Top 10 Influences: #8 – Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
#10 – Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
#9 – The Island of Doctor Moreau, H. G. Wells
#8 – Spider-Man, Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
I know, I know. This is not a single book. Sue me.
When I was a kid (again), my uncle introduced me to comic books. He had the usual collection—Superman, Batman, Thor, The Flash (who I always thought was kinda cool), and Iron Man. Fantastic Four. The Hulk. Wonder Woman. The Green Lantern. You name it. They were all fun. But for me it was always Spider-Man that was the draw.
My brother and I made up games around Spider-Man, we played pick-up adventures. We sang his hokey cartoon theme song Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can!. I can’t say I ever really cared about the stories, though. Like most of the comics, I think the stories were secondary to the feelings that the characters carried—and I loved the Peter Parker vibe, the restrained sense of the solitary, isolated hero who wanted things to be better, but was always struggling with issues inside his own head as well as with the big, ugly world around him.
Peter Parker is an introvert in an extrovert’s skin. This makes him different. I mean, Clark Kent is just superman. Bruce Wayne is kinda an extrovert millionaire gallivanting around as a mysterious introvert. Tony Stark is … well … he’s Tony Freaking Stark, is what he is.
I realize, looking back on it, that this is a key piece of a lot of my stories. Many of my characters are introverts in extrovert shells. Torrance Black, of what I’ll call my “Stealing the Sun” trilogy fits the mold. As does the lead characters in both of my Writers of the Future stories (“The Disappearance of Josie Andrew,” and “Out of the Blue”). I can point to several others. And in thinking about this ever further, I think this character type resonates with me because it probably defines me. I can remember an old version of a Myers Briggs profile I took that said it was designed to show you who you were at home vs. at work, and at work I pegged extroversion, and at home I was a gentle introvert.
See? These kinds of things are why I’m having a good time actually thinking about books that have actually influenced me.