When I first got into reading it was strictly comic books. I mean for a very, very long time. I don't think I actually read a novel until I was around thirteen and before that, pretty much comic books. I read a LOT of comic books.
My first few novels? Yep. They were comic book related.
My family moved a lot. I read a lot. A Lot.
One of the first books that I bought for myself that wasn't a comic book or a novel was WONDERWORKS, a collection of artwork by Michael Whelan. The book is a marvel. For the first time in my life I picked up a book of artwork and I was enthralled. It was a torrid affair, really. I went to my local bookstore several times and I would sneak furtive looks at the illustrations again and again until, finally, I broke down and coughed up the money to actually buy the thing.
And then I looked at the pictures for a long time, drawn in by the nearly photorealistic background and the sense of, well, wonder, that I found in the different illustrations.
One of the things about that book that I never forgot was that Whelan had a description of each and every piece in there. Some of them were just a few sentences, there were more detailed, but all of them involved not the pictures themselves, but the books that the paintings were designed to illustrate. I was so taken by the idea of this man's work and he was so taken by the stories he illustrated,that I systematically purchased a copy of virtually very book I could find a cover fro in that book and there were a lot of covers in there.
Among those were the incredible cover pieces he did for the H.P. Lovecraft collections. Those two illustrations were broke down into bits and pieces and used as the covers for a half dozen books that I bought and read. And loved.
I saw more covers and was introduced to Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Next up, Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern--my first venture into fantasy that was really science fiction in disguise (and, okay, a lot of romance at the same time). Fred Saberhagen's Berserker books were next and then, oh, then, I encountered the amazing works of Michael Moorcock.
Among Whelan's covers I saw the illustrations for Sailor on the Seas of Fate, the Weird of the White Wolf, and other tales of Elric of Melniboné. What an amazing character! Driven isn't the first word to define the albino prince, but it certainly is among the best. Prince of a decadent land, he loses all that he has to his cousin and then seeks a way to get ti back.And the method he finds? That would be a sword of unholy peer, Stormbringer. The blade feeds on souls and offers a portion of their energies to the sword-wielder. Poor, sickly Elric, always the weakling, suddenly finds himself with a way to achieve his goals.
I fell in love with the tales. I was fascinated by his motivations, by the people he surrounded himself with and by the tragedy that followed him like a shadow.
Michael Whelan introduced me to a lot of authors. I even had the chance not long ago to meet the artist at a convention where, hopefully, I didn't make too much of an ass of myself while gushing over the influence he had on me not only as a reader but as a writer. One of my personal goals , and one I do not believe I will ever achieve, but one can dream, would be to have Whelan illustrate one of my books.
In any event, he led me to a lot of my favorite authors and was certainly an influence on my writing as were the authors he introduced me to. One of the big ones was Michael Moorcock. I can safely say that his dark tales of swords and sorcery had a heavy influence on me back in the day and they've likely been instrumental in my works over the years.
So, a thanks and an appreciation of Michael Whelan for introducing me to Michael Moorcock and in turn to Elric.
And a very sincere happy 75th birthday to Michael Moorcock! Thank you, sir, for the inspiration and the wonderful tales.