Under The Influence


The inaugural blog entry for Quoth The Raven is titled "Where do you get your ideas?" An innocuous, well-intentioned phrase that nonetheless sets most writers teeth on edge. The late Harlan Ellison claimed to respond to that much-hated query (no doubt one of his less sanguineous retorts) by claiming to get his ideas from an idea service in Poughkeepsie, New York...$25 a week, and they would send him a fresh six-pack of new ideas fifty-two times a year.

(I wonder if they have a website??)

In the often warped, twisted labyrinth of creativity, every writer (many of whom are often warped and twisted themselves; I mean, they ARE writers, after all!) finds their muse in the echo of words penned by those who came before. My particular, circuitous journey through the realm of storytelling has been profoundly influenced by a constellation of brilliant minds. Their unique voices, themes, and narrative techniques have woven into the fabric of my own writing, shaping the world of "BattleRaven" and its intricate tales. Here is a homage to those luminaries whose light has guided me.

Gerry Conway

Known for his transformative work on Spider-Man during the 1970s, Conway's ability to blend superhero action with deep, personal drama reshaped my understanding of character development. His stories, rich with emotional depth, taught me the importance of grounding fantastical narratives in real human experiences. Not only is Conway's 1972-75 run on The Amazing Spider-Man arguably his best work, it is THE best Spider-Man run ever, (along with the Len Wein-era, which ran from ASM #151–#180). That's the Spidey era I grew up with, so I'm somewhat biased!

Len Wein & Roy Thomas

Their 1970s Marvel narratives were a masterclass in crafting expansive, interconnected universes filled with compelling, multifaceted characters. As stated earlier, Len Wein's ASM run (#151–#180) was every bit as good (AND influential) as Conway's. Roy Thomas picked up the ball from his mentor (Stan Lee) and RAN with it, shaping Marvel Comics in the late '60s while laying the foundation for Marvel (and later DC Comics) in the 1970s'. This inspired my vision for a cohesive yet diverse world within "BattleRaven."

Steve Englehart

Englehart's work at Marvel in the 1970s, marked by its inventive plots and rich character arcs, introduced me to the power of storytelling that pushes boundaries. His Captain America run (#153-#186) was the Cap I grew up on, and his daring narrative choices inspired me to explore complex themes and characters in "BattleRaven."

Steve Skeates

Skeates' contributions to DC's mystery comics revealed the allure of the enigmatic and the unknown. His tales, woven with intrigue and suspense, influenced my approach to creating mysteries that captivate and engage readers on a profound level.

Roger Stern & Tom DeFalco

Stern and DeFalco's '80s work on Spider-Man exemplified the balance between action-packed superhero adventures and the nuanced exploration of personal identity. This duality resonates in "BattleRaven," where high-stakes encounters are juxtaposed with introspective character moments. After the Conway/Wein era, this was the NEXT best Spidey era!

Jim Shooter

Jim Shooter, whose tenure as Marvel Comics' Editor-in-Chief from 1978 to 1987, stands as one of the most transformative periods in the company's history. Under his guidance, Marvel experienced a renaissance, marked by a focus on narrative structure, character development, and a cohesive shared universe that resonated with readers across the globe. Shooter's insistence on storytelling discipline, respect for continuity, and a deep understanding of the superhero genre helped shape Marvel into a powerhouse of creativity and innovation.

Shooter's impact on my writing is profound. His approach to creating interconnected narratives within a vast universe taught me the importance of consistency and the strength of a well-structured story. He championed the idea that superheroes are characters first, imbuing them with depth, flaws, and relatability, a philosophy that significantly influences "BattleRaven." Shooter's vision for a cohesive universe where individual stories contribute to a larger narrative inspired me to weave intricate connections between characters and plotlines, ensuring that each element serves the broader story of Danny O'Hara's journey as BattleRaven.

Moreover, Jim Shooter's tenure is a reminder of the power of visionary leadership in nurturing creative talent and fostering an environment where storytelling thrives. His legacy is a beacon for aspiring writers, illustrating that with the right balance of discipline and creativity, one can leave an indelible mark on the world of comics. Through "BattleRaven," I aspire to echo Shooter's commitment to storytelling excellence, creating a universe that captivates and engages, much as his work continues to inspire generations of readers and writers alike. (And anyone that could keep a leash on John Byrne for nearly a decade DESERVES the kudos!)

