Welcome to “Geek Speaks… Fiction!” a new weekly column where writers expose how their geekiness has influenced their lives and their writing.
First up, GeekMom Corrina Lawson, whose latest book, Phoenix Inheritance, is out in paperback today.
I can’t talk about my life without talking about comic books. They’ve been the stories that opened up the rest of the world to me, soothed my soul, and fired my imagination.
It’s 1976… and I finally have enough money to buy comics on a regular basis and I’m hooked on Batman, and the new villain Ra’s Al Ghul, written by Denny O’Neil and with the magnificent art of Neal Adams. Bruce Wayne is the hero I need. I lost my dad young; Bruce Wayne lost both his parents young. Yet, he found purpose and meaning to his life, so I can too. Sure, Batman is about the awesomeness of being Batman, but he’s also about compassion and helping those who lack the advantages he had.
Much later, in the 1990s, I met O’Neil in person, in the lobby of Radio City Music Hall, and only barely avoid dropping to my knees and saying, “I’m not worthy!” He is patient and explains magical realism to me. I nod and hope I sound coherent.
It’s 1980… and in my high school backpack is a copy of Uncanny X-Men #137, the conclusion of the Dark Phoenix saga. It’s in a brown paper wrapper because it’s impossible to find consistent monthly issues in rural New England and so mine come in the mail in that brown paper wrapper.
Jean Grey and Scott Summers are what would be called today an OTP—my one true pairing. It’s the first romance I’ve read and loved, Jean wanting to see Scott’s eyes, Scott’s determination to save her life, and her suicide on the moon are all moments burned into my mind from this day. It’s a saga about friendship, and love, and sacrifice, and deciding that someone and somethings are worth dying for. It’s a message I need as a lonely girl whose interests don’t line up with the other girls in my class.
Much later, I would see Chris Claremont at a table at a comic con and be afraid to approach him because all I could imagine blubbering out would be, “Thank you. Omigod, your story changed my life.”
It’s 2003… and the series Birds of Prey has just changed creative teams for the third time in a year, and I’m worried about the cancellation of the adventures of Black Canary and Oracle, one of the few female-led comics being published.
Gail Simone takes over the writing and redefines Black Canary, a character who’s been tossed since around her debut in the 1940s. Simone rebuilds her, and creates a definitive run, crafting a character so strong that she’s finally gaining some recognition, someone who wants to be a superhero and have a family. This resonates because now I have a family. I end up naming the character in my first published novel “Dinah” as a homage.
About the same time, I end up on Simone’s message board and I get a chance to thank her in writing, where I’m much more articulate.
It’s 2013… and I attend GeekGirlCon for the first time, where I interview Kelly Sue DeConnick about her revitalization of Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel. Like Black Canary, Carol has been tossed around Marvel for years, enduring several name changes, a ridiculous pregnancy, and even a death, all without a definitive run. Now Carol is a woman surrounded by friends of all ages, and she loves that her job includes times when she has to go punch a dinosaur.
After the interview, DeConnick is surrounded by members of the Carol Corps and she shows them the art pages from the last issue of the first run of Captain Marvel, where Kit literally helps bring Carol back to herself. It’s a lesson in friendship that resonates.
This time, I’m able to say “thank you” in person without losing composure.
It’s later in 2013 and early 2014… and my son is in the hospital battling an illness that few people understand and a change in his medication produces a seizure. Then, his condition is unstable and later requires another hospitalization. It’s terrifying for him and for me. I bring him the complete run of James Robinson’s Starman series, along with The Shade miniseries, plus Simone’s Secret Six. These comics are what keep him company during his recovery, and give him hope that he can get better, that he’s not alone.
It’s June 2014… and my son is able to talk to Gail Simone in person and thank her for Secret Six and especially for Ragdoll, who is so atypical mentally and yet tries so hard to understand the world. Simone is incredibly gracious, and my son does better than me talking to her because if I’d been that age and met Denny O’Neil or Claremont or Marv Wolfman or George Perez, I’d have just died.
My fondest wish as a writer? To provide the story a reader needs just when they need it and pass on what was given to me.
If I ever get to the point where someone comes up to me and hasn’t a clue what to say except a stammered “thank you,” just know:
I am you.