My heroes have always been centaurs.
Maybe it was the astonishingly beautiful Janet and Anne Grahame-Johnstone centaur art in the "Tales of Ancient Greece" book I pored over hundreds of times as a kid. Maybe it was the story of the wise centaur Chiron, who along with Prometheus struck me as the most admirable character in all of Greek mythology. Maybe on an almost subliminal level, as a multiracial kid, I identified with a multispecies creature.
Whatever the reason, when I was ten years old, my most beloved Dungeons and Dragons player character was a centaur named Galahorn Alaron. When I was twelve, I wrote two fantasy novellas featuring centaurs. And a few months ago, as a forty-something adult, I tweeted so much about centaurs that Newsarama editor Lucas Siegel suggested I might need an ongoing column to explore my obsession.
So here we are. And yes, I'm going to write about centaurs. They're the new zombies, folks, and we're all going to ride 'em to fame and glory.
But for the purpose of this column, "centaur" also means any old thing I love beyond all reason. This space is where I'll champion strange obsessions, the seemingly random things I just can't forget, the unexpected comics, movies, books, music, and art that blow my mind. Because I'm a strong believer that when we follow our hearts straight to their objects of greatest desire, no matter how quirky, dorky, or even disturbing, we have the best chance of tapping into the inspiration we need to do our best creative work.
And now, a centaur story, completely true:
I'm an eleven year old fifth grader in Dallas, Texas, standing in the big open classroom between periods talking with my English teacher about centaurs. I'm telling Mrs. B about my fantasy novella, saying something goofy about how cool it would be if centaurs really were real. A short, plain woman with a brown bob and thick, plastic rimmed glasses, Mrs. B fixes her intense eyes on me and says, "How do you know they're not?"
I laugh. She doesn't.
I'm a little thrown. Mrs. B has always been the least flighty and jokey of my teachers. I love fantasy, but I believe in science. I fall back on reason, say there's no such thing as centaurs. If there were, there'd be fossil evidence. And it's a biological impossibility, anyway.
Mrs. B calmly suggests that might not be the case. Maybe centaurs did exist. Maybe they still do.
The bell rings. And for years I can't decide if she was joking or if she was just a tiny bit crazy.
But I also never stopped thinking about centaurs.
So in honor of Mrs. B, here are some guidelines for your consideration, a.k.a,:
The Principia Centaurica
1. Love what you love without irony or apology.
2. Think about what you love as deeply and critically as you can.
3. Share what you love.
See you next week, when I’ll speak a bit about the conclusion of my five and a half year run of Hulk stories and elaborate on my love for the work of writer Bill Mantlo. (My last issue, Incredible Hulks #635, hits stores on August 31 – ask your local retailer to reserve a copy for you today!)
Greg Pak writes Alpha Flight and Herc (with Fred Van Lente), Red Skull Incarnate, and Astonishing X-Men for Marvel and Dead Man's Run for Aspen. For more about his work, visit www.gregpak.com, www.twitter.com/gregpak, and www.gplus.to/gregpak.
Greg Pak as a centaur, drawn by Stephen Morrow!Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!