When I was a kid, I didn’t have many good friends who weren’t imaginary. Sure, there were schoolmates, and fellow members of a Cub Scout troop, but I’m not talking about percentages here, but quality representation. And far and away, my finest and most loyal daily companions were fictional.
Bilbo Baggins and I battled together against the chicken pox. Aquaman, Green Lantern and the Phantom helped me recover from an accident which came close to killing me. I traveled through the wardrobe with the Pevensie children, went down the rabbit hole with Alice and over the rainbow with Dorothy Gale.
But my most boon companion of all was a gentleman captain from Virginia, who through no fault of his own found himself millions of miles from home fighting against injustice and for the love of an incomparable Martian princess.
With these men and women of “character” at my side, from the time I realized where books came from my course in life was set. I was a Writer, and one day I’d work alongside other writers to chronicle the universe.
Fast forward a few years. I’m working as a warehouse manager, making good money and responsible to no-one but myself. I’ve written some very bad books, a selection of decent (and humble) poetry, and a few short stories that workshopped well but never really went anywhere. I’ve learned how to fight both in and out of armor, and am ready to ride whenever adventure may call.
When a friend offered me the chance to come work in the publishing industry, I gladly said goodbye to a quarter of my income, packed my life into my car and drove on towards destiny.
One of the first things I did was fulfill my childhood promise, and began working on licensed game products in the Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Star Trek and Dune universes. I came into the office every day and rubbed shoulders with writers and editors, and when we left for the night we lifted glasses and talked about our childhood friends.
Wouldn’t you know it; I’d had company on those journeys into imagination. Especially when the Warlord and I saved the atmosphere factory, and the girl.
Since then, I’ve worked on dozens of products in about as many universes, eventually making the leap into the world of massively multiplayer online games. I went back to the creative well early and often, drinking deep from the fountain and bringing my friends back to life as best I could in new places and times.
Sometimes in life, we lose track of those who’ve shaped and guided us. While I’m not the best of correspondents, I’m happy to say that hasn’t happened to me. Looking up from my desk at a room full of books, my friends are there looking back, waiting to ride again into the unknown.
Won’t you come along with us, and save the world?