I recently talked with SJA Turney, the author of Marius’ Mules, a series of historical novels set in Roman times. I was delighted to read that one of his great influences was Asterix the Gaul.
This, and a very recent conversation I’ve had with Simon, Nick Britten, Alun Williams, Manda Scott and Kate has started me thinking about the influence of our earliest reading upon what authors write. And here, I don’t mean the obvious influence of much loved writers.
I’m talking about comic books.
When I was young I was brought up on the Beano, Dandy, Beezer and Topper, those quintessentially British and timeless comics which are, I hope, still going strong. Then I discovered Valiant with it’s mixture of comic strips and longer, full-prose stories. I loved this and was a loyal fan for many years.
But then I discovered American comics and was hooked. I was never a fan of Superman or Batman but I loved Iron Man, the X Men and some of the creepy flesh-tingling comics whose names I’ve now forgotten.
My tip-top favourite, however, was Marvel Comics The Mighty Thor.
This combined my love of history, mythology,and Vikings with the story of an intellectual if puny man whose inner hero is unleashed for the good of others. It had the added bonus of a rather fetching costume complete with armour, big boots, immense cloak which never seemed to hinder him in battle and a wonderful helmet with wings. I could see myself kitted out in all this.
And best of all, of course, was his wonderful hammer Mjölnir.
Thor would whirl this round his head and then let fly, using it’s momentum to weep through the heavens in pursuit of ne’er do well’s and ever lasting glory( in the mind of one ten year old at least.)
I’m sure there could be a PhD thesis on how much Asterix and Obelix influenced SJA Turney and another on how Thor influenced my The Lost King novels.
The film was pretty good as well.