I Blame Harlan Ellison

16 Sep
Harlan Ellison at Dangerous Visions Bookstore

Thank you, Harlan Ellison. (Image by Pip R. Lagenta via Flickr)

On his new blog, comics writer Tony Isabella shares a Harlan Ellison anecdote about former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter.

It reminded me of something I’d completely forgotten: During my first year at Dark Horse Comics in 1997, I was the Editorial Assistant and was assisting Senior Editor Diana Schutz (who manages most of the creator-owned titles, and remains one of the best damn editors in comics). She was Ellison’s editor on Harlan Ellison’s Dream Corridor, a brilliant, short-lived series featuring comics adaptations of many of his finest stories along with some brand-new material. The series had several comics adaptations of his stories in progress even after it was no longer being published (and which eventually got collected by Dark Horse a decade later).

One of the first really creative and enjoyable things that Diana assigned to me was for me to attempt to write a comics adaptation of Ellison’s 1957 story “Tiny Ally.” It was a wonderful challenge, and it was the first time I’d attempted a comics script. And I really wanted to do a good job so I could impress both Diana and Mr. Ellison (although I met him once sometime later, I wasn’t in a position to make an impression, much less earn the right to call him by his first name). I thought it turned out pretty well, though the story was never actually adapted into comics form.

By this point, Dream Corridor led me to actively seek out Ellison’s work; fortunately, I lived in Portland, Oregon, home of Powell’s Books, easily the biggest and best bookstore I’ve ever visited. In a time before everybody shopped at Amazon, Powell’s was the best place to find amazing old books for great prices. I’ve got about 20 or 30 of his books now, and each time I revisit one I discover (or, likely, rediscover, given my terrible memory) something incredible in his writing: something that inspires and drives me to become a better writer.

I could blame Diana for giving me my first chance to write a real comics script, but it was the opportunity to adapt Ellison’s work that pushed me to really do my best, better than I thought I was capable of at the time, that first ignited a real love for writing and creating stories.

I hope that, when I release my first original stories into the world in the coming months, I can do justice to the inspiration I was given years ago.

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5 Responses to “I Blame Harlan Ellison”

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