My Books

Links to sellers of these books, in both digital and paperback formats, can be found below on right-hand side of the page.

Now Available in Paperback and for Kindle

It was only meant to be a few hours of fun.
A lark. On a sunny Saturday morning Lola, Kyle and Maria set sail on Puget Sound to look for a vision that had come to Maria in a dream. Then disaster struck, and the three of them were plunged into a dark adventure in which they would confront good and evil, past lives, and a timeless curse born from a tragic love. What are the hidden secrets of Bridge House and Riesgado Island? Part Gothic romance, part supernatural mystery and part fantastical adventure, The Curse of Septimus Bridge is Scott R. Larson’s homage to the horror and adventure stories of his youth, notably the 1960s television series Dark Shadows. In this new book, the author of The Three Towers of Afranor takes us on an adventure that ranges from 17th-century Ireland to the Pacific Northwest of today. At the heart of it all is the mysterious figure who lives out his endless, solitary days, having been rejected by both heaven and hell.

“This is a sequel to Larson’s earlier novel, ‘Maximilian and Carlotta are Dead’, which was set mostly in Mexico as a buddy adventure and introduced the character of Dallas Green, a young man with wanderlust from a small town in the San Joaquin Valley. ‘Lautaro’s Spear’ takes us on further romantic and political adventures to France, Germany, and Chile, and deeper into Dallas’ psyche which we find to be darker and more complex than in the first novel. An engrossing read by a first class storyteller, it leaves you wanting more.”

“Totally enjoyed the characters lost souls that they are. Life is not always what we would like.”


Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on Amazon.com


A legendary reclusive filmmaker. An enigmatic cook and restaurant proprietor, who is clearly more than he seems. Two mysterious deliveries to be made behind the Iron Curtain. A desperate search for a long-missing old friend. An unexpected love affair on the coast of Normandy. Dallas Green’s life has only gotten more interesting since his wild youthful adventures recounted in Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead.
“I loved this book. It is a rollicking fantasy—youth must pass increasingly difficult tests to attain wisdom and perhaps, just perhaps, win the girl! A pure joy to read. And such a great metaphor for life!”

“It was a great read for young adults as well as adults. Can’t wait for the sequel.”

“A fantasy novel with magic and heart. It’s a quick read that is set up for a sequel. A great story about growing up and learning what you are capable of and it’s clean so it can be recommended to all ages!”


Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on Amazon.com

What secrets do the three towers hold? For years travelers have avoided the mysterious kingdom of Afranor, but necessity now requires three brothers—the valiant fighting princes of Alinvayl—to pass through Afranor’s dark, forbidding expanse. Not all will survive the journey, but one may succeed in finding his destiny.

“I loved this book! Once I started I couldn’t put it down… What an adventurous way to come-of-age in a place in time that no longer exists. Truly a great read!”

“Larson really captures the sense of a particular time and place. His details of clothes, music, cars, speech, etc. all ring true. Also, the first-person narrator’s voice is pitch-perfect…”

“Scott Larson does a magnificent job of taking his readers on a southern trip with the three young heroes.”

“What a wild and crazy adventure! … The characters were all very well developed; I especially loved Antonio, the star and the hero. Looking forward to the sequel.”


Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on Amazon.com


It is Summer 1971. With the Vietnam War raging and the draft looming, 18-year-old Dallas and Lonnie look for an escape. Fleeing their hot and dusty farming town in Lonnie’s ’65 Chevy, they head to Mexico. In one last misguided adventure, two lifelong friends blaze a trail to Tijuana and beyond, just to see how much trouble they can get it into.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Book No. 4 Is Out Now!

After months of gnawing thirst, I have finally broken out the Writer’s Tears cask-strength Irish whiskey!

That’s right. I have finally released another book. My proof copy arrived today, and it didn’t look completely terrible. So it’s a go. My fourth novel is now out there in the various distribution channels.

It is called The Curse of Septimus Bridge, and this is the one I have been telling you about, well, for years. This is the Gothic romance/supernatural thriller/magical adventure yarn I have been meaning to write for practically my whole life. As I have oft described it, it is my homage to the 1960s daytime horror serial Dark Shadows. It is the book I always wanted to read, but never quite managed to find anywhere—at least not written the way I wanted it written.

