As a young reader, I was obsessed with stories that explained the origin of my favorite super heroes: Superman (visitor from another planet), Batman (a childhood trauma), the Flash (lightning, chemicals), Spider-Man (radioactive bug bite), Green Lantern (alien encounter), the Atom (scientific invention), Tarzan (kidnapped by a grief-stricken ape), Thor (his parents just happened to be Norse gods).1 As a writer, I’m often asked by readers to explain my own origins – a house filled with books, parents who read, an adult neighbor who shared her Fantastic Four and Wonder Woman comics, a mind-blowing encounter with an Agatha Christie classic in 5th grade, eccentric aunts and uncles who told funny stories.
This was my first year at Comic-Con in San Diego, an intimate little affair with 130,000 of my closest compadres. Folks who, like me, had been bitten by the radioactive bug of pop-culture literature, were raised on the hero tales of caped crusaders and barbarian warriors, and just couldn’t get enough. Like most other writers, I was so spellbound by a story as a young person, that I wanted to be able to cast my own spell, a story that could stand alongside all those wonderful words that built my brain, hammered my world into place, and hinged open the horizon.
1This short, parenthetical device covers a barge-full of explanation when it comes to a hero’s origin. I was inspired by my favorite tidbit of offstage info from Vladimir Nabokov’s epic Ada, where he explains how the heroine’s parents died: “ . . . (picnic/lightning) . . . “