Sources of Inspiration

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer and in my early teens, I dabbled in poetry and stabbed at writing prose. I also thought that I might also want to draw and write a daily comic strip.

The only part of the above that survived my teen years was still wanting to be a writer. Fast forward to many years later and did actually publish two books – one book was a family history and the other was a collection of poetry that I wrote way back when I was a teen.

However, it was not until I started working on this blog that I started getting any sense of satisfaction toward my desire to want to write. This made me realize a number of things: One, it was never about wanting to be writer as it was about wanting to put something down on paper. In other words, just wanting to write (period).

The other thing that I recently realized was that the writing style that I have developed within this blog was inspired by an art form that I really loved back when I was kid. That art form was Comic Books.

I am a sixty-something who grew up in the 1960s and back then I spent a lot of my spare time reading comic books. It was one of those childish past times that was tolerated but was frowned upon. Instead of reading comic books, I was supposed to be doing other stuff like homework or chores.

Whenever my brother and I would get our allowances we would walk over to a place next door to the local K-Mart that sold used books and comic books. The used comic books were cheaper than new comics. I think I could get 5 used comics for 25 cents (something like that). I would buy DC comics (publisher of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, etc.) and my brother would buy Marvel (publisher of Ironman, Spiderman, Thor, etc.).

So, in 1967, we were buying titles from the early to mid-sixties. I never paid much attention to what specifically I was buying. I would buy whatever they had and how ever much I could afford. However, my two favorites were Justice League of AmericaGreen Lantern. I would first scour the bins for those titles. The big Superman or Batman annuals were also something that I would go for.

I collected comics from late elementary school to early high school and I kept my stack of comics in a closet in the bedroom that I shared with my brother. One day, when I was a senior in high school and we preparing to move to another house, I came home from school and found that my stack of comic books and my stack of Newsweek magazines were gone. I had every Newsweek magazine published between January 1968 and December 1969. Gone! Everything was gone!

I asked my mother where my “books” were and she informed me that she threw them out and not to bother looking for them, because the trash had been already picked-up. I flipped out and forty-five years later, I still have not forgiven my mom for that. Her excuse for having thrown out my collection of comic books and magazines: “I can’t stand the clutter!”.

(I’m glad that she did not look under the mattress. Otherwise, she would have found a collection of Playboy and Penthouse magazines.)

Fast forward to about five years ago and I read somewhere that DC was doing a reboot of all their titles and were coming out with new issues for everything (Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, etc.).

They were calling it the “New 52”. Fifty-two, as in 52 titles. Since comic books in 2011 were no longer 12 cents an issue and were now four bucks a pop, I had to limit my purchasing to only a couple of titles. I chose the Justice League and Batman.

I subscribed to one year of JL and below you see the first 12 issues of new 52 “Justice League”. (Don’t tell my mother, but I keep these on a shelf in a closet in my office).

Yet, reading these slick new comics was just not the same… Don’t get me wrong, the artwork is great, the stories are intriguing, but when I think back to the comics that I read back in the sixties – the era that is now called the “Silver Age of Comics” – I feel like there is a huge difference between what is published now and what was published then. To me, it is just not the same. The comic books today seem so dark and disturbing.

I do enjoy watching “Flash”, “Supergirl”, “and “Legends of Tomorrow”, but those live action shows are also not same for me when I compare them with comic books and cartoons.

Back in the early 90s when my son was a kid, he and I would watch “Batman: The Animated Series” on television. I thought then and still think today that that series was the greatest animated cartoon series ever. It was not like the Batman comics that I read as a kid, but it was not as dark and disturbing as the Batman comic books that I got in the mail back in 2011.

Recently, I learned that back between 2000 and 2006 there were two series that ran on WB that were continuations of the DC Animated Universe. They were titled “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited”. I am sure I would have known about those shows back then if there had been a kid living in my house, but thanks to Netflix I now know about it and I am now watching those two series today. When I compare the stories in these cartoons with the Justice League comics that I got in the mail back in 2011, they are more closely aligned to what I remember reading in the JLA comic books back in the 60s.

It seems like the cartoons in the DC Animated Universe were directed more towards kids. Just like the comic books that I read as kid back in the 60s. Whereas the more expensive comic books of today are directed towards young men who can afford to buy those books. That is okay with me, because I would much more to prefer to go back and read those “titles” from the 1960s.

And now I have a way to do that. It was only this past year that I discovered ComiXology.

According to Wikipedia, ComiXology “is a cloud-based digital distribution platform for comics, with over 200 million comic downloads as of September 2013. It offers a selection of more than 100,000 comic books, graphic novels, and manga across Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Windows 8, and the Internet. In April 2014, ComiXology became a subsidiary of Amazon.com.”

ComiXology has titles and collections available from the Golden Age (1940s to 1950s) through the Silver Age (mid-1950s to mid-1980s) and beyond at somewhat very reasonable prices. Most of the single-issue comics that I have purchased are either .99 cents or $1.99

When I visit ComiXology, I feel once again like a kid visiting that used comic book store on Longpoint drive, next door to the K-Mart and across the parking lot from Jack-In-The-Box.

I have put myself on a budget and right now I have a rule in effect that says that I cannot buy anymore “books” until I have finished reading what I have purchased so far.

Also, I have a rule that I am only buying Silver Age books. Most consider the Silver Age of Comic Books to cover the period from 1956 to circa 1970. Others extend that period to the mid-80s when DC ended many titles during what was known as the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” – it was another reboot like the one in 2011.

As for me, I place the end of the Silver Age with Green Lantern issue #83 (May 1971) when Carol Ferris learns that long time employee, Hal Jordan, is the secret identity of Green Lantern. So, essentially, I am limiting myself to a 15 year period that coincides with my childhood.

So, while I am taking a break between seasons of THOTB, I will be reading comic books and getting inspiration for what I want to do for season nine of The History Twin Bayous.

 

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