Again, Historian of Places that Don’t Exist, etc. It’s sort of what I do.
My girlfriend and I spend a lot of time talking about the various worlds we reside in when we don’t reside in the same world together and when we’re not talking about them, we’re talking about comic books. We have different ideas about comic books, which I tend to like. We come from different places. I won my first comic book at the local video store after winning a game of pay-to-play Simon. It was a Sandman comic and I still have it on my shelf next to issues of various things I’ve picked up over the years. My comic consumption usually skirted the edge, things impossible to find at the time of release and usually meant plunking down money on Ebay to get. 2006 and 2007 spent at my Aunt’s house were punctuated by the mailperson delivering thick manila envelopes with whatever I was reading at the time (Brian Wood titles, for the most part).
When I first started thinking about what I wanted 12:01AM (the title of my novel, by the way) to be, a lot of other things came first in the inspiration stream. But lately, I’ve been thinking about the things I pull off my shelf and keep nearby and flip through when I start to get stuck. Mainly comics, because, again, it is a constant topic of conversation in my life. And I got to thinking, what harm was there in throwing all the things that have been inspiring the novel into a giant pile to share with people in a way that’ll let them see what I am working with here. In the end, it could never be what the project will end up (for good or for bad, really), but it shouldn’t be something to be kept in the dark.
So, I figured, comics first, because that collection is the smallest.
1. Phonogram: Rue Britannia by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
To me, this is the least obvious collection on the list, but, probably one of the most important. I came to Phonogram when it first was released, hunting issues down in any way that I could. I loved it, I still do. Easily one of my favourite comics ever, but that long, drawn out conversation is for another post where I cry over my tiny shrine to this power team of all power teams (guys, Young Avengers, guys….!). But this is when and where it began.
It is safe to say for years after this, all I wanted to listen to was After Murder Park by The Auteurs on loop (and sometimes, I still do). Gillen’s story notes at the end about the music and the ideas involved are a gut punch, even if you don’t know every song mentioned (almost more of a gut punch than the comics some days, depending on how I feel. They’re an absolute, necessary read). McKelvie’s renderings of clear faced boys always stuck with me. When I set down to work on Carter Cameron, it was the first comic thing that came to mind. Affectionately non-American with a love of two things, Old Culture (by 12:01AM standings) and Professional Football. He’s a Blur and Radiohead mixtape on the subway to Old Trafford, or something equally absurd. It took a while before Cameron became a Spanish, La Liga lusting soccer star, but, somewhere in there, he is my love of Phonogram come to life, I think. Or at the very least, I think of it every time he comes on scene.
And sheesh, can the boy dance. Which is probably the most important thing to draw from all this. But you won’t get him to wear eyeliner. Ever.
3. DMZ, Issue 12: New York Times by Brian Wood
Okay, so, maybe it is cheating a little, but, I’m going to do it anyway. I actually hadn’t thought too much about The Singles Club until recently (after I revisited Phonogram late last year as ~research~) and even more so as I was remembering a very specific set of panels (seen here on my tumblr) when trying to come up with some stuff about Hana. Hana is the ultimate dance club fangirl. It is her job to enjoy herself and dance. It’s the most important thing ever and it fuels her. It may be a little ON POINT here, but, whatever. It’s okay. Another perfect issue that makes the most sense in a novel about twenty year olds solving a murder at a dance club.
The DMZ issue is incredibly special to me. It comes out whenever I start a project and usually stays out for the length of it. It isn’t an issue of a comic so much as it is a worldbuilder’s dream with everything about the city, culture, and people inhabiting the streets that Brian Wood could fit into the space. It is the architecture of how to build a functioning world. It’s the best piece of reference I have in my arsenal and now I’ve shared it with you. If you love to build worlds or even have a passing interest in created universes, it’s worth checking out for the richness of each page in moving the DMZ-Universe along. Seriously.
5. Escalator by Brandon Graham
And lastly, the incredibly obvious pairing of King City and Escalator. It probably would make no sense if I didn’t reference both these books. To be fair, I think Escalator has a lot more bearing on 12:01AM than King City does as a whole, but, it’s still the aesthetic that kills me.
I’m a visual person. To see people create worlds in pictures the way I think of them in words is my favourite thing. It’s why I love King City so much and spend a fair share of time going over the pages, looking at the alleyways and bridges in the huge, spanning city shots. Does it look like the city in 12:01AM? No, not really, but the heart is there. Again, inspiration, not perfect reference.
(For the record, 12:01AM is based in a very future Miami-area, which I have my own, first-hand reference of for living there for nearly five years. Yes, I am writing a book about my second home, you caught me.)
In Escalator, there is this story called Gone Fishin’, which is mostly about a pair of dudes painting on the side of a train. It’s this heartfelt moment in these guys’ life complete with some touches that make it seem like it exists in a world we could never possibly live in yet. It’s the world of Dean DeCosta, to me. The world of art and friendship and life, really.
Buy the book, trust me, it’s worth it.
So, as it stands now, all these issues and collected books sit in a pile on my tiny ottoman, soon to be met with some scholarly books I got on the subject of the 90′s rave scene and the giant 600 page book on Italian soccer that I’ve been slogging through (with joy, i promise). A tiny drop in the proverbial puddle that is the reference department in my brain for this book. Nothing huge or out of this world here, but, isn’t that how it goes anyway?
You always find inspiration in the most unlikely places.
Next time I’ll hit up one of the other aspects. Music? Movies? Video Games? Books? If anyone has a preference, let me know. I’ll hit that up next.