ealperin asked: Last question of the night, did you have a favorite comic book or graphic novel that inspired you to become a writer, while growing up? If so, what about it inspired you? Was it how they wrote the characters well, or was it something else, entirely? Have you added any new ones to that list, that other folks have recommended to you?
The first COMICS I ever read that made me want to draw and write (suck at the first, jury is still out on the second), was a bound set of early Peanuts comic strips in a little boxed set. I read those almost til the covers came off. If you read those early stories, what you find is a depth far beyond what was expected in a simple kid’s gag strip.
First, the art was almost abstract for the time, if you look at, say, Charlie Brown, that is a completely weird design, his head is the size of his body. That was not common stuff back then, and very innovative. I had a feeling, even as a very little girl, that Schulz had invented his own reality, similar to, say, Picasso or Dali. He found a world that no one else had discovered and conveyed it in such a way that he really HAD no competition, not for decades.
Beyond that, I still think a lot of what Peanuts is about has never been handled as well in almost any medium. Peanuts is about deep, bone-deep sadness, and cruelty, and the need for fantasy to escape the dreariness of reality and the judgmental nature of other people. It’s not about escape, it’s about the NEED for escape.
I suspect if you ask a lot of comic book creators, they would name Schulz as their first real inspiration to seek out and create comics.
I learned about the importance of subtext at that point, and most of my comics are deeply subtextual, not as allegory or with a contrived message, but with some reflection of the human condition.
Birds of Prey is about women punching bad guys, but it’s REALLY about sisterhood and acceptance. Secret Six is about mercs, but it’s REALLY about the inability to find a place for one’s self even when you are REALLY trying. And so on, and that emphasis on a deeper world, I learned how important that was and how to do it from Peanuts.