Rediscovered, via the New York Times:

Clearly, then, you can’t rely on schools to teach these prospective writers to read. You’ll have to do it yourself. Fortunately, there’s an easy way. Comic books.

Every would-be writer needs comic books. I certainly did. I can still vividly recall my discovery of comic books, followed closely by the revelation that this reading stuff was actually good for something. Comic books had it all over Readers. Comic books had pictures and so did Readers, but in comic book pictures somebody was flying or punching somebody, while in my Reader little Sally was crying about her little red boat. Batman dressed much neater than Dick did, and even in my prepubescent days I had this vague feeling that Wonder Woman had it all over Jane, although I couldn’t put my finger on the reason. I did know that watching Spot run was a real drag when I could watch Krypto the Superdog fly instead. Besides, I knew that if the two of them ever met in my neighborhood, Krypto would bite Spot’s goddamned head off.

Comic books were my salvation. I read all of them I could get my hands on, and my reading got better and better, and my teachers soon began to marvel that I read with such “expression” while the rest . . . of . . . my . . . class. . . read . . . like . . . this. I could have told them the reason. You need a lot more expression for, “Aha, Superman, now my red kryntonite will turn you into a BOILED EGG!!!” than you do for, “See Spot. See Spot run. Run, Spot, run.”

So if the schools don’t do it, remember comic books. Maybe your kid won’t be as quick as I was, and regular comic books won’t do, but even that’s no problem in this day and age. There’s always the undergrounds. Tales of the Leather Nun should do it every time.

Excerpted from “Guest of Honor speech: Ambercon 3, Wichita, Kansas May 31, 1981” by George R. R. Martin.  Read the entire text… he tells you how to become a Famous Science Fiction Writer!  (And you’ll learn about the inspiration for Game of Thrones!)


  1. There’s a quote that I ran cross years ago that I still remember (but not the source, alas): “Show me a 10-year-old who knows the meaning of ‘invulnerable’, and I’ll show you a kid who reads comics.”

  2. My parents encouraged my reading, including comics, growing up and I always read ahead of the so-called “grade level”. when I was in 4th grade they told my parents that I couldn’t possibly comprehend my older brother’s college level text on myths (I did because crap-its just super heroes to me at that age).

    Years later I marry a woman who had a very young child. I let, and even encouraged her comic reading (for her it was what became a well traveled and read copy of a Batman Adventures TPB, Pokemon, and some Star Wars). They classified her an early reader and she has always read well above “grade level”.

    So parents, whether its manga, the Sunday paper, or the floppies and TPBs in your local LCS. Let you get read comics. Wait until you see what happens.