My fellow Dark Shadows fans will recognize certain elements. Two young women find themselves in an isolated, creepy, old house under mysterious circumstances. There is a brooding figure with a dark, mysterious past. There is love—or something more sinister?—reaching from beyond the grave. There are lots of crashing sea waves.

But it is not just a knock-off or imitation of a Dark Shadows plot. It is ultimately an adventure saga and a tale about finding oneself. It is a story of friendships. It is about coming to terms with the past and then moving on toward the future.

This is my second fantasy novel, after The Three Towers of Afranor. Unlike that one, however, this takes place in our own recognizable world. I have managed to draw in two different places that are meaningful to me—America’s Pacific Northwest and the West of Ireland. I have also populated it with characters unlike the ones I have created for my other books.

You can find the paperback version of The Curse of Septimus Bridge right now on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. It is also—or should be soon—available from all other major online sellers. I will do my best to keep the links on the right-hand side of this page updated.

As for a version you can read on your preferred digital gadget, right now is available from Amazon for Kindle devices and apps. Because the vast majority of my books’ readers have acquired them for Kindle, I have decided to exclusively with Amazon for the digital version—at least for the first three months. If I become aware of demand for Kobo, Nook, iBook, etc., I will consider supporting those as well when my arrangement with Amazon is up for renewal, but experience suggests we are in simply a Kindle-dominated e-book world. And Amazon just makes it so much easier to serve Kindle customers when you sell through them exclusively.

There is lots more to say about Septimus Bridge (did I mention I was excited about it?), but there will be time for that in the days and weeks to come. For now, I’ll just say how happy I am to have such a cool cover, which was created by the talented Tamlyn Zawalich.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Haunted

As we ambled through the New Mexico desert, we talked about our favorite books.

We knew, all too sadly, this would probably be our last time with my cousin Trudy’s husband. What we did not know was that it would be our penultimate visit with Trudy herself. Thoughts like those, in any event, were not on our minds as we explored the Petroglyph National Monument outside Albuquerque in the January sun.

She wanted to know what novels were closest to my heart. The first few titles—The Lord of the Rings, One Hundred Years of Solitude—would have been unsurprising to her. Then I mentioned Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and there was an awkward silence. Trudy, an enrollee at Caltech the very first year they admitted women, would have been the last person to trade in gender stereotypes, so I had not expected her, after some hesitation, to say, “You do realize that would be considered a girl’s book?”

And suddenly I was back in junior high school. Back to a time when there were “boys’ books” and “girls’ books.” As far as I was always concerned, there were just books. Some books I liked, and some books I did not. Not everybody liked the same books I did, and I did not necessarily like the same books other people did. Maybe gender was a factor in some cases, but certainly not in all. All I know is that when I saw the cover of Brontë’s novel on a shelf in our local library, it appealed to me. There was a man and a woman and stormy weather. There was passion. I read the first several pages, and there was a ghost. What was not to like?

This should come as no surprise to readers of my movie blog, who have suffered through more than two decades’ worth of discussions and reminiscences of the 1966-71 Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows which, to be honest, was nothing if not a half-decade-long rehash of Wuthering Heights and every other Gothic novel and supernatural story ever published. Readers of that blog may also think they detect a disconnect, since I have sometimes used that forum to dismiss certain movies as “chick flicks.” The truth is, though, that I have always intended that term as descriptive shorthand—so that readers would know what to expect from a film—rather than as a definitive put-down. If that phrase is a criticism, it is of a too-strict adherence to formula and not because the story includes female characters or might appeal to female viewers.

My fourth novel, which should see the light of day in the coming weeks, is among other things my tribute to the Gothic novel. It is a story I have been wanting to get out of my system for most of my life. It is also my first book to feature a female protagonist. In fact, I have only recently realized that this is the first of my books to pass the Bechdel Test. Originally a gag in a 1985 comic strip, the test was originally aimed at movies but has since been generalized to apply to all popular fiction. It requires the work to have at least two (named) female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. It is not something that is usually on my mind when watching movies, let alone when I write my novels, but it comes as no surprise to realize that my first three books came nowhere near passing the test. For one thing, two of them have a male first-person narrator.

