It’s safe bet a lot of us here read comics. It’s an even safer bet there are some that hold a special place in our hearts for one reason or another. While there are many DC Comics I read, there’s one that I cherish not only because of the comic itself, but the impact it had on me. That comic is James Robinson and Tony Harris’ work on Starman.
It’s funny because I came to the book very late. I was a fan of the Will Payton Starman and I had only heard one or two things about the then current series featuring Jack Knight as the titular character. Payton was dead by this point and I wanted to see what relation, if any, Jack had to him. My local library had the third trade (A Wicked Inclination) and I decided to borrow it to see what it was about. The first thing I noticed were The Shade’s journals; I had never seen a comic start off with an excerpt from a villain’s personal diary. Then I read the issues contained within. Even though he was different to Will Payton, I really liked Jack. He had an appreciation for older things and collected random stuff much like I did.
I remember the Sand and Stars issue where Jack goes to meet Wesley Dodds, the Golden Age Sandman. He arrives at the apartment nervous about meeting one of his heroes. You’re meant to think it’s Wesley, but it turns out he’s nervous to meet Dodds’ wife and famous author Dian Belmont. How that was written along with Jack’s enthusiasm to meet a writer hooked me. I finished the trade and went on the hunt for anything else I could find. I was trying to catch up to the series because the issues being published at the time were the search for Will Payton and I wanted to be there when it happened.
I’d been toying around with the idea of getting serious about writing in High School. I didn’t know if I had the chops or not to do it. When I read Starman, I saw things I’d seen in comics before but wasn’t aware of: foreshadowing, bringing back old characters in new ways, deep characterization and knowing the ending of your story long before the first issue is published.
That resonated with me. It made my idea of writing seem like a goal worth striving for. Eventually I made it to college and I got an AA in Writing Literature and a BA in Creative Writing. After some time I self-published an anthology of short stories (admittedly, I needed an editor on that but I put it out) and to this day I still write. All that time Starman was in the back of my mind. It, along with a few other influences were the inspiration I needed to put my money where my mouth was and do something with my passion.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet Tony Harris in 2002 at a convention in Madison Square Garden where he signed a comic for me and did a makeshift sketch of Jack in my program. He was one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet. And I was EXTREMELY lucky to meet James Robinson randomly at my first New York Comic Con in 2010. He wasn’t scheduled to be there, he was just walking around. I didn’t want to go all crazy fan-boy on him; I tapped him on the shoulder, introduced myself and talked to him for a couple of minutes saying how much I enjoyed his work and that it was an inspiration. He was very down to Earth and gracious and even took a picture with me. Later I’d meet him again at another New York Comic Con where he was scheduled to be there and he signed the same comic Tony Harris did.
When it comes to Starman I’ve read the comics, I have most of the trades, all the omnibus editions, I’ve got the DC Direct figure, the statue and I was even gifted the watch last summer…but even if you take all that away, the best thing I got from Starman is a story that’s impacted me for almost twenty years and still holds a special place in my heart.
I hope you all have that comic in your lives and thank you for letting me ramble and share my appreciation for this comic. Thank you!