Stephen King

King's stories, particularly "The Man In The Black Suit," "Riding The Bullet," "The Last Rung On The Ladder," (one of King's finest, and most tragic, non-supernatural short stories) and "One For The Road," demonstrate his unparalleled ability to blend the ordinary with the extraordinary. His tales, often rooted in the mundane world where darkness lurks just beneath, informed my approach to horror and suspense, teaching me that the most profound terrors are often those that dwell within.

Harlan Ellison

Ellison's stories, including "Twilight in the Cupboard," "Jeffty Is Five," "Fever," "Opium," and "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman," are studies in defiance, imagination, and the human condition. His fearless exploration of societal norms and individual angst encouraged me to delve deeper into the psychological underpinnings of my characters. And GOD, was he funny!

Harlan Ellison reading his short story "Opium" on television, 1978.

M.R. James & Classic Ghost Story Collections

Two of James' best ghost stories ("'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad'," "A School Story") are among the finest short stories ever written, in my not-so-humble opinion, alongside the collected works of Dickens, Henry James, Edith Wharton, and others in anthologies such as "Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural," instilled in me a love for the subtle, creeping dread of the classic ghost story. Their narratives, rich with atmosphere and foreboding, have deeply influenced my approach to creating suspense and unease.

Rod Serling

Serling's work, notably in "The Twilight Zone" and "Night Gallery," as well as his screenplay "A Storm in Summer," showcased his genius in storytelling that is as socially relevant as it is speculative. His ability to weave moral dilemmas into compelling speculative fiction has been a beacon for my narrative endeavors.

Truman Capote & Ray Bradbury

Capote's "A Christmas Memory" and Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine" and "Farewell Summer" capture the essence of nostalgia, innocence, and the passage of time. Their lyrical prose and poignant themes have taught me the power of memory and the bittersweet tang of nostalgia, elements that breathe life into the world of "BattleRaven."


Each of these authors and their works, from the shadowy realms of M.R. James to the nostalgic Americana of Ray Bradbury, have contributed to the tapestry of "BattleRaven." Their influence is a testament to the enduring power of literature to inspire, challenge, and transform. In "BattleRaven," I strive to honor their legacy, weaving together a narrative that is as much a reflection on heroism and humanity as it is an homage to the giants upon whose shoulders I stand (or would like to!). Their stories remind us that, though the past may seem distant, its echoes resonate profoundly in the present, shaping our stories and our selves.


Capote, Truman. "A Christmas Memory." Originally published in Mademoiselle magazine, December 1956. Reprinted in The Selected Writings of Truman Capote, 1963. Stand-alone hardcover edition issued by Random House, 1966.
Thomas, Dylan. "A Child's Christmas in Wales." 1952. Holiday House edition, 1985.
James, M. R. Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories. Oxford World's Classics, 2002.
Dickens, Charles. The Complete Ghost Stories of Charles Dickens. Franklin Watts, 1983.
Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural. Modern Library, 1944.
James, Henry. Ghost Stories of Henry James. Wordsworth Editions Limited, 2001.
Classic Victorian & Edwardian Ghost Stories. Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1996.
Wharton, Edith. The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton. Wordsworth Editions Limited, 2009.
Gothic Short Stories. Various authors. Wordsworth Editions Limited, 2002.
Gaskell, Elizabeth. Tales of Mystery & the Macabre. Wordsworth Editions Limited, 2008.
Onions, Oliver. The Dead of Night – The Ghost Stories of Oliver Onions. Wordsworth Editions Limited, 2010.
King, Stephen. Night Shift. Doubleday, 1978.
King, Stephen. Everything's Eventual. Scribner, 2002.
Ellison, Harlan. The Essential Ellison. Morpheus International, 1991.
Ellison, Harlan, and Jacek Yerka. Mind Fields: The Art of Jacek Yerka, the Fiction of Harlan Ellison. Morpheus International, 1994.
Ellison, Harlan. Ellison Wonderland. Signet, 1974.
Ellison, Harlan. Shatterday. Berkley, 1982.
Bradbury, Ray. Dandelion Wine. Doubleday, 1957.
Bradbury, Ray. Farewell Summer. Harper, 2006.

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