The other, The Three Towers of Afranor, while narrated in the third person, follows its male protagonist relentlessly. Ironically, though, it probably would have passed if only I had followed the suggestion of a (male) friend who was keen for me to work in a quasi-erotic wrestling match between the warrior princess Eilís and the pirate queen Valloniah. Those two would only have needed to mutter a few words to each other in the heat of battle—and on a topic other than their lone mutual acquaintance, Prince Chrysteffor—to clear the bar. But would that really be in the spirit of the standard popularized by Alison Bechdel? Maybe. Personally, I find such a test interesting but not particularly useful or practical.

It was definitely a challenge to create and give life to characters who are not only female but also of a generation different from mine, but that was not the reason for this particular story. It was to spin a supernatural romance my own way. As usual, I ignored all writing conventional wisdom by not targeting a distinct target audience—other than myself. As always, I wrote a book that I wanted to read. Is the result a “girl’s book” or a “boy’s book”? When you are writing for yourself, that question happily becomes moot.

Sadly, my cousin passed away within mere days of the publication of my first novel, so she never got to read any of my fiction. Given her nature, I imagine she would have been supportive but not uncritical. I also doubt she would have labeled it a “girl’s book.”

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Bilbo in the Banner County?

Have you ever had one of those moments when you slap yourself on the head and exclaim, “How did I possibly get to the age I am without knowing that?”

Actually, it happens to me quite a bit, but there was a particularly striking example last week when we drove down to County Clare for an overnight stay. Clare is one of Ireland’s most scenic counties, and it is famous for the Burren, an otherworldly landscape dominated by distinctive limestone hills. (By the way, if you find yourself on Clare’s Atlantic coast, I can heartily recommend the Hotel Doolin, and be sure not to miss the nightly music seisiún at Fitzpatrick’s.) The accompanying recent photos may give some idea of the magic of the place.

In our room there was one of those books that are provided to familiarize you with local tourist attractions and area history. As I perused the tome, I came across something that grabbed my attention. It asserted that, in his creation of Middle-earth, J.R.R. Tolkien had been inspired by the Burren! This led me immediately to an internet investigation, which revealed that the author of The Lord of the Rings had indeed visited Clare while employed as an external examiner at National University Galway (as it was then known). How did I possibly not know that? That meant that one of my all-time favorite authors, for brief periods, had lived just down the road from me. He spent five summers in Galway between 1949 and 1959.

I mean, I knew the basic facts of the life of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, or at least I thought I did. Born in South Africa in 1892, he and his family moved when he was three back to England, where he grew up in Birmingham. During World War I he served with the British Army in France and participated in the Battle of the Somme. Afterwards he was employed in a number of academic posts leading to his becoming Professor of English Language and Literature at Merton College in Oxford. His field was philology (study of language in oral and written historical sources), and he was particularly known for his translation of the Old English epic poem Beowulf. I still remember how I grieved when, as a newly arrived student in France in 1973, I read in Time of his passing at the age of 81.

I had completely missed the Ireland connection. Apparently, he was an examiner at University College Dublin as well, and he received an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland in 1954. A 2012 item on the Journal.ie website reports that archivists at NUI Galway uncovered summer exams from 1949 that he had graded. Topics included Shakespeare, the novels of Walter Scott, “poetic justice and the hard facts of life,” and the preternatural in literature. “We wonder,” posed the article, “if a bad mark led to Tolkien writing ‘you shall not pass’ on the exam papers?” Ouch.

The Ireland.com website tells of a Burren Society Tolkien Symposium that was held six years ago. It was organized by publican Peter Curtin, who had spoken with a Ms. Crowe, who had worked for many years for a Dr. Martyn. He had been friends with Tolkien and explored the Burren with him. “Amongst the craggy fissures and creeping woods of the Burren,” writes Ireland.com, “there is a cave called Pol na Gollum (Hole of Gollum).” A 2012 article in the Connacht Tribune also tells of Tolkien’s time in Galway, saying that he enjoyed frequent trips with his friend NUIG English Professor Diarmuid Murphy (did Mr. Curtin get the name wrong?) to the Burren and Connemara.

So that is definite proof, right? The West of Ireland had a significant influence on the creation of Middle-earth. But hold on. A 2015 item on the Irish republican website An Sionnach Fionn (The White Fox) says, “No, The Lord of the Rings was not inspired by the regions of Clare or Galway, not even in part. The vast majority of the saga was written between 1937 and 1949, well before J.R.R. Tolkien ever set foot in Ireland, let alone the Burren.” The article goes on to assert that Tolkien’s manuscript was all but finished by 1948. It further notes that Middle-earth was first described in The Hobbit, which was published in 1937. Amusingly, the first reader-contributed comment under An Sionnach Fionn’s post reads, “Shhhhhh……We need tourists.”

