A list of some of the things that helped make me into who I am today
10. Rocky and Bullwinkle
The creation of Jay Ward, ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’ connected with me instantly. I love the irreverent humor of Moose and Squirrel. The show is so ahead of its time and holds up to this day. A show that through away conventions and filled with off the wall characters and humor. A show I really look forward to getting my daughter in to once she’s older.
9. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
It is no surprise that I’m into horror. But the book series of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will always hold a bony claw around my heart. There is something so simple and universal about the stories in the book. Just filled with folk tales and passed down stories that are actually terrifying. I was in kindergarten when I first started reading (and listening to the records they made which were just as scary) and I remember many nights thinking of those stories, alone, in the darkness of my room with shadows playing on the wall. The thing though, was not only were the stories scary, but the illustrations are some to the most disturbing pictures ever created. I would love to have some of those prints from those books. There is something so otherworldly and almost alive in those drawings, something images that are forever burned into my brain. I mean look at this:
8. Mad Magazine
Mad Magazine was every young boy’s paradise. Filled with everything that made you feel like you had got one over on the establishment (ie school, parents, teachers). MAD knew how to speak to mischief and that dangerous smirk that kids get when they are up to no good. I know MAD is still in print but I hope a generation of kids can find it again and get into it the way I did growing up.
7. Looney Tunes
I was never really a fan of Mickey Mouse or the Disney cartoons, but I loved Looney Tunes. I loved the sarcasm of Bugs, the idiocy of Yosemite Sam, the Self-Satisfaction of Foghorn Leghorn, and others. But my all time favorite was and will always be Daffy Duck. Long-suffering and the foil to Bugs, Daffy was a character who could never win, but provided me with some of the biggest laughs of my youth. Looney Tunes had some of the greatest animators and writers from Mel Blanc to Tex Avery, to my favorite, Chuck Jones, each had their own style and used it to make cartoons with universal and intimate humor and some of the best use of music of anything I’ve seen. There are too many great moments to pick a favorite, so I’ll leave you with one of my personal favorites, Daffy Duck, as Robin Hood, Yoiks and Away!
Luckily I was able to grow up in a time before the internet. I was able to experience a lot. And a huge part of my life was music, courtesy of my parents record players. Music that really brought a lot of joy into my life. I grew up listening to the scratches and pops and loving that sound of the needle going down onto the album. Some of the things that helped me grow were: Bob Marley, Led Zepplin, The Beatles, Van Morrison, James Taylor, Elton John, Leon Redbone, Donovan, Kansas, the Moody Blues, and many more. Special nod to the comedy albums my mom had: Monty Python records and the Smothers Brothers.
5. Edward Gorey
Edward Gorey speaks to the morbid sense of humor I’ve grown to have. There is so much dark humor in the poems and art of Gorey. I mean there is an alphabet comprised of different children dying. Doesn’t get much darker than that.
I think you can go a few different ways as a boy growing up with the things you like. Some kids go the G.I. Joe and Transformers route. Some kids like comics and superheros. And then there are kids like me, who loved Monsters. I couldn’t get enough as a kid. It was Dracula, Wolf Man, Frankenstein, The Gill Man, Godzilla, and a plethora of others that sparked my kid-motor. I loved the tragic tales of these creatures who to me were misunderstood. But anyone who feels the same way knows what I mean.
3. Kurt Vonnegut
My first Vonnegut novel was Breakfast of Champions. It was the first book that really opened my eyes to the fact that creativity and literature didn’t have to look like everything else. You could play around with the genre and create something different and beautiful. It also opened my eyes to dark humor and satire. To this day Vonnegut is one of my favorite authors and his novels are cherished in my collection.
2. Calvin and Hobbes
Nothing. And I mean nothing. Captures my youth as well as Calvin and Hobbes. Bill Watterson is my hero for Calvin and Hobbes. I loved the comics in the paper like, Far Side, Pogo, Bloom County, Krazy Kat, and more, but Calvin and Hobbes is my favorite. Filled with insights on life, society, personal revelation. It can be hilarious, but it can also be reflective and sad. It meant so much to me as a child, but it means even more as an adult. I still go back and read it and am blown away by how moving it is and how affecting it still is
It was only a matter of time before I found out about Stephen King. My parents used to take me to yard sales most weekends in the spring and summer and being an avid reader I would always case the boxes of books. I’ll never forget seeing the cover of my first SK book. The frothing muzzle of a dog with the name CUJO in deep red letters. I was hooked from there. I was only in 3rd grade at the time but as soon as I finished I went looking for more. It’s been 18 years since that first book and my love of all things King hasn’t changed.