality time with these guys when I was young and I also have boxes filled with comics that I don’t think I could ever part with.

    There is a big push in education for the reading and study of graphic novels. I used to teach Speiglman’s Maus to some junior classes I had. Graphic novels and comics are very effective ways of helping students with visual literacy. That’s important–especially with all the visuals we are exposed to everyday.

  4. I suspect your comic books were better cared for than mine – especially considering you still have yours!! Our’s quickly became ragged and torn.

    Every Saturday, after we got our weekly allowance, a new comic book was bought. In a neighbourhood full of kids, we shared and traded our comics among one another. We all seemed to have a favourite, so there was always a lot of variety.

    My superhero favourite was Superman. Always Superman – the rest were pretenders 😉

  5. I certainly enjoyed this, Richard.
    Just for the record, people (and children) still bicycle 😉
    However, you’ve made – again- a valued point.

  6. I grew up watching the 90’s cartoon versions of Spider-Man, X-Men and Batman; and i can honestly say these shows started my love of comics. I’m almost 26 and i still buy graphic novels to keep up to date with everything that goes on in both DC and Marvel. I never collected individual issues as a kid and looking back I wish I had. Some of those classic stories were amazing.

  7. I agree that comics are under-rated. I collect surf art and love finding comics with super-heroes surfing. 🙂 Check out my page, theres a couple of comics on there now and ive got a load more to post up in the future.

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