I walked into class and sat down at a desk in the front of the room. I never sat in the back of the room. My buddy Adam sat directly to my right. We always tried to take one elective journalism class together. It made class more like fun and less like work. This particular shared class was Editorial Journalism.
Clyde, my experienced yet surprisingly animated teacher, announced the subject of that day’s class was “finding your voice.” He lectured. We listened. Eventually, Clyde asked the question that I knew he would ask. I mean, I knew he would ask this particular question when he announced the day’s subject. I didn’t know it when I woke up. That would be witchcraft.
“So, who or what are your influences?”
A couple of people volunteered answers, and by a couple, I mean exactly two. So I volunteered.
I rattled of the names of three writers: Nick Hornby (of High Fidelity fame), Irvine Welsh (of Trainspotting fame) and Clive Thompson (of Wired fame). I explained my love for their quirky senses of humor and how they inject pop culture into their writing effectively and with purpose. I also named Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene (I won’t insult you with links). I explained my fondness for Hemingway and Greene’s tight sentences and their ability to set intimate scenes.
Clyde, to his credit, said, “That makes sense. I can see that in your writing.”
I love those writers, and they’ve helped my writing more than they will ever know. But after I finished talking, I felt guilty. I felt guilty because I cheated. I didn’t plagiarize; I wouldn’t do that. However, in a way, I didn’t give credit where it was due. I didn’t say anything about comics, comic writers or comic artists.
That’s right, I like comics (of the strip and book variety). GASP!!! Believe it or not, they’ve actually influenced my writing and designing. Comics have a stigma, though, and that’s what kept me from mentioning them. They have bright colors, pictures and onamonapia words that the original Batman TV show made oh, so famous:
It all adds up to create the perception that comics are nothing more than literary pulp for children. That assumption is so simplistic and pompous it makes my blood boil. Comics have incredible value if you have the right mindset.