Influences: Comic books

August 5th, 2013Posted by Nancy







Some conversations last weekend reminded me of the impact certain comic books had on my imagination, so that’s the topic of this week’s post.

When I lived in small-town Ontario during grade 8 and 9 (living in small-town Ontario was not exactly a success for me, though I made a great friend  there), one of my monthly rituals was to ride my bike to Sam’s Variety store with my hoarded allowance and buy a couple of comic books.  These served the dual purpose of both reading and providing figures I could trace in order to design my own characters and costumes, because I couldn’t draw to save my life.

This period coincided with a sudden flurry of comics featuring female heroes, which suited my already feminist sensibilities.  Among the series I followed were The Cat and Shanna the She-Devil, which both came out in short-lived series in 1972, and the Avengers (which I admit was partly due to the Scarlet Witch/Vision storyline running at that time).  I also dabbled in the occasional Wonder Woman and other comics if it looked as if there would be interesting female characters.

I never really considered creating my own comics, partially because of aforementioned lack of drawing ability and partially because my imagination was already not quite that concrete.   While I’m writing, I can mentally see some things in great detail, some things in “long shot” and some things not at all.   I don’t see my characters’ faces, for example, but I know what it feels like when one of them looks at another.   The option always exists to do the script only, of course, and that’s something I’d love to pursue for some projects, but my real love is words and the personal, internal images and emotions those conjure for me.

I kept some of those comics for years until one move too many meant they disappeared.

And I learned the Shelley poem Ozymandias from an issue of the Avengers, so who says comics don’t teach you anything?  I couldn’t find a legible version to post, so go to the link to check it out.  It’s one of the most memorable pages of comic art I’ve ever seen.   The poem is below.


I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away



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