So maybe Ireland was not that much of an influence on Tolkien’s works after all. Still, I defy anybody to spend time in the West of Ireland and not come away with the distinct impression that this place is somehow connected to the way society works in the Shire.

Anyway, I do know a couple of things for certain. Ireland is definitely having an influence on my writing. And J.R.R. Tolkien has definitely had a strong influence on it as well—especially on my book The Three Towers of Afranor. The same is also true of my fourth book which, with any luck, may see the light of day sometime this year.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Blowing in the Wind

One Atlantic storm after another blows over Ireland this time of year. A few weeks ago there was one called Erik, which frequent readers of my various blogs may appreciate for the appropriateness of the name. As Erik lashed our house with wind and rain, I reached a milestone. I finally finished the initial—and still rough—draft of my fourth book. Given the novel’s theme and tone, the climate was perfect.

It is always a great feeling to get to this point, although experience has taught me that this constitutes only about fifty percent of the overall work. It is a bit like a car journey from Mayo to South Kerry by way of ferry. Once you have crossed the Mouth of the Shannon, you may be officially in Kerry, but nearly half the journey still lies ahead of you.

The second major phase of producing a book is very different from the first one. The relief at this point is that the story, at least, is complete. By now the characters exist solidly—in my mind if not on the page. The twists and turns of the plot have been worked out. There are (probably) no more surprises for me in terms of the story. What I mean by that is, no matter how carefully I plot out the story in the beginning, things change as the writing progresses. Certain aspects of the characters reveal themselves to me—or unexpected incidents occur—surprising me as if I myself am little more than one more reader.

So now I am in the midst of reviewing, revising, rewriting and—my favorite verb for describing this phase—polishing. Other carefully selected human beings (well, willing victims) are actually reading this thing as I type this, and I have begun to hear reactions. It is a fundamental conundrum of the writing process that the writer of a story is the one single person in the entire universe denied the opportunity—and potential joy—of discovering the story as something fresh and new. I wonder if there is a way to selectively self-induce amnesia—short of tossing the manuscript in a drawer and leaving it there for decades and hoping to eventually find it again—so that a writer could have this experience. The next best thing is to have people one likes and trusts to read it and report back.

The condundrum is particularly poignant in this case because, if there is ever a book I have written entirely and purely to amuse and entertain myself, it is this one. As I may have suggested before, this is a project that has simmered in my brain for most of my life. It is my homage to Gothic novels—going all the way back to Hugo Walpole’s 1764 prototype The Castle of Otranto—in general and to the 1960s TV series Dark Shadows in particular. It is also a bit of an unlikely tribute to certain video games even though I have never played video games—but despite this I sometimes find myself in love with their graphics. It could also be thought of as my attempt at a YA novel, although I still do not completely grasp what that means. And somewhat unexpectedly, the book has allowed me to spin a yarn that draws in both the Puget Sound region—where, to date, I have lived the biggest chunk of my life—and the West of Ireland, which I now call home. Most satisfyingly, it has resulted in a number of characters who have become very real people to me—despite the outlandish situations they are put through—and about whom I have come to care about a great deal. I hope other people get at least a bit of this.

So, barring some cataclysm or other unforeseen circumstance, this book should emerge into the world sometime this year. I want to keep talking about it, but in another one of those book-writing conundrums, the more time I (quite properly) spend on finishing the book, the less time I have for blogging—and precisely in the period of time when it would make complete sense to be blogging about the book. Oh well.

I will endeavor to keep you updated, and in the meantime my advice and request would be to watch this space.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Stranger Than Fiction

As I have discussed here before, people often accuse my novels of being thinly veiled accounts of things that have actually happened to me. I suspect this is common enough for authors who portray characters and events which could reasonably have been drawn from the writer’s own life.

