Here, then, are the literary influences that stuck in my brain throughout my life. Not necessarily the most important influences for me, but the ones that made initial impressions. Starting from as far back as I can remember.
The first comic that I can recall reading was the Jesse Marsh version of JOHN CARTER OF MARS from Dell Comics. I couldn't have been older than four or so when it was given to me. The next comic that I read was FANTASTIC FOUR #4. Again, I must have been five...it was before I entered first grade.
By the time I was eight I had discovered Hugh Lofting's DR. DOOLITTLE books. My mom watched me consume those and she gave me a copy of Bradbury's THE ILLUSTRATED MAN. Scared the shit out of me, and cemented a life-long love of horror. Then I discovered Ernest Thompson Seton and learned a respect for wild animals and later, I developed a love for our fellow creatures.
My dad gave me a copy of Darwin's VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE when I was nine. That began a love of science and learning and initiated a constant thirst for knowledge and kindled what I can only call a hatred for religion.
After that, of course, it was one discovery after another without any direction from my parents. I was too busy finding my own works to read. And of course it never stops. I'm always searching for the next writer to engage my imagination and to inspire my sense of wonder.