Jesse Grillo is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. He has written 9 screenplays, a book of poetry, and 22 comic book scripts to date. He just finishing his first novel, ‘Chasing Gold-Lined Storms’. He also owns the publishing company Bleeding Ink Productions. When he’s not writing, he’s overseeing the production of Bleeding Ink’s comic books. What follows are the 10 most influential comic books in Jesse Grillo’s life. In short, this is his Life In Comics.
First off, thank you for asking me this question. It has been a really hard one to answer but has given me some great insight into my own writing and where I draw many aspects of my characters from. I can see why so many of the main characters are antiheroes and there are a heavy amount of dark elements in many of my comics. Some of the comics I list are not considered great comics…though many of them should be. As the saying goes, there is no accounting for taste.
10 The Death and Return of Super Man
I believe that in whatever creative form you work in, poor examples can teach you just as much as a good one. If this is true, these comics have taught me a lot. I’m not trying to insult any of the creators that took part in this series, but for myself, the Death and Return of Super Man was really bad. I would even say to the point of being laughable. Super Man is, and probably always will be, the most iconic comic book character ever. The impersonal way he was killed and the comical way he was resurrected is something I will never understand. What should have been the most important events in the DC Universe turned into a very obvious marketing ploy.
9 Hokusai: Demons – And Other Tales of the Fox Mother by Al Davison
Read this book without ever trying to understand it. Keep it on your coffee table and browse through it every once and a while. The art alone will change you and the stories will haunt your dreams.
8 1985 by Mark Millar and Tommy Lee Edwards
A Marvel universe story set in our world where Marvel characters are attempting to invade. This would make a GREAT movie. I dare you to try and read this comic in more than one sitting. The story and art will pull you in and it won’t let go until it’s done with you.
7 ShadowHawk – 1992 by Jim Valentino
An African-American superhero that has A.I.D.S. and breaks the backs of criminals out of spite. Really? What an amazing and dynamic character. The series lost me after some time, but I loved the characters Image was coming out with at this time.
6 X-Men #25 – 1993 by Fabian Nicieza and Andy Kubert
Magnetio rips the adamantium from Wolverine’s body. This was a huge influence on me, and was another comic that stabbed into my brain that there were no rules in comic books.
5 The Pitt – 1993 by Dale Keown
This series wasn’t a huge hit but I really loved the dynamic between the 2 main characters. I really think if this story was developed more it could have become a great series. There is a character in my series, Blackwood, that is a tip of a hat to this comic.
4 Ex Machina – 2004 by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris
This is one of the most well-written books I’ve ever read. I wish I could write dialogue as well as this. Amazing concept and great writing place this series high on my list.
3 Lobo Vs. Santa Claus by Keith Giffen and Alan Grant and Simon Bisley
I lost my innocence when I started reading this comic, and by the time I read the last page I never wanted it back. This comic is ridiculously gory but doesn’t rely on it to sell the story. I love the concept of the Easter Bunny hiring Logo to assassinate Santa Claus. It showed me that comics don’t have to follow the set rules and that most of the really good comics never restrict themselves.
2 Wolverine – 1982 by Frank Miller and Chris Claremont
‘Masterpiece’ is the best word to describe this comic. I remember reading Wolverine when I was very young, maybe 8 or 9, and being confused as to where the rest of the X-Men were. I didn’t really understand the personal story with Wolverine and why he was going to Japan… for a girl?! This is a comic I have come back to a few times and every time I re-read it, I appreciate a new aspect that I didn’t see or understand before.
1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2 by Eastman and Laird
Like most kids of my generation, I was a HUGE Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan. I have a picture somewhere of me at about 8 years old about to go to school and I’m wearing nothing but TMNT gear… including a headband and a backpack. This comic belonged to one of my brothers, and I must have read it for the first time when I was about 11. Besides being really violent, the comic was vastly different than the television show. Baxter Stockman was an African-American and as killed at the end of the issue. I really think this helped me understand how storytelling can change from one medium to another. It also showed me that great characters are always the driving force behind great stories.
HONORABLE MENTION: Thanos Quest – Book 1 – 1990 by Jim Starlin and Ron Lim
I’m not sure why this book stuck with me so much. Perhaps it’s the amazing art by Ron Lim. While the Infinity Gauntlet series is one of the most iconic of all time, there was something about the characters in Thanos Quest that have stayed with me for 21 years.