Usually, I bat away these suggestions and even affect some indignation at the apparent lack of faith in my creativity and imagination. The dirty little secret, as you might suspect, is that some of the things depicted in my books really did happen to me. For example, in my teen years I did go to Mexico with a friend. Unlike what happened in Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead, though, we did not drive all the way to central Mexico in a ’65 Chevy. Instead, we drove to Calexico in a Volkswagen Beetle, then walked across the border to Mexicali, and took a train as far as Hermosillo. We had fun, but it was not nearly as eventful as the adventures of my characters. And that particular friend, being quite sensible, was nothing at all like Lonnie.

In truth, most of the stuff in my books did not happen to me. I never lived in San Francisco, as Dallas did in Lautaro’s Spear, although I did work as photographer (among other duties) for a while at a small-town newspaper. I also had some involvement with a weekly urban newspaper like the one where Dallas worked, but that was in Seattle not San Francisco. To this day I have never set foot in Deauville, although I would like to go someday. My experiences as a student in Bordeaux did come in handy in writing the book, but unlike Dallas, I never spent a night with any of the prostitutes on the rue Ste Catherine.

A couple of things in Lautaro’s Spear, though, were drawn pretty much verbatim from my own experiences. For one thing, the character of Marty is based on a real person. I do not know what his actual name was, but I used to get lunch from him sometimes in Seattle during my noon break at work. As was my habit at the time in Mexican eateries, I tried practicing my Spanish on him, but like the fictional Marty, he replied only in English. When I mentioned that I had lived in Chile, just like his fictional alter ego, he began dropping dark hints that he had had some kind of personal involvement in the coup that toppled Salvador Allende. When he said, “We did a job on him,” I could never be certain whether he was referring to the United States collectively or to himself and some kind of CIA commando unit he might have been involved in. Over the years my imagination went a bit crazy conjuring up what his story might have been and wondering how he wound up operating a humble Mexican eatery.

The one episode in Lautaro’s Spear that was drawn most exactly from my life was the events in chapters 26 and 27, wherein Dallas and Ángel find themselves sharing a train compartment with three other people and end up collectively finishing an entire bottle of scotch whiskey. This mostly really happened. Instead of Dallas and Ángel, it was just me traveling with the young American and German women and Swiss lad. And the bottle of whiskey, though very nice, was not the fabulously expensive label conjured up for my story. Also, it was not the year 1980 and we were not traveling to Berlin. Our train was making a journey from Zurich to Vienna just before New Year’s 1974. There was plenty of security, though, which was explained to us as having to do with a concurrent visit to Austria by the Shah of Iran. Otherwise, it all pretty much happened the way I described it. In fact, I drew the details so completely from life and made the people involved so recognizable that, given the pervasiveness of the internet, I nearly half-expected one or more of my three companions from that night to get in touch with me to find out if the story was indeed about them. So far none has.

As for my upcoming book, it is safe to say that no events depicted therein were drawn from my actual life. The narrative does visit a surprising number of places that I have known well, beginning with Seattle, and even finds it way all the way to Ireland. I am still, as reported last month, about halfway through the first draft. With the Christmas/New Year season now well behind us, I am back at the writing and hope to plow through to a completed draft in the next few weeks. The weather is certainly cooperating by providing a gloomy, damp atmosphere compatible with the tone of the story.

I need to finish before spring arrives and brightens things up too much.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Darkness Over Puget Sound

There was a time when I not only hoped but expected to have another book out in 2018. After all, I had impressed myself by managing to get Lautaro’s Spear out in 2017 after publishing The Three Towers of Afranor in 2016. I flattered myself that a new book each calendar year might be my new default schedule.

That obviously has not happened, and I will not bore you with the reasons or excuses. On the positive side, I am now about halfway through the first draft of my fourth novel. This was meant to be the fun, easy, throwaway book that was meant mainly to amuse myself. As such, it was not supposed to require huge amounts of time or mental, intellectual or emotional expenditure. It was to be an amuse-bouche or palate cleanser before getting back to the hearty literature of my nearly-accidental Dallas Green trilogy.

I should have learned my lesson with The Three Towers. That was also meant to be an “easy” write which, set in a pure fantasy world, would not even need any research because it was all being made up out of whole cloth. Yet that one did not actually see the light of day until about two years exactly after the previous book. That probably had more to do with what was going on my life than the book’s subject matter, but it may have also been related to a sense of decompression—if not mental exhausation—after finishing Maximilian and Carlotta. Something similar may have been going on in the wake of Lautaro’s Spear.

