Growing up, I hated reading. My large stack of Garfield comics were the closest "books" I read as a kid. Perhaps these were early signs that I was attracted to visual storytelling, a hint to my eventual future as a filmmaker. However, I think it's simply that there weren't many stories that captured my imagination. It wasn't until my dad recommended George Orwell's 1984 that I found literature that spoke to me and held my very short attention span. I discovered my attraction to dramas, often choosing something serious over something funny. (Comedies are very scarce in my DVD collection.)
Around the same time period, I discovered Alan Moore's The Watchmen and Judith Guest's Ordinary People, my two favorite novels. On one hand, both works handle vastly different subject matter. The Watchmen follows a group of aged masked heroes who are investigating the death of one of their old partners. Ordinary People recounts a personal tragedy and how a whole family copes. However, both books shaped my new perspective on storytelling. Instead of seeing stories as a collection of scenes, I instead saw characters making decisions and reacting to events.
The Watchmen in particular bridges my past with the present, a graphic novel with impactful imagery and mature storytelling. It wasn't just a superhero comic. It's a meditation on aging, legacy, the Cold War, ethics, morality, the blurred lines between good and evil, and humanity's ability to destroy itself. It digs deeper than most novels I've read, and there's still plenty of thrills, twists, and suspense to keep you sucked in. Most of all, it's about people trying to come to terms with decisions and events beyond their control. It's what I like to call an "intimate epic". The Watchmen started my love for human storytelling, influencing my work in documentary filmmaking and interest in journalism and nonfiction.