Monday, October 24, 2016

Influential 8: Two Legends Lost

Last week, two creative minds that have been influences on my writing have left the world. 

First was crime, mystery and western author Ed Gorman. Gorman was a fellow Eastern Iowan, regularly writing novels set in and around the area. But along with Max Allan Collins (another Iowan), he helped me develop a fan for crime fiction. I remember as a young reader always being stuck with straight mysteries and never quite finding them all that interesting. But with more of a focus on criminals and the horrors of crime, both Gorman and Collins drew me in. Unlike Collins however, Gorman also wrote several horror short stories, often with great Tales From the Crypt-esque finishes. His collection The Dark Fantastic still ranks as one of the best collections of horror short stories I've ever read. 

If you've never read anything by him, his novels The Poker Club and Wolf Moon are both amazing places to start. His short novel Cage of Night is currently only 99 cents on Amazon for a low cost look at his work.

Ed had a long and storied career, slowed in recent years as he battled cancer. Eventually it was that cancer that took him and left a massive hole in crime and western fiction. 

He is survived by his wife Carol Gorman, a writer of fiction for children and adults.  

Just over this last weekend, a very different creator disappeared. And though his medium and origins were about as far away from Gorman's as possible, he still left an indelible impression during my formative years.

British comic artist Steve Dillon is a name most people know for his legendary work on Preacher, an epic long running series he drew ever regular issue of. (Several side limited series were drawn by other artists.) He collaborated with Garth Ennis on several other books as well, notably Hellblazer and their revamp of The Punisher. It was actually the first Atom Special. Published in the middle of his John Constantine run, the book immediately made me a fan of his art style which brought a beautiful realism to the unreal world of superhero comics. He used those skills to great effect in Preacher, but it was his run on Wolverine: Origins that was in my opinion, his finest comic work. Despite his years as a critically acclaimed mature readers oriented artist, in recent years he had done more mainstream work like the aforementioned Wolverine stories, issues of X-Men: Legacy, Ultimate Avengers and Thunderbolts. Up until his sudden death over the weekend, he had been working on a new Punisher series with writer Becky Cloonan that I looked forward to seeing in trade. Now that work will go sadly uncollected. 

The obvious starting point for anyone wanting to enjoy his work is Preacher Book One.

Neither creator might be an immediate obvious influence on my writing, but both had an incredible knack for grounding the fantastic in the real. It's a skill I've tried to emulate in my Freedom Patton novels: A Dangerous Place to Live and the upcoming The Long Hot Summer and Champion City. Ultimately, they remain creators I will continue to enjoy and learn from, even if we sadly see nothing more from both legendary creators.

Rest well, good sirs. 

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