For an unbearably long time I was mired in the first couple of chapters, trying to get the characters and the tone as right as I could. The writing and rewriting was probably necessary in the long run, but the eventual breakthrough only came by taking to heart the wise words of novelist Richard Bausch, whom I quoted here in April: “When you’re stuck, lower your standards and keep going.” I overcame my tendency to not move on from a chapter until it was “perfect” and just started plowing through. That was much better for my output and a lot more gratifying. The worry, of course, is that I will end up going back, perusing it, and finding that it is all unreadable rubbish.

The old rule of thumb for writing novels is that the first fifty pages are the hardest, and that is once again proved true. Since getting past that amazingly important milestone, it has been clear sailing. It is a bit of an exaggeration to say that the book is now writing itself, but that is what it feels like. Plot turns and twists seem to occur organically, as if I am channeling someone else’s story. The characters take on their own inner lives. I am looking ahead and seeing plot threads magically weaving around each other and coming together nicely. The other day the final paragraphs of the book came to me, as if delivered on a silver platter, so I know definitely what I am writing toward. Critically, in between writing sessions, I can scarcely wait to get back to it. That is a feeling I have to bear now for a few weeks since the holidays will necessarily leave little time for daily writing. Fortunately, the timing is not too bad because I have paused at a natural breaking place, and I need to be working out further plot details in my head anyway.

Even though this book is another fantasy, I have had to engage in a surprising amount of research. Unlike The Three Towers, this one takes place in the “real” world—specifically the region around Seattle, which I happily know well. There are flashbacks, though, that have sent me scurrying to be knowledgeable not only about Pacific Northwest history but also that of 17th century England and Ireland. Somehow I have even managed to bring in the area where I currently live and in a way that I feel works quite well for the story.

As I have said before, this is my homage to the Gothic and supernatural stories that delighted me in my misspent youth. Specifically, it shamelessly but lovingly reworks many of the elements of my beloved adolescent object of fascination, the TV series Dark Shadows, while aiming to be something original. It also veers self-consciously in the most opposite direction possible to the adolescent-male-infused world of Maximilian and Carlotta. (By the way, did anyone actually catch the deliberate Dark Shadows reference I incongruously placed in my first novel?)

There is something wonderful in being at this point in the creative process. Most of the hard work is either behind or ahead of me. It is now thoughts of my current story that flood my brain in idle moments—instead of images for the third Dallas book, as was the case until a couple of months ago. Most delightfully, during this relatively short—and no doubt temporary—span of time, this feels as though it is going to be the best book I have ever written.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Stan the Man (1922-2018)

FYI: This is a cross-post on both my book and movie blogs.

My phone beeped with the alert as I was in throes of writing. After effectively putting my fourth book to one side for the summer and early autumn, I was finally back at it. I was once again back in the zone—that strange mental space one enters after about fifty pages or so, where the characters take on distinct lives of their own and their story has developed its own self-fueling momentum. It is a time when you fight against distractions and become anti-social. You block out the outside world as best you can.

But suddenly there it was on my phone screen.

Stan Lee, the comic book writer and editor who co-created Spider-Man, the Avengers and the X-Men, dies at age 95

How sad yet fitting, for me personally, that the man who was the preeminent role model of my youth should pass away just as I was once again in a delightfully creative moment of my life. If only I had a fraction of the creativity of the many writers I admire. And their number definitely includes Stan Lee.

The first comic book I ever bought with my allowance money was an issue of Popeye the Sailor at a drug store in Pismo Beach, California. I soon moved on to the superheroes of DC Comics—names that still grace our screens and comic book stores: Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern. As oft told here, it was my best friend Eric who turned me on to the new comic books from a publisher called Marvel. Loyal by nature, I stuck with my DC titles for a while, and my pal and I engaged in a friendly rivalry over which were superior. Soon enough, though, Eric and Marvel had prevailed, and Superman, his female cousin, his super-dog and the rest of his growing family were left by the wayside. As an artist himself, Eric could see what was still opaque to me. The pencil-and-ink illustrators of Marvel had formed heroes with weight and stature and made them move and do battle in a way that was cinematic. It looked and felt much more real than the brighter-colored, two-dimensional panels of DC.

