I just realized the other day I was inspired by Hunter S. Thompson long before I even knew who the crazy coot actually was.
And it was only through comics and my love of them that I was introduced to that homage at all itself. Spider Jerusalem is a foulmouthed, anti-social, possibly sociopathic, definitely
psychotic, seemingly limited in range but explosive in vocabulary, bald, tattooed journalist of the fantastic Vertigo comic series, Transmetropolitan
. His style is written stream-of-consciousness, including whatever foul and disgusting and half-made up terms that happen to slip into his brain, while at the same time still seem thought out to the letter, profanity included.
It wasn't until I learned that Spider was based on an actual
human being that I really became interested in things. I'd had a vague notion of who he was - or actually, a vague impression that a man with his name was alive, and was somehow associated with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
, a movie I was only aware of on the peripheral of my pop culture conscious. To read his writing is to actually talk to the man, his words are as unfiltered as he can make them and still be allowed for print. He works within the confines of the opinion columnist, because there is really no way his work can be anything but; his opinion is the whole point you read his words to begin with.
Numerous others have been influenced by him, but that is not my point. His work has its impression on mine, but it is far from the only one. His is just foremost in my mind because I just read the entire ten volume series of Transmetropolitan
in one day. Sue me.
At the exact moment, I could hardly name a direct other influence on my work and wordage, mainly because I realized something else about both; I can change my style. Not just in the matter of removing bias and opinion from something to make it more like a textbook, but I can emulate different forms of prose.
I can be painted purple, but rarely choose to do so because it rarely needs to be so. Beige is another color of choice, but again is rather lacking in hue. I can be verbose, cynical, empathetic, cold, calculating, angry, vapid, direct, obtuse, my range is both vast and great.
And it's strange to realize I can be so. Most people want to know their voice, know how they write so they can hone their work to a more usable weapon with with to strike with. My voice - blame on which I point at television and growing up with Looney Tunes and such others - does impressions.
Somewhere below is a short story I wrote after letting my hands and brain work long after I should have been in bed; it's direct and to the point, obscenely cold, mentioned to be "hardcore", and genuinely thought to be chilling and frightening - something I never thought I would be elated to hear, let alone accomplish without effort.
This now compared to another work in progress (found right here
) where the narrator rambles unending, comes off as quite the dick, someone trying much to hard to be not so smooth, hiding much fear and tension, and plays it all like a giant game of life where he's playing with three different sets of rules for five different games.
My voice changes, and not just from puberty. I hardly think putting those two side by side would make a reader think they were written by the same hand. I could be mistaken, but to me, as the hand that wrote, the two look and sound nothing alike and feel themselves to be of two different people.
I like this.
One reason I enjoy writing, and one day hope to be paid embarrassingly large sums of money to do, is that I can indulge in changing the costume and accent of my self when I create. I may enjoy a genre, and then by my own characters immensely, but can feel free to change my hat and be somebody else at the drop of the old hat. From space western to mafia drama to fantasy horror, whatever idea strolls across my brain I can tackle and hogtie and later dissect, like a lab frog to find out what it's on about, and from there create new worlds that have nothing to do with anything else. Because a cowboy hat, while fitting on the same head, has an entirely different purpose from a plastic green visor that hides one eyes.
I writing more and more, which is encouraging, whether or not it's actually in story form; I'm actually being asked by others for my opinions on writing, mine and theirs, which is something I am overjoyed to be able to do so without having previously solicited myself in cheap clothing and cheaper makeup. And while I must tailor my voice to mimic theirs, I feel able to do so, because I grew up on television that taught me how to do so.
Bugs Bunny and friends may have taught me to speak with the voice and tone of the smart aleck, the slowness of
Lenny (long before I'd even heard of Of Mice and Men
), Al Capone impersonators, slobbering cats, and horny skunks; Thompson, through the ink and primary colors of Jerusalem, taught me how to say "fuck" with them.