A co-worker and I were chatting this morning and, at some point, he asked what my next book was going to be about?
"Blackstone, the comic magician detective," I answered.
At which point he laughed, amused at the consistency with which I can find topics so obscure and esoteric that no one else is writing about it. He continued to point out that I also tend to go into great detail on these topics, probably much moreso than anyone else cares about. I agreed, saying that was more or less deliberate on my part.
He then proceeded to tell me about how he was a Doc Savage fan growing up, and he had 100-some of the novels. And how he was recently reading a book about the history of Lester Dent and his famous creation, and noted how the author of that piece also went into great detail about this character that no one today was all that familiar with, much like I do.
I asked if he was talking about Will Murray. After a split-second of surprise that I would know that name, he affirmed that he was indeed talking about Murray, a noted Doc Savage fan who's actually gone on to write several Doc Savage novels as well.
I'm not a big Doc Savage fan myself, but I've been familiar with Murray's work for many years now. I don't recall exactly when I first read something by him, or even when/where I started seeing his name with any regularity, but I do know that I've read any number of articles and such by him that have delved into the depths of comic book and pulp histories. I pointed out to my co-worker that I had actually used Murray as a sort of template for my own authorship.
Marvel Saga. Theakston is best known as an illustrator, and is one of the go-to guys for prepping for reprint Golden Age comics for which usable art is no longer available.
I recall being in awe of Sanderson because, when I first heard of him, his title was Marvel Comics Archivist. That sounded liked an incredible job, and one which I hoped I could land one day. (Sanderson turned out to be the first and only person to hold that position. I believe he was let go during the Marvel's bankruptcy in the 1990s and the position was never filled again.)
The Golden Age of Marvel Comics. Prior to that I had only read research articles by him, primarily about Jack Kirby. I tell a lie; I did some of his art in his self-published Pure Images series, but those were largely text pieces with only a few pages of his original art. Regardless, I knew him more as a comics historian than anything else.
Murray, Sanderson and Theakston were/are three writers who would dig deep into the annals of comic history and cover their subjects with a depth and precision that I wasn't seeing anywhere else. Other writers who were trying to do the same type of thing came across as fanboys who wrote a little better than average. These guys, though, researched and wrote almost as if they were writing for academic journals. They wrote with a love of their subject, of course, but they also wrote intelligently and covered territory no one else seemed to be covering. These were the guys who had the most direct impact on my sense of what writing ABOUT comics should be. Much of my writing -- for Jack Kirby Collector, MTV Geek, Drawn Word and my own work -- is modeled off theirs.
Will, Peter, Greg -- if you happen across this, thanks very much. One of my goals in writing about comics is to have the same impact that you had on me. I'm quite confident that I'm not there yet, but that's part of why I keep coming back day after day.
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