As the writer, I could tell there was something much more interesting going on with the stories. The heroes were not generic adults like Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne. They had specific ages and lived in specific places—well, a specific place anyway. They all lived in New York City, and the city was geographically real and culturally alive. No generic Metropolis or Gotham City for Marvel. Rather than being consistently stalwart, Marvel’s heroes had problems and complexes. Peter Parker was miserable in high school, had a crush on a girl with no interest in him, and suffered constant guilt over his doting but elderly Aunt May. Reed Richards, who had graying temples and was a veteran of WWII, was a bookish scientist from somewhere posh. His unlikely best friend Ben Grimm was a tough, wise-cracking, street-wise guy. The heroes, their friends and families, and all the supporting players were real, identifiable people.

Lee and his most celebrated collaborator, Jack Kirby, were real people to us readers and fans as well. Because of Lee and Marvel, Eric and I wrote and drew our own amateur comic books. We talked endlessly of going to New York and working for Marvel. For years I wanted nothing more than to be Stan Lee. I took it as some kind of cosmic sign that he and I had the same initials.

The back of the comic books always had a newsletter or a “soapbox” written by Lee or maybe his secretary, Flo Steinberg. That’s right, we even knew his admin. Think of it as a prehistoric precursor to blogging. Not only did we know Lee and the others personally but, in what is apparently a New York thing (which future President Trump would take to new, more biting levels), everyone had a nickname: Jumpin’ Jack Kirby, Gentleman Gene Colan, Wild Bill Everett, Fearless Frank Giacoia, Jazzy Johnny Romita, Marvel-ous Marie Severin, Joltin’ Joe Sinnott, Fabulous Flo Steinberg.

When I wrote a fan letter asking for an autograph, it was only a matter of weeks before a sheet of Marvel stationary came back with Lee and Kirby’s signatures scrawled on it. When I submitted my own comic book script, Flo’s rejection letter was respectful and encouraging. When an official fan club was started, I was a charter member. Along with the badge and membership card came a round bit of flexible plastic that could be played on a turntable like a vinyl 45. That is how I got to know Stan Lee’s distinctive voice and would be able to recognize it instantly when it was heard in the eventual big-screen movie adaptations where, by contract, he always had a cameo.

The movies—the really good ones—were a long time coming (due to various legal entanglements), but they were worth waiting for. By that time, really great directors like Sam Raimi, Kenneth Branagh, Joss Whedon, Ryan Coogler and many others were the right age to have grown up as fans themselves or at least have a proper appreciation for the universe Lee et al. had created.

There were some hard feelings over the years about the way Stan Lee got the bulk of the credit for Marvel’s creative success and, in fairness, the collaborations did rest heavily on the illustrators. Lee and the artist would work out the stories in general, but the artists would come up with the detailed story panel-by-panel, adding the immediate dramatic touches. Then Lee would come along and add the dialog. Consequently virtuosos like Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Buscema, Johnny Romita and Jim Steranko definitely deserve equal credit. Yet there is something impressive about Lee’s consistent creative involvement with so many varied, diverse characters and the rich voices he gave them that make his contribution special.

In one of his soapboxes in the 1960s, Lee told of his excitement at meeting legendary French director Alain Resnais. The two became friends and even collaborated on possible movie projects. The Monster Maker got the closest to production but, sadly, was never made.

Lee also wrote about how he adopted the pseudonym (later legal) name Stan Lee for his comic book credits because he was saving his birth name, Stanley Martin Lieber, for his “serious” writing. Like many of us, he had youthful dreams of writing the Great American Novel. He never wrote his The Sun Also Rises or whatever it was he had in mind but, by the end of his 95 years, in addition to his amazing comic book output, he had been involved in numerous graphic novels and other books, including the memoirs Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee (with George Mair) and Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir (with Peter David).

Perhaps Stan Lee’s greatest creation was himself. The Onion had it pretty much right in its spot-on satirical headline: “Stan Lee, Creator of Beloved Marvel Character Stan Lee, Dead at 95.”

Stan “The Man” Lee has moved on to the great comic book beyond, where he joins his beloved Joan, his bride from 1947 to 2017.

Famously, Lee invariably ended his missives with the immortal catchphrase “’Nuff said!” While we are fortunate to have had him for nine and a half decades, when it comes to his imagination, humor and bringing joy to millions, there will definitely never be ’nuff said.