Stan Lee passed away on the 12th of November. He’d had a good innings and, it’s fair to say, he was remembered well by comic book fans, the comic book companies, and the people behind the movie behemoth that spawned from many of his creations. I too doffed my cap to him, whilst recognizing that he wasn’t alone building the Marvel Universe.
I’m too young to have been collecting comics when Stan was writing them, but old enough to remember “Stan’s Soapbox” and his position of figurehead of the comic book brand I have favored for more than two thirds of my life. I can’t say I was ever directly influenced by Stan’s work, but I was influenced by creators only one or two steps removed from Stan.
If you talk to me for more than five minutes, I’m bound to mention I’m a comic book fan. Luckily for me, my friends were too, and it’s from this mutual love of comic books, and their larger than life stories, that the world of Dynamo City was created. What started off as a roleplaying game -
- based off the Marvel Superheroes RPG - morphed into something better. We created a new world, new characters, and story after story, producing many hours of fun. From there, we wrote actual stories to fill in the history of the people and the places, and it’s from those early stories that my second novel was born.
“The Wolves of Dynamo” is a celebration of the world created by three imaginative, and dorky, boys: Alan wrote darker things, his love of Batman, Daredevil, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and Excalibur influenced the beginnings of Dynamo City and the core of the mythos behind it. Andrew loved Iron Man, back before Iron Man was everyone’s darling, and the characters he created reflected the intelligence and tech know-how he enjoyed. He bridged more modern ideas with very down to earth sensibilities. The character of Jeff Langford, the Everyman, is also basically Andrew… with millions of extra dollars. Meanwhile, I leaned heavily into wide-eyed wonder, and tended, surprisingly, to create more fantastical elements, tapping into my love of fairytales, science fiction, and magic. Of course, as Dynamo coalesced and grew, the lines between our ideas and stories became blurred as we influenced one another.
The world of Dynamo is enormous. It spawned over one hundred roleplays, which then spawned offshoots: Dynamo Tales; Connery, King & Lees, Network, and even our very own space-centric ideas…a la Star Trek. So, Dynamo grew from a city to a State, to a world, to Otherworlds and the only thing that stopped it was… real life.
The boys grew up and scattered to the four corners of the globe and left behind a catalog of fascinating characters and wonderful stories. It bothered me that we had created so much and now the ideas just sat gathering dust in ring binders. So, we started writing stories based on the characters and ideas we’d created. When this too ground to a halt, I was beginning to make plans to take this writing I was doing and turn it into something I could hold in my hands. I had an idea separate from Dynamo which turned into my novel “Monsters” and after self-publishing it, I got the sparkle in my eye to have another go at Dynamo.
Andrew rarely writes anymore but gave his blessing for Dynamo to continue in novel form. Alan, meanwhile, continues to write, and will hopefully serve up some “Dynamo Tales” as the series of stories progresses. Until then, you should check out his novel The Cold Handshake. A novel in the style of an old school pulp noir.
For now, I have to get back to my thriller/mystery series with Doyle Godwin, but I fully expect to return to Dynamo soon.
So, while I wasn’t directly influenced by Stan, I believe I’m a writer today because of my love of comic books. I enjoyed the X-Men and Avengers - team books - the most, because of the group dynamics, and it’s why I enjoy writing Dynamo with its eclectic cast of characters. The themes featured throughout comic books like X-Men, were also instrumental in me creating a character like Doyle Godwin: an outcast or misfit who only feels like he belongs with the other misfits. The only thing that has influenced me as much as comic books are movies, but that will be a post for another day.